S-League winners Central Coast FC overcame a stunning first-half goal from John Alick to net an equaliser 15 minutes from the end of regulation time, ensuring the opening leg of the Oceania Champions League National Playoffs against the Solomon Warriors ended in a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon.
John Alick gave the Warriors the lead on 36 minutes with a shot from outside the box which he floated up and above Central Coast’s international star keeper Phillip Mango, after receiving the ball from the a throw in and launching the ball towards goal.
It came after the Warriors enjoyed the early running at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara, creating several chances which were thwarted by the quick-thinking Mango.
With the Warriors leading 1-0 at the break, both sides missed golden chances in the 20 minutes after half time.
First David Supa failed to take advantage of an open goal to draw his side level, before Jerry Donga did everything but score when he beat his marker and fired a ball across goal.
The second-half introduction of Junior Fordney proved an inspired substitution from coach Jacob Moli, although Fordney must have been thinking he’d blown the chance to be his side’s hero when he nodded a close-range header straight into the hands of keeper Timothy Maearasia shortly after coming on.
But minutes later he was all class when called upon again, taking the ball from some neat build-up play before firing a shot off the outside of his boot into the back of the net.
Both teams had opportunities to score a winning goal in the closing exchanges, including several chances in a frantic six minutes of added time, but in the end they couldn’t be split ahead of the return leg – again at Lawson Tama Stadium – on June 25.
Solomon Warriors FC 1 (John ALICK 36′)
Central Coast FC 1 (Junior FORDNEY 76′)