As a wise man named Jimmy Greaves once said “football’s a funny old game”.
Football has a habit of going round in circles. Last year we lost to Corrimal at the same stage of the comp and Blair Dunn missed a penalty in that game but I always stay loyal to my players and that faith was rewarded in this year’s Major Final. Plus earlier this season we were robbed of a place in the Final of the 3rd/4th Division Plate by Kiama, so this was an opportunity to reverse the result.
The opening stages of the Final were cut and thrust as both teams went out to control the game and take an early lead. Despite Kiama winning several corners and a free kick Ethan Johnson never had a shot to save, mainly thanks to his resolute defence. As the half wore on Russell Vale were involved in several goal mouth scrambles in the Kiama box but as per the previous round we just couldn’t force the ball over the line. The nearest either side came to scoring was a cleverly worked shot at goal from Jordan Errington but unfortunately it came back off the post, so at HT the game was still locked at 0-0.
In the second half Russell Vale pinned Kiama back in their own half and that pressure finally paid off when Harrison Benn side stepped his marker and drilled the ball into the net. The team then lost concentration and 5 mins later allowed Kiama to score a carbon copy of the goal they got in the 3rd/4th Plate Semi, 1-1. Despite that setback Russell Vale again forced Kiama onto the back foot but just couldn’t create a clear opening. Kiama’s one other sortie into Russell Vale territory led to a mix up in defence but Clayton Walker quickly made amends before their striker could score.
After that it was all Russell Vale and with only a few minutes to go and extra time looming Christian Baade Mortimer went on an incredible run skipping past several players before he was hacked down in the box with only the keeper to beat. The referee awarded the penalty (our first of the season) but was lenient with the defender. All he received was a booking even though Christian was forced to leave the field with a nasty injury to be replaced by his brother Bailey Baade Mortimer. All that was left now was for Blair Dunn as the coolest player on the pitch to step up and calmly place his penalty shot into the corner of the net to ensure that the Cobras were going to the Grand Final.
Next Saturday we meet Unanderra in the Grand Final at Albion Park 1:00pm K/O. It will be another tough game as they are a well organised team and both our wins in the regular season against them were very close (2-1 & 1-0). As Russell Vale Coach I would never under estimate any opponent in a one off cup game but that said I am confident that if the Cobras play the kind of football that has been their trade mark all season, they will get the result they deserve.