The Devonport Strikers have won the 2021 Lakoseljac Cup, winning a thrilling penalty shootout 4-3 over the Glenorchy Knights. A 1-1 scoreline after 90 minutes and 2-2 after extra time sent the game to the penalty spot in one of the most epic finals in Tasmanian football history. Not only did they take the Statewide Cup they have also earned the right to be Tasmania’s sole representative in the R32 of the FFA Cup.
Team news saw a big out for Strikers with Connor Parke still unavailable due to the concussion protocols in place, so up stepped New Zealand import Jordan Lamb into the starting lineup. Glenorchy didn’t fare much better with selections, with cup-tied signing Austin Yost not cleared to play in the final. As the old saying goes, “turn a negative into a positive”. The Knights welcomed back Oscar Thomas into the squad after being absent all season due to other commitments.
The first-half was lacklustre with few scoring opportunities for both sides, but it was not short of action. Agression was flowing with every single tackle and challenge, with desperation on display from the top two teams in the state. Connor Schmidt was temporarily removed from the field, with a nasty collision with a Strikers defender getting the better of him. St John’s Ambulance were on hand and checked him out, along with club health officials, and gave the all clear to return.
Raphael Reynolds played through 75 minutes he would like to forget, but that he will almost certainly remember. A pause in play in the first half saw Reynolds in plenty of discomfort on the sidelines with agony on his face. It was later confirmed that he had dislocated his shoulder. Medical staff hurried him off and popped it back into place, and sure enough he was soon back on the field.
Nic Naden finally broke the deadlock in the second half with a fantastic finesse shot just outside the box past goalkeeper Nathan Pitchford, giving the Knights a crucial lead with just minutes remaining. Devonport only needed a few minutes to equalise shortly after, though. A corner caused a scramble in the box, and while Brody Denehey equalised it came at a cost with his powerful shot coming off the head of Daniel Syson. Celebrations were halted as Syson lay face first with a suspected broken nose.
Lachlan Hart was called to action in the final seconds of regulation time, making a crucial save which sent the game into extra-time. Kieran Mulvaney appeared to have scored the winner in the 117th minute, heading home from a set-piece. Chris Gallo and players celebrated wildly, thinking the result was all but sealed.
Football is a funny game, though. Remember Oscar Thomas? Coach James Sherman had a final trick up his sleeve, introducing Thomas into the game with minutes remaining. With seconds remaining in stoppage time, the substitute got the faintest of touches on a shot that rolled past Pitchford and into the back of the net. Just like that, the score was 2-2 after the final play of extra-time.
Both sides headed to the dreaded penalty spot to decide the Lakoseljac Cup. Devonport’s Charles Bidwell and Glenorchy’s Eli Luttmer both converted, before Striker Raphael Reynolds failed to do so to give the Knights an early advantage. The score had progressed to 2-2 when Nick Mearns thumped his effort off the post and out, leaving both sides back on level footing.
That brought the shootout into sudden death, with Devonport’s Toby Barton and Glenorchy’s Connor Schmidt waiting in the wings. Barton’s shot narrowly passed goalkeeper Lachlan Hart, leaving Schmidt on the hot seat. He shot down the right-hand side but Pitchford guessed correctly, saving the shot and giving the title to the Devonport Strikers in a cup final for the ages.