26th August : v Avoca (A) (4-0 WIN)
What a great finish to the season! Mega proud of the boys effort today. To make Finals we needed East Gosford to beat Mountains in the early game and then we had to win by a few goals to get in front on goal difference. In the end the Rams couldn’t do the business, in fact lost heavily 5-1 so Mountains were through before we even kicked off. However… we weren’t aware of that and went for it as if Mountains had lost. Eamon’s thumb was still no good so took his place on the interchange with a returning Connor jumping between the sticks for the day. Little Zach was also missing for this one and as he is usually a good source of our goals, the fact we needed to score some meant the other boys were just going to have to step up and be counted. And that’s exactly what they did. What a start we had going 3-0 up after only three and a half mins!!! Wow!!! The game plan was to play three up top with one just behind and forget about any pretty play through the midfield. Just get it forward as much and as quickly as possible. From Avoca’s kick off we hassled and won the ball and then suddenly Gorto was through on goal. He kept his cool and did exactly what we’d spoken about pre-game which was just take it past the keeper and tap it into an empty net. With only 30 secs gone it was the perfect beginning to our goal quest. A minute later and it was 2-0. Dylan played the ball through early for Riley to run onto and he also kept composed and finished nicely. Less than 2 mins later and the Emus were in dreamland when Dylan backed up his great assist to head in a superbly placed Gorto corner!! Garrett had done very well to win the corner in the first place so to score off it was well deserved. It took a little while before we managed to add to that great start and missed a couple of really good opportunities to put the game to bed by half time. In the end Riley got himself a second goal with a super hit from outside the box into the opposite top corner of the net. 4-0 up…. 20 mins gone. With just under three quarters of the game to go we could’ve been forgiven for thinking this was going to be a cricket score and reality is… it should’ve been. We created an unbelievable amount of chances that should’ve been put away. By half time I don’t know how we weren’t at least 8 or 9 nil up. The second half was much like the first with lots of pressure from us and lots of golden goal scoring opportunities wasted or saved. Credit to their keeper, he made some valuable stops. The fact we just couldn’t seem to score any more should have been a hint it wasn’t going to be our day but the boys kept going and despite being frustrated at missing some chances, they can all hold their head up high for their efforts. Connor barely touched the ball all game in our goals and a lot of that was down to Jarrod, Alex and Spencer’s sold wall in defence! Jake, Josh and Liam did their bit in the wide areas and Eamon had a great game in the middle of the park as well. Dylan, Riley, Gorto and Garrett didn’t stop running and it was a strong way to finish the season. At the end of the game we gathered and checked the scoreline of the other game and when I saw 5-1 I must confess my heart jumped as that would have been enough to get us through. Short lived excitement though because then I realised it was Mountains that won and not East Gosford. Ahh well.
Thanks to the parents, the kids, Craig and Tracey Gorton for their continued Sponsorship of the team and Chris my assistant. All been brilliant again this year. Now looking forward to the presentation on Sun 17th Sept at Dooralong Oval and after that preparing for next season. A lot of potential in this team and with talk of a couple of players from other clubs thinking of possibly coming over it may mean the team evolves again next year but at this stage, it’s all talk and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, be proud boys of your efforts this year and if we can get rid of some of the simple errors we’ll be a tougher team to beat in 2018!
19th Augusat : v Gwandalan (H) (1-1 DRAW)
In complete contrast to last week and indeed the last time we played these guys, I am super proud of the players efforts!! Gwandalan had already secured the League Championship last week so were looking to keep the momentum going into the Finals series. For us it was simple…. get something from the game or possibly bow out of Finals contention. I’m sure I bored the pants off the boys this last week by droning on about how important it was to find some desire to win and give ourselves a shot and you could tell there was something different about the team as we gathered in the sheds. While the kids were waiting for the couple of stragglers to turn up there was almost no noise. A bit of quiet chatter and that’s about it which told me straight away the mindset was much more focused than than last week. Maybe we took the Killarney game a bit lightly, probably there was a bit of fear about this game after such a bad performance in that one. I’d put a call out to the parents to help get the boys pumped and ready to give it their best shot and if they did, I think it definitely worked! We had to treat it like our Grand Final because as mentioned before, a loss for us and a Mountains win over 2nd placed Kanwal later in the day would see us drop out of Finals contention. With all on the line, I decided to take a chance on a formation change and go with our biggest, strongest, fastest combination. This is not always the best starting line up but for todays purposes, it was what I thought we needed.
Got some bad news during the week when Eamon our regular keeper had to withdraw from keeping duties due to a dislocated and very swollen thumb! Being a very handy player on the park as well though, it was great to be able to run him off the interchange. In his place was Jack F from the U14’s who has filled in as GK before in years gone by and does an excellent job. A massive thanks must go out to his coach Troy who answered my SOS with a blessing to give us Jack instead of playing his own game as they had already secured their League Championship last week and it goes without saying that everyone associated with our team really appreciates making Jack available to us in our own quest to make Finals.
