Grafton City Rhinos player Lee Stutt (left) tackles Nambucca.
Grafton City Rhinos player Lee Stutt (left) tackles Nambucca.

History repeats for City sides

MCKITTRICK Park was the venue for the two Grafton City soccer sides on Saturday in round 3 of the North Coast Football competition.

In Third Division, the Grafton City Bulls lost to Coutts Crossing Cougars 5-1 while in Second Division the Grafton City Rhinos beat Nambucca Heads Strikers 3-1.

As has been the case in the past couple of matches, City’s Third Division began strongly and had the better of their opponents in the opening period of play. City striker Jamie White nearly opened the scoring after only five minutes of play but unluckily his left foot shot was just pushed wide by the diving Coutts goalkeeper. City were camped in their opponents half of the field but wasted several scoring opportunities and as it turned out this cost them dearly.

Coutts, who had been defending well, soaking up the pressure and trying to catch City on the fast break, gradually came back into the match. Despite the fact that the Cougars were starting to dominate the match, it was City who was first to score. In the 42nd minute of play, a great piece of referring allowing City the advantage after an infringement, enabled midfielder Luke Sopchak to curve in a cross to an unmarked Zac Channels who slammed home the goal.

City’s lead however, evaporated in the next minute of play and only two minutes from the break when Coutts equalised following a free kick from near half way. The ball was delivered to an unmarked player on the edge of the box who curved his shot into the top right hand corner of the net.

The second stanza began fairly evenly but the ejection of the Coutts coach by the referee seemed to galvanise the Cougars who went on a scoring spree. Coutts took the lead just after the quarter-hour mark when a striker was allowed too much space just in front of goal. They doubled their lead 10 minutes later after a break down the left hand side of the field resulted in a shot across the front of the City keeper into the right hand corner of the goal.

Coutts were on the score sheet for the third time in the space of 20 minutes, when a long range shot found the City keeper just off his line and the ball just out of his reach.

The 5-1 loss will cause City coach Greg Allen to lose sleep and add to his already-grey hair. Coach Allen nominated the young duo of Ben Loveday in defence and Jason Limbert in midfield as “best on field” for City.

The Second Division City Rhinos repeated last week’s result.

The Rhinos opened the scoring on the quarter-hour mark after a well taken Michael Green free kick found Josh Taylor in space.

After this opening goal the match turned into a real arm wrestle with both teams looking to establish domination over their opposition but squandering chances to do so. It took another half hour for the next goal to be scored when City capitalised on a half chance and doubled their lead. City player Lee Stutt broke down the middle of the field and beat a diving keeper with a well taken left footer. This goal, a mere three minutes from half-time, saw City go to the break with a two-goal lead.

Immediately after the resumption, City were on the board again when Matt Dougherty’s long range shot from right in front but on the edge of the 18-yard box gave the Nambucca keeper no chance.

Ten minutes from time, Nambucca scored a consolation goal.

The final score was another well-deserved win to the Rhinos. Standout player was Michael Green whose solid defensive effort laid the platform. Next week the two Grafton City sides venture to different venues for the first time this season. The Third Division travel to Maclean at 3pm while the Second Division Rhinos travel south to take on Coffs Coast at 3pm.

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