Urunga Raiders are through to the quarter finals of NNSW conference of the FFA Cup following a narrow win over FFNC representatives Bangalow Bluedogs SC.
Urunga needed 120 minutes to overcome the Bluedogs, with the Full Time score locked at 1-1. The Raiders had the fitness though, and ran over their rivals during Extra Time, with substitute Emar Foran proving his worth as he scored the winner and probably could’ve bagged another two.
Bangalow’s defence looked a bit leaky in the early stages of the match, but it turned out to be nerves and sure enough they tightened their defence quickly.
Raider’s Fullback Jake Leslie was key to Urunga’s wide play, and in the opening 20 minutes linked nicely with Fabrice Wamara on the left flank, as Wamara took the ball past a few overzealous defenders into space. He then released ‘the turtle’ Craig Simpson who slotted past Bluedogs keeper to give the Raiders a deserved lead.
The goal didn’t rattle the Bluedogs, who, after conceding, started to enjoy large stints of possession in the front two thirds. Rory Devlin, Sam Ireland and Byron Milne were most impressive for Bangalow, with Milne scoring a great solo goal in the 24th minute which was reminiscent of Urunga’s opener.
Ireland, Bangalow’s central striker, was well known to the Urunga boys having played for them several years back. The journey man had a few bright moments, but was mostly contained by the Raiders’ unwavering defence.
The scores were level at half-time, and after the break Bangalow continued to press. However, as Bangalow coach Neil Fuller pointed out, the Urunga defence was almost unbreachable.
” I think they were a bit more robust than us. For most of the 90 minutes it was very even, but they were playing a 4-4-2 whereas we were 4-3-3, and on reflection I think that was a bit of a problem. They had a number 6 (Luke France) and two solid centreback’s (Gayle and McCormick) who caused us all sorts of problems when we had possession.”
Kale Hooper and Ben Dooley were also key to the outcome of the match, both strong when defending and comfortable retaining possession against a determined Bluedogs midfield.
Two halves of Extra Time followed but the Raiders needed just 7 minutes to edge ahead. Winger Tim Rupprecht delivered a pin point cross for Emar Foran to slap into the Bangalow net. After the goal the Raiders dominated the match, stroking the ball around with ease and wearing the clock down.
Urunga will now head to Newcastle on 18th and 19th June for the next round of the FFA Cup, with the draw for those games to be released by NNSWF soon.