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FFSA: Strikers win Federation Cup Final

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lee Gagliardi

Western Strikers lifted the 2011 FFSA Coca-Cola Federation Cup after defeating Adelaide Blue Eagles 6-5 in a penalty shootout at Hindmarsh Stadium on Saturday after the match ended 1-1.

Strikers' Japanese keeper Takumi Takahashi saved two Blue Eagles' spot kicks to help his side claim their first ever major trophy in their maiden Cup Final appearance.

Captain Michele Lastella acknowledged it was a significant moment in the club's history.

"It's an amazing feeling and I'm so happy for the club," he said.

"Every at the club is extremely happy and it's something that has been building up not just this year but for over three years.

"Since we arrived in the Super League we fought to avoid relegation and now to have won a trophy is amazing. We've had a great blend of youth and experience we're looking forward to more success in the future."

Kym Harris opened the scoring for ABE just on the half hour when he latched onto a perfect through ball from Evan Kounavelis. Harris picked out the bottom corner of Takahashi's goal and made no mistake from the top of the area.

Strikers equalised through Jordan Spadavecchia seven minutes later. Calvin Mbarga squared the ball across the box and Spadavecchia had his first shot saved by ABE keeper Gino De Lucia, but smashed the rebound into the vacant net.

Both sides traded blows in the second half with neither team able to create any clear-cut chances as the match ended 1-1 after 90 minutes.

Blue Eagles were reduced to ten men late in the second period of extra time when midfielder Adam Vizzari was given his marching orders after collecting his second yellow card for a foul on Mbarga.

Strikers' midfielder Adrian D'Alfonso almost stole a dramatic late winner but his 20 metre shot struck the upright, sending the match to penalties after 120 minutes of football. D'Alfonso made no mistake for his next effort coolly stepping up to converted the first spot kick of the shootout.

Blue Eagles veteran Damien Di Mella replied for his side before man-of-the-match Ermias Haile also dispatched his penalty. Chad Bugeja had his spot kick saved by Takahashi before Steven Stefanopoulos and Callam Flanagan were successful with their efforts from the spot.

Dean Kenrick and Ian Kamau kept ABE in the shootout before Ambesager Yosief wasted a chance to seal victory for Strikers when his spot kick was saved by De Lucia.

Kym Harris squared the ledger before Daniele Lastella and Tom Maricic scored for Strikers, either side of Chris Atsikbasis' penalty. Takahashi sealed victory for Strikers keeping out Fortunato Filletti's spot kick.