Bobcats still undefeated
THE Maclean Bobcats continued their undefeated start the season at the Maclean Showground on Saturday night with an impressive 2-1 victory over Port Macquarie.
The win sees the team progress to the next stage of the prestigious state-wide Solo FA Cup where the Bobcats could realistically be drawn against professionals the state’s south.
Sensing the importance of the occasion the Bobcats came out firing and were able to turn their early dominance into a 1-0 lead when Broden Hirst finished confidently.
It could not have been a better start for the home side and after the game Bobcats coach Grant Neilson was understandably wrapped with how his side began.
“We were slow out of the blocks last week and I knew we couldn’t afford to repeat that against such a quality side,” he said.
“Port are the champions of their league and undefeated so far this year so it’s very pleasing to see our blokes start so positively.”
The Bobcats continued to dominate after taking the lead but their repeated raids on goal came up fruitless and they were unable to establish a two-goal cushion.
Then came a bizarre moment which stripped the Bobcats of their advantage. In a terrible defensive mix up, the Bobcats failed to deal with a kick out from the Port goalkeeper which somehow bounced over Maclean keeper Graeme Court’s head and the goal-bound effort was then tapped in by a Port striker for the equaliser.
One sensed at that point the momentum of the game was shifting but the Bobcats managed to pull themselves back together and head to the sheds locked at 1-1.
Some choice half-time words from the coach obviously had the desired effect and after starting the second half strongly the Bobcats were back in the lead 10 minutes in.
A neat passing move found its way to Jarrod Doyle on the flank who then duly delivered a tantalising cross with Broden Hirst sliding in at the far post to complete his brace and make the score 2-1.
After this the game turned into a real arm wrestle with the Bobcats dominating in general play but the resilient Port side still creating chances of their own.
As time wound down Port began to throw more players forward in search of an equaliser but the Bobcats’ defence held firm.
In truth Maclean could have made the result safe in the last 10 minutes but after squandering numerous chances to score again they would have been happy to settle for the 2-1 win and will now head to the next round with plenty of confidence.
There is little time for the Bobcats to savour this victory however as they will now turn their attention to tonight’s blockbuster and grand final replay against the Coffs United Lions.
The team will be bolstered by the return of striker Fraser Robinson for the clash but will still have do without playmaker Aaron Bylos who is out with a knee injury.
Kickoff is at 8pm at the Maclean Showground and a win would see the Bobcats continue their undefeated start to the year and pile even more pressure on the once-mighty Lions.
In other games last Saturday, the Bobcats first division Youth team turned in their best performance of the season in a 1-1 draw against the Coffs United Lions. A great early goal from Pat Delaney was matched by Coffs just before halftime but the team appears to be building well for the remainder of the year.
The men’s Third Division side also drew 2-2 against the table-topping South Services Gunners.
Despite being under the pump for most of the game, two great goals form Mikael Graham and Ben Murdoch, as well as another stand out performance from keeper Darrell Graham, was enough to secure a vital point and keep the team’s momentum going.