Semi-Final: Barnstoneworth B North vs Doyalson match report

Thanks to typhoon ‘Bruce’ lashing the Central Coast for 24 hours on Thursday and Friday, our Major Semi-Final versus Doyalson (DOY) was moved from ESACC to ‘glorious’ Ourimbah.

Whilst the day dawned bright and clear, there were strong winds sweeping the region, which was likely to make for difficult playing conditions. The subsequent pitch inspection before kickoff did nothing to assist the likelihood of our being able to play attractive football, with a very bobbly surface looking like it was more than ready for its off-season recovery. With the minor semi taking place immediately before our game, we would know the result of that game and which opponent would await the loser of our game, which turned out to be BER after a penalty shootout that went beyond 5 spot kicks each into sudden death – a tough way to lose any match let alone an elimination final.

The changing room was a quiet place early on, which was taken as an indication of our focus on the game to come and the pre-game team talk seemed to hit its mark nicely, making our game plan clear and straightforward – do our individual jobs, be better than our direct opponents and take the game to DOY. With memories of the impact that the disrupted warm up had in our final league game still fresh, we made sure that our pre-game work up was focused and meaningful and it was clear that everyone was in the mood to do what was needed. So it is no understatement to say that it was a huge disappointment when we conceded direct from a corner in the first minute of play! Our having chosen to play into the wind for the first half really bit us in the backside by helping the ball to curl in over Geoff’s outstretched glove. Despite the setback, our heads remained up and with 79 minutes still to play we were never likely to panic. Whilst we continued to struggle somewhat with our opponents’ desire to launch the ball long, with the wind carrying it beyond our backline more often than not, we were still managing to gain our share of possession and were unlucky to get flagged for offside several times on the counter attack. After allowing several makeable chances to go begging it was a little relieving when we were awarded a penalty two minutes before the break, after John was bundled over at a free kick, with Frank duly converting.

The equaliser put a slightly different spin on the half time talk and with everyone doing their jobs individually and collectively, it meant we just needed to concentrate on continuing to compress the pitch and look for a winner in normal time. Of course, the wind virtually died in the second half, meaning that we never really got the advantage from it that we had hoped but we were still nonetheless continuing to control the game, with DOY carrying very little threat to our goal in truth. With 15 minutes to go DOY pushed a third player into their front line, meaning Shane was having to sit much deeper than we wanted and blunting our ability to attack down that wing, so with 5 minutes remaining, we rolled the dice and went man for man in defence and changed to 3-4-3. That switch paid almost immediate dividends, when Jorge was able to finish an attack which saw us hit the bar, then have a shot cleared of the line before he forced ball home. DOY were never going to be able to mount a serious comeback at that stage and although we did have to defend a couple of set pieces, the final result never really looked in doubt.

So we find ourselves straight through to the Grand Final (which is scheduled to be played on Pluim 1 no less), where we will face either BER or DOY and with our A’s also triumphing over WYO in their Preliminary Final on the adjacent pitch, it was time to crack open the beers! The only negative was the news that our BS’s had fallen to defeat in their Preliminary Final bringing their season to an end earlier than hoped but given that they had come up from C grade, they should rightly be very proud of their efforts this season.

Dougie (we shall fight them on the beaches) White was voted man of the match for keeping our defensive structures solid all game and allowing us to deal with any threat that DOY could muster, whilst the Scrotum Medal was awarded to Geoff (it came at me out of the sun) Channels for his uncharacteristic chocolate-wristed flap at that first minute corner.

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