After several weeks of “game on? game off?” Russell Vale finally got to play against Kiama in the Semi Final but due to a reduction in the number of games in the play offs this was a straight forward winner to the Grand Final, loser goes home.
Despite some inconsistent performances towards the end of the regular season and lack of recent football due to rain, Russell Vale managed to recapture their old form just in the nick of time. Right from the kick off the Cobras took the game to Kiama and the pressure paid off after only 10 mins. Jarod Tuckwood had a very commanding game in the middle of the park and he helped to set up the opening goal. His through ball found Jordy Errington with only the keeper to beat but he smashed his shot against the crossbar, fortunately Zach Winter was on hand to knock in the rebound, 1-0. Kiama tried to push forward for a quick equaliser but were met by a solid Baxter Bowler Prentice and Jack Donnelly in the centre of defence. The latter actually broke away several times in the first half with the ball, eager to set up another Russell Vale attack and one such opportunity led to Tommy Heaton firing a rocket just wide of the goal.
Kiama’s only clear chance to get back on level terms came during their best 5 minute period of the game and with Sean Donnelly literally stuck in the muddy goal mouth their striker wasted the opportunity. Russell Vale then woke from their slumber and created numerous chances to increase the score. From a Blair Dunn corner, Zach Winter saw his effort go wide of the goal and soon after it was Blair Dunn’s turn to shoot but the keeper did well to save. Usually a goal scorer Jordy Errington was today becoming the goal maker when he flicked a deft pass onto Zach Winter to put away his second of the game, 2-0. With Kiama on the ropes the Cobras went on to make it 3-0 just before the end of the first half. Tom Curren whom had an outstanding game on the left side of defence slipped in a good ball for Tommy Heaton and he made no mistake, 3-0.
At half time I emphasised to the players the importance of keeping things tight at the back and not to let Kiama get an early goal. I need not had worried, Jack Donnelly continued to break up every Kiama attack and Ethan Larnach also made a couple of very important tackles. With the exception of a juggling act from keeper Sean Donnelly, Kiama never looked like scoring. From another Blair Dunn corner, Zach Winter headed unselfishly into the path of Tommy Heaton but his first time effort shaved the wrong side of the bar. Soon after it was Zach Winter’s turn to shoot after good work from Riley Hanlon but it hit the underside of the bar and Bailey Baade Mortimer was unable to convert the rebound. An excellent Blair Dunn free kick had their keeper stretching but he could only palm the ball back into the danger zone. Three Russell Vale players had a stab at the ball before it was finally cleared to safety. The fourth goal eventually came when Christian Baade Mortimer won the ball in midfield, a defence splitting pass followed from Blair Dunn, Zach Winter’s shot was saved but Tommy Heaton’s effort found the back of the net, 4-0 game over.
It was very pleasing to see the commitment from the players today and they thoroughly deserved their place in next week’s Grand Final. All in all it turned out to be an even happier Father’s Day because Tarrawanna beat Wollongong 2-0 in the other semi.
Forget the weather, there will be training on both Monday & Wednesday evening this week. The last I heard the Grand Final will be held at Woonona next Saturday but as we all know that may change yet?