Steel United had a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Wanderers on Saturday at Magill Park. Both teams went into the game needing a win after both suffered defeats in previous matches. Steel were on the front foot early and peppered the Wanderers goal hitting the post twice, Jackson going wide with a header and Perez having one chopped off for offside. Wanderers slowly got back in it as Neimann rounded Kilpatrick but the angle was too tight and his effort hit the side netting.
With just minutes remaining of the first half Steel got the goal their play deserved as Green picked up the ball just outside the box and hit a thumping grass cutter that flew past Rowlands for a 1-0 lead. Ten minutes into the second half Steel doubled their lead as Keegan Fay cut inside his marker to guide a left foot shot into the top far corner for 2-0. Fifteen minutes later Steel made it safe as Ledington took a quick free kick and even though Thompson’s effort was well saved by Rowlands, Perez followed up to nod in a simple header. With 10 minutes to go substitute Atkinson whipped in a corner that was met by the head of Ledington and his bullet effort from 12 yards flew in for 4-0.
In the dying minutes Ratzlaf and Robinson smacked one off the opposition crossbar but it was the home side that prevailed. The fixture between Westlands and Croatia will be rescheduled due to the heat, I’ll keep you updated on the date when that is played.
This weekend sees the blockbuster between Croatia and Steel United at Croatia Park on Saturday. It’s been over three weeks since Croatia last played due to a bye, Easter and a canceled game so they could go into this underdone when it comes to match fitness but should be chomping at the bit to get back on the park. The signing of Callum Baldwin from Savoy has been a fantastic pick up for the club, his performance against Wanderers in round one was exceptional and provides stability at the back. Steel weren’t their normal selves against Lions but bounced back terrifically in their win over the blues. Jordan Perez has started the year in superb fashion. His “Mark Viduka” style play sees him hold the ball up with strength and playing his teammates in while also providing a threat to the oppositions goal, probably the best centre forward in the comp at the moment.
On Sunday, Wanderers tackle Lions at Swandel Park in a must-win for the home side. It’s only early but Wanderers will not want to be zip and three even at this stage of the season. They’ve brought in some handy players during the off season and may need some time to gel but they look disjointed for most of games I’ve seen and give the ball away far too easy, putting pressure on their defence and keeper. Their best soccer was in the first half against Croatia, that’s the level they need to play consistently. Lions have a really good team spirit at the moment, most of their players are in great form and at an average age of the squad mid to late 20s sees them in their prime. Credit must go to coach Brian Murphy, his passion for the game seeps through to the players.