The Lions are fighting for a playoff spot!

June 7, 2014 St Louis, MO

by Jonny Brown

After throwing away a 2-1 lead with 10 minutes remaining on Thursday night, the St Louis Lions faced a must win rematch with the Thunder Bay Chill at the Tony Glavin Soccer complex on Saturday afternoon. The game carried serious play off implications for both sides, but more so for the home team who couldn’t afford a second loss in three days.

In the opening minutes, it was apparent that neither team wanted to make an early mistake as the game started off with some sloppy play. It was punctuated with several fouls and an all round “chippy” atmosphere. After both teams had a player yellow carded in the first 25 minutes, the Lions were dealt a massive blow on the half hour mark as an exchange between head coach Tony Glavin and referee Saul Gonzalez saw Glavin sent from the bench and out of the game. With both assistant coaches unavailable for the game, it was left to the players themselves to see the half out. The Lions soon settled in to a rhythm and got in behind the Chill on numerous occasions without really testing keeper Daniel Alvarado.

The second half saw the Chill, playing their 5th game of an eight-day road trip, sit back and try to soak up the Lions pressure. Alvarado was finally called into action when he had to save from Carson Pryor. Four second half Lions corners were all served into dangerous areas but the Chill managed to repel them all as captain Nolan Intermoia led the Canadian’s back line with some stout defending.

However, just as it looked like the Chill would leave Missouri having taken four points from the Lions and put themselves in pole position for the second play off spot, the home team had other ideas. A throw in taken by substitute Chris Matthews deep in Thunder Bay territory landed at the feet of forward Vadim Cojocov. The Irishman didn’t think twice as a deft right-footed flick over Alvarado’s head broke the tie, much to the relief of all 300 fans at Glavin complex. The Lions survived the final few waves of attack from the visitors to secure a valuable three points that keeps them in the hunt for the team’s first playoff appearance since 2006.

Next up is a trip to West Des Moines, Iowa to face league-leading Des Moines Menace. The home side, who sealed a playoff spot with a weekend sweep in Winnipeg, can clinch the Heartland Division win a victory. Yet the Lions hold their own fate in their hands so they will be looking to secure another away win to close the gap on Thunder Bay. The Menace secured a 2-0 win over the Lions in the team’s only meeting this season on May 25th in St Louis. In the last meeting between the two sides at Valley Stadium, the Lions and the Menace closed out the 2013 regular season with an extremely entertaining 3-3 draw, which saw 17 year old Kyle Weinrich become the youngest player and scorer in the history of the PDL. The meetings between both sides are never dull so expect more of the same this weekend. Kick off is set for 7.30pm at Valley Stadium, West Des Moines, IA.