THE local derby started at a frenetic pace as the Lions and Tigers exchanged early chances in the Coastal Premier League.
After 15 minutes it was the pace and precision of Caleb Lopko that broke the deadlock as he bolted down the right wing and shot from the edge of the penalty box and watched the ball glide into the top corner of the net.
Caleb was a constant threat and on 24 minutes he sprinted down the right wing and crossed over to Scott Goddard who side footed into the back of the net.
On the half hour mark Caleb struck again as he broke down the right but seemed to run out of pitch as he approached the by-line. An instinctive chip left everyone watching as the ball floated into the air and dropped into back of the net to put the Lions 3-0 up.
The resolute Tigers regrouped and piled the pressure back onto the Lions who were under the pump for extended periods.
It was the man of the match Caleb Lopko who ended the contest on 75 minutes when he popped up on the left hand side. A classy stepover and a drop of the shoulder created enough space for a shot which he fired into the back of the net to seal the points and his first ever hatrick for the Lions.
Coffs United Lions 4. Coffs Coast Tigers 0.
In the post match interview Caleb was thrilled with his performance and the contribution he made to the team.
Caleb said, “This is my best ever season and the extra hard work I’ve put in at training is starting to pay off.”
The Lions coach Glen Williams was delighted with the victory and commented, “The first half was the best football I’ve seen in a long while, everything just clicked.”
However Williams was quick to warn against complacency and reiterated the strength in depth of the Coastal Premier League.
“This is the closest league I’ve ever been part of, there’s very little difference between top and bottom of the league and with such a tight comp everything can change quickly. There’s only two points between the top four teams so we need to focus on Saturday’s match against the Saints,” he said.
Port Saints, Macleay Valley Rangers and Boambee all won their matches which means the Lions stay one point ahead with a chasing pack breathing down their necks. All eyes go to Saturday 15th as the Lions travel to second place Port Saints, Boambee host Port United and Macleay Valley Rangers have a home town derby against the Kempsey Saints.
By David WIGLEY