Semi Final 1
Valentine FC (1) v Kahibah FC (0)
2.30pm, Saturday 22nd August
The second leg of the Valentine and Kahibah clash will take place at Cahill Oval this Saturday afternoon, with Kahibah looking to overturn their one goal deficit after falling behind at Kahibah Oval last weekend.
A late goal for Valentine has given them a single goal lead on aggregate, but Alan Hackett’s side has no plans to sit deep and defend their close lead.
“We’re going to play the same way that we normally do in this match. We go out to win every game and we don’t play defensive football, we want goals and we want a result,” Hackett promised.
“The side will most likely be the same for this match, except for Mitch Harper. We didn’t have Harper because of an injury but it’s looking likely that he could be good for the next match, which will only strengthen what is already a great side.”
“We’re a winning side, and we topped the league, so why would we change things just for the sake of changing things? We’re going to go out, do the same thing, and play for the win.”
The main flaw that Kahibah found in their own match was the inability to finish the chances that they were creating against Valentine, and Andre Gumprecht knows that in the next match at Cahill Oval then they have to outscore the 2015 Champions.
“All the boys are buying into a plan that we’ve set up in the season and we’re executing this week in and week out,” Gumprecht stated.
“We’re not an easy team to score against, but we have to start converting the chances that we are creating because we have to move forward with victories. We control over half the field and now we just have to move forward into the final third to achieve domination of the entire game.”
“Valentine are going to have to play really well to beat us next weekend. I think Valentine are aware that we’ve had a good run, and it’s not going to be easy for them. It’s just a great platform to showcase our football and give the young guys a chance to build and become better.”
“Regardless of the season’s finish, either in the semi-finals or the grand final itself, we can pass this first run in the league off as a great season for the club.”
Now, with the one goal separating both teams, they must prove that they are up to the task of carrying themselves into the Grand Final of the season. Valentine’s lethal chances in front of goals will be put to the test against Kahibah’s possession and dominance, and Cahill Oval may be the tipping point in the battle.
Unless Kahibah can turn over their shooting record in the final match of their semi-finals, then they could give Valentine a run for their money, but locking down the McGinley brothers and taking advantage of the small difference in the aggregate may be harder than it is on paper.
One thing’s for sure at Cahill Oval – this is going to be one of the best matches of the season, with two high-flying in-form teams clashing in a winner takes all battle over 90 minutes, and Saturday afternoon will determine the fate of both teams in the first semi-final.
Semi Final 2
Lake Macquarie City FC (3) v Wallsend FC (1)
2.30pm, Sunday 23rd August
Sunday afternoon sees the last semi-final match of the season played between Lake Macquarie City and Wallsend, with Lakes already leading by two goals on aggregate, and now Macquarie Field plays host to the second clash.
With Tom and Sam Walker taking three goals between them, Wallsend’s main focus in this match at Macquarie Field is going to be silencing the dangerous strikers so that they can catch-up on away goals with the second placed side.
“The Walker brothers will be part of the team talk but we don’t have anything to lose, so we’re going to focus on our own brand of football too,” Coach Josh Rufo stated for the away team.
“Lake Macquarie are the favourites and we know what we have to do. We have to outscore the leading goalscorers so that’s the challenge that we have now, we just need to get more ruthless in front of goals and clinical, and finish the chances that we collect in the attacking third.”
Rufo also knows that his team has been great all season, and believes that he should focus on keeping them working together.
“There might be a few small changes in the side for next weekend, but the starting eleven pretty much picks themselves for the match and we’ve had them since Round 3, but overall we’re going to come out with our main strong group and keep that the same with consistency.”
“Regardless of what happens in the match – I mean we do want to get the grand final – but we’ve had a great season and set a good base for the club to look for even better things next year.”
Lake Macquarie’s Barry Ross will be playing similarly to Valentine on Saturday afternoon, with the lead not playing into the match at all, stating that they had to keep “attacking the goals for the whole 90 minutes”.
“I’m not going to say that we’re already one leg in the grand final, because we might get trumped at home and we don’t want to let them get level with us on aggregate. We’re going into the match next weekend with the same game, we can’t go negative and we can’t go defensive, we need to put it beyond doubt.”
“We’ve shown all year that we’re very good and we’re a great attacking team. We’ve created a lot of opportunities and we need the view of that as we take the momentum into the Grand Final.”
The only difference that Lake Macquarie will be making will be with their defensive structure. After a broken wrist for Chris Walker, the replacement will more than likely be the 23s fullback, Peter Brennan.
However, Ross believes that training and confidence is going to play a massive part of the selection.
“There might be room for Peter to claim his place in the last semi-final, but I’m also going to look at players at training, and we could see a first team defender that usually plays in the centre that can go out to the wing for the match.”
With Wallsend’s physical danger looming over Lake Macquarie, the second placed team must defeat the third placed side at home if they want to make it through to the Grand Final.
The danger for the Wallsend side is that they can’t make it to equal goals against Lake Macquarie. With the three away goals a tall mountain to climb for them, they must now focus on assaulting Lakes’ defence – the same that has been changed with the injuries – and hope to outscore the best strikers in the league.
Macquarie Field is going to be the host to a great battle with both sides looking to outscore the other, and more than likely one of these sides is going to be battling against Valentine in the Grand Final.
One thing is for sure – both Ross’ and Rufo’s sides have flown high this season, and regardless of which team’s season finishes this weekend, both have been amazing all year and will be happy to have made it to the playoffs in the end of August.