The game itself turned out to be a very even contest. The strong wind was a big factor and when Gwando won the toss and run with it first half, I knew we’d have to just stand strong and clear out as early as possible. The plan, regardless of which was we run, was to spend the first 10 mins at least putting their players under pressure as soon as they got the ball. Happy to say the boys all worked their socks off and chased everything. Fair play to the Cobras, they definitely played the ball about on the deck better than we did when we had it but the enthusiasm and effort to close them down at every turn was great and it stopped any chance of a shot long before it hit our penalty area. Despite going against the wind, we actually created a couple of strong chances as well and Riley was dirty on himself for not scoring at least one of two that he had but credit to him getting in that position in the first place. With only a couple of mins to go to HT it looked like we’d be able to go in at nil all and come out using the wind to our advantage second half but a superbly hit corner kick, with the wind assistance, dropped right in just under the bar and despite Alex’s best efforts to head it away it drifted into the net. Unlucky for us.. bit of good fortune for Gwandalan. The second half as expected was mainly ours in terms of possession although we didn’t need the wind in the end to equalise. A perfectly weighted through ball had Garrett running onto it and their keeper had come out at an angle that completely left the goal wide open. Garrett simply turned the ball goal wards and it rolled safely into the net! Great finish!!! For the final 10 mins it was then on but we couldn’t quite get the winner we hoped for. Super effort from EVERY single player today. I didn’t detect any negativity and everyone contributed to the result. To be unbeaten at home against the League Champions is a good effort and the fact we actually took the most points off Gwandalan than any other team should have the boys proud as punch!
Later in the day we were hoping Kanwal, going for second place and a confirmed second chance at getting to the GF, would knock over our immediate rivals Mountains however word is the Kanwal boys had a shocker and Mountains got home 1-0 meaning we are 3 points behind Mountains and 5 goals worse off. This means in order to be a part of this years Finals series, in the final game of the regular season next week we need East Gosford to beat Mountains and we have beat last placed Avoca by at least 4, probably 5 goals. A big ask and the way Mountains have come home with a wet sail an East Gosford victory isn’t assured. With an early KO, we will know what’s required before our game so fingers crossed for a big Easts win and then we just need to give it all we’ve got!! If anyone has any influence with the soccer gods… now would be a good time to call in a favour 🙂
12th August : v Killarney District (A) (2-2 DRAW)
Poor performance all round today. We should be belting teams like this but instead the old “desire and urgency” came into question once again. Not from everyone…. but a lot of our team was left wanting today. I don’t really understand why because after last weeks setback against Mountains, we had the perfect chance to go back in front with a win today with equal number of games played. Instead we were lucky to come away with a draw after going 2-0 down. A well taken free kick got Killarney into a half time lead and a spill by Eamon into his own net early second half gave them a two goal advantage. Again, was probably the only mistake from our super keeper all game and unfortunately any error in that position tends to be punished with a goal. It shouldn’t have mattered anyway because by that stage we’d floundered at least 3-4 good chances in front of goal that we skied high or wide. Dylan, Zach, Bregan and Garrett all had chances. Liam had a good goal chalked off for offside as well but then Bregan got us back in the game with a close range finish from a scramble in and around their box and then Gorto banged in a superbly taken free kick on his return to game action after a number of weeks off injured. At 2-2 and 7 mins to go I thought we might have the momentum to go on with it but poor choices let us down. Pass the way you face, give the early ball, keep it simple…. all this didn’t happen. And so we need to rely on Mountains dropping points and ourselves picking up ours. Given the recent results between the top 5 teams it’ll be anyone’s guess what happens.
5th August : v Mountains (A) (0-2 LOSS)
After getting some good results over the last few weeks, we have let ourselves down here in regards to a chance to consolidate and virtually lock in 4th spot and a definite Finals appearance. It’s not that we played that badly, in fact I thought it was a fairly even game of the most part. Mountains played the ball about a little bit better than we did but overall chances were minimal for both teams. With the score 0-0 at half time it was anyone’s game, just like the last time we played them up there and once again it looked like it would take a bit of brilliance, luck or a mistake to decide the outcome. Mountains got the lucky break with only about 7 mins left to play when a free kick was floated over the top and no Emus player dropped back to accommodate. About three Mountains players were left to run through and Eamon in goals had no chance to stop the ball getting slotted into the net. Within a couple of mins it was game over when Eamon couldn’t quite keep hold of a ball into the box and it fell kindly to a Mountains player who rolled it past despite Eamon’s best scrambling efforts. Unlucky for our super keeper but the first goal had killed us off anyway. So this result makes things very interesting going into the final three games of the regular season. Mountains have a 2 point advantage but we have a game in hand we play next week against lowly Killarney. A win there and we go above them again with two games remaining. They then still have to play both 2nd and 3rd while one of our last two is against bottom placed Avoca so it’s all pointing in our favour as having the easier run home but you just never know. All we can do is win our games in the run in and hopefully one of the other results will take care of the rest.
