Croatia went top of the table with a hard fought 2-0 win over Steel United at Croatia Park on Saturday.
Steel had Perez, Thompson and Bambridge missing while Croatia went into the game unchanged and full strength and it was the home side that started best as Sullivan and Mikic went close with fine efforts.
After 25 minutes Croatia took the lead as Sullivan latched onto a through ball and while he didn’t connect well it bobbled past Kilpatrick and into the far corner for a 1-0 lead.
For the remainder of the half Steel got on top as Ledington flashed one wide and Green couldn’t keep his header under the bar as both sides went into the sheds with Croatia holding a slender 1-0 lead.
The second half was all Croatia as they pushed for a second but Steel held firm until 15 minutes to go as Sullivan volleyed a free kick back into the box and Woodall inadvertently headed into his own net for 2-0.
Croatia then knocked the ball around in the concluding stages to see off the game as they took two vital points against their nearest rival.
In the reserves Croatia had a big 7-1 victory over Steel with goals to Aaron Rigg (2) Longin (2), Paterson, Banovic and Garma. Roughsedge scored for Steel.
In Sunday’s game, Wanderers and Lions produced a classic 3-3 draw at Swandel Park in a topsy-turvy match.
Lions had the better of possession and chances in the first half but only had one goal to show from it as Wanderers failed to clear the ball properly from a corner and the smallest player on the park, Coloroutolo headed in from 12 yards to give his side the lead.
With seconds remaining in the first half Nielsen should have doubled Lions lead but volleyed wide.
The second half was only 10 minutes old as a great ball by Worsnop put Dylan Velthuzen-Kutchell in and he showed composure to guide it past Rowlands for a two nil lead.
After that Wanderers reacted immediately as Dale Robinson produced a “Maradona” type run to outwit three defenders and the keeper to pull one back.
Ten minutes later they levelled it as a cut back on the break found Crowley at the back post and he smacked it in for 2-2.
With five minutes to go Wanderers looked to have nicked it as Bonello swivelled in the box to hammer it past the keeper and in the net for a 3-2 lead.
With only minutes to go Lions won a penalty as Heazel was fouled in the area and Coloruotolo scored from the spot to earn his side a point in a game they probably should have won
In the reserves Wanderers went top with a come from behind 3-1 win over Lions with Dawson scoring a brace.
This weekend’s games
This weekend’s games see Lions host Croatia at Jenkins Park on Saturday in an early top of the table clash.
Lions let one slip last week, two-nil up with 30 minutes to go, they got hit on the break three times and nearly lost the match if it weren’t for a penalty in the dying minutes.
When you’re 2-0 up you don’t need to take risks, putting an extra defender back probably would have seen them see out the game.
Gordon Worsnop was a real handful, his partnership with Nielsen looks the goods.
Croatia’s victory last week was impressive. They knocked the ball around well and always looked to get around Steels defense with pace and one touch passing.
Sean Sheedy’s return to a defensive midfield roll has been a great selection allowing Mikic, Canny and the ever improving Verdoorn more freedom. The last time these two met Croatia won a narrow match 1-0 but Lions missed plenty of chances. Should be a cracker.
In Sunday’s game, Steel will tackle Westlands at Magill Park in what is always an entertaining match between the clubs.
Steel are coming off a loss last week but were missing a few regulars including Perez, Bambridge and Thompson, coach Finnigan will be hoping they’re available this week. It’s only early but Steel can’t afford to lose this one as it will be three losses out of four if they do, they’ll want to keep in touch with the leading pack.
It’s been five long weeks since Westlands have played due to the bye, Easter and the hot weather policy so they’ll be raring to go on the weekend but match fitness maybe an issue. It’s hard to gauge what sort of side they’ll have available but they’re always competitive anyway.
Coach Nesbitt will finally be in charge of his first league game in the dugout and knows his best side can match it with any opposition. Another great game in store.
Other soccer news
In other news, it was a proud moment for Shaun Rigg as he got to play in the same side as his sons Aaron and Damon for the first time against his beloved Steel United. All went well in the 7-1 victory in the reserves as Aaron scored two.
Ash Corney has transferred back to Steel United after a short stint with Wanderers and played in their loss to Croatia on the weekend. Nothing wrong with being homesick and he was welcomed back by his teammates.
Croatia have picked up a handy signing in goalkeeper Marty Edwards from state league soccer in Perth. A handy training partner for Tudhope and competition as well.
Great to see Anthony Joslyn at the soccer on the weekend as he watched the Croatia/Steel match. Pretty sure he’ll be chomping at the bit when he returns from his suspension.
The rescheduled game between Westlands and Lions will be played on ANZAC Day.