Debutant stars for Bobcats
By Grant Neilson
THE Maclean Bowling Club Bobcats continue to close the gap on the top of the ladder and are now within two wins of frontrunners Byron after a comfortable 3-0 victory over Casino on Saturday.
In a great show of depth, the Bobcats went into the match missing three key players in Eris Dufficy, Izaac and Denver McClymont, but it was 15-year-old Broden Hirst who announced himself to the competition with two cracking goals in his first Premier League start.
Maclean were always in control and could have taken the lead in the first minute when an Aaron Bylos corner flashed across the six-yard box, eluding no less than three Bobcat attackers.
However, it appeared only a matter of time before the Bobcats would take the lead, and in the 20th minute Hirst delivered the first of his goals.
In a build-up that started with keeper Graeme Courte and flashed down the left flank, Hirst used his pace to get in behind the Casino defence and then cracked his shot off the inside of the near post to open his account.
With a host of near misses thereafter, the teams went to the break with the score 1-0. The second half had only just restarted when Hirst doubled the lead with an almost identical finish to his first goal, this time using deception to send the keeper sprawling to the far post, only to beat him at the near post once again.
Midway through the half the game was put out of Casino's reach when pressure in defence allowed in-form striker Travis Armstrong to show his predatory instincts to slot home unchallenged from the middle of the penalty area. In the end the 3-0 scoreline actually flattered the Casino side, which now looks destined for relegation, but the win has lifted the Bobcats into second place on the ladder, and they are now breathing down the necks of the leaders.
It was obviously a memorable and outstanding debut for Hirst and he got great support from Bylos, who was also among the Bobcats' best.
In the Premier Reserves, the Bobcats conceded a late goal to finish with a 1-all draw after looking like they were coasting to a victory.
Daniel O'Sullivan scored a first half header, but the young Bobcats, who basically fielded an Under-21 team, were left to rue too many missed chances. The Bobcats' third grade team have continued their impressive season with a 2-0 win over Grafton City and consolidated second position on the ladder.
Billy Stavel and Matt Plumber were the goalscorers.
Next weekend the Bobcats host Ballina at Barry Watts Oval Maclean. Premier League kick off at 3pm after the Premier Reserves at 1pm.