Saturday, 15th September, 2018
By Tyler Hannigan
With the regular soccer season done, tomorrow’s games are do or die for teams in search of premiership glory.
In A Grade, Celtic take on St Joes and while this encounter has been on the cards for a while it becomes no easier to tip.
Celtic Cougars were sitting pretty atop the A Grade ladder for most of the season but have struggled since the school holiday break, failing to win a game and giving up top spot to West Panthers.
St Joes’ season has told a different tale with the side struggling early on to recapture their 2017 form that saw them finish on top only to lose to West in the grand final.
Their form improved in the second half of the season as they were locked in a battle for third spot with the Alma Goats but secured their finals berth in round 14, defeating Alma 4-0.
St Joes will take some confidence from a 4-1 win last weekend over Celtic although it was essentially a dead rubber given the ladder positions were finalised. The Cougars were also missing a number of quality players for that game including Hamish Inglis, Anthony Berg and Dave Hassard.
Still, winning form is good form and the Joeys are coming off back-to-back wins plus a five-all draw with West previous to that and have started to gel as a unit.
Matt Muscat, Jon Carrett, David O’Mally and Steve Grillett have each scored in their last two games, giving them a number of options up front and they’re well led in the midfield by Rob James and in defence by Jake Picton.
Celtic will look forward to the return of Inglis who should add stability to their midfield, and Hassard who will shore up their defence.
Celtic are also involved in the B Grade prelim against Alma.
Alma had a mixed season with five wins, five draws and five losses from their 15 games while Celtic had one extra win but three more losses to finish in third spot. The winner will take on West in the grand final.
In the women’s preliminary final it’s West taking on Alma for a spot in the grand final opposite St Joes next Saturday.
The Panthers have struggled this season compared to past years but still managed to finish second courtesy of a round 15 win over Alma. Rebecca Deer was the star last week as she scored all four of West’s goals in the 4-2 win.
How much that result means to tomorrow’s contest is up for debate but it might give West a slight mental edge.
Squads: A Grade
Celtic - Dave Hassard (C), Hamish Inglis (VC), Sean Power (GK), Anthony Berg, Dylan Millsteed, Harrison McIntyre, Kingsley McIntyre, Jared Stuart, Ross Casey, Lincoln Rowbotham, Tom McRae, Luke Hall, Callum Marshall
St Joes - Rob James (C), Ryley Allen (GK), Matt Muscat, Jake Picton, Mitch Plumbe, Steve Grillett, David O’Mally, Jon Carrett, Louis Gilby, Jack Robert