The Devonport Strikers have created history by becoming the first side to win three consecutive Lakoseljac Cups, as they defeated South Hobart 1-0 in a tight, tense decider on Saturday evening at KGV to qualify for the Australia Cup Round of 32.
In a game with few clear-cut scoring chances, it was the Strikers’ clinical Spaniard, Roberto Fernandez Garrido who seized his opportunity in the 80th minute and fired the Strikers to a remarkable fifth Cup triumph since 2016.
It was a game that easily could’ve gone either way; it always seemed likely to be settled by a goal either side, which is why it remained an enthralling contest despite a lack of scoring chances. There was an underlying tension, driven by the fact that any given moment could be decisive, that one mistake or moment of magic was likely to decide things.
Ali Dulleh was forced off early- Solstice Digital
Each side had a half chance in the first 45 minutes, both of which arrived late on. Roberto Garrido nodded an effort wide before Isky Van Doorne fired wide from the top of the box in the final minute of the half. The most notable event of the first 45 was Ali Dulleh being forced off due to injury inside the opening quarter of an hour, a significant blow to the Strikers’ cause.
Luke Bennett was buzzing about the pitch for Devonport, looking the most likely man to make something happen, but a much improved South Hobart defensive unit held steady, as Devonport probably just shaded things, but neither side could lay claims to being in control of the match.
It was a tight battle for much of the evening- Solstice Digital
South had the better of the early exchanges in the second half, as they began to wrestle control of the midfield battle and Jaden Fidra began to loom large, causing some major problems with his mazy runs into the penalty area. He drew a sharp save from Keegan Smith on 54 minutes which would prove South’s best chance of the evening.
Just when it seemed South may overrun them, the Strikers steadied the ship. They absorbed the attacks and started to regain some control in midfield, then 10 minutes from full time, they struck.
Luke Bennett threaded a wonderful through ball into the area for Fernandez Garrido, who shrugged the attentions of Bowman before producing a clinical finish, lifting over the leg of O’Connell in South Hobart’s net and breaking the deadlock.
The Strikers took the lead via their star Spanish striker- Solstice Digital
Garrido nearly doubled the lead four minutes later and made sure of the victory, but O’Connell produced a fine stop to keep his side alive.
South threw bodies forward, but they could find no way through the Strikers’ rock-solid defence in the dying moments, led superbly by Player of the Match Kieran Mulraney and an impassable Dom Smith. The final whistle rang out and the Strikers had made history.
Once again, the Strikers just found a way to get it done; they seem to relish these types of encounters and have mastered achieving victory in them. The win will see them advance through the national stage of the Australia Cup Round of 32, where they now eagerly await the draw.