Thanks to Shaun for his efforts all year in putting together the match reports for the team. Read on for the last, and the best!!
Sunday 12 September
U16’s Division II
GRAND FINAL (Balgownie)
RUSSELL VALE 2 v 1 ALBION PARK
Due to gale force winds the game was delayed for a week and this meant we lost the services of Nathan Armstrong whose winning goal in the penalty shootout put Russell Vale into the Grand Final at the first attempt.
Albion Park won the toss and elected to kick downhill with the sun at their backs. However it was Russell Vale who took the advantage, when after only 5mins a Jordan Woods pass set Matt Nelson off on a superb run and cross that led to the opening goal. Chris Behan was on hand at the far post to lay it back unselfishly across the six yard box for Shae Morgan to give the Cobras a 1-0 lead. Our two fullbacks Coen Mackay and Dylan Andrews were kept very busy during the opening spell but any crosses that did make it into the box were easily headed away by Kurtis Trindall. Other than some wild shots that flew off target Albion Park struggled to get back on even terms. To emphasise the point Joey Hodges and Nathan Hennessy were sent on to give the defence more support on the flanks but as the half wore on it was Russell Vale that created the better opportunities.
Another run by Matt Nelson provided Shae Morgan with a free header in front of goal but he was unable to get it on target. Then Matt Nelson went through himself on goal but their keeper very bravely dived at his feet to keep Albion Park in the game. Jeered on by their supporters Albion Park once more reverted to the physical approach and were very lucky to still have 11 players on the pitch when Shae Morgan was brought down in the box with only the keeper to beat. Up stepped the Captain Hayden Brown who had a 100% record from the spot but his rocket of a shot unfortunately hit the inside of the post rebounded back out, hit the goalie in the back and rolled along the line. No goal said the ref and it stayed 1-0 at the half.
In the second half the game opened up a lot more as Albion Park pushed for the equalizer but again it was Russell Vale that found the back of the net first. Minutes after having a shot fly just wide of the post Jean Paul was again in the thick of the action bravely winning the ball in midfield he found Hayden Brown who was able to thread a pin point pass into the box for Matt Nelson to tuck the ball into the corner of the net, 2-0 to the Cobras. Back came Albion Park winning a free kick right on the edge of the box. Every Russell Vale player got behind the ball and as usual their No.9 took the kick but the wall did their job and his shot was deflected onto the post and then cleared to safety.
Two goals down and with time running out Albion Park began to throw players forward but the Cobras defended tightly, content to hit them on the counter attack. With 25 mins to go Chris Behan was given the task of man marking their No.9 and he did an excellent job to keep him subdued for the remainder of the game. Albion Park became more frustrated and several players found their way into the referee’s book including their sweeper for a foul on Shae Morgan when he was brought down for the second time in the box and the ref again pointed to the spot. Hayden Brown was determined to make amends for his earlier miss but this time he saw his effort palmed over the bar and the score stayed 2-0. Normally a situation like this gives the other team a lift but quite the opposite happened, if anything it made the Russell Vale players try even harder. For example an incredible piece of defending from Jawad Kahn saw him win three consecutive tackles and then put Matt Nelson clear on goal but with only the keeper to beat his effort skimmed the outside of the post. Soon after Matt Nelson was again involved when he picked out Shae Morgan in the box but his header was blocked on the line and Albion Park managed to scramble the ball away to safety.
During the course of the game Gareth Garnon made three very important saves but the pick of the bunch came near the end of the game when he tipped a shot that was destined for the top corner over the bar. The Cobras only lapse of concentration came with 3 mins to go and it allowed Albion Park to score a consolation goal with a snap shot from the edge of the box. Through out the whole game the defence was superbly marshaled by Joel Dalmonte and there was no way Russell Vale were going to throw the game away now as they comfortably saw out the final minutes of the game. When the whistle blew for fulltime the scoreline may have flattered Albion Park somewhat but there was no question over who deserved to be the Grand Final Champions of Division II.
Russell Vale had the chances to put this game to bed on numerous occasions but in the end it didn’t matter because from the moment the first goal went in there was only going to be one winner. As their coach I am extremely proud of all the players and what they have achieved this season and if we can keep the nucleus of the team together I’m confident that by the end of next season we may very well be in Division I. That would be another proud achievement for the players to look back on when they are old and grey like me.