The boys competed in their first ever semi-final this morning and what a cracker of a game it was!
Rangers took control early putting us on the back foot for around 10 minutes and they took full advantage of it. A lack of intensity at the ball allowed a Rangers winger to pick up the ball on the right flank and cut inside, this forced our center back, Finn Shortman, to out wide to apply a challenge on the man who had broke our defensive line. Unfortunately we got caught ball watching and failed to cover the man Finn was marking, the winger slipped the ball in behind Finn and the striker calmly converted. 1-0 Rangers.
This was just the spark the Geelong boys needed. We began to push forward in numbers and the chances started to come. Antoni Dunimagloski, Jonny Luong and Ricky Fanraatree all had opportunities but they were unable to convert. We went into the half time break 1-0 down.
Maksim Stamenkov deserves a special mention, he has been out four weeks with injury and was desperate to play a part in today’s game. At half time he was spent, so much so that I asked him to take an extra 5 minutes on the bench to recover. When he came back on the impact was immediate! His intensity, technique and distribution were an inspiration to all his team mates.
Yet again we threw caution to the wind and forced Rangers onto the back foot. Opportunities continued to flow but we just couldn’t hit the target.
Jonny Luong picked up the ball at the half way line, he turned goal ward but all his passing options were offside, Jonny then did what he does best, running at the defence, skipping past 3 players before being brought down by the fourth on the edge of the box. Maksim took the free kick and hit the ball hard and low at the back post resulting in a goal mouth scramble that saw 3 shots smothered and Ethan Parkhill’s effort sail over the bar.
Again Jonny picked up the ball outside the area, he beat 1 opponent before being brought down inside the area, penalty! Maksim took the kick but unfortunately his strike was straght down the guts and the young Rangers keeper dealt with it easily.
True to our nature, we continued to take the game to Rangers but again our finishing let us down and we failed to capitalise on the opportunities presented.
In the final minute Rangers caught us on the break, Finn desperately tried to win the ball back but ended up bringing down the Rangers striker in the penalty area, Rangers converted the resulting penalty, 2-0 Rangers.
What a spirited performance from a very talented group of players and the game summed up our season perfectly. When we are switched on to our individual tasks we can play football with anybody!
Many lessons where learnt in our first season of competitive football together, for both the players and me the coach. Many thanks to players and parents for making this such an enjoyable season, I look forward to seeing you all again in 2014!