29th July : v Kanwal (H) (2-0 WIN)
Finally…! Another 3 pointer and it feels good!! After being 2-0 up against Mountains at half time a couple of weeks ago, our closest rivals for a Finals spot, we let the full points slip away in the second half conceding a late equaliser and last weeks effort to get a draw against East Gosford in a very tight game was excellent. We needed to keep up that momentum today and despite a poorer overall performance than against Mountains and Easts, we did enough to get the biscuits 🙂 We didn’t start well though and Kanwal should’ve been 1-0 up in the first 90 secs, fluffing a great chance unmarked at the back post. They kept pressuring but to be honest, didn’t create much in terms of what you’d call decent chances thanks again to the defensive effort by the boys art the back. A few longer range speckies but that’s it. In the end it was the Emus who took the lead 15 mins in through Garrett who followed up and closed down their defender, putting him under pressure. The keeper and defender got in a tizzy and Garrett took advantage of the hesitation when he just looped the ball casually up over into the net! Once we scored the game turned in our favour and we began to dominate the attacking play. One of the most satisfying aspects of coaching is seeing something we work at on the training field come off in a game and that’s exactly what happened for our second goal. Again it was Garrett who scored, getting his head to a corner scenario from little Zach. At 2-0 up at the break we were confident of going on with it but again, begun the second half like the first in a bit of a fluster and almost looked like panic mode. But still…. we repelled all the attacks Kanwal threw our way and even gave them a free shot at goal when Eamon stepped outside his box to kick out of his hands! All Eamon’s other touches were untroubled and no major saves to make. Towards the end we could’ve and should’ve banged in a couple more goals to kill the game off. Liam had a golden opportunity unmarked from the edge of the penalty box after drifting into the back post area but wasn’t able to keep the first time strike down. Jack from the U14’s who was backing up due to Gorto and Connor still out, also had a couple of good chances close to goal but in the end, Garrett’s brace was enough to seal the deal. Some good physical stuff in todays game and we will need to be a bit more careful in how we use our arms in challenges but I was impressed with the general ball winning mentality in the tackles. We will definitely have to work on focusing on the ball more though as there were too many air swings today and that’s really not good enough for this level but we’ll fix that!! Well done boys… onwards and upwards!!
22nd July : v East Gosford (A) (1-1 DRAW)
After a week off due to the Bye the players were mentally refreshed and ready to hit the final round of games with some spirit. And I can’t complain about todays performance at all really… was a good, all round effort from the boys and in the end the draw was probably the fair result. Over the break we had some bad luck losing big Zach and Connor to a fractured patella (kneecap) and fractured ankle respectively so we will have to cope without those two for at least the next 4 weeks but the team is by no means a one or two man operation. Every player plays an important part and despite losing Connor out of defence, the other lads settled into the task well and restricted Easts to only a couple of chances throughout the match. That said… they did the same to us and as with the last two games against these guys, it was awfully close. The first game of the season we lost 3-1 with their last goal coming in the final minute while last time we lost 2-1 so the fact this ended up 1-1 it proves we are heading in the right direction 🙂 If the trend continues, hopefully we meet them in the Finals and win 1-0!!! But seriously, all 3 games have been very even and is a testament to our team having come into B Grade for the first time and being competitive with a top 3 side.
In regards to the game, like the last two, we scored first. It was a cracking goal from Garrett who was played through by Dylan. In truth it was against the run of play as the Rams had dominated possession in our half about 70/30 for that first 15 mins or so but we were always dangerous on the counter. Ten mins later they nabbed an equaliser from a corner and from that point it was a tussle. Normally I rotate the subs on League games where no-one has a second turn off however if we had won we would still have been in a great position to challenge for second spot and a second bite at the Grand Final cherry. So with that in mind, I decided to play it like a Finals game so this meant a few players having a shorter second spell off in the second half if I thought we needed an injection of pace or energy in particular position. I think this worked in that we held strong for the draw and kept ourselves in with the chance of a win. As the boys get older this will happen more often but just because they may have a second stint on the interchange doesn’t mean they are any less important in my eyes. They all have a job and a role within the squad and all can take pride in their contribution. So we look ahead now to Kanwal next Saturday at home and is really a must win if we are to seriously be any chance at second spot. Dropped points in this one will definitely rule us out of contention and it will be a 3rd or 4th placed finish at best to hope for.
8th July : v Mountains (H) (3-3 DRAW)
Mountains have been getting some good results lately and with our last two games against Gwandalan and then Avoca being extremely poor, we needed to lift and treat this a bit like a Grand Final. Josh, Garrett and Spencer were unavailable so just the bare 11 to start however we did manage to get Jack and Nic from the U14’s to backup and great to have them both on board for the day. We needed urgency and commitment from the start and happy to say that’s exactly what the boys gave. It took almost 15 mins for Mountains to have their first real chance in our half. Before that, Eamon in goals was basically a passenger and hardly touched the ball, if at all. We worked the ball about well and didn’t dawdle on it. Our pressure and hard work paid off after 20 mins when little Zach collected and trapped a Mountains goal kick then fed a pass to his left where Bregan was waiting on the edge of the box. A first time shot from Bregan whizzed past the keeper into the far corner and one up to the Emus! Little Zach was working his butt off in midfield and deservedly got on the scoresheet himself about 6 mins later when he beat a couple of players on the edge of the box, got a lucky deflection back into his path, won the ball again and then drilled past the goalie in off the post. Half time hasn’t always been a fun time for the players as it usually takes a rev up to get them pumped for the second half but this week there could be nothing but praise for their efforts. Still lacked a little in the talk department but otherwise we were using our wingers effectively and from a defensive point of view, were keeping Mountains to very few opportunities.
