Maitland FC 0 def. by Lions FC 2 (Jarrad 39’, Hore 68’)
Saturday 28th September, 2:30 pm, Cooks Square Park
It’s been a stellar season for the mighty Magpies, but unfortunately for Maitland, they weren’t able to move into the Grand Final in their debut NPL Finals Series after going down to Queensland’s Lions FC in the National Semi-Finals.
A host of names were unavailable for the hosts including key forwards Ryan Clarke and Joel Wood, but one of their replacements Sean Pratt almost got the side off to a flying start but skewed his header from close range.
Queensland’s Premiers began to work their way into the contest though and both Shaun Carlos and Jheison Macuace came close to scoring, while their strike-man Joe Duckworth also looked as though he might score but his shot was met by a strong Matt Trott save.
Former Hyundai A-League man Nick Cowburn made his return to the pitch after missing last weekend’s match and also almost put his name on the scoresheet after finding some space in the box, but his shot was sent across the face of goal.
Finally, just minutes before half-time, Lions defender Tommy Jarrad found the first goal of the game with a glancing header from a corner to give the visitors a handy lead before the break.
Chasing the game, the hosts tried their best to find an equaliser early on in the second half, but their opponents quickly began to flex their strength and while a brilliant save by Trott denied Duckworth of a terrific, curling goal, there was nothing the Maitland keeper could do later on when Mitch Hore found the back of the net with a similar swinging effort.
Down by two, the Magpies needed a moment of brilliance to get themselves back in the game and almost found it through Cowburn as he blasted a shot from long range that whistled past the upright.
Lions held firm as the second half concluded advancing to their second straight national Grand Final, while Maitland ends their season disappointingly with their first loss at home all year.
Lions will now meet Football NSW’s Wollongong Wolves in the decider next week, while the Magpies will enjoy a deserving break from the year after achieving the best season in club history.