By Tom Campbell – Urunga Raiders FC
Last time these two sides met, it took 85 minutes for the Raiders to unlock the Tigers defence. But that was at Polworth Drive in Round 3. The Raiders have been through the crucible of some challenging matches since that game and it showed at the Cabbage Patch over the weekend as they dismantled the Coffs Coast Tigers scoring five unanswered goals.
The first from the penalty spot after Luke Troy France was fouled by the Tiger’s David Inaocent. The Coffs outfit had been under plenty of pressure to that point and centre referee David Thorn (who’d ditched the periwinkle blue tunic in favour of a torso hugging layered black and grey shirt for this one) had already dismissed a previous cry from the Raiders’ for a penalty. Kale Hopper stepped up and put the Raiders ahead on 31 minutes. It was the only goal of the half, despite the Raiders dominating possession and chances.
The second half produced four goals for the home side, the first via the melon of France after Jake Leslie had done some good work on the left flank – his cross met by Luke France on the far post to give a two nil scoreline. Yes France, he’s good in the air and had missed a couple of opportunities in the first half. On this occasion, however, he was too accurate for a diving Hannaford (Tigers Goalkeeper). The Raiders went three up five minutes later and it was France again linking with Craig Simpson with a similar finish to his first goal. Simpson had combined well with Ben Dooley and his flat cross perfectly hit for France to give the Raiders a real cushion.
Ben Dooley created the opportunity for the fourth goal when he was flattened inside the Tigers area, and Dave Thorn had no choice but to award this one, with the baltent challenge more clumsy than maliscous as Dooley’s quick feet skipped around the penalty box. Kale Hopper once again scored from the spot for his second of the day.
The 5th goal again from the head of Luke France as he rose like a salmon on the far post to complete his hat trick and a deserved man of the match award.
An emphatic win for Peter Tiberius Snow’s Raiders and one the big fella was pleased with but commented that there was still room for improvement in certain phases of play. Well we shall see as the Raiders now with an opportunity to sit atop the ladder and leapfrog two sides if they can defeat the Boambee Bombers this Sunday at Ayreshire Park, kick-off at 2pm. The Bombers defeated the Raiders 2-0 at the Cabbage Patch in an earlier round and this match promises to be very interesting indeed.
In earlier matches the Raiders Reserve Grade cemented their position on top of the table with a 7-2 win a hat trick to Josh McGovern the highlight and goals to Andrew Trist, Tanjil Everett, Emar Foran and Jack Martin. The womens Reserves on the end of Character building 5-0 loss to the Storm while the First grade notched up a very important 2-1 win and I’m told celebrated in fine style.
Matches don’t come much bigger than the Raiders V Bombers clash to all but decide second place and push Coffs United for First.