CPL round 17 review

Coffs City Lions showcase championship qualities again as they overcome Port United

Coffs City United showed once again why they’re going to take some beating for the Coastal Premier League title after they saw off a plucky Port United 1-0 in Port Macquarie on Saturday.

Martin Kelleher’s first half header proved to be the difference between the two sides although Port United goalkeeper Cameron Higham arguably kept his side in the contest.

The hosts applied 30 minutes of intense pressure to open the match before Kelleher found the back of the net when he outjumped Higham with the ladder-leaders’ first scoring opportunity.

Lions coach Glenn Williams admitted it was the first time in a long time his side had been challenged for a sustained period.

“We’ve been put under pressure like that in bits and pieces of games (this season), but probably not for a solid 30 minutes,” Williams said.

“I was surprised by the length of the intensity because in amateur sport at this level you don’t see it for long periods like that because you’re training twice a week, so you don’t have that level of fitness.

“It’s good to know we can weather that storm and then grind it out while not conceding.”

United coach Nathan Wade admitted Kelleher’s goal took the wind out of his side’s sails after they had started the game full of running.

“When they scored it kind of deflated our boys a bit because we were going pretty well and might have been slightly on top,” Wade said.

“If we had have scored when we had the ascendancy in the first half we probably could have put pressure on them, but in the second half they deserved their win.

“Cameron kept us in the game a few times.”

Kelleher’s goal proved to be the beginning of the end with Higham coming up with a number of point-blank saves while Lions midfielder Joel Hampson missed a second-half penalty.

Coffs United have now failed to convert five of their last six from the spot.

Wade said his team’s inability to maintain possession after the opening 30-minute onslaught gave them something to work on for if the two teams meet again.

“If it’s a one-off game some favourites do get beaten so we have to be perfect and they have to be off a little bit,” he said.

“They haven’t been beaten in a long time, but we’d still go in confident we could win. They’re a great side, we can’t deny that.”

In other matches over the weekend Northern Storm defeated Macleay Valley 1-0 while Coffs Tigers put four goals past Kempsey Saints to maintain their hold on second spot.

The Boambee and Taree Wildcats and Port Saints and Sawtell matches had to be postponed following the Newcastle and Hunter Valley lockdowns.

Those clubs had players in the Newcastle area in the last seven days so were unable to field teams.

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