Late Joyce penalty seals 3-2 victory in Clarence Valley derby
THE CLARENCE Valley derby lived up to the hype.
Westlawn won an absolute thriller against Maclean on Saturday in the fifth round of the North Coast Football premier league, prevailing 3-2.
The game had echoes of their last Barnier Park meeting, which Westlawn won with a last-minute penalty.
The first half was scoreless but highly competitive, with both sides desperate to avoid a loss. The second half was as pulsating as you will see in the premier league this season.
Maclean took the lead thanks to a stunning long-range effort by veteran Kevin Crofton before the Tigers responded through Jack HIll, who was the recipient of a James Joyce cross. It was a trademark goal from the winger, who has been a surprise goal-scoring package this season.
Maclean took the lead again in incredible circumstances. Crofton somehow managed to best his earlier effort, unleashing a fierce drive from well outside the box into the top right corner of Nathan James' goal.
Joyce made his presence felt towards the end of the match, scoring two goals to put Westlawn back in front.
Similar to last season, the deciding goal came from the spot, with Joyce coolly slotting his brace.
Coach Rob Usher was delighted with the victory, but also the spectacle.
"It was a great second half, I'm really pleased with the guys," he said. "The real winners were the crowd, who were able to watch a fantastic game of football. I'm not so sure about this sideline coaching business though. It's very stressful!"
To Maclean's dismay, they couldn't find a way past the Westlawn defence, which held firm in the face of serious periods of pressure.
Aiden Cavanagh-Nesa headed a goal-bound effort off the line, and another Maclean 'goal' was ruled offside.