Report by Daniel McGookin for Football South Coast
Thirroul Thunder have won the WGC Cranes District League Reserve Grade Grand Final, triumphing in a free-flowing and entertaining match played in perfect football conditions at WIN Stadium.
The impressive 4-2 victory over a determined Fernhill Foxes outfit has put a full stop on a season that has contained tragedy and now triumph for Thirroul.
Thirroul Thunder coach Kevin Lewis was a proud and relieved man following the the result today.
“I am very, very, very happy with the win. It has been a long tough year for the club, with 25,26 boys part of that game today,” he said.
“There has been three or four games against Fernhill through the year and they have all been tough battles so thank goodness we came out on top today.”
The grand final started perfectly for the Foxes, with Fernhill having the dream start earning a corner within the opening seconds of the fixture.
The corner drifted to an isolated Mitchell Woods at the back of the penalty box, and his mistimed strike found Dean Majoor at the near post who made fine work of the volley to send the ball over the Thirroul goalkeeper for an opening goal.
Thirroul eventually began to cool the Fernhill momentum, launching an attack on the 7th minute through a Jonathon De Lyall cross into a failed bicycle strike by Nathan Orvad with Jesse Bragg at the far post unable to finish the difficult volley opportunity.
A lovely ball by Thirroul’s Brad Matiuscenko on the 14th minute through to leading season goalscorer Robbie Gyngell was nearly rewarded, but fine work from Fernhill goalkeeper James McClelland stifled the chance.
Minutes later Thirroul’s pressure was rewarded, with a deflected ball from Nathan Orvad rising sky high on the edge of the penalty box with Bragg showcasing fine skill to power a left foot volley on the tight angle across the face to crash into the side netting to equalise the fixture.
On the 27th minute Thirroul captain Ryan Hunter fell victim to a leg complaint, forcing an early substitution and James Townson into the game.
The injury did not stifle the Thunder momentum, with the ever-threatening Tom Goodier latching onto a ball behind the defensive line and calmly sliding it past the keeper for the ball to creep inside the right post to earn the lead on the 29th minute.
Fernhill continued to pressure with strikes hitting the wood work but unable to enter the goals.
Fernhill’s Ross Graham attempted to do it all himself, with a ball through to Nathan Sackett bumbled back to Graham who send a left foot strike from range wide of the goals on the 36th minute.
On the 43rd minute came a crucial goal for Thirroul Thunder courtesy of an inch perfect cross from retiring Dane Henderson, with Gyngell having no issue directing it into the bottom right corner for a 3-1 lead.
Moments before halftime, Fernhill bounced back courtesy of a class turn from Andrew Breslin and struck the ball past the rushing Thirroul goalkeeper Josh Williams to keep the game tight before the halftime whistle.
An entertaining five goals throughout the opening 45 minutes, saw the half-time score read 3-2 to League champions Thirroul Thunder.
Fernhill came out of the dressing-room full of confidence, dominating the early stages of the second half thanks to a Thirroul ill-discipline giving away a number of fouls.
A back-header from Nathan Sackett saw Ross Graham on the 51st minute blaze a shot curling just wide of the left post in a strong early chance to equalize the Grand Final.
On the 55th minute, Fernhill’s Majoor had a golden chance off a free kick, with a failed Thirroul clearance landing at his feet in the penalty area, and unfortunately sent the strike wide of goals.
Fernhill continued to push throughout the half, with a class ball from substitute Michael Stephenson finding a charging Majoor down the left sideline, who cut back in and sent a dangerous cross for Kevin McDonald with a corner kick earned on the 69th minute.
Thirroul did not look threatened with the narrow lead, continuing to push with a classy strike by opening goalscorer Bragg straight at the Fernhill goalkeeper for a comfortable save on the 76th minute.
Fernhill appeared to be lacking the energy to bring the game to extra time, with the broad pitch and warm conditions appearing to have an impact on the team.
It took until injury time for the match to be put beyond doubt, with a lovely free kick from the retiring Henderson curling over the wall and sneaking into the bottom left corner to allow the Thirroul faithful to truly celebrate their Grand Final victory.
A proud Henderson talked through the final kick.
“Last kick, might as well make it a good one. I was confident I would get it in, but I didn't think it would be that good, but I will take it.”
Fernhill coach Mick Rowles was proud of his teams efforts throughout the season despite the result.
“It is always disappointing to lose one of these games, but we can be proud of the guys,” he said.
“We earned the right to be here today, we have played good football all season and we were able to come out and wrestle with them for 90 minutes so I cant be prouder of the whole team.”
Saturday 24th of September, 2016
Assistant Referees: Ryan O’Sullivan & Max Vercoe
Fourth Official:Gareth Jenkins
Fernhill F.C 2 (Majoor 1’, Breslin 45+1’)
Thirroul Thunder 4 (Bragg 17’, Goodier 29’, Gyngell 43’, Henderson 90+2’)
Man of the Match: Tom Goodier
Fernhill F.C: James McClelland, Keiran Geary, Mitchell Woods, Broderick Moss (Ben Booth 87’) , Nathan Thompson, Lee White (Kevin McDonald 53’), Ross Graham, Dean Majoor (James Mowbray 75’), Nathan Sackett (Michael Stephenson 60’), Toby Napper, Andrew Breslin
Sub not used: Matthew Payne (GK)
Yellow Cards: Lee White, Dean Majoor, Kevin McDonald
Red Cards: Nil
Thirroul Thunder: Joshua Williams, Jordan Simms (Oscar Pruks 82’), Jesse Bragg, Ryan Hunter (James Townson 27’), Alan Maddock, Bradley Matiuscenko (Dane Henderson 31’), Jonathon De Lyall (Simon Ward 73’), Nathan Orvad, Robert Gyngell, Paul Whitton, Tom Goodier
Sub not used: Jayden Lewis (GK)
Yellow Cards: James Townson, Jesse Bragg,
Report by Daniel McGookin
Photo by Pedro Garcia