Round of 32 debut for the ages: Second tier NSW outfit’s unforgettable Australia Cup bow

New South Wales second-tier side Inter Lions capped off their debut in the national stages of the Australia Cup with a romping 6-0 victory over Hellenic Athletic on Thursday evening.

The NSW League One side – who are one of the lowest ranked sides remaining in the competition – were dominant in the Top End, putting the result beyond doubt in a resounding first-half where they lead by four at the half.

They are currently – along with NPL2 Victoria side Northcote City who face Adelaide United next Monday – the equal lowest ranked side remaining in the Australia Cup, after NPL3 Victoria outfit Goulburn Valley Suns were eliminated by APIA Leichhardt on Wednesday night.

Owen Duke and Oliver Green scored two goals each, while Sam Armson and Thomas Quilligan added to the score-line as Inter secured their place in the Round of 16.

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As a result, the wait for a Northern Territory side to win a game in the national stages of the Australia Cup rolls on for another year while Inter can dare to dream of an unlikely deep into the competition.

Incredibly, Inter had a whopping 32 shots to three, 56 touches in the opposition box to two, 17 corners to one, 139 total final third passes to 54 and an expected goals (xG) of 3.96 to 0.09.

Isuzu UTE A-League champion Daniel Georgievski also came off the bench for Lions, playing the final 20 odd minutes.

Inter secured their place in the Round of 32 off the back of a barnstorming run through the preliminary rounds, where they eventually shocked NPL NSW powerhouses Rockdale Ilinden 2-1 in the final round of qualifying.

It hasn’t been as smooth sailing in the league, as Inter sit seventh in League One – 15 points off first place Bonyrigg White Eagles – who they beat during their run to qualification.

Meanwhile, NPL Victoria outfits Heidelberg United and Melbourne Knights also confirmed their place in the Round of 16, defeating Moreton Bay United and Lions FC respectively.

The Bergers – who have been in the midst of a difficult 2023 campaign – turned the tide on their season, with a resounding 3-0 victory in Queensland, thanks to goals from Kaine Sheppard, Josh Pin and Sean Ellis.

Meanwhile, Knights blew away Lions FC at home 4-1, with Gian Albano leading the way with two goals. The Western Australian opened the scoring before Andy Pengelly equalised, but Mohamed Sumaoro immediately restored their advantage.

Mitch Hore doubled their lead after half-time, then Albano added a second to round out the victory for the fellow Victorian powerhouses – ensuring an NPL Victoria clean sweep over their Queensland rivals.

The three winners tonight joined Sydney United 58, Mt Druitt Town Rangers, APIA Leichhardt, Western United, Gold Coast Knights, Western Sydney Wanderers, Wellington Phoenix and MetroStars in the Round of 16.

Action continues on Sunday afternoon with NPL Victoria champions Oakleigh Cannons hosting Melbourne City and Sydney FC taking on reigning Isuzu UTE A-League champions Central Coast Mariners.

The Round of 32 wraps up the following day when Northcote host Adelaide, NPL South Australian outfit Campbelltown City welcome Macarthur FC and Newcastle Jets take on Brisbane Roar.

Thursday August 10

Moreton Bay United 0-3 Heidelberg United
Venue: Wolter Park, Albany Creek, Queensland

Melbourne Knights 4-1 Lions FC
Venue: Knights Stadium, Sunshine North, Victoria

Hellenic Athletic 0-6 Inter Lions
Venue: Darwin Football Stadium, Marrara, Northern Territory