Bobcats survive to progress
THE Maclean Bowling Club Bobcats escaped early elimination in the newly formed Northern NSW FA Cup when they pinched two late goals to win 4-3 against the reigning Manning Valley association premiers Taree.
The Solo Cup draw pitted two grand final winners straight into the first round and while the quality of the game may not have lived up to the billing, the drama certainly did.
The Bobcats started well controlling possession and moving their opponents around but they were struggling to create chances in front of goal.
Taree showed they were disciplined and organised and after 20 minutes found themselves up 2-0 after twice exposing the Bobcats on the fast break and clinically taking their chances.
Against a now-stacked defence the Bobcats continued to dominate possession but the crispness of their passing was not at their usual high standard and while Taree looked to be struggling in truth they were limiting the Bobcats with ease.
However just before half-time their line broke and Travis Armstrong was jogging on the spot to tap in for the Bobcats and breath life into the game with the score 2-1 at halftime.
The second half appeared to be heading for one way traffic as the Bobcats dominated field position and Taree just trying to hang on.
But mid-way through the half, in one of only a few forays into the Bobcats half, Taree pinched another goal with a header from a set play and at that point looked certain to condemn the Bobcats to a first round loss.
Almost immediately the Bobcats responded with a goal when Jarrad Doyle nodded in an Aaron Bylos cross and again the Maclean outfit were back in the game.
Chances came and went for the Bobcats before Travis Armstrong equalised with a cracking shot from the edge of the area to equalise with two minutes remaining and it looked as though the game was heading for a penalty shootout.
But the sting in the tail came from an unlikely source.
Bobcats coach Grant Neilson who was on the card in case of injury and only got changed with 10 minutes remaining scored a glancing header from in a Broden Hirst corner to seal the 4-3 victory in dramatic circumstances.
It was a fairly lacklustre performance in all honesty but the Bobcats superior fitness told in the end.
Armstrong’s performance and goals in a variety of positions the only real highlight aside from the positive result.
The next round of the Solo Cup is scheduled for late April and the Bobcats will have to wait and see who they play and where.