South Cardiff Gunners 0 def. by Cooks Hill United 5 (Lee Ashton x2, Jarryd Johnson, Nick Russell, Daniel Yaxley)
Saturday 24 August, 2:30 pm, Ulinga Oval
Cooks Hill United have put one foot into the Grand Final after putting five past South Cardiff to take a massive lead into the second leg.
It was all one-way traffic in the first half as the Cookers ran riot with Lee Ashton, Jarryd Johnson, Nick Russell and Daniel Yaxley all getting on the scoresheet.
South Cardiff simply didn’t have any answers to the onslaught as the Cookers raced to their lead.
After the break, Lee Ashton would add another to claim a double against his former club and put an exclamation point on an imposing victory.
The Gunners will now also be without Dino Fajkovic for the return leg after the attacker received a second yellow for a challenge on Jake Hamilton.
The result is the heaviest defeat in South Cardiff’s season and leaves them with an enormous mountain to climb in the second leg while the Cookers will be rejoicing a superb performance which will give them plenty of momentum.
The scoreline also had echoes of Cooks Hill’s dominant semi-final performances against Thornton in their championship-winning year of 2017, while it was also their first victory over the Gunners since that campaign.
The black and white juggernaut continues to roll on with another Grand Final appearance on their doorstep, and coach Graham Law said his players rose to the occasion.
“We just dominated the game, we concentrated on what we can do, if you want to poke a bear you got to make sure you have a pretty big stick,” Law said.
“I don’t think they had a shot on target, given the pressure environment in being a semi-final and being away from home, it was potentially right up there (with one of our best wins), the boys really turned up.
“It was a very good performance and we played very well, we’re totally focused on what we’re doing.
“We’ll treat the game (the second leg) with the respect that it is and treat South Cardiff with the same respect.
“There is a real good feel factor at the club, and we will work extra hard to make sure a comeback doesn’t happen.”
South Cardiff will no doubt be reeling from the defeat while coach Chris Moylan gave praise to the opposition for their terrific performance.
“We have to give them credit, they played well and wanted the ball, credit where credit is due,” Moylan said.
“We probably had our worst performance of the season, we didn’t click at all and just one of those things, across the park we were very poor, we just didn’t perform on the day.
“The result speaks for itself, and they deserved their five goals.
“We want to be as competitive as we can (in the second leg), everyone was pretty despondent, but we still have another game to play.
“We’ve got to do ourselves and the club proud and give a good account of ourselves, but we have to improve out of sight, and try to play to our best.”
West Wallsend 0 def. by Belmont-Swansea United 1 (Ty Goldsmith)
Sunday 25 August, 2:30 pm, Johnston Park
Belmont-Swansea has claimed a vital 1-0 win over West Wallsend, picking up a crucial away goal heading into a huge second leg.
The semi-final pitted the two Grand Final teams from last year against each other and ignited a rivalry that has risen over the past seasons.
The highly-anticipated match soon began at Johnston Park, and the home side would have the best early chance with Brendan Frost shaving the post with an effort off a free-kick.
Belswans soon settled into the game with Clayton Poole creating half-chances before the deadlock was then broken.
Reece Newton found some space in the box and played in prolific goalscorer Ty Goldsmith who slotted home the opener for the away side with a neat finish.
After the goal, both sides fought hard for possession with the battle in midfield between Jarrod Olivieri and Chris Gazzard proving pivotal.
The defending champions would take the 1-0 lead into the break while soon after the Bluebells would have a great chance in the opening stages of the second stanza as Frost nearly got onto the end of a cross but couldn’t direct his header on target.
Bluebells striker and Golden Boot winner Tye Jones continued to pose a threat up front and had an equally significant chance but was met by a tremendous save from Will Reeves.
Both teams would have their shots on goal, although it was Belswans who would hold firm and claim an important first-leg win.
The tie is still very much alive with the two outfits playing out a very even affair while Belswans will savour their one-goal advantage.
The yellow and green will have an opportunity to advance to their fourth-consecutive Grand Final when they return to their faithful at Blacksmiths this Sunday while coach Mick Stafford said there is still plenty of work to do.
“The boys are very focused, but we know it is only half-time in the tie, we’ve got to turn up and take it to a good Westy side,” Stafford said.
“We played some really good football, some great passing sequences and I think we got our tactics right, especially being away from home.
“They’re a really good team Westy and we have to put it to bed early, but I thought we played a really good game and it was a good 7 out of 10 from everyone.
“Will Reeves stood tall in a tough position as he was filling in, and I thought he had a great game.
“We just want to keep the momentum, it’s going to be a big day, but there is plenty of positivity around the club and its very enjoyable at the moment.”
The Bluebells are still firmly in the contest, and interim coach Steve Thomson said the group is staying positive heading into a giant second leg fixture.
“The boys are really upbeat as we know we can definitely play better, but we’re only a goal down and if we can go there and score early, it’s game on,” Thomson said.
“The first 15 to 20 minutes, they started very well and punished us, we changed formation and it seemed to help us as we were much better in the second half.
“We tried very hard and we will take that into game two.
“We’ll hopefully welcome back Tommy Sparre into the team while Josh West was also missing as he was suspended, but we’re staying positive.”