Second half started ok but we lost a goal just on 5 mins in to halve the gap. Was a good goal, well struck, nothing Eamon could do. This gave our visitors a bit of encouragement and they started getting on top of the game, our touch got worse and passes sloppy. Then on 15 mins they equalised. This one we could have done better to prevent. Just weren’t touch tight enough at the back and in midfield gave them too much room to get a pass away. The through ball caught us a little flat and 1 v 1 Eamon was beaten. However their joy was very short lived because straight from the kick off we worked the ball up the left flank, their right fullback took a big swing and a miss and Riley pounced to collect the ball and smash it high into the net to get us back in front at 3-2!! The game became more end to end after that. Mountains should have scored from a free header and Dylan should have driven the ball home from 6 yard box but as time ticked away, it looked like the win we desperately wanted was going to come off. With 2 mins to go the instruction was sent out to the backline to stay solid and midfield to shut everything down they could but unfortunately we lost focus just one time and it was almost carbon copy of the second goal. Allowed them too much space in midfield to have the time to play a through ball and all of our backline defenders were a little too far off their man in regards to marking and so their striker got away 1 v 1 again. Heart breaking from an Emus perspective. We had a corner and a free kick right at the death but nothing came of it and we’ve had to settle for a draw. Good effort lads! Played well today and unlucky not to take all the points. We’re still well placed in the top four and keep playing like that each week and we should comfortably see ourselves in Finals contention at the end of the year.
1st July : v Avoca (H) (1-1 DRAW)
I again missed this one due to work but while a better performance than last week, the result speaks for itself in that it was a disappointing match for us. We were even behind so have had to come back. Not good to drop points against the bottom side, especially after knocking them off 9-2 earlier in the season. No doubt this will hurt our chances at finishing top two but if we put it to bed and focus on the next 7 games we will be ok in regards to making top 4.
24th June : v Gwandalan (A) (1-6 LOSS)
I was missing this one due to work commitments unfortunately but a very poor effort by all accounts. Too much whinging amongst ourselves and players not doing what was expected of them. Deserved result for the effort, or lack of, that we put in.
17th June : v Killarney District (H) (4-0 WIN)
Another Jekyll and Hyde performance today I’m afraid with a poor first half countered by a much better second half. This is almost the same situation as last time we played these guys and like that day, we got there comfortably in the end but it could have been a lot, lot better. Were missing little Zach (suspended) and Liam (back injury) but were happy to take on last placed Killarney with just the one sub. Right before the game the players were given instructions to press the opposition very hard for the first 5 mins in the hope they would panic and we could nick the ball off them under pressure and maybe snag an early goal. It was very disappointing then to watch the complete opposite unfold. We gave them way too much time on the ball and even allowed them to recover from mistakes before we put in a token challenge. Killarney had two shots on goal before we even looked like getting interested in the game. Not good enough boys!!If we want to consider ourselves serious contenders then we need to be pushing the best we can be for the whole 70 mins. Luckily we managed to take the heat early on and get ourselves in front 15 mins in through Dylan who finally got himself on the scoresheet this season!!! It was a simple setup with Garrett receiving the ball on the right side of the Killarney penalty area out of midfield, controlled it and passed square inside to Dylan who beat a player and whacked it past the helpless keeper. After that we stayed on top but some slack touches and rush of blood to the head type shots when it looked easier to hit the target cost us a larger lead so we had to settle for 1-0 at HT.
Another honest appraisal at the break did the trick and the boys came out in the second half more like the team we know they can be. Only 6 mins in and we’d had Killarney under pressure for a bit when Gorto sent over a cross that hit the arm of the Killarney defender in his penalty area. Possibly a bit harsh as not much the defender could do about it but that’s the way it goes sometimes and Gorto stepped up to take the dot shot himself, slotting home nicely to double our lead. Five mins later and it was all over as a contest when Riley made it 3-0 after chasing down a ball on the left flank and shooting from distance, the ball bobbling over the diving keeper into the far opposite corner. After that we had a heap more chances to extend the lead but our finishing was quite poor really. Some shots were more like soft back passes to their keeper or we should have passed across the 6 yard box to unmarked team mates for a tap in but instead sent a shot wide or high. Right at the end we got a fourth goal though when Connor chipped in a free kick from the edge of the Killarney box after a high foot nearly took out Jake’s chin!! So the goal difference didn’t get the boost we’d hoped for but on the amount of chances we created we can’t be unhappy. Even defenders Alex and Connor had good attempts at goal! Dylan should have had at least a hat trick, Garrett was unusually missing from the scoresheet and Gorto and Bregan had other good opportunities to hit the back of the net as well. A solid result and very pleasing especially was the performance of the backline again. Connor, Alex, Spencer and Jarrod were very good in keeping Killarney to only a couple of chances in each half and we used our keeper Eamon to play back and out of danger on a few occasions which was great to see. Special shout out to Spencer actually as it was his birthday and he played very well. A really disappointing part we have to mention is the song at the end. Like the game, was awesome in one half but the second half in this case was extremely poor. One of the best things about winning a football match is getting to belt out the club song at the top of your voice. You guys need some work!! Embarrassing that you all went quiet so improvement is expected!!!!!!
