Young Bobcats build confidence

By GRANT NEILSON

Maclean Bobcats

THE youthful Maclean Bowling Club Bobcats showed that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with this season with a purposeful performance against last years Far North Coast soccer Premiers, Goonellabah in the weekends Anzac Cup.

Many experts predicted the Bobcats to be lambs to the slaughter against the Premier League heavyweights but the Maclean team were leading 2-0 with 10 minutes to go before Goonellabah saved face with two late goals to secure a fortunate draw.

Still missing as many as four senior first graders the Bobcats young guns stepped up and showed that they are ready to fill the breach and not give up their position without a fight.

It was James Austin who drove in the Bobcats first goal after sustained pressure on the 15 minute mark to show he has designs on a regular striking role in first grade.

Then on the half hour mark 15-year-old Lance Knibbs, making his first grade debut, showed all the coolness of a veteran when he slotted the second goal for the Bobcats after running onto a Kev Crofton through ball and then 'nutmegging' the hapless Goonellabah keeper from the edge of the area.

A confident looking Bobcats took the 2-0 lead to half time.

The second half proved to be a more end-to-end affair with both teams committed to attack.

However, the Bobcats were creating the clearer chances and twice almost added to their lead.

First Renaldo Munro saw his flick over the keeper just clear the bar.

Then a Matt Bryant goal-bound 35 yard thunderbolt freekick drew a spectacular fingertip save from the Goonellabah keeper to keep them in the game.

With 10 minutes remaining Goonellabah showed they still had fight left in them when a clever finish from the right hand side pulled a goal back for the home team.

Then with less then five minutes remaining the home team poked an equaliser in amongst a goalmouth scramble as both teams started to fatigue and that is how the score ended, 2-2.

For the Bobcats the central defensive pairing of Bryant and Geoff Simmons were colossal and the young goal scorers in Austin and Knibbs were also outstanding.

But for a team that was supposedly walking into a hiding all the players were able to walk off with their heads held high, if not with the three points, and the performance also speaks volumes for the hard work new coach Steve O'Sullivan has put in to mold this new team into a competitive outfit.

Next week the Bobcats take on another far North Coast blue blood in Italo Stars.

The match is on Sunday at Woodburn at 4.30pm.



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