Valentine FC v Wallsend FC
Rockwell Automation Park, Weston
3.00pm, Sunday 30th August
After over a hundred games played in the NEWFM 1st Division, more than 400 goals scored, and a semi-final upset that has given a newly promoted team new hope, it all comes down to this – Valentine play off against Wallsend this weekend at Rockwell Automation Park for the title of champion.
Valentine have had a strong season by all accounts, losing only two games across the entire season, and keeping clean sheets in almost half of their games – a record unrivalled by any other team in the league.
There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that after the 2014 season Valentine entered the year as strong favourites for promotion, and Alan Hackett’s lethally efficient team proved that they were more than up to the task.
Warding off challenges for the top spot from both Lake Macquarie City and Wallsend, the final weeks saw Valentine streak ahead, with a strong set of attackers like Scott McGinley putting goals away with confidence for the side, while a strong back line kept Valentine tight and in control.
The second leg of the semi-final looked set for an upset, with Kahibah playing one of their best games of the season at Cahill Oval, but three late goals put Valentine through to the Grand Final with confidence and proved that you can never count out the now-PS4 National Premier Leagues side.
Alan Hackett knows that the Grand Final could be anyone’s game, and will be keeping a close eye on Wallsend and their dangerous physical game – if Hackett and the champion-winning side are relaxed for even five minutes Wallsend could make them pay, like they did with their flurry of six goals against Lakes last weekend.
“Anything can happen in a Grand Final, and Wallsend are going to be on their game for sure,” Hackett commented.
“They banged in six goals and we have to be ready for that to happen to us. We can’t afford to lose the lead and let the game spiral out of control.”
“We get ready like we always do, and it doesn’t matter what team we’re playing against – if we’re not a hundred percent in the game then it could cost us completely, and see us fall short of that final hurdle ahead of us.”
“The team wants both trophies, and the club wants both trophies, and even though we’ve had a great year over all, if we don’t turn up next week we could see our hopes slip out of our hands right at the final step.”
“If we don’t turn up we get beat, but I can promise you that we’ll be turning up, we’ll be switched on, and we’re going to take the win that we deserve to end this season.”
Nobody saw the second Grand Finalist coming – Wallsend, flying high in their first season back in the NEWFM 1st Division, delivered a rude shock to Lake Macquarie City last weekend with a six-goal bonanza that propelled them into the final match of the season.
With form running hot for Wallsend, Josh Rufo’s side believes that they have a chance to deliver two upsets in a row to the NEWFM 1st Division finals, and stop Valentine from claiming the double on their way to the top league.
With 14 wins and six draws, there is no middle ground for the team that hasn’t played in the 1st Division since 2010. Rufo’s side look to dominate the game from start to finish, and know that Valentine is the toughest opponent they’ve faced all season.
“The confidence of the team is very high, and with the feeling that we have nothing to lose I think we may have an upper hand in the game on the weekend,” Rufo stated.
“Obviously Valentine is a dangerous side, but apart from them we have more wins in the season than any other club, and I think that’s a massive credit to us overall. If we can keep this streak going into the final game then I think we have a chance to do what we wanted since day one in the league – make a name for ourselves.”
“Winning the Grand Final is a dream that the whole team have, and I think that if we go out and play our usual game then we may be able to overwhelm Valentine, and take that last win in the season to put us above them and be able to lift the trophy at the end of the day.”
With both coaches believing in their sides’ abilities, the teams both hungry for a piece of silverware to be remembered for years to come, there can be no clear winner for the Grand Final until the final whistle is blown.
Rockwell Automation Park is set for a showdown of epic proportions, and there is no doubt that this is an unmissable game – it all comes down to this, and there can be only one winner at the end of the 90 minutes, and at the end of the 2015 NEWFM 1st Division season.