Bobcats downed in thriller
THE Maclean Bobcats have bowed out of the 2012 North Coast Football competition in dramatic fashion going down to Urunga 2-1 at Urunga on Sunday.
The semi-final was played at a frenetic pace, and it took 30 minutes of extra time to separate the teams. The Bobcats started slowly taking the first 10 minutes to find their feet and work into their natural passing game.
Once the nerves had settled the Bobcats controlled possession and created early chances. Constant pressure on the Urunga defensive line, from strikers Fraser Robinson and Broden Hirst, lead to a series of attacking corners and free-kicks.
Despite good delivery from Sam Ireland the Bobcats were unable to convert and this was the story of the first half with neither team able to break the deadlock and the scores remained 0-0 at half-time.
The second half was only 10 minutes old when the Bobcats won a corner.
Jarred Doyle stepped up and delivered the perfect ball which was met by a surging run from Jeremy Walters. Walters rose like a salmon from the penalty spot and his angled header beat the diving Urunga keeper and powered into the top corner of the net. It was a goal of the highest quality and Walters, not known for his aerial prowess, sent the Bobcat supporters into celebration.
The celebrations were short-lived, however, as controversy was to follow.
Ten minutes later the Raiders were awarded a free-kick five yards outside of the Bobcats penalty area. The Raiders took the free-kick quickly trying to catch the Bobcats napping and blasted the shot over the bar. However, the referee ruled he hadn't blown the whistle and that the free-kick had to be retaken. The Bobcat players and supporters were unhappy but despite numerous protests the referee had made his decision.
The second take of the free-kick saw the ball blasted past the Bobcat wall and into the bottom corner of the net to level the scores. As the Raiders supporters rejoiced, there were more than a few colourful adjectives being used by the Bobcats supporters to describe the referee's decision.
As the second half wore on the game turned into an arm wrestle with neither side giving an inch in the physical encounters. Both sides created their share of chances, with the Bobcats having the better of the opportunities in front of goal.
Unfortunately no one could land the knockout blow and the game was level at the end of 90 minutes.
Thirty minutes of extra time followed, and despite the players being obviously fatigued the intensity did not wane.
It was the Raiders who looked the more dangerous and after mounting several attacking raids the Bobcats defence finally weakened. After failing to clear their defensive lines the ball fell to a Urunga striker in the penalty area who duly dispatched the ball into the Bobcats net for the match winner.
Bobcats striker Fraser Robinson nearly sent the game to penalties with two minutes of extra time remaining. Robinson went on a jinking run, beating two players before blasting a shot on the angle that thundered into the post.
It proved to be the last chance of the match as the referee blew full-time and signalled an end to the Bobcats 2012 campaign.
It was an entertaining game which certainly could have gone either way, with very little between the two sides.
For the Bobcats it was a very well-balanced team performance but worthy of mention was Sam Ireland who toiled hard in the centre midfield, Jeremy Walters who proved he is a veteran on paper only, and the classy Fraser Robinson who proved he is still one of the competition's most dangerous players if he's on his game.
Also special mention must go to defender Tom Whalan who was a late inclusion to the side and certainly proved he was up to the challenge.
The Bobcats will now rally behind their third grade team that play in the preliminary final next week. The third grade team is the last remaining senior side alive in the 2012 competition.