Masters I Reach Cup Final in Style
08 September 2012
Masters Cup Semi Final – Hamersley Rovers 3 – 2 Joondalup Utd
The Masters I team have lived life on the edge in this season’s cup competition and Wednesdays victory was no exception. Having already survived no less than 3 penalty shoot-outs, the only other outright victory came in the 2nd round with another 3-2 win against Sporting Warriors. Another coincidental occurrence was that the Rovers had been drawn at home for every round, so with a neutral SF venue at our local neighbours Sorrento, we couldn’t really have asked for anywhere closer to Carine! Is any of this a sign that our name is on the cup?!
Utd came into the game as leaders of the Premier League. For those unfamiliar with our Masters squad, we have traditionally been quite happy plying our trade in the Northern suburbs having turned down promotion to Metro wide commitments upon previous successful campaigns. Rovers therefore came into the game as leaders of the top Northern Masters Division after their recent victory over ECU Joondalup. The Hamersley squad were not intimidated by the status of their opponents though after successfully overcoming then Premier league leaders Inglewood Utd in the QF.
Joondalup Utd started much the stronger as they forced a succession of corners and pinned Rovers back into their defensive third. They were unlucky not to go ahead, although credit to Ian ‘Shay’ Griffin for getting the slightest of touches that probably did enough to cause an early Utd shot to canon back off the upright. Joondalup didn’t have to wait long to make their early superiority count though, as this time they caught Rovers out on the break when their pacey forward gave our men the slip and ran away to slot past Shay.
Rovers had to respond and once again the leaders in our team stood up to be counted as we gradually took a strong grip of the remainder of the half. Rovers deservedly equalised when Man of the Match Adrian Coppock made something out of nothing to battle his way on to the end of a hopeful through ball to slot home. The relief on the bench was too much for sub Carl McGough, who only drafted in at the last minute due to injuries, unfortunately leapt to his feet in the low headroom dug-out and promptly split his head open.
So one sub off to hospital put a slight downer on the comeback. Two more head in hands moments followed. Firstly Adrian caressed a perfectly flighted cross with the outside of the foot onto the head of strike partner Lee Roebuck only for the keeper to make a desperate block save at close range. Secondly Adrian was away again as he outpaced the Utd defence, though stretching for the ball, he got away a firm strike from which the advancing keeper got just enough on it to kill the pace of the ball and prevent Rovers from going in ahead. HT 1-1.
Joondalup came out strongly at the start of the half again and had a slight edge on the game. But this margin didn’t last as long this time as the tireless running of the midfield trio of Pine Clarke, Andy Taylor and Scott Morris effectively shielded the defence and worked the ball to the wide and front pairings. When the ball did find its way beyond ‘the shield’ Jon Lochead provided the energy and Craig Rogers the control to snuff out any danger so that Sweeper Neil Pooley only had the occasional intervention to make defending look comfortable.
The battle for superiority in the game rumbled on with few chances for either side until the incident that arguably decided the contest. In one of Rovers best moves of the match the ball was worked to the right flank where a dangerous cross was delivered into the box. The ball pinged around for what seemed a while before a powerful strike by ? (sorry, too excited at the time to remember) was searing toward the back of the net. All the defender on the line could do to keep it out was to stick out an arm. After a period of confusion caused by the ball eventually ending in the Utd net, the referee went to his pocket for the inevitable red card and pointed to the spot. Wingback Trevor Courcha stepped up to the mark to dispatch the ball high (maybe a bit too high for the coaches nerves) into the roof of the net.
With Rovers a goal and a man to the good you might have thought we could cruise to victory but to Utd’s credit they lifted their game as sometimes a numerical disadvantage can do. Twice they worked the ball into Rovers box for penalty appeals, with one of them admittedly looking a 50/50 shout but the benefit of the doubt rested with the defence on both occasions. Rovers had a chance to kill the game when Sheldon Patrick did well to flick the ball on to Adrian only to see his lob canon onto the bar. Although it came back into the danger area off the woodwork, Utd were able to clear their lines. Not to be defeated lightly Joondalup gamely pressed on and won a corner from the left. The well delivered right footed in-swinger drifted dangerously in with the steady coastal breeze and the tricky conditions were enough to deceive Shay who could only help the ball into the net directly from the corner with about 15 mins to go.
Player substitute coach Kennedy paced the technical area contemplating the options available to him having already brought the calming influence of Marc Scannell on for the exhausted Pine. Trusting in the eleven on the pitch to finish the job, his faith was repaid with 5 minutes to go. Again it was Adrian who deservedly sent Rovers through to the Final with the winner as he timed his run to perfection to get the vital yard ahead of his man. Still with plenty of work to do, Adrian held off the recovering centre half before steadying himself for the low strike across the helpless keeper. Rovers saw out the remainder of the game with little to worry them from a now tiring Joondalup. Full credit to both teams for a very evenly matched contest that could have gone either way so maybe, just maybe, Rovers name is on the Cup this year!
Shout out to all the Hamersley supporters who made it down to cheer on the boys, it was great to be an integral part of an event with such a great atmosphere. Mandurah edged Rockingham 2-1 in the battle of the South to complete the line-up for the final to be played at Macedonia Park, home of the Stirling Lions on Sunday the 7th October. I’m sure we can expect another exciting game and hopefully even more supporters to help us to make it a day and a season to remember.
Team – GK: Ian Griffin, CB: Neil Pooley, CB: Jon Lochead, CB: Dave Boyle, RWB: Trevor Courcha, LWB: Russell Clarke, CM: Pine Clarke, CM: Scott Morris, CM: Andy Taylor, CF: Lee Roebuck, CF: Adrian Coppock, Subs – LWB: Sheldon Patrick, CB: Craig Rogers, CM: Marc Scannell, Unused: Carl McGough, Darren Kennedy.
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