Lions show their claws against rivals
Report by Peter Simcox
Stirling Lions moved into fifth place on the National Premier Leagues WA table, after a 2-0 win against Floreat Athena in the inaugural Rivalry Round game at Macedonia Park on Saturday afternoon.
New English striker Howard Neighbour headed them in front after only 12 minutes, and skipper Andy Brown doubled their advantage five minutes before the break.
A young Lions side fought out the game in pouring rain and assistant coach Daniel Stoitis was proud the way his side battled out the game.
“We put a good shift in today, in difficult conditions and got the result we deserved on the day,” he said.
“I thought our experienced players stepped up today which brought the younger players on.
“The positive on the long injury list we have is the younger lads are getting the opportunity and they are learning all the time and it’s great to see them come in a do a job for us.”
Stoitis, who coaches the Under 18’s at the club, has seen some of the youngsters progress through the ranks and he and Gary Williams are now seeing the benefits.
“It’s great to see some of the young lads who have come up through our development squads play in the senior side,” he said.
“Today 19-year-old Michael de Lima was excellent, and he was one of my players in the Under 18’s when he was 15. It’s great to see these players blossom into a good senior player, which only bodes well for the future.”
It was a fantastic start for the home side and they were ahead on 12 minutes. Former Perth Glory midfielder Hayden Doyle’s in-swinging corner from the left was headed home powerfully by Neighbour, his first goal since joining the club from Sussex County League side Pagham FC.
Floreat, who were looking to bounce back from two heavy defeats against Perth and Joondalup, began to take control of the game after the goal and David Heagney’s shot on the turn flashed over the bar on the half hour. Moments later Heagney tested Lions keeper Aleks Vrteski, but he saved low to left.
From the resulting corner Floreat thought they had equalised. The ball found its way to former Lions defender Bobby Wilson whose volley was saved on the line by Vrteski, although the ball looked like it was just over the line. The assistant linesman was well placed and never signalled and referee Mathew Cheeseman waved away their protests.
To make matters worse for the visitors on 40 minutes the Lions doubled their lead, and in identical circumstances. Doyle’s deep corner from the left picked out Brown at the back post and he headed home.
The visitors had plenty of possession but were struggling in the final third, although on the stroke of half time Jamie Eames played a great through ball to Heagney, who raced clear. But just as the former St Johnstone striker was about to pull the trigger, Brown got back to produce a perfectly timed tackle to deny him.
After the break Floreat started brightly, and Jack Allen’s long-range shot flashed wide, and on 51 minutes Wilson’s header was pushed onto the post by Vrteski.
But midway through the half the heavens opened and conditions became difficult for players and spectators alike.
With Floreat pushing players forward they were getting caught out on the counter-attack and on 73 minutes Jack Salter sent Neighbour clear on goal, but his lob from the edge of the penalty area drifted agonisingly wide of the near post.
The visitors then lost defender Allen to a leg injury after a poor tackle from Neighbour, who was lucky not to see red. The young defender was carried off on a stretcher and with coach Chris Barbas having already made his three changes, they played the rest of the game with 10 men.
Doyle went close twice late in the game. First on 86 minutes he cut inside Cameron Yorke on the left but saw his shot fly wide of the target, and then in stoppage time his curling free kick dipped inches over the bar.
At the final whistle it was the Lions who ran out winners with bragging rights in Rivalry Round.
Stirling Lions 2 (Neighbour 12’, Brown 40’)
Floreat Athena 0
Saturday 29th March 2014
Venue – Macedonia Park
Attendance – 300
Referee – Mathew CHEESEMAN
Assistants – Brendan SKINNER and Calum IRVINE
Stirling Lions – GK Aleks VRTESKI, 2 Rikki SMITH, 3 Michael DE LIMA (14 Clayton ARNEZ 90+4’), 4 Ali GHOULAMI, 5 David FILLIPOU (13 Jack SALTER 52’), 6 Hayden DOYLE, 7 Tim HILL, 8 Andy BROWN, 9 Daniel MICEVSKI, 10 Howard NEIGHBOUR (15 Josh BOOYSEN 89’), 11 Dennis GALAN
Subs not used – RGK Connor CAMPBELL, 12 Daniel DOLS
Yellow cards – Smith 30’, Neighbour 82’
Floreat Athena - GK Tom DIXON, 2 Blair GOVAN (13 Cameron YORKE 67’), 3 Jack ALLEN, 6 Aryn WILLIAMS, 8 Bobby WILSON, 9 David HEAGNEY, 10 Jamie EAMES, 14 Ludovic BOI (15 Victor FENEHIA 46’), 16 Ashley CORKER (19 Yves MWILLA 81’), 17 Callum FRANSZ, 33 Mark WALSH
Subs not used – RGK Michael WOOLCOTT, 20 Brian GWATRINGA
Yellow cards – Fransz 16’