Knights Rally in Second Half, Opening Night Statement

LIONS STADIUM | 20.3.22 | Mark Majdandzic

On the Opening Night of the NPL QLD season the Knights sent out a second half statement fighting back from 3-1 down to earn their first win at Lions Stadium 6-3 in Round 4 action.

Both sides were eager to kick off the campaign with a victory and the heavily favoured Lions capitalised off an error through a set piece to open the scoring with Tommy Jarrard netting the season opener on the 18th minute mark

Their lead would last the best part of ten minutes as new summer signing Mirza Muratovic caught Lions keeper Aidan Munford off his line to level things just before the half hour mark.

That lead would only last the best part of 5 minutes as 34 year old Jean Carlos Solarzano once again capitalised off a set piece to re-establish the lead for Lions in the 34th minute.

With a 2-1 lead at the break, a lapse in concentration saw the Knights unable to clear the ball in the defensive third and reigning MVP and Golden Boot Andy Pengelly to turn the ball home after Josh Langdon’s initial save.

From that point in the game the tide turned completely with Gold Coast Knights on the front foot, netting their second of the evening through fan favourite Max Brown’s left footed volley to bring the Knights within a goal.

On the front foot and playing with confidence in the middle and front thirds, new signing Pasquale De Vita had some moments of brilliance to bring the Knights on level terms, finding Kristian Brymora unmarked in the box to turn the ball home.

De Vita turned from provider to scorer to put the Knights ahead in the match after a goal mouth scramble was finally turned in by the Italian as the Knights completed a stunning turn around to take the lead 4-3.

A crucial passage of play on the 83rd minute mark saw Tyson Martin lose his footing only for Josh Langdon to step up and make the huge timely save on Pengelly to keep the Knights ahead.

Second half substitute Cai Tipaldo put the game to bed on the 85th minute mark steering the ball home to give the Knights their fifth of the evening before scoring a goal of the season contender at the end of regulation time for a massive six goal haul and three points from the fixture.

The last time a Lions side had conceded six goals at home in a regular season fixture was all the way back was on the 17th of June, 1979 when a Rale Rasic led Adelaide City netted six past them in the NSL.

In his first league game in charge, Knights Head Coach Scott McDonald said that he was delighted for the team on their efforts.

“I am delighted for the boys and when you play Lions who have won the Grand Final back to back it’s a tough ask for any team,” said McDonald.

“I thought we played well in the first half but we gave away cheap goals. It was different to the pre-season games where we generally were solid defensively but struggled to score goals at times.”

With one of the best comebacks in recent Knights history, McDonald said that adjustments at half time made an impact on the second half.

“We changed a couple of things at half-time which worked for us this time which is pleasing for the coaching staff and the players,” said McDonald.

“The level of production in the front third was great to see and everyone wants to get off the mark early in the year. The most pleasing part for me was seeing Luke Beckwith and Cai Tipaldo coming on and making a difference as you need a deep squad to be able to push for trophies at the end of the day.”

“It was a great team performance especially in the second half. Everyone put the work in and contributed to us in winning the game which is always a positive. Having the opportunity to play my part and score a double to help the team win is the best outcome,” said Tipaldo.

“We are all focused on the task at hand and putting the work in during the week to prepare for the games coming up.”

The Knights are set to take on Capalaba FC in the first home game of the season at the Croatian Sports Centre on Saturday the 26th of March at 4:30pm

FT: Lions 3 (Jarrard 18′, Solorzano 34′, Pengelly 52′) def. by Knights 6 (Muratovic 29′, Brown 57′, Brymora 60′, De Vita 66′, Tipaldo 85′ and 90′)

Mecca Bah Man of the Match: Mirza Muratovic

KNIGHTS SQUAD: #1 Langdon, #2 Walker (#3 Mirkovic 84′), 4 Martin, 5 Ludwik, 6 Da Silva, 7 De Vita (#15 Tipaldo 81′), #9 Muratovic, #10 Brown, #14 Brymora, #16 Nichols, #23 Schmidt (#18 Beckwith). SUBS: Peck, Stautner

LIONS SQUAD: # 1 Munford, #2 Thompson, # 3 Hart-Phillips, #4 Ramazani, #5 Jarrard, #6 Ridenton, #9 Pengelly, #10 Duckworth, #12 Carlos, #18 Maltby, #20 Solorzano. SUBS: Shepher, McDonald, Minett, Oestriech, Beakhurst