Monday, 20 March 2017

McNulty edges Connolly in gripping style

On a Wednesday evening we staged an extra tournament to welcome Adrian Connolly(Western Flickers) from the Western suburbs of Melbourne in a four man format with a one game league structure and then straight Semi-Finals up at the Club House in Morangup. Adrian is currently 2nd in his clubs league just behind Bennido so he arrived with a good pedigree behind him and was in great spirits during the car journey with Ross Mcnulty in the 45min journey, along the way we stopped for some dinner and the bottle O named Gidgy Grog gave Adrian particular amusement. After the lads Chris Thorn and Hugh Best welcomed us we then began our night with the first games which pitted Mcnulty against Thorn, a tight defensive match ensued but Mcnulty edged the game after lobbing the keeper with a chip shot from just inside the shooting area a minute into the second half after piling on the pressure with high possession, Thorn tried his best but couldnt fashion a chance as Mcnulty remained water tight giving nothing away and triumphing 1-0. In the other game Best faced Connolly and again a tight match was played out with Connolly creating the better chances and midway through the 2nd half he tucked away a fine finish to end Hughs brave resistance and pick up a 1-0 win over the Perth lad who had spent the last weekend in Singapore competing in a Tournament over there and finishing 4th. In the 2nd set of games Mcnulty faced Best but both players had huge issues with their players sticking doggedly to the pitch which seemed to be playing very badly, luckily we have the Extremeworks pitches replacing the old ones soon and this was evident in a dire 1st half with possession being given away frequently as a direct result of the pitch problems. Mcnulty changed his Radical HW side at half time in favour of the Arrows LW and in the second half snook away with the game as he banged in 2 goals midway through the 2nd half with Best not able to get back in the game after a gallant effort yet again. on the other table Thorn played Connolly but it was Adrian who struck first blood with a cracking goal that came from a few quick flicks that opened Chris's back line up, it stayed 1-0 at HT but minutes into the second half he was 2-0 after a thunderous finish after another well worked move down the right flank involving 2 players and although Thorn tried to respond it was all in vain as Connolly made it 3 to put the game to bed and snare the top spot on goal difference after the first 2 games everybody had played. Into the 3rd and final League games the much anticipated top of the table clash pitted Mcnulty against Connolly and the game lived up to the pre match hype as Connolly started by putting Mcnulty firmly under pressure but the defensive flicks were constantly bailing him out just when Connolly looked set to create the shooting opportunity. 5mins in and Mcnulty broke down the right with two player and after entering the shooting zone he duly despatched a clinical finish which had Connolly knocking the goals out of place as the ball nestled in the mini onion bag. Again Connolly kept coming at Mcnulty but yet again defence prevailed and yet another break came with another fine finish put him 2-0 up at HT. In the second half Connolly and Mcnulty continued their attack minded tactics but Mcnulty put the game to bed with a well worked low shot that had Connolly's keeper grasping at thin air and 3-0 it finished, it really could of been a lot closer in all honesty. Thorn faced Best in the final group game to see who could sew up the 3rd spot and again Hugh put up another great effort and had the lion share of possession against Chris but after a goalless first half the game opened up in the 2nd half with both players going close minutes apart, it was Thorn though who got the vital break through after a move down the left opened up Bests rapidly improving defence, the keeper got a big touch from the resulting shot but couldnt do enough as the ball nestled in the net to secure a 1-0 win for Thorn. In the first Semi final Hugh Best took on Mcnulty but within the first 8mins Mcnulty had gone 2 up when more patient and incisive play had opened up Best's resilient backline. In the 2nd Half Mcnulty carried on the pressure and popped in another 2 to make in 4-0 in the end. In the second Semi Final Adrian Connolly squared up to Chris Barbara Thorn Thorn but in another cracking game it was Connolly who started the more brightly and it wasnt long before he had a 2-0 lead after a couple of absolute gems, it remained 2-0 at HT. in the second half Thorn came out fighting but ultimately Connolly was beginning to really get warmed up and consequently banged in another two fine finishes to settle to a 4-0 romp.
Onto the Final---A much anticipated and almost expected final began with both players again going on the attack early on but after great interplay Mcnulty opened up the Connolly defence on the right flank and struck an unstoppable strike that Connolly could not stop, yet again we all laughed as the goal was yet again airbourne due to the goalkeepers over excited effort to keep keep it out, Chris Thorn then retaped the goal down and play resumed, Connolly pushed on but with seconds remaining in the 1st half Mcnulty nailed in a super finish to go 2 up at the break. In the second half as expected Connolly came on strong and after creating a few half chances and a few shots that Mcnulty's keeper did well to deflect Connolly finally got a reward after a fine finish that lobbed helplessly over the hapless keeper. The game opened up again as Mcnulty refused to shut up shop and continued to look for a 3rd, it never came but sadly for Connolly neither did an equalizer that would of sent the game into the drama of extra time and the game ended 2-1 and Mcnulty took the title and continued his 100% home record against visiting players from Singapore, Belgium and now Melbourne. Thanks Adrian until next time pal and we promise to have the goals drilled into place for your next visit hahahah.

Match report written by Ross Mcnulty