It was 1 nil disappointment for the Urunga Raiders last weekend at Wherrett Park V MacLean Bobcats, the win boosting the Bobcats chances of playing football in September and the loss extinguishing the Raiders hopes of gathering a minor premiership which now looks set to go to the Coffs Lions. Didn’t look that way at the start though, the Raiders under beautiful almost spring like skies looked rock solid. Tanjil Everrett, Harry Gale, Jake Leslie and Mick McCormick the Raiders back four hardly troubled by the infrequent Bobcat attacks that lacked a certain cohesiveness or direction with the odd angry shot collected by Urunga’s keeper Lee Kennedy and punted back up field or fed to one of the back four defenders.
It looked controlled and under control, yet the Raiders unable to score in the first 45 plenty of possession, slick play but not incisive enough to unlock the Cats defence led by the veteran Gary Carmicheal. The Raiders sans a number of key players for this one not helping matters either, Fabrice Wamara, Ben Dooley, Jaxen Heward or Craig Simpson out for various reasons and although the assassin aka Tim Ruprecth went close a couple of times the Cats kept their goal intact and themselves right in the contest.
Raiders coach Paul Pomroy might have doubted a favourable outcome shortly after the start of the second half. Ruprecth’s right side surge caught the Cats defenders out, his cross to the ginger bread man Mr Jai Waddick looked destined for the onion bag but Brad Corbet for the Cats in a Cirque du Soliel type move flicked the ball out, even now I don’t know how it didn’t go in. Minutes later after a goal mouth shemozzle Waddick again denied by the lightening reflexes of Alex Moffit the Maclean keeper, shot from inside the 6 yard box punched out somehow by Moffit’s right mauler, I mean he could try another 10 times and not get it right but there you have it. Maclean started to believe they might at least draw and get a valuable point from the Premier League heavyweights and with the clock ticking they scrambled for everything buoyed by a crowd that was solidly green and white and would only ever considered a Maclean victory as a good day out.
A free kick is awarded by referee Bruce Mackie for hand ball in the shadows of fulltime, the wall is set and Maclean’s Jarod Doyle shot defects off the wall falling for recently introduced substitute Mackenzie Allen to slap in like he was throwing a scotchie on the barbie. Not much Kennedy could do about it either he’d already moved one way to block the Doyle strike and Allen’s shot went the other, 2 minutes left and the Raiders needed a miracle which would not be bestowed on this occasion delivering a 1-0 score line.
In the earlier match the Raiders Reserve Grade had a close 1-0 win, the goal engineered by Ben Dooley and scored by the effervescent Josh McGovern in the second half. The win delivers the minor premiership to the Raiders the second such accolade in as many years.
The Raiders will play Grafton this weekend at the Cabbage Patch in the final round of 2017 and will finish second on the competition ladder, then the final series and with third and fourth spots still up for grabs it should be an interesting round.