Valentine FC 0 def. by Wallsend FC 1
Rockwell Automation Park
3.00pm, Sunday 30th August
The NEWFM 1st Division Grand Final kicked off at 3pm on Sunday afternoon at Rockwell Automation Park, Weston, where both teams looked to bring home the championship trophy for their club.
Chris Gazzard kicked off the final match of the NEWFM 1st Division, and the match quickly became a battle as Valentine pushed at Wallsend’s goal, hoping that an early lead could keep them in control for the entire 90 minutes.
Wallsend managed to keep the attacks away however, and force a corner near Valentine’s goals – deadly from set pieces, Wallsend were not to be underestimated with their looming forwards looking to smash an early goal into the back of the net.
It was a disjointed game in the first ten minutes, with Wallsend’s physical game keeping Valentine off the ball and the referee being forced to call for free kicks a handful of times from rough challenges.
A roving challenge from Corey Atkinson almost exposed Wallsend at the back, as his run broke into the 18 yard box to threaten the keeper between the posts, but it simply resulted in a corner kick that saw Damian Lobb head the shot wide and restart the game with Wallsend in possession.
The half passed slowly, with the broken passages of play dictating the pace of the game – Wallsend were unable to make it past the Valentine back four that kept an eye over the game, and when Valentine’s forwards, especially Brett Adcock, made it close to Wallsend’s goal mouth they were muscled off the ball and forced to fall back and counter Wallsend’s onslaught.
The wings continued to bother Wallsend’s defence, with Atkinson and Mitch Harper pulling the game wide, but the bother came to nothing in the first 45 minutes, and the half time score remained level with a lack of goals at either end of the pitch.
The first chance of the second half came off a set piece a few steps back from the 18 yard box, with Paul Wheeler sending the shot past the Valentine wall, but inching just wide of the left post to give Valentine a goal kick.
Stoppage came just as the game was reaching the 65th minute, after a chance on goals from Valentine left Nick Doyle on the ground in the middle of the goal mouth and requiring medical attention. Things looked grim for Wallsend as their first choice keeper struggled to get to his feet, but after the minutes ticked by, Doyle rose to a round of applause from both sets of fans and the game resumed.
An attack the wing caught Valentine in retreat, and Trent Milton defeated two defenders on the edge of the box to give him a one on one chance with the Valentine keeper, and he managed to slot it away at a sharp angle to give Wallsend the lead with just over 20 minutes to go in the match.
Wallsend looked to control their lead, forcing Valentine back and aiming to keep them from their own half – they wanted to make sure that the trailing side couldn’t fight their way back into the game.
Another chance came with Milton bursting down the right wing, with Dave Hodgson waiting in the middle of the box for his cross, but the pass was too soft and Valentine were able to clear the chance and remove the danger of dropping down to a two goal deficit.
The minutes ticked away for Valentine as they stared down a one-goal defeat in the penultimate game of the season, but there was no route they could take through Wallsend’s massive centre backs that would give them a chance on goals, and a chance to fight their way back into the game.
The final whistle blew without an answer from Valentine, and Milton’s moment of magic stood as the winning, and only, goal in the 90 minutes. Wallsend had done what they thought would be impossible – they had delivered Valentine a close defeat, and claimed the NEWFM 1st Division trophy in their return to the league.
Josh Rufo, Wallsend’s leading coach, was extremely pleased with the win, and knew that this cemented Wallsend as one of the top sides in the NEWFM 1st Division in their first year returning to the league.
“It was a great result for us, and even though it wasn’t the prettiest game from a spectator’s point of view, I think we did really well and we kept structure and locked down defence and a clean sheet in the Grand Final is not a bad result at all,” he stated.
“Trent Milton’s individual goal was amazing, and if you’re going to score a goal like that, the Grand Final in front of all those people is the best platform to do that.”
“The next goal of the club is to push for the National Premier Leagues, and we have our applications going through, so it’s fingers crossed that we can get over the next line and get to the top level in Northern NSW football.”
“Overall, as a club, we’ve been the top one or two teams in the league and we’ve kept that level of competition consistent, and second in the finals and third on the table is a great finish for the club and for the boys and me.”
“There’s a few small things that clearly needed work, but overall it’s been going from positive to positive, high to high in the season and we proved that we’re a great team in the league. We now just continue onwards and look for further glories.”
With the upset victory at Rockwell Automation Park, Wallsend have claimed the title of champions in their first season, and the squad will now be looking to build on their strong final run to push for promotion next season.
Valentine is already on their way to the PS4 National Premier Leagues, and now must prepare to retain their spot in the top league – replacing South Cardiff in the strongest league in Northern NSW could be a tough ask for the table-topping Premiers, and now they must prove that they are up to the task.
2016 is going to be a massive year for both Grand Finalists and now they must prepare during the long off season – both have claimed silverware and will be eager for more.
1st Grade: Valentine FC 0 def. by Wallsend FC 1 (Milton 68’)
23 Years: Thornton FC 4 (Duncan 15’, Purazeni 32’, 64’, Kiczynski 69’) def. Lake Macquarie City FC 0
19 Years: Valentine FC 0 def. by Lake Macquarie City FC 2 (Ward 64’, Harper 77’)
17 Years: Lake Macquarie City 2 (Reilly 9’, Roberts 44’) def. Cooks Hill United FC 0