By Tom Campbell
It was a big hill to climb for the Boambee Bombers, they’d played so well at Ayrshire Park the week before only to go down 2-1 by a lacklustre Raider outfit and must’ve believed they could get something out of the return leg against Urunga on the hallowed turf of the Cabbage Patch.
Head groundsman Wayne Sharkey had lowered the blades on his beloved Torro by a notch for this one and produced a mouth-watering surface for the players. Zephyrs of cool breeze from the south and a thousand yards of sunshine greeted the players for this all important match with respected referee Bruce Mackie (resplendent in teal tunic) in control.
The Bombers took off, oh yeah they were energetic, shades of last weekend indeed Naomichi Matsuda and Liam Fuller in full flight from the get go, but the Raiders more composed, organised and certainly more competitive as they blunted a number of attacks.
Joseph Andrew Petite and Mick McCormick were in position and strong at the back for the home side and they needed to be as the Bombers came knocking on the door. With a larger share of possession Boambee took a deserved lead after a long throw eluded all defensive attempts to clear and Christian Penny got the decisive touch to send the Bombers in front.
You could say it wasn’t well received from the large home crowd and, together with late penalty claims from the Raiders that were dismissed by Mackie didn’t help the mood either. Grant Homes had smashed a shot which looked goal bound but blocked by a phalanx of rising Bomber defenders. Mackie was well placed to make the call and Bombers went into the break a goal up and full of belief.
Just what message Peter Tiberius Snow delivered would be pure speculation on my part but the result was obvious as Urunga gained a greater share of possession and the Boambee lads that had burned so brightly in the first stanza not so bright now.
Ben Dooley was an absolute pest for the Bombers defence, as he went about pressuring defenders into errors and then setting up attacks, that coupled with the constant threat of the newly anointed North Coast Football’s player of the year Luke Troy France, cruising between the Boambee defensive lines like a Great White looking for a seal. Safe to say the Bombers weren’t feeling the sunshine; now they were feeling the heat.
Naomichi Matsuda looked dangerous on the wing for Boambee, though early in the second half Joseph Andrew Petite robbed him of the ball, not an easy feat considering Matsuda’s prodigious speed. Petite then sent a raking ball up field for France to accelerate onto. Some would argue (and rightly) that France doesn’t have the physical attribute of acceleration though North Coast Keeper of the Year, Jake Stitt, got this one wrong and, like a great white to a seal France was off easing the ball past Stitt and levelling the scores.
Twenty minutes to go in someone’s season with the Raiders in full attack mode now, Kale Hopper able to set up France again but this time felled by the late challenge of Matt Ryan. Bruce Mackie calmly awarding the penalty and Bruce Mackie again well placed to make the decision.
Hopper stepped up to deliver a well-taken spot-kick, but Keeper of the Year Jake Stitt guessed the right way, diving to his left and blocking the shot, probably not the best result for the home side right but magnificent save Stitt.
Did not matter though as France was away again, this time via a deft ball from Homes just lofted over the defensive line and France, well it was a feeding frenzy! Seizing the opportunity and the ball to chip the advancing Stitt, yes the player of the year chips the keeper of the year – beautiful.
2-1 now and Urunga fully dominant in the shadows of full time made it 3-1 after Jake Leslie’s cross found Ben Dooley’s right foot and Dooley finishing from close range like it was a training drill.
Boambee had been worthy contestants indeed and on another day might have achieved a different result but it’s not so easy to do that at the Cabbage Patch. Good luck Raiders in the Grand Final next week!