IF there’s one thing to take from the first week of the C.ex Group Men’s Premier League semi finals it’s that you have to play the match out all the way to referee’s final whistle.
Late goals were the norm in two thrilling matches.
Boambee became the first team to qualify for the grand final when an 89th minute strike by Brady Parker iced a 2-1 win over Coffs United.
In the knockout semi the climax was even more thrilling.
Michael Turner scored his third goal of the day in the 75th minute. Unfortunately one of those was an own goal which meant finishing off a goalmouth scramble gave the Storm a 2-1 lead.
Just as the Korora team was starting to think about playing next week Urunga equalised when Paul Pomroy rose above the throng to head in a corner in the 92nd minute.
Extra time was on the cards before the Storm’s Otis Barney pounced on a loose pass just on the attacking side of halfway in the 95th minute.
The Raiders defence desperately pushed back to halt Barney’s run toward goal but the desperation resulted in leaving Jamie Kennedy unmarked on the left side.
Barney found his open teammate and Kennedy coolly put the ball in to break Urunga’s hearts.
“The lights are still on at York Street,” Storm coach Jade Porter said about his team’s continuing late season surge.
The coach admitted his heart sunk a little when Pomroy equalised.
“We’ve got a long history me and Pom and I just thought ‘you mongrel’ again,” he said.
“We had to earn it and for Otis to play it to JK to finish it off was amazing. I didn’t want to see dotties.”
Urunga coach Craig Simpson was clearly disappointed but took pride in the way his defenders almost got to back to the line in time to block Kennedy’s matchwinner.
“I can’t knock them, they worked so hard to run 80 metres to get back and try and protect the goal and they nearly got it,” Simpson said.
In front of a crowd of more than 400 people at Ayrshire Park the Bombers led 1-0 at the break thanks to James Lowe making a run down the right and cutting a pass back to the front post where Luke France was waiting to slot home the opportunity.
The hour mark was vital for the Lions. Not only did that point see ‘keeper Brent Turner make two great saves, the first stopping Christian Penny in open space before moments later denying France a second goal from a header off a corner but shortly before that United was left a player down after Callan Alsopp was shown a second yellow card leaving the Lions a man down for the final half hour.
United equalised when Scott Goddard converted from the penalty spot with 15 minutes still to play.
There were chances for both teams but it wasn’t until a Lachlan Moye cross from the left took a deflection and fell at the dangerous left foot of Parker that the winner was decided.
Coffs United coach Glen Williams rued losing in such heartbreaking circumstances but saw a silver lining to the cloud.
“I think the passion that my guys showed with 10 guys on the pitch was impressive, we probably played better with 10 guys formation wise but it’s those little things. You give Brady (Parker) a chance at the edge of the box and a sniff and he’ll put it away for sure,” Williams said.
The match was a physical affair with the hard Ayrshire Park surface contributing to many hard fought aerial contests.
Boambee coach Shane Duncan said he didn’t expect anything less.
“I think it was probably a bit more physical than either side would’ve like it to have been but that’s the game and that’s how semi finals should be,” Duncan said.
“You don’t want to be winning semi finals by three or four goals, it needs to be tight the whole way. If you are (winning by that much) then there’s something wrong with football in the area because we’re the two top teams.
“I thought it was a good battle, it was a good game.”
Duncan said qualifying for the grand final was a grand achievement but he has a warning for his players.
“It probably won’t be a good thing for the boys because they’ll be training their butts off,” he said.
“If they think they’re going to be getting it easy they’re in for a rude awakening.”