3rd June : v Kanwal (A) (3-1 WIN)
Mountains had put the pressure on us earlier in the day with a massive win over Avoca to sneak in front of us on the table so a win was vital to keep ourselves in Finals contention. We went into the game with Bregan and Josh both away and Garrett had to leave just before half time due work commitments but rather than pull players up from the 14’s for the sake of it, we thought it more of an opportunity to just have the players available get out there and do their job all day without having to disrupt the team setup with changes in personnel. The danger with doing that is of course injury or something else happening that could maybe leave us a man or two down but it was a chance we were willing to take on the day. The game itself didn’t get off to the best start for us as Kanwal took the lead with only a few minutes on the clock. We had left one of their players unmarked just outside our 18 yard box and he had time to turn and hit a terrific strike into the top corner of the net giving Eamon in goals no chance. In what was to be a show of intent from our team for the day, we didn’t let that bother us and kept doing the business, trying to push the ball into that final third to give our front guys a chance to get a shot off. The breakthrough came eventually when Gorto received the ball at the edge of the circle in our own half and turned and played a lovely ball up the left flank for Riley to run on to. Riley took on and beat his player then cut inside before releasing a low drive towards goal that the keeper let slip through his fingers and legs. The goal gave the young Emus the boost they needed and 10 mins later we put ourselves in the lead when on another attack Riley pressured the keeper who miskicked and Garrett ran on to pick the ball up near the edge of the 6 yard box and drill home. That was basically Garrett’s last action of the day as we had to sub him to allow him to head off to work. We also had Gorto off the field at the time as just before he’d copped a big whack with the ball to what we used to call “the gooleys” in the old days 🙂 Luckily we were only temporarily down to 10 men for a couple of mins and Zach was able to return to play out the final 5 mins or so til half time.
At 2-1 the game was still well in the balance and Kanwal started the second half quite well. We survived one chance that came off the bar from one of their corners and they were looking more of a threat at other times with some players making decent runs but we also were still making inroads and putting on the pressure at their goalmouth. Everyone of a red and black persuasion were left mystified when what looked like a stonewall penalty was denied after little Zach cut and dinked past a couple of players before being brought down a few metres from goal. The ref saw it differently somehow and this was to be just one of a couple of scratch the head decisions that we had go against us but football can be that way sometimes and you just have to roll with it, as hard and unfair as it may seem. One of those decisions came with about 7 mins left when we were reduced to 10 men when little Zach was given a second yellow card and sent off! Being close to the end of the game we decided to consolidate and cover the player loss by just going to the one up top and keeping our same defensive and midfield structure. Chances still came our way and we had at least two scrambles in their goalmouth that just didn’t quite fall kindly for us. One even came off the woodwork but with great relief we made sure of all three points with only 2 mins left when Riley capped off a really good individual performance with a deserved second goal. There was a bit of a scramble around the Kanwal area and the ball eventually fell the way of Riley towards the left hand side of the box and he rifled it high into the net to make it 3-1.
Very happy with the result and performance because we defended really well as a team today. Showed a bit of spirit and our defensive three on the day in Jarrod, Connor and Alex were outstanding again. Eamon in goals wasn’t overly troubled and the midfield of Gorto, Liam, Spencer, Jake, Riley and Zach can take pride in their effort to block any Kanwal advance as it came through. Dylan and Garrett were tireless up front and always a danger so all in all, great job lads!!! Another big game looms next week with Mountains who have had some impressive results lately. We’ll be missing a few for that one too so hopefully we can go in with the same mentality as today and everyone just do their job and we come out with the 3 points again.
27th May : v East Gosford (H) (1-2 LOSS)
We were in much better shape coming into this game than the first time we played these guys as the new personnel have now fitted in nicely and we are playing much closer as a team. We had the Bye last week so rewarded the players for their efforts in recent matches with a couple of easier fun sessions but it was back to the hard work this week. We got off to terrific start when 2 mins in, Dylan played Gorto up the left flank to run down on goal. The ball just seemed to drift away from him at the last minute but the keeper wasn’t sure if he’d get there either so both players backed off slightly and the ball ran through the keeper towards goal. Gorto recovered quickest and turned the ball in with his left foot! The game then went back and forth with both teams having a couple of moments of dominance before Easts grabbed an equaliser, almost carbon copy of their goal down at Hylton Moore last time where a free kick snuck just over the top of Eamon’s fingers and off the underside of the crossbar and bounced down just over the line. It was a very close fought contest from that point on, one of those games where there was nothing between the sides and it was going to take a mistake or a bit of individual brilliance to get a winner.
Still 1-1 at half time and both teams plugging away. Began to get a bit scrappy from us towards the end with a few terrible touches and lots of players guilty of walking when they should have been moving quickly into space or chasing the ball. With 7 mins left Easts got what would be the winner when awarded a penalty after Alex threw out a last ditch tackle near our goal line. While that was the ultimate end result, the goal however actually came from a min or so earlier when we lost possession of the ball way too easily on halfway as we were coming out of defence. Left ourselves wide open for a quick counter and Alex just tried to cover the best he could. They would have been nowhere near our goal had we passed the ball on earlier, talked to each other and also not left ourselves as exposed should something go wrong. Just little things that can be fixed. Overall though, I can honestly say I thought we played ok and fairly happy with the boys effort. Was a much tighter contest than the first game we played against them and the amount of attacks we created was higher than last time as well as a lower percentage for them. So an improvement and that’s what it’s all about!! Well done guys. Shame we couldn’t have come out with at least a deserved point but just means we need o work a bit harder and ensure we get a result next week against Kanwal to get back in the top 3 mix.
