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St Joes in full flight

Tuesday, 20th September, 2011

By Two-Touch

The finale to a huge year in local soccer lived up to expectations with St Josephs capturing their first Grand Final win since 2000.

The Champions, the West Panthers in the red corner, were up against the Challengers St Josephs, in the Blue corner and what a title contest we had.

In front of a huge crowd, all 30 players gave their all with only 27 fit players left when the final whistle blew. 

West’s Terry Delbridge suffered a sickening collision fairly early in the game and had to be assisted from the field and taken to hospital. Thankfully enquiries suggest Terry has no long term damage and will make a steady recovery. 

On 15 minutes St Joseph’s striker Rhys Harding, who had made a great start to the game, tore his hamstring and he too was out of the game.

Worse was to follow for St Josephs when their Captain Justin Ellice was accidently kicked in the ankle just after half time and was forced sit out the final 43 minutes.

On 20 minutes a great run down the right by Tim Earl and pass to player of the final Steven Grillett saw Grillett control and slot home their first goal. St Josephs had dominated possession early in the final and West was uncharacteristically panicking on the ball such was the Blues pressure.

Within three minutes St Josephs had doubled their lead when pocket rocket Rylie McInnes chipped the keeper from 35 metres. The team celebration matched the shot and suddenly West knew they had a game on their hands. Play continued at a frenetic tempo with both goal keepers under continual pressure, until Grillett struck again to extend St Josephs lead to 3-0.

Grillett’s ability to run through the defence whilst in complete control was the feature of his game.

West almost dragged one back prior to half time when West Captain Johnny Bugeja and Matt Ali combined but the shot sailed just wide. As the half time hooter approached McInnes again beat the West defenders with his speed and bag of tricks but the shot cannoned into the side netting.

On the resumption St Josephs almost put the game away when a Bryce Bessell shot deflected off the post rather than in! From the goal kick West took the ball the full length of the field though, and Zac Gilmour provided the perfect cross that saw a rush of arms and legs converge on the ball and for the spillage to fall to Joey Langdon who slammed home West’s first goal.

 It was also in this play that Ellice copped some friendly fire and his day was done!

Bryant Mitchell, Maddern Paul and Zane Kemp were relentlessly driving West into attack and St Josephs Goal Keeper Liam King was well and truly under the pump.

The loss of Ellice saw St Josephs move veteran Jimmy Wilkins to centre back with Dylan Trebilcock at left back. Wilkins played the half of his life, keeping the St Josephs defence together and preventing numerous West advances.

After 20 minutes of the second half St Josephs settled again and had some great chances, firstly when a Scott Shephard header was kept out by Matt Lihou with a round of high fives resulting in a goal kick!

Minutes later Lihou pulled off the save of the day when Bessell produced an enormous shot on goal. A further Bessell corner was almost headed home by a Patrick Nash and Shephard double head play.

With 10 minutes to go the Assistant Linesman made yet another huge call and the resultant free kick was brilliantly headed home by Bugeja. Ten to go and at 3-2 could the Blues hang on. A late surge firstly by Bugeja and then Langdon was saved by King.

When the final whistle blew St Josephs had created their own history winning all 6 grades of local soccer from 12s through to Seniors, plus three mid season Senior KO Cups.

The pressure on the A grade team to deliver after the other five grades had won was enormous; given West have had such an aura of invincibility about them for the last five years.

West will be disappointed to lose the big one but they did get the silverware for finishing minor premiers. Shane Hayward capped off a great year for West winning both the golden boot and the Association Best and Fairest. Losing Delbridge early was a huge blow albeit his replacement Zane Kemp had an outstanding game.

Premiership Coaches George Callegher and Grant Smith devised the perfect attacking plan to unsettle West and the players all played their role. Jyh Stubing did a great job tracking Bugeja whilst Nash and Matt Muscat ensured the Blues won plenty of the ball in the midfield.

The power running of Daniel Timperio, Earl, McInnes, Shephard and Bessell ensured West were always made to defend deep.

Another bold Coaching move was to have the confidence to play Liam King, at just 16, as A grade Goalie. King had not played against the power of West all year and to be confronted with such responsibility was a big ask. King used his AFL marking and kicking skills to perfection and stood brave when confronted in the heat of battle.

Season 2011 is over but for the Joeys it’s party time.

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