Steel United edged out Croatia 3-2 in the charity shield opening game of the season at Magill Park on Saturday. Croatia had lost many stars from last season but still fielded a strong side while Steel will be without Whyalla News medalist Matt Ledington for season 2017.
Steel started stronger with Joslyn hitting the crossbar and soon after fill in goalkeeper Evans tipped a fierce Aaron Ledington drive around the post. Croatia soon got into their groove and after 15 minutes, a mix up between two Steel defenders saw Rigg drive into the box and his cut back was slotted home by Banovic for a 1-0 lead. Steel pushed forward once more and were rewarded when a corner was flicked on at the front post by Ledington and Corney smashed home the volley from close range to equalise.
At 35 minutes Steel took the lead as Ledington’s long throw was misjudged by the keeper and palmed the ball into his own net despite desperate attempts from his defenders to keep it out as the home side led going into half time. The second half started evenly as both sides tried to dominate midfield without threatening the keepers too much. After 20 minutes Croatia found an equaliser as a Rigg corner found its way to the back post and young forward Sean Kelly was able to chest it down a slam his volley past keeper Welgraven for 2-2. Five minutes later, Steel were once again in front as a long curling free kick was headed back across goal and Joslyn pounced with a stretched volley for 3-2 . With 10 minutes to go Kelly thought he'd equalised once more with a brilliant header but was ruled offside and as the game drew to a close Croatia gave the future some experience as 15 year olds Faulds, VerDoorm and Paterson were given time on the park. Croatia played well with newcomers Matt Oberthur and WSA reserve player of the year Ben Longin having solid performances while Damien Arbuckle made the most of his chance in a first team shirt with Steel showing they’re the team still to beat. It was Steel once again with a win though in a game that could have gone either way. In the reserves, Croatia had to come from behind to score a 4-1 victory over a gallant steel United outfit. Steel took the lead after 10 minutes when returning favourite Darrin Veart took advantage of a mix up between defender and keeper to poke home into an empty net but soon after a Faulds free kick was only parried by the keeper and Paterson was on hand to head home the equaliser. Five minutes later Paterson got his second. Soon after Pickhaver-Tupe's speed saw him glide past two players, steering the ball under the advancing keeper as Croatia went in half time 3-1 up. In the second half both teams had chances with Rigg hitting the crossbar but VerDoorm made it safe as his shot sailed over the keeper as Croatia ran out 4-2 winners.