13th May : v Avoca (A) (9-2 WIN)
Another solid performance from the Wyong boys today!!! Avoca have been pushed up from the ‘C’ Grade comp to replace Berkeley after CCF’s re-grading check after the first three rounds. Having been in the same situation a couple of years ago we know how the Avoca squad must be feeling but it’s not a time for us to be charitable. It was important for us to finish the first round as strongly as possible to stay in touch as a top four side and we got off to a brilliant start when Riley put pressure on the Avoca goalkeeper in the first minute and won a corner. Connor swung over a pinpoint cross and Garrett, who had made a perfect cut and run to the back post had the easiest of tap ins! Five mins later and we were 2-0 up when Riley collected a throw in deep in the Avoca half, turned and ran at the keeper before smashing an unstoppable shot high into the net. The game settled a bit after that but we got ourselves on the scoresheet again through Zach when he out muscled his defender and got to the ball, then continued to hold him off before slotting low into the corner. We then lost a disappointing goal when we failed to mark up tightly enough but were soon back to a three goal advantage through Zach in almost a carbon copy of his first one. Again outsized but not out challenged, our pocket dynamo bustled his way to the ball and slid it home. Avoca had been threatening much more after they scored and Zach’s goal kind of papered over the fact we had become very slack. It looked as if the players had already figured they’d won the game and it was just a case of getting to the final whistle. A lot of mis-kick clearances due to a lack of focus, the urgency we bang on about needing every week dropped off again, marking became nowhere near tight enough and players started getting themselves way, way out of position. So… at half time the players trooped into the sheds pleased with themselves on their first 35 mins at 4-1 up but instead of a pat on the back they were given probably the biggest spray I’ve handed out in a couple of years!! Reason….? It was a good effort but I don’t want these kids to just be good. We want them to be great! The drop in level in the last 15 mins said to me they were happy at just winning but to be the best players they can be they need to run, tackle, pass and think for the whole game. Not just 20 mins of the first half then casually hang on.
So after a good old fashioned rollocking the lads were sent out for the second half on a no mercy mission to try and score at least 10 goals. In the end we came close, grabbing 9 and had a couple not been cleared off the line we might have just reached that. Funnily enough it was Avoca that scored first in the second half after only a few mins, against the run of play really. Their first ball into our area had us scrambling and while we had numbers back there, we were just too slow to clear and Avoca bundled the ball past Eamon at his near post. With the half time gee up still fresh, I’m sure the boys must have thought the worst so over the next 10 mins the team lifted and banged in three unanswered goals to blow the game away! Bregan grabbed his first for the day from a Zach corner, getting up to challenge the keeper as it bounced across and heading in. The sixth came from another corner a few mins later, this time from the other side when Connor got to the ball first on the edge of the box and stuck a leg out that took it goalwards. Somehow the keeper managed to help it into his own net for an oggy and then Bregan coolly finished a Zach cross into the box to get his second and make it 7-2. Game was well and truly done by then but as asked at half time, the team kept going hard and we managed to get another two goals, both penalties. The first one was when Zach was fouled in the Avoca 6yd box and he dusted himself off to slot the ball into the net for his hat trick. Five mins later and we pummelled away at the Avoca goal but desperate defending and a lack of a clear shot meant it pinballed around the 6 yard area until a poke at goal rebounded off the bar and an Avoca player caught it! With regular spot kick taker Zach already notching a hat trick, he kindly handed the ball over to Liam who made no mistake. We’d had other chances, another goal mouth scramble and another good one where Gorto saw a great turn and shot just sneak over the bar and hit an unsuspecting punter instead but we weren’t able to crack the double figures in the end. Afterwards in the sheds we rang out the first rendition of the team song for the year but if the boys play like they have over the last two weeks then there will be no need for the half time sprays and I feel we will be singing the song a lot more this season 🙂
6th May : v Gwandalan (H) (2-1 WIN)
No doubt that this was the result of the season so far for us and goes without saying it coincided with the performance of the season. We’d spoken during the week about how difficult it was going to be and how hard we’d need to work to get any chance of a result against this Gwandalan side who were proving themselves to be the benchmark team again. They should have been in the B’s last year as they were miles in front of everyone else in our C Grade competition and so far this year they have dispensed with all challengers fairly comfortably…. until today! We finally proved to ourselves that we were capable of matching it with them this year. Our squad has received an injection of new faces this season in positions all over the park and these new boys have fitted in very well. The nervousness and unfamiliarity that was there in the first game against East Gosford looks like it’s faded away and been replaced with a more genuine team feeling each week. We said to the players before the game that if they couldn’t get themselves motivated for this one then they should probably walk away as this is the kind of match they should be thriving on. During the warm up the mood was different to previous weeks, the players were quieter and more focused and gave Chris and I a good feeling about what might happen.
