THE Kempsey Saints Football Club will be contesting two games in Saturday’s Football Mid North Coast Premier League grand final day tomorrow.
The second game will be the Club’s first ever Premier League grand final appearance when their reserve grade team takes on Wallis Lakes.
The Saints Reserve grade has had their best ever year with only two losses in the regular season.
The team has only conceded 11 goals in the regular season and kept 10 clean sheets and they will certainly be looking for their solid defence to be at its best against Wallis Lakes who are the best attacking side in the competition.
The Saints beat Port United in the first semi and in both games through the year. Going into the game quietly confident, they didn’t get the start they wanted when they conceded an early penalty.
They struck back in the second half with a penalty of their own, which forced extra time. It was a decisive run from midfielder Toby O’’Brien into the United penalty box which saw him brought down illegally.
Cam Aitken stepped up for the second time in the game to drive one under a diving keeper and see the Saints move on.
The major semi saw the Saints get an opportunity to go straight to the grand final.
Taking on minor premiers Wallis Lakes was always going to be a tough ask but the Saints played their usual tough and gritty game which has been a hallmark of the season.
It was a stalemate of a game and only an uncharacteristic defensive error saw them concede a goal midway through the second half and the Saints threw everything forward but were disappointed to go down 1-0 which forced the side into a rematch with United last week in the elimination final.
This time is was Saints who got the dream start with an outstanding individual goal to youngster, Ellis Jeffery who drifted to the left of the field receiving the ball and from 25 metres out he found the top right corner.
Not to be outdone, fellow young gun Drew Walsh put his side up 2-0, ten minutes later when a ball fell to him inside the six yard box.
The Saints finished the half on top and Walsh was unlucky not to get a second, with a clever run across the top of the box.
The second half started well for the Saints and the large green and white crowd were starting to dream of a maiden grand final appearance.
With 25 minutes to go, a long ball from United caught the Saints defence flat and it was a race to the ball from an advancing Jacob Lyttle and the United striker.
It was the United player who got there first and cleverly lofted the ball over Lyttle and despite a valiant second defender run from Matt Dimmock, the ball bounced into the goal.
United got a second wind and trailing 2-1 threw everything into the game. It was all against the Saints from then on and it was only scrambling defence that saw them reach the final whistle holding onto the lead.
The Saints now look to the Port Macquarie Regional Stadium tomorrow to contest the final game of the reserve grade grand final against Wallis Lakes.
The club’s 17/18s team will be taking on Tuncurry in the annual north/south champion of champion’s fixture after winning the minor premiership in the northern competition.
The 17/18s fixture will be an interesting game with neither team knowing much about each other, with the juniors from each end of the zone not playing in the same competition.
This sees several players from the 16s being given an opportunity and the time for some regular players to step out from the shadows and play their own game.
The Saints will be hoping for a little bit more luck than in their grand final, where nothing went the way of the minor premiers.
The team will look to the centre back pair of Tom Clarke and Ollie Connors, linking with outside backs, Luke Burns, and Will Shaw, to keep up their great defensive effort shown through the season.
Midfield will be a new look trio with Lachie Galea returning for the game and linking with Callum Sinclair and Lindsay Morrison to complete the engine room.
The team will look to inform winger, Caleb Foran, and opposite him, Ajay Rix, to use their speed out wide to challenge Tuncurry.