Wanderers do it again
EVERY game has a turning point and for Wanderers, in the A1 Men's Final on Saturday, it arrived on the back of a reaction save by its keeper Ben White.
Southside United went into the final as a clear underdog, having finished in third place behind the minor premier. But that wasn't apparent as it took the game to Wanderers, forcing the reigning champions to defend doggedly in the first half before running out a 3-0 winner.
It was a fabulous effort by White to clear his line but Southside player/coach Robbie Peterson would have to be unhappy with what happened next as it could hardly be called a counter-attack.
The ball was fired up the park and was covered comfortably by the Southside defence. Unfortunately Ryan Early made the decision to beat an on-rushing Wanderers player and lost possession to leave an easy tap home for Steven Evans.
Although player/coach Aaron Harmsworth later played down his role in the match, saying he was disappointed with the way he performed in the opening spell, it was he who set up goal No. 2.
Receiving the ball wide on the right, he took on Southside at pace before flicking a pass across the face of the box where the in-rushing Todd Harmsworth diverted it past keeper Matt Olive to make it 2-0.
Having enjoyed a fair share of possession, it must have been a major disappointment to the Southside players to go in at the break with nothing to show for their efforts.
Peterson admitted the one-on-one miss, followed so quickly by Wanderers' opener, could have broken the spirit of his young players.
“It is hard to take,” he said.
The second half could have been different too as Olive made a brilliant save to prevent Evans scoring with a penalty stroke.
“That should have been another turning point as we should have jumped on that and made more from it,” the coach admitted.
They did try, pushing players forward only to be caught on a break when a lofted pass out of defence found Todd Harmsworth on the right and he flicked the ball inside to an unmarked Aaron Thompson to hit home.
“I don't think 3-0 was a fair indicator (of the game),” Peterson said.
“We definitely played 70 minutes of hockey, we never gave up.
“We made a few little mistakes and we were made to pay for them.”
Player coach of Wanderers Aaron Harmsworth agreed that Southside had played their part in making it a good grand final.
“I only felt comfortable in the second half,” he said.
“Southside had a fair dinkum crack.
“They gave it all and full credit to them.”
However, he was delighted to take the win.
“I'm happy to get five (grand final wins) in a row,” he said.
“That has not been done since Southside managed it at the start of the 1980s.”
Harmsworth was happy with his team's display, but named his brother Todd, Jordan Burtt and captain Andrew Landsberg as deserving special praise.
He also paid credit to the goalkeepers, describing them as “unspoken heroes” and heaping praise on Olive in the Southside box.