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Tight contest predicted in KO Cup finals tonight

Wednesday, 30th June, 2010

* St Joe's goalkeeper Nathan Gageler. The double blues are looking to claim the cup for the second year in a row tonight. * St Joe's goalkeeper Nathan Gageler. The double blues are looking to claim the cup for the second year in a row tonight.

The KO Cup finals will be staged tonight at 6.30pm at the Soccer Grounds. With the World Cup fever building the locals will be out to grab the silverware tonight.

In the MEN'S A-GRADE final Alma defeated Celtic to advance whilst St Josephs defeated perennial favourites West last Wednesday to advance.
In their two meetings this year, Round 3 was a 1-1 draw whilst in round 6 St Josephs prevailed 2-0. These stats point to a very close match with the team that takes their chances most likely to be holding the Cup at 10pm tonight.
Last week St Josephs had several red hot chances to score a comfortable win but sprayed their shots wide, and a repeat performance will open the door for Alma who have three kick strikers in Dale Dowling, Wayne VanKemenade and Tristian Symonds ready to pounce.
Alma has a brilliant back four led by Daniel McInerney and Laurence Hebbard whilst Hayden Lyall is rapidly improving as a fearless keeper. Alma will be relying on its four juniors Ned Pollitt, Sam Lines, Codey Ralph and Thomas Barlow to stamp their class on this match.  
For the double blues they were back to their best against West with a powerful hard running game which they backed up on Sunday with a 7-1 win over Celtic.
The return of Dylan Trebilcock as sweeper has allowed Justin Ellice to move to left back and use his strong running game to good effect. Stars from last week, Jyh Stubing and Ashley Christos, have given the Blues some extra midfield strength whilst their trump card could well be veteran Jimmy Wilkins who has a great turn of speed to unsettle the Alma defence.
Looking for the X factor it could well come from Bryce Bessell who returned to his brilliant best last Sunday with numerous perfect crosses that resulted in several Joey goals.
Prediction: St Josephs to retain its 2009 Cup with a 2-1 win
In the MEN'S B GRADE final Alma and St Josephs clash again and this game also promises to be very close based on 2010 form.
In round 3 Alma won 4-3 and in round 4 St Josephs won 4-1. A closer look points to most of the goals being scored by players now only playing in the A grade game, so both clubs start even money for tonight's Cup decider.
St Josephs have the veterans in playing Coach Ray Christos and Tony Robins to set up the game plan whilst the McDonald boys, Adrian and Joseph, have many years of A grade experience also to bring to the table. Throw in a four goal performance from Joseph Bennett last weekend, the pace of Michael Spencer down the left and the brilliance of 15-year-old Rylie McInnes down the right and the Blues will be quietly confident.
The major worry for Alma will be Barry Balman who scored in the KO Cup qualifier. In goals Clint Pearce was very solid last week and will need to be on his game again to keep Alma out. The quiet achievers for St Josephs, Jake Picton, Julian Mann and Sam Muscat make up a very reliable defence that is anchored by Lukas Muscat, who at just 17 displays remarkable calmness as sweeper.
Alma will turn to veterans Tom Lyle, Jorge Oviedo, Mark Halliday and Stuart Brain to organise its younger players. Andrew Henry and Lyle scored in their 3-2 win over Celtic to qualify for the final.
On that night Alma started short on players but will be ready this week and have both Nathan Harvey and Harley Rawle available as goalies. William Hebbard, the A grade coach, will be a key player in defence for Alma and will be looking for strong support from Jarrad Hurley and Keradyn Turley to turn this game Alma's way.
Prediction: St Josephs 3-1.
The LADIES final promises to be a classic contest at 6.45pm between the Celtic Cougars and the West Panthers.
Celtic have had wins in both games 4-3 and 5-0 but West did get to half time at nil all before Elle Gepp scored five times in the 2nd half of that game.
Expect West Coach George Bugeja to have a plan hatched for Gepp, but he also needs one for Amee Hogarth who is in career best form for Celtic and Gemma Varcoe who can be lethal down the right.  Add the class of Millicent and Annabelle Walker and Celtic hold plenty of aces.
Celtic's defence is also first class with Jo Smith brilliant last weekend at right back and Narelle Crabb equally impressive at left back. Add the class and experience of Jacquie Passlow, Rachael Wheatley and Giuliana Passlow and with three keepers to choose from its hard to see Celtic not going back to back in the Ladies KO Cup.
West will make a huge contest of this game with Jasmine Mitchell back scoring goals every week and Linda Bugeja also a regular goal scorer. West's strength all season has been its defence where Stacey Carter-Ray and Logan Cooper have been outstanding along with Tania Roberts and Shae Neville in goals.
This will be a quick game and could get very physical given the experience of players on both teams so patrons need to get their seats reserved early for this epic.
Prediction: Celtic 2-1.
Canteen facilities will be available, entry is just $3, and a reminder that no alcohol will be allowed into the venue. Jumpers, rugs and beanies will be all the go and, yes, you can leave them noisy horn things home! 

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