Wollongong made it hard going for Russell Vale in the opening 20mins. Although the home side had most of the possession we created very little, the closest we came was a free kick from Baxter Bowler Prentice and a shot from Blair Dunn. When Zac Winter came off the bench he changed the dynamics of the game, almost scoring with his first touch. Russell Vale took the game up another gear and it wasn’t long before they were rewarded. Yet another free kick and this time Blair Dunn’s shot could only be parried and Tommy Heaton followed up to nod the ball over the line, 1-0. There were some brave performances in the first half which was epitomized by Ethan Larnach, no matter how often he was knocked down he always got back up and never once complained.
Wollongong almost levelled after the break but Sean Donnelly was up to the shot. Russell Vale then clicked back into gear with Louis Ready off on one of his lightening breaks before setting up Zac Winter, 2-0. As Wollongong tired Russell Vale kept up the pressure. A Blair Dunn corner was knocked out to the edge of the box and a superb first time effort from Zac Winter flew into the net to make it 3-0. Jack Donnelly won the ball on the half way line then set up Louis Ready for another run. With the goal at his mercy and about to pull the trigger he was hacked down from behind, penalty. In hindsight I could have let Zac Winter step up and try for his hat-trick but I felt Louis Ready deserved something for all his effort and he duly obliged, 4-0.
Tom Curran, Baxter Bowler Prentice, Jack Donnelly and Ethan Larnach played more like defenders today and worked very hard to limit Wollongong to the occasional shot, unfortunately one did eventually go in, 4-1. The Cobras response was instant Blair Dunn and Tom Curran combined to set up Louis Ready to make the final score 5-1. Tough game, hard earned win and we meet Wollongong again in the Plate Semi (28 June). At the end of the day it doesn’t matter who scores, I always emphasise it’s a team game and I was very pleased to see the likes of Riley Hanlon, Blair Dunn and Jordan Errington put in a good shift for the team.
(All going well the FA will announce the fixtures for the second half of the season by Thursday).