From the opening whistle we got at them and it soon became apparent that it was going to a close tussle. The question for us was, could these young Emus keep it up for the whole game? We got a boost to that end when we hit the lead through a superbly struck free kick from Connor about 20 mins in. A foul had been awarded on the left hand side of the Gwando box and Connor stepped up and hit a great ball over the keeper into the roof of the net!! You could see the lift in the boys when the ball went in and they went on to double the lead about 5 mins later. We won the ball in defence, played into the middle and then sent a through ball for Garrett to chase down which he did and dispensed brilliantly from the edge of the box, low past the keeper into the bottom corner. Gwando bench was livid and rightly so as Garrett was a good metre and a half offside however it was one of those lucky breaks for us that we’ll gladly take. Been on the end of too many situations like that where it hasn’t gone in our favour. So 2-0 up at HT and the call was to keep that urgency and momentum going. Unfortunately we seemed to fall back though and as expected, Gwando came out pumped up and had us under constant pressure for the first period of the second half. Within 8 mins they had pulled back a goal but to the Emus credit, we found a way back and not only kept the Cobras at bay but also created some more chances ourselves at their end. There was a nervy 5 mins at the very end of the match but we got there and the boys were understandably ecstatic with the victory. To beat a side that hasn’t suffered a loss in at least 18 months is a terrific achievement and one hopefully they enjoy. It’ll be back to the hard work again at training on Tuesday because there’s yet another important game coming up next Saturday as well and there’s a long way to go. Now that we’ve got a result, I’m sure the other teams will be raising an eyebrow and thinking why not them too? So while we’ve just kept the competition open for a bit longer at least by stopping Gwandalan streaking away, we might have just made it harder for ourselves as well with fellow top 4 teams Kanwal and East Gosford all in a close bunch. Keep believing though boys and keep working hard and results will come. One good win doesn’t win us the comp but it should be a boost to our confidence to go out there each week and know that if we perform at our best, we’ll be extremely competitive and teams will need to be at their best to have a chance at beating us.
30th April : v Killarney District (A) (4-1 WIN)
This was one of those games where if we’re honest with ourselves, we can say good result but not so good performance. I think if we’d been playing a stronger team today we might have struggled. Initially only without captain Zach (Gorton), we had an early morning pull out by Jake who was suffering from a nasty knock on the ankle he copped in yesterdays game. Taking a gamble we wouldn’t need the extras, we decided to go with just the one sub so the boys could get some badly needed extra match fitness and it turned out to be a good decision. We got off to a scruffy start and instead of pulling the ball down and keeping possession we tended to boot away first time. We gave ourselves a boost with an early goal from normal keeper, Eamon after only 7 mins. Connor’s foot was still not 100% so he took the gloves with Eamon on the park for the second time this weekend and the little fella was rewarded with a nice headed goal from a well struck Zach corner. Quarter of the way through the match and we were 2-0 up when Riley pushed forward with the ball, played a beautiful 1-2 pass with Bregan and side footed the ball into the net. We realistically should have gone on with it from there but couldn’t and didn’t play smart enough to give ourselves the chance to score. We had a couple of near post efforts when a simple ball across the 6 yard box to waiting team mates would’ve been a better option. We fiddled about with it on the edge of the box and seemed to get in each others way. We failed to pass the ball to a team mate in a better position going on goal. All of these things we can do better. Then with a about 6 mins to the break Killarney pulled one back but really it was our mistake. Can’t really be angry at the two players involved as they don’t normally play in those positions but Connor and Eamon both had a chance to clear a through ball but a lack of communication allowed a Killarney striker to nick the ball between them and score easily. This was to be the half time score and yet again, another truthful half time speech was required to get the boys going. Second half was again much better and Riley got us started in the best possible way with his second and our third goal when he followed in his own shot from distance that the keeper failed to hold and he calmly placed the ball left footed into the far corner of the net! We kept making chances and eventually got the killer fourth when Zach bedazzled his way past about four defenders inside the Killarney box and simply tapped past the keeper to make it 4-1. Special mention to Josh who had a solid weekend capped off with a lofted shot saved by the keeper in the first half and the defensive line again did well too.
As said at the start, this was a good result without necessarily the good performance that could have gone with it. Reality is we made this game much harder than it needed to be. A lack of focus from a couple of players at times, simple errors from others, not following instructions… these are all easily fixed boys and if we do and start playing the way I know we can, we’ll be up around the Finals positions at the end of the season for sure. Currently in top 4 so let’s not drop out of there now. A maximum six points from the two weekend games is a great result so time to kick on. Get to training and focus on the next game which will be a tough one against what looks like a very handy Gwandalan side.
29th April : v Mountains (A) (3-0 WIN)
Our first points for the year and deservedly so although we weren’t sure where the goals were going to come from after a bit of a lethargic first half. It was humid and warm for the players and we were a man down with Spencer unavailable but still had two subs because luckily Connor’s foot injury had become better, at least enough to stand in goals for the day. What a turnaround from last week where like normally we are are begging for someone to go in goals. This week though was the opposite and we were asking regular excited keeper Eamon if he’d play out haha We started ok and throughout the first half we created a few chances and definitely had the two best with Garrett skying a shot from a few metres out over the bar and then Dylan had a go as well later on but hit high when it seemed easier to hit the target. There were two main things we didn’t do though which was have the urgency to go and win the ball and prove we wanted to win the game more than the opposition and secondly to use the advantage of the big size field at Bloodtree Oval.
