Two-goal league won by Lions

OVER THE LINE: Lions were made to wait to see if they would claim the league after a dramatic draw against Steel, but just edged the green boys on goal difference. Photo: supplied.
OVER THE LINE: Lions were made to wait to see if they would claim the league after a dramatic draw against Steel, but just edged the green boys on goal difference. Photo: supplied.

It was a league that was decided by two goals in more than one way.

In a match they.had to win to claim the Jim Lawrenson League Championship outright, Lions were trailing Steel United 2-0 while being down to 10 men.

They found a way to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat through back-to-back goals.

Then they had to wait and see if Steel could overcome Croatia in the final round of the season - if they could, then the league was theirs, if they didn't - Lions would claim the ultimate prize.

The final result of 3-3 saw Lions win the league on goal difference. Somewhat fatefully, it was two goals which ended up seperating them and Steel.

It was an unusual end to a crazy season, but Lions Coach Brian Murphy was proud of his team for their fightback against Steel, which gave them hope of winning the league.

"I had to make some pretty radical changes when we were down against Steel, we had to be pretty brave and go for the game even though we were a man down," he said.

"My Lions squad is never out of it, even if you're up against with 10 minutes to go the other coaches know this team doesn't quit, they keep working hard.

"We were quite deflated when the game finished because we knew it was now out of our hands, we were hoping the soccer Gods would smile on us."

Lions players then became Croatia fans for one week, trying to will them over Steel, who went into the game as the favourites.

"I was really nervous, I was sitting in the car away from everyone...Croatia started really well and we thought it could actually happen but in typical Steel fashion they came back from 3-1 to make it 3-3," Mr Murphy said.

"They were pushing for a winner right at the end ... it was a weird way to be seperated by goal difference - that just shows your how competitive our league was this season.

"Our boys' willingness to never give up is our motto, we fight to the very end."

The result earned Croatia a keg as a 'thank you' from Lions, which was a callback to a similar season finale in 2018, when Westland United received a keg for winning Lions the league.

"I said do us a favour and I'll drop off a keg, so they did and I dropped off the keg...it's a little thank you, we don't like each other for 90 minues but we're all a part of the soccer community," Mr Murphy said.

This year Lions have been boosted by the performance of midfielders James Hazeal and Jordan Kuchel, who have oozed talent on the pitch.

They will be looking for big performances from both when they take on Steel once again in the final of the Whyalla Soccer Association Cup, with a win giving the side a historic treble.

"We haven't won a treble since 1982 and we're going into this game to hopefully make history," Mr Murphy said.