Red Devils, Blues battle

TOP TEAMS SHARE THE POINTS

Westland United and Wanderers fought out a terrific 2-2 draw at Swandel Park on Saturday as the two top sides locked horns.

Both teams were near full strength as they both tried to gain the upper hand in this season's League Championship.

The first 20 minutes was a real arm wrestle with Papoulis rattling one off the Blues' crossbar early but it was Wanderers who took the lead.

Mustafa Fellah showed great skill and pace to get to the byline and his cut back was blocked by the Red Devils defence but Dale Robinson was on hand to tuck away the rebound for a 1-0 lead.

Westlands struck back after 35 minutes when Payne's free kick cleared the wall and past Rowlands in goal to float into the top corner for 1-1.

Just before half time the Blues wrestled back their lead as Fellah was caught by a tackle just inside the box and Joslyn coolly slotted the spot kick away to see Wanderers go into the half time break 2-1 up.

The second half was only 10 minutes old as a misplaced pass in the Wanderers midfield was latched onto by Mark Robinson and he drill it past the oncoming keeper for 2-2.

Westlands started to get on top as Papoulis once again hit the crossbar from a tight angle and as the ball went upfield.

"The second half was only 10 minutes old as a misplaced pass in the Wanderers midfield was latched onto by Mark Robinson and he drill it past the oncoming keeper for 2-2."

Dale Robinson wriggled along the goal line only to be Thwarted by Gibbs in goal. Westlands pushed at the end but Wanderers where resolute in defence as it ended 2-2.

Wanderers had the better of the first half while Westlands owned the second and a draw probably a fair result with the Blues still holding a slim one point advantage over Red Devils in second spot.

In the reserves, a superb hat-trick by golden boot leader Bailey McEwan saw Wanderers ease past Westlands 6-0.

LIONS DEFEAT STEEL IN A THRILLER

Sunday's game saw Lions defeat Steel United 3-2 in a thrilling encounter at Jenkins Park in cold conditions.

The first 60 minutes of the match was a real slug fest with not much to write home about but then came the craziest 20 minutes of the season. The ball was slipped into Gonzales and he put Lions 1-0 up with a cracking finish off the inside extension.

From the kick-off, the ball made its way to Michaelides and his cross-shot floated over the keeper and into the far corner for 1-1. Two minutes later, Steel took the lead.

Green got to the byline and cut it back for Watt and he made no mistake knocking it in for his first A grade goal and a 2-1 lead to the visitors.

Five minutes later, Nielsen ran onto a loose ball and smacked a low half volley just past the reach of Steel keeper Welgraven to get it back to 2-2. Within a few minutes from kick-off Lions got the winner.

A square ball to Kinnear just outside the box gave him an opportunity and he curl his shot away from the keeper and just under the crossbar to win it for Lions 3-2.

Both teams had chances near the end but it was Lions who took all the points and jumped above Steel on the ladder by the merest of one goal in the goal difference column.

In the reserves, Lions kept on Wanderers tail in the league with a 4-1 victory over Steel.

This weekend's games

This weekend's games see Wanderers hosting Steel United at Swandel Park looking to maintain their slim lead at the top of the Jim Lawrenson League Championship.

It was a real hard, emotional game last week for the Blues and will be disappointed they twice gave up the lead but in the end a draw keeps them top for now and Westlands really came at them in the second half.

Mustafa Fellah was judged as Wanderers best player last week with his pace and drive causing problems for the Red Devils while Jake Shannon was brilliant in defence with his tussle with the dangerous Papoulis.

It looked like Steel would pull off a victory last week leading 2-1, two quick fire goals though saw them go down in a close one but coach Finnigan would have seen plenty of positives.

Veterans Jackson, Fay and Green are not only contributing on the park, they also praise their younger players in all situations which is fantastic. It must give them plenty of encouragement and confidence.

Steel frustrated Wanderers the last time these teams met in the Blues' 3-0 win and may do again. Wanderers will be firm favourites though.

Sunday's game has Croatia tackling Westland United at Croatia Park on Sunday in an intriguing encounter with Croatia upsetting the Red Devils in their last match up.

Croatia had the bye last week but in their previous game they were taken apart by Wanderers 9-1 although they had some key players missing.

If Faulds, Alex Longin, Beasley and Banovic are available for this game they will have a handy line up and could cause Westlands issues, if not Croatia's depth may not be able to withstand the Red Devils' onslaught.

Westlands played a bit cautious in the first half against Wanderers last week but in the second 45 minutes really pushed for a winner and will feel they finished the better of their rivals.

Rohan Mitchell was brought in to do a job on the mercurial Joslyn and he did it well, in fact the whole team put in a great shift. It shows not only do they have great individuals but gel as a team as well. If Croatia are missing a couple of players, Westlands will win comfortably.