Kempsey Saints held off a late flurry to advance in the FFA Cup with a 3-2 win over Port Saints last Saturday.
The Saints took the field looking to find their form after a disappointing loss to Port United a week earlier.
It was evident the Saints had moved on from the loss after a strong opening 30-minutes.
“The first half hour of the game proved to our supporters that we can play with intensity and have the ability to retain possession and build up play,” coach Kevin Sinclair said.
“The side created numerous chances in the opening period but lack of composure at critical moments saw the game remain goalless.”
The best of the opportunities fell to Saints' Harry James who used his skill to beat multiple defends outside the 18-year-box and maneuvered himself to a one-on-one position with the Port goalkeeper.
James’ shot was smothered by the Port keeper.
However, Liam King wasn’t to be denied when he volleyed the ball into the back of the net to open the scoring.
Kempsey continued to apply the pressure to their opponents and they were rewarded five minutes later from a free kick.
Midfielder Dan Baker recognised Lachlan Jay was unmarked in the penalty area and lofted the ball to his teammate.
Jay was able to make the most of the opportunity and celebrated in style.
After the second goal, Kempsey took its foot off the accelerator and Sinclair wasn’t impressed.
“It was a disappointing last 10-minutes, we started to push passes and invited Port back into the game,” Sinclair said.
“It led to them earning several shots on our goal but we were able to hold firm and see out the half.”
The momentum continued for Port into the second half and Sinclair recognised the opposition had changed their formation in an attempt to improve their attack.
Kempsey were playing with desperation despite holding the lead.
The side was able to capitalise on the break and after stringing a few passes together, Tristan Smith was able to extend his side’s lead to 3-0 and was rewarded for plenty of hard work.
Despite trailing by three goals, Port continued to mount pressure on Kempsey and eventually they were rewarded to set up a grand stand finish.
Port scored two quick goals and they continued to press the ball forward.
Kempsey were able to scramble well and hold on for a well-earned win.
Kempsey Saints progresses to face the Boambee Bombers in the fourth round of the FFA Cup, which is the regional final at Coffs Harbour International Stadium on May 12.
The Saints’ attention turns back to the Premier League this weekend when they face the Tuncurry Tigers.
Sinclair claims the Tigers are always a difficult team to beat home at home and acknowledges his side will need to be at their best.