Big step in title race

Lions took a big step in the league title race with a 2-0 victory over nearest rival Croatia at Jenkins Park on Saturday.

Croatia were without midfield talisman James Canny through suspension while Lions went into the clash full strength.

Both teams started brightly with Kinnear having a header go just wide and Hazeal’s effort was well saved by Tudhope.

Croatia’s best chances of the first half came when Sullivan rounded Welgraven but the angle was too tight to score then soon after King tried to volley over the keeper as he tried to cleared the ball but it fell back into his arms.

The defining moment of the game came 15 minutes into the second half.

Verdoorn played Sullivan in but his effort just missed the far upright, as the ball was punted upfield Worsnop pounced on a mistake by the Croatia defence and was able to beat Tudhope with a low shot that found the net just off the inside of the near post for a 1-0 lead.

Five minutes later Lions made it two when a rampaging run by Hazeal saw him shift passed two defenders and finished nicely over a committed keeper high into the net.

Croatia had late chances through King and Fauld but Lions held on and from overall play and chances created deserved their victory.

In the reserves Lions thrashed Croatia 6-0 in a one sides affair.

Sunday’s game saw Steel overcome a determined Westlands 2-1 a Magill Park in a tight match.

Steel were on the front foot early as Mills put a header just over and Green found the ball at his feet deep inside the box but he snatched at his shot and it drifted wide.

Westlands best chance came as Rhodes burst through from midfield but his shot on the run was saved by Kilpatrick in goal.

All the action came in the last 15 minutes in the second half.

Substitute Jackson forced a save from Gibbs but it fell into the path of Joslyn and he duly dispatched at the back post for a 1-0 lead.

Five minutes later Joslyn was brought down in the box and he dusted himself off to score his spot kick for his second and a 2-0 lead.

With seconds remaining Mitchell followed up a through ball and bundled the ball home off the keepers clearance but time ran out for the Red Devils and Steel ran out 2-1 victors.

In the reserves Westlands had a 4-1 win over Steel.

This weekend's games

This weekend's games sees Lions host Westland United at Jenkins Park on Saturday with the home side looking hold onto top spot in the league championship.

Lions put in one of their best displays of the season so far in dispatching Croatia 2-0 last week and put them outright favourites to take out this season’s league title.

Their defence held their rivals goalless which is no mean feat while their forwards always looked dangerous including veteran Gordon Worsnop.

I remember him making his debut as a 16 year old, can’t believe I’m calling him a veteran now.

Westlands went down 2-1 to Steel last weekend but were very good for most parts of the game.

They had a pretty strong squad against Steel and with inclusions of Barr and a fit again Darby they could cause Lions some problems.

Lions will be favourites in this one.

Sunday’s game has Wanderers tackling Croatia at Swandel Park with the away side hoping to halt back to back defeats in the league for the first time since 2015.

Two weeks ago Croatia were favourites to go back to back league champions but two successive losses have them now chasing Lions.

A welcome return will be midfielder James Canny. 

To partner Mikic in the middle which should free up Sheedy to return to the centre of defence.

Wanderers had the bye last week and should be chomping at the bit to get back on the park.

One player who has come leaps and bounds for the blues is Mustafa Fellah.

He’s scored plenty of goals of late, holds the ball up well and is deceivingly quick.

Wanderers will want to finish off the season well in their 60th anniversary year as their reserves look odds on favourites to capture the reserves league.

Croatia to bounce back.

A grade

Leading goal scorers

Sullivan (Croatia) 9

Green (Steel) 8

Canny (Croatia) 7

Kinnear (Lions) 7

Colaruotolo (Lions) 7

Reserves

Leading goal scorers 

Turner (Wanderers) 11

Riding ( Wanderers) 9

Longin ( Croatia) 5

Darby (Lions) 5 

Palmer (Lions) 5