Lions come up clutch

MATCH-WINNER: Gambier Centrals' Sam Shoemark scores the winning goal in the dying minutes of Sunday's clash with Blue Lake. Picture: JAMES MURPHY

James Murphy


IT came down to the final minutes but Gambier Centrals clinched a tight win over Blue Lake at the Lions’ Den on Sunday.

The Round 3 Limestone Coast men’s soccer match was pencilled as the match of the round and it certainly did not disappoint.

In a game of two halves, the Rangers came out with purpose from the first whistle and it was not long before they drew first blood.

Gay Nay Say Ler scored in the 13th minute, which revved up both teams.

An arm wrestle followed, before a penalty at the 32-minute mark allowed Shar Nay Than to hand Blue Lake a 2-0 lead.

That margin remained heading into half time, with plenty of work to do for the Lions.

However, the hosts were not about to give in and swung a couple of changes to adapt to the conflict in the second term.

A couple of rotations had Alex Obedi enter the game to replace Jake Stephenson, while coach Brodey Koop came off to give Matthew Porter a run in his first game for the club.

Apart from that, Koop said the game plan remained the same as they looked to make a comeback.

“Tactically the plan stayed the same, it was just about executing it effectively,” he told The Border Watch this week.

“The boys dug deep and got back on track.”

It was unsurprising to see the first goal from Centrals come off star striker and reigning league best and fairest Sam Shoemark.

He slotted his first goal at the 51-minute mark to bring it back to a one-goal game.

Changes from both teams in the following period brought on some fresh legs, before Obedi scored the equaliser in the 65th minute.

Tensions rose at that point and cards were dealt to both teams, including a red card to Blue Lake’s Meereh Htoo.

As the match boiled down it appeared as if a draw was on the table, but a breakthrough in the 92nd minute had Shoemark best his defender and the goal keeper to win the game in its dying moments.

Blue Lake produced an opportunity in the final seconds but it was denied by the Centrals’ defence and the Lions roared to life with the sound of the final whistle.

Koop was pleased with the outcome and credited the Rangers for the quality of talent they have brought to the competition this year.

They have stepped things up a notch and will be one to watch deep into the season.

Shoemark played an exceptional second half and Koop was impressed with his output.

“Not much phases that guy,” Koop said.

“He is quite cool, calm and collected – he is absolute class and knows when to find goals.”

Alex Hill also earned a mention from his coach for a strong game at goal keeper, stepping up when it counted at crucial moments.

“I (also) thought when we were under pressure in that first half Ronan McKenzie played well down back,” Koop said.

Blue Lake has the bye this weekend which will provide a chance to reset, while Centrals enters another anticipated match-up when it visits Apollo for Round 4 on Sunday.


A low-scoring affair at Naracoorte had Apollo’s A Grade men secure a 1-0 win in a hard-fought contest.

With only one goal for the match, spectators were left to count cards at stages throughout the game, with plenty of tension on the field.

Naracoorte’s Hossian Panahi was carded off before half time, with the scoreline locked at nil-all heading into the break.

The second half was another stalemate at first, before Tobbei Kennett found the match-winner at the 62nd minute, putting it between the posts to ultimately secure the victory.

From there the arm wrestle continued, with Apollo swinging some personell changes late in the game, keeping legs fresh and holding on for a narrow win.

Apollo will want to step things up a notch this weekend, with an encounter against Centrals at home sure to produce another tight contest.

International had the bye on Sunday, but will gear up for a road trip to Naracoorte this week in what should be a win for the black and blue.