With the score in stalemate at 0-0 at half time it was going to take one of the teams to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and strangle some life into it. We needed a boost and a light rocket from the coach seemed to do the trick. We began using the width of the park more and our opening goal came from one of those wide attacks. Gorto found himself on the ball in the Mountains right side corner and he cut inside and sent over a pin point cross to the back post where Garrett was waiting to head home back across the keeper. If Garrett had missed then Liam has positioned himself behind to take a chance so very pleasing to see! It remained 1-0 for a while and Mountains were still in with a shout although the backline once again stood out. Alex, Eamon, Jake, Jarrod and Zach were all involved at some stage and did a terrific job. No early diving in, jockeying the players and waiting patiently for that opportunity where the ball slips out or away. Great stuff!! Relief in the form of a second goal came towards the end of the half when one of our corner kicks was only cleared as far as the edge of the box. Gorto controlled and took the ball forward and along with Dylan kept jostling into the area with the ball until it fell nicely for Gorto to slam into the back of the net. That bit of tenacity and determination deserved a goal and that knocked the resistance out of Mountains. A few mins later we had a third. A strong clearance out of defence again, a nice header from Dylan to knock the ball on and a great run through onto the ball and bore down on goal from Garrett. The great thing about this goal is Garrett is not always known for his calmness in front of goal (refer to first half effort that was aimed at the stars) but this shot was as good as you’ll see. He ran on, got his head up and looked at where the keeper was and just rolled the ball past him into the bottom corner of the net. Superb!!! 3-0, game over. While most of the players picked up their act in the second half, credit to Josh and Alex who were noticeably on form the whole game. Connor did very well as stand in goalkeeper as well so handy to know. Well done boys, let this be the start of a strong run and we back it up tomorrow with another good showing.
22nd April : v Kanwal (H) (0-2 LOSS)
Well what can we say… was one of those horrible weekends where absolutely nothing goes in our favour. The school holidays factor took a bite out of our team with regular keeper Eamon and central midfielder Riley both away. We then lost central defender Connor and striker Dylan, both to foot injuries during the week. So the whole central spine of the team was missing and then added to that we only had Garret for the first half due to work commitments so straight away, under the pump. With no backup from the U14’s available it meant we had to rely on Alex from the 13D’s to at least give us a starting 11. To be honest though, the boys played well, especially in defence. The back 4 on the day of Jarrod, Spencer. Alex and Jake kept their defensive line strong and repelled most attacks that Kanwal threw at them or forced the visitors to shoot from distance. With the players we had out we had to resort to the counter attacking through ball tactic for little Zach or Bregan to hopefully get on the end of . Unfortunately for us the Kanwal side had a defender just as quick and our penetration was limited. We did still have a couple of chances though but it was Kanwal who took advantage of our missing GK by catching stand in Garrett a little out of position on the wrong side of the post and then later a low shot pinballed inside the box and rolled past him being a bit unsighted. Head up mate… goalkeeper is a tough position for anyone to step into and you did well overall. To make matters harder, we then lost Garrett at half time to work commitments so were not only tasked with finding another goalie for the second half, but were now down to 10 men as well. Luckily for us Spencer put his hand up and went between the sticks for the second period and that, combined with little Zach dropping into defence and a superb effort from our defensive line in general, kept the second half scoreline to nil all! So while a 2-0 loss is the end result, given what we had to deal with on the day I don’t think we can be too disheartened. We did make things harder than they needed to be with an overall poor display in terms of controlling the ball and retaining possession. Meant we had to chase the ball more than we should’ve which caused us to be slow in getting goal side of the ball towards the end as we became more tired. Hopefully next week we will have all of our players back as we have a double header coming up with games Saturday and Sunday so need all hands on deck as we chase first points of the season. An enormous thanks again to Alex from the 13’s for helping us out and to Garrett and Spencer for jumping in goals on the day.
8th April : v East Gosford (A) (1-3 LOSS)
A brand new season, a brand new challenge and 5 brand new players! Quite a different feel to our second crack at the B grade competition. A couple of years ago we were thrust up to B’s by circumstance and we all knew we weren’t ready but the players gave it their best anyway. While we didn’t win any games, the improvement in results in the second half of the season showed how much we’d improved as a team over the course of that year. This time we deserve to be in this comp and the new players definitely look like they will be an asset to the team.
After a Bye in the first round, our first challenge couldn’t have been much tougher in an away game to East Gosford. We seemed to start nervously and the determination and confidence shown at pre-season training wasn’t quite there but we while we were on the back foot we also kept ourselves in the game and albeit against the run of play, were awarded a penalty when Bregan was taken down in the box. Up stepped Zach to get his goal tally off the mark and happy days for the Emus! Wasn’t to last long though. Instead of kicking on from that boost it was Easts who picked up the pace and their desire to get to the ball first opened up an opportunity to score and they took it well. Then just before half time we conceded a second goal, this one a coach killer in that we had two opportunities to clear the ball out of our area but didn’t and it fell to an East Gosford player who had the time to pass the ball out of reach of Eamon in goals and into the side of the net. Despite the disappointing end the first half we went out re-energised for the second and while overall we have to concede that the Rams were the better team and created more chances, we did well to hold them at bay until the very end. At 2-1 there is always a chance to nick a late point but with 2 mins to go the boys were broken by a good shot from outside the box that hit the underside of the bar and apparently crossed the line. Too hard to tell for from the coaches position so will have to take the refs word for it but if we’re honest, we couldn’t begrudge East Gosford a goal after dominating possession for a lot of the second half. Not to worry though… they looked like a team that had been together for some time at that level and would be hard to imagine they would not be pushing for a Finals spot at the end of the year. For us to put in a good battling performance in the first competitive game against very decent opposition shows we can compete ok at this level, especially once we start clicking as time goes on and the new players integrate into the side. Well done boys! Will be a tough season compared to the last couple but the plan is to consolidate and keep on improving and first year in if we can push for a top four place then I think this would be a good achievement and stepping stone to going up to the next grade.