Redlands United have fallen short of progressing to the national round of 32 in the Australia Cup after a tight loss to Lions FC at Cleveland.
The first 10 minutes of the tie belonged to the visitors as they applied a high press, giving Redlands no time on the ball.
Redlands absorbed the initial pressure from Lions but from 18 minutes on, it was all Redlands except for a few moments of attempted counterattack from the visitors.
The Red Devils had five consecutive corners as they pushed to open the scoring. Noah Hitchcock’s goal bound header from one of the corners was tipped over the bar by diving Lions goalkeeper Luke Borean.
Redlands soon had their goal when Jack Skinner, from wide in the goal box, curled his shot into the net to give the Red Devils a deserved 1-0 lead.
Just before half-time Skinner had another shot from the edge of the box that went straight into the arms of the keeper.
Lions then pushed hard on the Red Devils but the defence held firm to maintain their 1-0 lead at the break.
The game resumed as the first half started, with Lions applying pressure on the Red Devils defence before progressing into an end-to-end affair.
Lions secured their equalizer when Redlands failed to clear the ball from defence, allowing Andy Pengelly to pounce and slot the ball past Redlands keeper Joel D’Cruz.
As the game continued to move from end-to-end, chances were being created by both sides as they looked for a winner.
Lions did just that with just six minutes remaining when Redlands failed to cover a far post run off a cross which saw the ball headed into the goal.
Just like the previous games this season between the two sides, there was barely anything between them, with the game finishing 2-1 to Lions.
Redlands head coach Dan Varma said there was disappointment in the camp about being eliminated at the final hurdle before the national round of 32.
“Taking our chances and clearing the ball in key moments was ultimately the difference in what was a very tight match,” he said.
“That said, part of my other job as a doctor is reading people’s body language and inferring intent through words and tonality of speech.
“This translates to football. To this end all I saw from my players post-match was frustration, controlled anger, resolve, resilience and strong determination to focus on what we have control of …
“Although we are still learning as a squad the progression is obvious and I am proud of each and every one my players.”