It was a miserable week leading up to the opening round of football, and due to bad weather all Clarence games were called off for Round One. Coffs Harbour just managed to recover in time, and the Premier League was underway with four of the five scheduled games going ahead. Westlawn and Coffs Tigers will play a catch-up over the weekend of the 22nd – 23rd April.
Raiders Off to Winning Ways Against Subdued Bombers
Written by Urunga Raiders
The Urunga Raiders headed into this weekend’s Premier League opener on the back of some interesting pre-season results, but were in no mood to allow those results to have any bearing on their first game of the season.
Boambee Bombers hadn’t played any pre-season fixtures, though coach Troy Fowler was adamant his side had the fitness to start the season strong.
The cool weather was a nice welcome for the players as they made their way onto the Cabbage Patch. Pressing immediately off the kickoff, Urunga managed to restrict Boambee from getting out of their own half.
Some tidy link-up between Asama Radford, Ben Dooley, and Craig Simpson split the Bombers defence, with the latter releasing Tim Rupprecht with a well-weighted ball into the 18-yard box with only the keeper to beat. Rupprecht calmly slotted the ball home and the Raiders were up 1-0 in the 2nd minute.
The Bombers responded by dropping Brady Parker into a deeper role who was constantly looking to receive the ball and play in their strikers.
Former Raider Tom Frewen was ever-present at the point of Boamee’s attack, but his efforts were ultimately ineffective against the solid Raiders back-line. Urunga, on the other hand, kept their feet on the pedal; Grant Homes this time feeding the ball to McGovern who was in on goal and placed his shot well. The Raiders would have been 2-0 u had it not been for the for the quick reflexes of Jake Stitt, pushing the ball out for a corner.
It wasn’t too much longer, however, for McGovern to wait. Harry Gale played a ball from defence into his feet, and his first-time pass found Rupprecht on the right wing. Rupprecht’s cross was intended for Dooley, but a last defensive touch took it away from him only for it to fall to McGovern who hammered the ball low and hard, this time making no mistake.
Raiders 2-0 up and 30 minutes in. Urunga managed to keep Boambee at bay (pun intended), with the Bombers restricted to shots from distance. Brady Parker coming the closest in the first half with a clever free kick which beat the wall but went harmlessly wide. The Raiders went into the sheds 2-0 and in a confident mood.
The 2nd stanza began with the Raiders continuing to dominate proceedings. As the match wore on, Urunga were more and more confident in their defensive structure, allowing Boambee to sit with large amounts of possession. In the 55th minute, Urunga were awarded a free-kick. As the visitors remonstrated with the referee, Dooley’s quick free kick released McGovern down the left flank.
The Bombers defence was caught off-guard and McGoverns cut-back found Rupprecht with an empty net. Raiders 3-0. Things continued to get worse for the visitors.
In the 70th minute, a long passage of play which saw the Raiders move the ball fluently from left to right concluded nicely for Urunga, with Homes hitting McGovern’s feet on the edge of the area. Macca’s first time pass to Rupprecht sent him through with only the keeper to beat, and for the third time in the match, Rupprecht made no mistake. Hat trick hero in front the hill.
The Raiders weren’t quite done yet, however. Only minutes later Craig Simpson released Jai Wadick down the right channel. Wadick cleverly beat two defenders and played a brilliant square ball to the top of the box where he found McGovern unmarked. Having enough time to get his head up, McGovern hit a low left-footed drive underneath the stretched arms of Stitt to make it 5-0 to the Raiders. Game over it seemed.
To their credit, the Bombers never gave up, and while the result was all but sealed, they were rewarded for their persistence with a consolation in the 77th minute. A Urunga break was dealt with well by the Bombers defence, who promptly cleared their lines finding Parker on the left wing. Parker lofted the ball to the opposite flank, eluding the Raiders defence and finding Christian Penny, who carried the ball through two players and hit the back of the net. Final score 5-1, and the Raiders comfortable for the majority of the match.
It was a great opening to the season for Urunga, who will aim to exact some revenge on the Coffs Tigers outfit who knocked them out of the FFA Cup when they meet next Saturday night.
Sawtell Scorpions Start Season Strong
Written by Sawtell Scorpions
Maclean Bobcats travelled to Sawtell for their first game of the season, but were overpowered by a slick Scorpions outfit, who have clearly come a long way from last year.
Both teams played well, though Sawtell played a more clinical game and were able to hold their 5-2 lead.
Sawtell Assistant Coach Adrian Blythe applauded his side for playing the way they train, and coming away with an important three points to start their campaign.
Maclean showed glimpses of promise, but will need more consistency as the season progresses.
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