Kempsey Saints Football Club took on last year’s First Grade Champions, Wallis Lakes, last Saturday.
Saints coaching staff were keen to continue with the momentum gained through a good win the week before and Coaching Director Matt Baker had been working hard with both squads over the past few weeks to get things right.
Saints got away to a good start which is something that is vital at this level.
From early it was clear it was going to be a close and physical game with the whistle blower having a huge input into the flow of the game.
Saints got the early advantage when midfielder Dan Baker stood his defender up on the edge of the Lakes penalty box and slotted one past the keeper.
The game continued at a good pace and Saints realised they were right in it and were able to match last year’s winners for passages of play.
Saints were looking like holding the advantage into half time when Lakes got two goals in the last 10 minutes before half time.
The first goal came through the middle of the park when a Lakes player went past his defender and and slotted his own past Saints keeper Jacob Lyttle.
The away team got a second when a run down the left and subsequent cross found two unmarked Lakes players in the Saints box.
Saints came out in the second half and showed early how they can match it with the best when they created three good chances but none found the back of the net.
As the game wound down it was action aplenty at the Saints end with keeper Lyttle being kept busy including a saved penalty for the second week in a row.
The game finished untidily with the referee being called into action several times including to break up a Lakes melee when they took offence to a late corner chance from Saints. The home team didn’t buy into these tactics as it’s becoming a regular occurrence against Lakes.
The game ended with the half time score unchanged at 2-1. Top Pub Top Player was Lyttle and Coach’s Award was shared by Lyttle and defender Troy Ward.
Reserve Grade saw their game blow out despite playing some of their best football of the season.
The final score was an uncharacteristic 5-1 with coach Alex Breckell looking at some big decisions across the park when the squad goes into a run of three must win games after this weekend’s bye.
Top Pub Top Player was Luke Parkinson and Coach’s Award went to gloveman MJ Sultana.
Saints has the bye this weekend in Premier League but travels to Coffs Harbour International Stadium for the regional finals of the national competition the FFA Cup. Saints takes on the Boambee Bombers on Saturday at 2pm.
The winner progresses to the Sunday and a glimpse of the NNSW Finals in Newcastle for the two winners. Saints realises it’s a tough ask with Boambee being one of the class outfits of the North Coast Association.
These two teams met in a trial match early in the pre-season with Boambee coming out easy victors. Saints will go into the match under no illusions of the quality and composure needed to be competitive but with knockouts it’s who turns up best on the day.