Major Semi-Final (Kiama)
Friday 20 August
Albion Park 1 v 1 Russell Vale (AET) “WON 5-4 PENS”
Not a match for the faint hearted or connoisseurs and lovers of the beautiful game. To prevent Russell Vale from getting into their passing rhythm Albion Park’s game plan was to use a combination of long balls and over zealous tackling. The Cobras were made to battle every inch of the way and full credit to the lads they never gave up even when they went 1-0 down after only 10 mins. Once again our nemesis No.9 had a hand in it but the response from Russell Vale was instant. Within a minute of the restart Chris Behan found Shae Morgan down the right hand side of the pitch, he cut inside and launched a “Hail Mary” effort that left their keeper flatfooted as he stood and watched it go in off the far post 1-1. Back came Albion Park but fortunately with the goal at his mercy their striker headed over the bar. In the final 10mins of the half the Cobras had probably their best spell and started to assert their authority on the game. The pressure almost paid off as first Matt Nelson then Dylan Andrews both went very close to scoring from the edge of the box.
The second half began much the same as the first with Albion Park in the ascendancy and their physical approach remained the same. At some stage of the game several players had to leave the pitch through injury Hayden Brown, Jean Paul, Shae Morgan, Nathan Hennessy, Dylan Andrews and Jordan Woods sadly the latter never made it back on again. Despite this the referee only booked one Albion Park player all game but still the Cobras never gave up. Joel Dalmonte had a legend of a game at the back and he was ably supported by Kurtis Trindall, Jawad Khan, Coen Mackay and Joey Hodges in defence. However with the clock running down it was left to Gareth Garnon to make an excellent save and send the game into extra time.
Players became tired, limbs began to hurt and although the game went from one end to the other chances were limited. The teams were like two prize fighters that had finally punched themselves to a standstill. Before the inevitable penalty shoot out there was still time for one last cruel twist of fate as Shae Morgan and Matt Nelson combined to have a goal ruled out for offside.
- First up was Hayden Brown and he dispatched his penalty with a lot of venom to make up for all the rough treatment he had received during the game 1-0 to Russell Vale.
- Their No.9 steps up 1-1.
- Chris Behan rifles his shot into the roof of the net 2-1.
- Their player blasts his shot over the bar. Still 2-1, advantage Russell Vale.
- Matt Nelson’s shot is well saved, score remains 2-1.
- Albion Park score now it’s 2-2, all square.
- Kurtis Trindall hit a rocket of a shot but it just missed the top upright. Still 2-2 and advantage with Albion Park.
- Albion Park score and now lead 2-3.
- Joel Dalmonte steps up and coolly makes it 3-3 but the advantage is still with Albion Park with one penalty to go.
- Their keeper who normally plays up front takes the kick and Gareth Garnon wins the battle of the keepers by deflecting it over the bar. So after five penalties each the score is locked at 3-3 and now it’s sudden death.
- First up is Shae Morgan another player that came in for a lot of abuse during the game “Goal” 4-3 to Russell Vale.
- Albion Park score 4-4.
- Nathan Armstrong who after having an outstanding game in midfield remains the calmest player on the pitch and makes it 5-4.
- Gareth Garnon holds his nerve but the Albion Park player didn’t and the ball sails over the bar, 5-4 game over!
All the players run and celebrate by jumping on Gareth Garnon. All you can see is a huge pile of green bodies in the middle of the pitch.
“RUSSELL VALE ARE GOING TO THE GRAND FINAL!”