Canberra Olympic 0 def. by Tigers FC 1 (Mark Shields 50’)
By Tim Warren
Tigers FC have booked the first spot in the 2019 NPL1 Grand Final with a 1-0 upset victory over Canberra Olympic in the qualifying final at the AIS on Saturday afternoon.
Cooma reversed the result from the premiership decider just 13 days earlier, following Olympic’s emphatic 4-0 victory to clinch the trophy at O’Connor.
Tigers captain Mark Shields scored the only goal of the afternoon in the 50thminute, when he turned his close-range effort into the net after Jay Kelly failed to clear the ball following a Cooma set piece.
The low-scoring affair didn’t mean the match was short of drama however, with both sides finishing the game with just 10-men.
The clash was a tough and fierce finals football contest with referee Nathan Shakespeare distributing eight yellow cards for the match, which was always to be expected when the best two sides from the season met in the finals.
Nik Popovich was the first player of the day to see red after a rash challenge on Nahuel Guerrero saw the midfielder collect his second yellow card of the game.
Shields was in the thick of the action throughout the match, getting his marching orders by the referee after receiving a second yellow for simulation with just 15 minutes remaining.
With time running out, Olympic threw everything at the Cooma defence, but all of their efforts failed to trouble the scorers.
Andre Jancevski thought he had levelled the scores when his clever run at the far post was rewarded, but his crisp header was cleared off the line by Jared Tonini.
Daniel Sparrow made a skillful run into the box and got his shot away late in the piece, but it was comfortably met by Tigers’ keeper Jakob Cole.
Olympic will now face Gungahlin United in the preliminary final on Sunday afternoon, where both sides will be hoping to secure a spot in the decider.
The North Canberra based side set up the clash by defeating Canberra FC 5-2 in the earlier game on Saturday afternoon.
Tigers FC will have the week off after qualifying for the Grand Final in two weeks time.
Gungahlin United 5 (Antoni Timotheou 11’, Misko Naumoski 50’, Michael John 55’, 85’, Jack Green 82’) def. Canberra FC 2 (Jason Ugrinic 7’, Jordan Lamb 68’)
A four goal second-half spurred Gungahlin United to a 5-2 win over Canberra FC in the elimination final at the AIS on Saturday.
After a tight first-half, Gungahlin’s high-powered attack clicked into gear in the second 45 to help propel the side into the preliminary final next week.
Jason Ugrinic opened the scoring for Canberra FC inside 10 minutes, after he lashed a right-footed strike into the top corner from 25 yards out.
Gungahlin struck back quickly though, as Antoni Timotheou sent an equally impressive strike into the top corner after having his initial shot blocked.
Neither side could grab the lead before the break, but Misko Naumoski put Gungahlin ahead in the 50thminute when he tapped home a Samuel Habtemariam cross at the back post.
Timotheou turned provider five minutes later as he played a lovely ball into the path of Michael John, who tucked the ball past Sam Brown to extend Gungahlin’s lead.
Jordan Lamb gave Canberra FC hope when he found the back of the net with twenty minutes to play, but Gungahlin’s Jack Green sealed the match in the 82ndminute after he fired home from an acute angle.
John then scored his second to round out the 5-2 score line and secure Gungahlin’s safe passage through to the preliminary final.
They’ll now face Canberra Olympic on Sunday, with the winner to play Tigers FC in the Grand Final.
2019 NPL1 Capital Football Preliminary Final | Sunday, 8th September
Preliminary Final: Canberra Olympic v Gungahlin United | 4:30pm @ Deakin Stadium