BH soccer finale
Saturday, 22nd September, 2018
By Tyler Hannigan
Local soccer culminates today with a number of blockbuster grand finals including West Panthers versus Celtic United for the A Grade title.
The Panthers took out the minor premiership following a strong second half of the season and sealed top spot with a win over United in round 14, the sides’ most recent meeting. West’s Jordan Cox was the star that day as he hammered home six goals in the 7-1 win.
Celtic were forced to earn their grand final spot in last weekend’s preliminary final against St Joes, overcoming the Joeys 2-1 in a hard-fought contest.
Kingsley McIntyre scored early for United before St Joes were able to square things up in the second half. Dylan Millsteed managed the game winner late before St Joes were denied a tying goal due to offside just prior to fulltime.
That win was Celtic’s first since round nine as they suffered a form slump in the last few weeks of the season which saw them lose top spot to West.
They’ll go in as underdogs today against an in-form Panthers side chock full of talent including Cox, captain Johnny Bugeja, playmaker Madden Paul and the mercurial Wade Gepp.
Paul and Bugeja set up so much of West’s play through the middle with Cox’s finishing skills among the best in the competition, as evident by the amount of goals he’s scored yet again, while Gepp’s ability in the air makes him a constant threat at set pieces.
Tim Symonds, Zane Kemp and Jonno Searle are also very important players in West’s structure.
The Panthers are going for three grand final wins in a row having beaten Celtic in 2016 and St Joes last season. They won the knockout cup earlier this year and are the team to beat.
United are not without their own stars, however, with Hamish Inglis leading the midfield. Inglis already has one premiership this season with him a part of the Riverina Rhinos successful NPL Canberra Under 18’s campaign.
Kingsley McIntyre can play both in attack and on the wing while Ross Casey offers great support to Inglis in the midfield.
Their captain Dave Hassard has been fantastic in defence this season both with his play and ability to direct traffic alongside players such as Harrison McIntyre and Jared Stuart who are rarely beaten one-on-one.
While the aforementioned players are important, perhaps Celtic’s most valuable player is goal keeper Sean Power. He pulled off a number of fantastic saves in the prelim final win and it’ll be no simple task for West’s forwards to score if Power is at the top of his game today.
This should be a cracking finish to the season and one not to be missed.
Prior to the A Grade game at 4pm, the ladies take to the pitch for the women’s grand final between minor premiers St Joes and the always formidable West Panthers at 2pm.
St Joes were the benchmark side all year, winning 12 games and losing just the one on their way to finishing atop the ladder. They scored heavily throughout the season as well with Jessie Rudge, Bree Maguire, Stephanie Halpin and Emma Hocking all regularly finding the back of the net.
West defeated Alma in last Sunday’s preliminary final 1-0 with Rebecca Deer the sole goal scorer. It was a gripping contest with Alma pushing until the final whistle but the West women able to hold on.
Deer remains their most important player with a booming and accurate kick and while the St Joes defence is well drilled, they can’t afford to give her too much space as she will make them pay.
The senior grand finals kick off at 12pm with as West battle Alma in the B grade decider.
Like in A Grade, West finished on top but unlike A Grade, it was decided long ago as the Panthers won 11 out of 15 games.
Alma finished second and made it through to the grand final thanks to a 2-0 win over Celtic last weekend.
WHAT: Soccer Grand Finals
WHEN: Today - B Grade 12pm, Women 2pm, A Grade 4pm
WHERE: Broken Hill Soccer Grounds