Bobcats edge out Tigers in tough derby
IT was a typically physical Clarence River local derby when the Maclean Bowling Club Bobcats travelled to Grafton to take on the Westlawn Tigers in North Coast Football on Saturday.
In the end, it was the visiting Bobcats who took the points with a 1-0 win but they were made to fight hard the entire way by their determined hosts.
Immediately from the kick-off, Westlawn went straight onto the attack and the Bobcats knew they were in for a tough game.
The Bobcats soon composed themselves and started controlling possession but the Tigers showed they were not going to be dictated to and threw themselves into some crunching tackles.
One of those trackles resulted in a Bobcats free kick on the 12-minute mark and midfielder Dane Ellis ghosted into the box to smash a header at goal, only to see it rattle off the bar.
Westlawn had been warned and midway through the half the Bobcats were more ruthless.
Another free kick whipped into the box and this time Kevin Crofton rose at the back post and thumped his header into the net.
Chances came and went in the remainder of the half without changing the score and the second half continued along a similar theme.
The Bobcats pushed forward and looked for openings but Westlawn were stuck to their task defensively and broke quickly into attack when opportunities emerged.
With challenges continue to fly in from both sides, the game almost boiled over midway through the half when a late tackle after a Bobcat clearance led to some push and shove but the referee, who was having a fine match, had the situation quickly under control.
That proved to be the most memorable point of the second half as both sides flattered to deceive in front of goal.
For the Bobcats it was their wide defenders, Lance Knibbs and Gary Carmichael, who provided much of their thrust. With extra space both were playing like wing backs, pushing forward in attack, and with only one goal from the penalty spot conceded in three games this year the Bobcat defence is proving almost impenetrable.
In the Youth Division, it was an equally hard-fought affair, with Westlawn and the Bobcats sharing the points in a 2-2 draw.
Westlawn scored first when a communication breakdown in the Bobcats defence left an open goal.
In the second stanza Reece Holden and Matt Bryant both scored to give the Bobcats a 2-1 lead before Westlawn scrambled the ball over the line late for a deserved 2-2 result.
Next Saturday, the Bobcats host competition leaders, the Coffs Coast Tigers, at Barry Watts Oval, Maclean. Kick off times are 1pm for Youth and 3pm for the First Division.
Westlawn had been warned and midway through the half the Bobcats were more ruthless