‪#‎O35‬ vs Leichardt Tigers ‪ #‎StateCup‬

The last 16 State Cup landed us about as difficult a game as we could ask for as we took on Leichhardt Tigers from the Canterbury Association, who were last season’s Champion of Champions and State Cup winners (defeating us 3-2 in the semi).

They are a team of ex Pros including Sydney FC, Newcastle (UK), Real Sociedad and even Ozzie Internationals, so we knew we were in for a tough game.

With last season’s top scorer Gaffers away on a health retreat weekend with his missus we were a little big light up front, that was soon rectified though as Charlie and Stubbsy started up top.
We probably gave them too much respect at the beginning of the game and they came at us time after time, dominating possession and we constantly gave it back to then and were not getting the ball down and passing (well at least not to our own players).
We had a few close calls in the first 20 minutes as Stu was called into making a few saves from their lively front 3 and the back 4 were resolute in defence but we were still not having any real joy going forwards ourselves.

On 25 minutes, the Leichhardt midfielders tried to play a through ball which hit Tony’s hand just inside the box. Tony’s hand was down by his side and it was right in front of the lino – 10 yards away who did not single for a penalty. The ref 30 yards away decided to give it and after consultation with his lino, the lino decided to agree with the ref and the decision was given. Very harsh call as the guy was only a few yards from Tony when he kicked it.

Up stepped their forward to send Ridgy the wrong way from the spot to put them 1 up. On the balance of play it was deserved but the decision was a poor one. 1-0 Leichardt.

The first half continued in much of the same vein with Leichardt dominating and us sporadically getting forward but not testing their keeper. On another day we could have had a penalty of two ourselves as it looked like Mr Dunbar Danny ‘Feego’ Fee was put through and just as he was going to strike the ball it looked like the defender may have clipped him, but nothing given other than a corner. Just after that another incident in the box led to their defender handling at least as blatantly as the handball decision against us but once again nothing given. It was not looking like it would run for us today.

The half ended with us 1 nil down and us knowing that we would need to improve immensely in the 2nd half to get anything from the game.

Charlies’ half time team talk centred on us trying to get the ball down and pass to one another and get the ball in and around their keeper who seemed to be a little bit nervous when the ball came near him in the air.

We came out for the second half confident that we could get at them and knew that if we could get back on terms that they were prone to get at each other and argumentative.

Straight from the kick off Nath played a long ball into the left hand corner flag which Matt Parrelli chased down and won possession back from their right full back, Andrew Heading made a run to the front post and a perfectly weighted ball from Matt found him as Andy nicked in ahead of the centre back to score at the near post. 30 seconds into the 2nd half and we were back in the game.

All of a sudden it was a totally different game, the fiery Italian temperament came out in the Leichardt team and their passes were suddenly not so crisp as our midfield and forwards pressed them back.

Once again Matt Parrelli pressed their defence and won possession back and after a nice interchange with Nathan Wall, Nathan nonchalantly lifted the ball into the far corner from out wide on the left of the area. There was some discussion amongst the lads as they celebrated if Nath meant it or if it was a cross and as much as it pains me to say it, it was a great goal that he meant. Or in Naths’ words to Stubbsy, “What? You don’t think I have that in my locker, course I av” 2-1 up and we were now flying.

The third goal came soon after from a long throw, which Stubbs may have got a flick on and it dropped to Graeme Edgerton to prod home. 3-1 Dunbar.

At 3-1 Leichhardt briefly came back to life and had a couple of chances to get back into the game, including missing what amounted to pretty much an open goal after a great save by Ridgy.

During this period Vahan and Johnny Harris defended resolutely as Leichhardt started to press onto us and they both make some great challenges and clearances. On the odd occasion that they were beaten Stu and the full backs were on hand to clean up any danger.

With 10 to go a through ball from Chris set Nathan on his way to the by line, where he managed to get a great cross into the back post from Stubbsy to nod home to make it 4-1.
The second half was a massive turnaround from the first and probably about as well as we have played this season. The back four, midfield and forwards all worked tirelessly and every player in the squad was superb. Hopefully we can take that form with us into the rest of the season.
This weekend we have Lilli Pill in the ¼ final of the State Cup.