Game of two halves as Storm and Lions share the points in season opener

Christian Mirindi scored the first goal in 2021 Coastal Premier Season for the Storm.


LAST year’s Coastal Premier League champions Coffs United drew 2-2 with the Northern Storm in the opening fixture of the 2021 season.

The Storm kicked off their season at a whirlwind pace as new recruit Christian Mirindi wreaked havoc on the left wing and was rewarded with the first goal of the 2021 Coastal Premier League season when his trickery and pace pierced the Lions backline and he slotted home.

The Storm continued to press a beleaguered Lions defence and doubled their lead with a spectacular diving header from Martin Skinner to give the Storm a 2-0 lead after twenty minutes.

The Lions gathered their composure and reduced the deficit on the stroke of halftime with a goal from Addison Mallett and evened the contest with a second half Scott Goddard penalty to share the points.

Storm joint coach Craig Caruana praised his team in a tricky opening fixture.

“It’s a tough assignment meeting the benchmark and champions first up especially when six of your starting 11 are new to the club and team this year and haven’t played a single game together.

“Overall I thought we played well, we were smart at times, tough, we had good intensity, we made good use of the ball and asked questions of them, we knew there would be periods where United would have good periods of possession and I thought we were comfortable with that for the most part,” Caruana said.

“Prior to the game I was confident that we could get a result from the game if we followed our match plan which I thought we did well for large periods of the game, we knew Coffs would not go away and the boys really made them work for a point.

“We had a chance at 2-0 to go three up which narrowly went wide and conceding with seconds left before half time to go in 2-1 was a reminder that you can’t switch off in this league, not against United, you don’t want to give a team like that a sniff and we did, prior to that I thought we had taken the wind out of their sails, to concede a scrappy goal right on half time is something we’ll look at and work on during the week.

“To concede the equaliser from a penalty in the second half like that is disappointing and frustrating, we’ll look at the video during the week and see if there is anything from our side we can improve on in that area, I don’t really want to talk about the penalty it seems to be a recurring theme here.

“I’m really disappointed with the two goals they scored, sometimes you concede a goal and think we got opened up or it was well created and we’ll have to work on this or that but I was frustrated at conceding those two goals.

Caruana named some new arrivals as his star players on the day.

“Bailey Bathgate, Christian Mirindi who scored one goal, and Jyelei Mckell were among our best and are all new additions this year, we know what you’re going to get out of the boys who have been here for a while but you don’t quite know exactly what you have until they pull the shirt on and make their mark on a game no matter how impressive they are in pre-season, I thought all three of them did that, we’ve still got a few new guys who were unavailable this weekend due to various commitments, it’s exciting to think how they can add to the team,” said Caruana.

A game of two halves was a fitting cliche as Lions coach Glen Williams summed up the match.

“Tough day at the Storm, first half we got outplayed in intensity and made two mistakes and got punished.

“Second half was a good change, we created chances and Mabior Garang was wreaking havoc in their defence, several chances went begging to end the game in a draw,” said Williams.

With most of the March FFA fixtures postponed due to the weather, the fixtures are already piling up as Caruana told News Of The Area.

“We’ve got Westlawn in the FFA cup on Tuesday night and that’s our next focus, it’s a good opportunity to introduce some new signings and some of our first graders who were unavailable on the weekend with family commitments, honeymoons and the usual things.

“Mid-week games aren’t usually great but considering we haven’t played much football it will be a good opportunity for us to build on what we started on the weekend and try a few things you usually would in pre-season trials.

“Looking ahead to Taree on the road this weekend, it’s a long day and we’re expecting them to be a tough opponent, especially at home, we won’t be underestimating any team, especially Taree on their home turf,” concluded Caruana.




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