Lyall sees red as Magpies’ season goes on the line
MICHAEL Lyall often wins games off his own boot but the star striker’s influence will be limited to moving the magnets as Magpies’ season goes on the line this weekend.
Lyall was sent off in the 86th minute of Saturday night’s 4-1 loss to Magpies Crusaders, making him unavailable for this Saturday’s semi-final clash with Lions.
Meeting for the first time since the fiery September 19 encounter in which four players were shown a red card, Magpies Crusaders progressed through to the Men’s Premier League decider at the reigning champions’ expense.
Incredibly, Magpies remain winless since September 12.
“We didn’t execute on the night and were punished for it,” Magpies skipper Daniel Reponen said.
“I can’t really put it down to anything else. They played well and we just didn’t have a good game.”
At the same time on the other side of Mackay Football Park, Lions ended City Brothers’ season with an impressive 5-2 win.
It sets up an enticing 2019 grand final rematch between Magpies and Lions, with Magpies Crusaders waiting to meet the winner.
Reponen expects Lions to pose a stern test of the reigning premiers’ credentials.
“Last time we played them we had a 2-all draw. It won’t be easy,” he said.
“They’re young, fit, can run all day. We can’t put in another performance like we did on the weekend or we’ll be turned over again.”
Magpies’ slew of experienced finals campaigners should give them an edge in knockout football, particularly against the youth of Lions and Magpies Crusaders.
But all that matters is who finishes the best team after 90 minutes, as Reponen well knows.
“You’d like to think experience would give us an advantage but if we don’t execute, that experience really means nothing,” he said.
“I’m hoping some wise heads can calm the ship and we can put in a better performance (against Lions).”