FISH Creek and MDU played ‘the close one’ on elimination final weekend in the Alberton League, at a sunny Foster football ground last Sunday, with the Creekers just holding on by three points in a desperate scramble to stay alive.
So desperate, in fact, that the man who looked most likely to kick the winning score for MDU, Josh Swift, was badly injured in the last minutes of the match, reportedly during a head clash, and left the venue after the game in an ambulance.
Initially with a suspected depressed fracture of the cheekbone and neck soreness, his condition was later posted on line as a “facial fracture”, concussion and a cut to the head, sustained in an earlier clash.
He left hospital at 11pm on Sunday night.
Such was the nature of the contest, though, with many fierce tackles and heavy collisions, at one stage spilling over into a heated push and shove, but generally fought out in a good spirit.
Both rooms were littered with sore and tired bodies afterwards.
Swift had put the slow-starting Demons right back in the match with two goals in the opening minutes of the last quarter, enabling his team to close the gap to little more than two goals.
He was the lead-up man on several other occasions as MDU pressed hard in the final stages, missing another shot at goal himself and setting Sam Wilson on his way towards the scoring zone before hitting the post.
But his efforts were emblematic of the Demons’ finish, which featured more than enough opportunities for them to hit the front in the closing stages but it was a tough, determined Fishy team which refused to give in.
Fish Creek on-baller Ashley Snooks played a slashing last quarter, in a best-on-ground effort overall, finishing the match in the number ‘3’ Guernsey after having the number ‘6’ jumper torn off him in the last quarter.
One of the club’s best-ever finals performers, Travis Manne, was also instrumental in their win, whether it was in the ruck against a worthy opponent in MDU’s Michael Smith or working hard across the half forward and half back lines to take crucial marks.
His defensive marking and goal part-way through the last quarter came as MDU was on a roll and ultimately made the difference.
The contest had been a low-scoring affair until the last quarter, with neither side having a dominant forward. But with a big expectant crowd in front of the Foster Football Club social rooms willing the players on, it got a lot more interesting in the closing stages.
The last quarter opened with an exchange of goals to Gareth Park on the run for Fish Creek, after good work by Adam Bright; and Josh Swift for MDU, a low-spearing kick for goal that just passed the out-stretched hands of the Fish Creek defenders.
Snooks, Jason Rouda, Gareth and Cal Park, Hooker, Staley and Manne were prominent for the Creekers but several of MDU’s better players were also getting off the chain including Ampt, Harris and McDermott on the ball and the likes of Adkins, Thomas, Hughes and Wilson providing plenty of drive off the flanks and when rebounding out of defence.
Fish Creek’s Manne, after good attacking work by Rouda and Fusinato, restored the margin with a goal but MDU’s Matthew Smith looked to have replied when he ran on to the ball in a clear ‘advantage’ play and kicked truly.
The ball was brought back, however, following a confusing decision by the umpires, and it took a good lead-up mark by Swift for justice to be served with MDU’s answering goal.
Fish Creek was under siege in MDU’s attacking zone and after some good defence by Gus Staley, with support by Gareth Park, Snooks and others; a great tackle by Jake McMillan brought up MDU’s next goal and they trailed by 10 points at the 15 minute mark.
There after it was a real arm-wrestle, MDU constantly in attack but with Fishy holding on. The contest really needed MDU to kick its next goal earlier, to cut the margin to under a goal and raise the tempo further, but it finally came with only minutes remaining when Michael Olden got on the end of an excellent passage of play by MDU which featured Hughes, Ryan Olden, Sinclair and Wilson.
Trailing by four points, MDU had plenty of chances to hit the front, the best involving Hughes and Ampt with Spud Adkins on the end of it but his kick for goal from 50 metres fell short.
In a scramble of arms and legs in the MDU goal square soon after Hutcheson or Swift might have put it through for MDU but Fish Creek’s defenders including the Staley boys, Buckland, Pratt and Manne held firm and cleared the ball once more.
McDermott kicked a point to close the gap to three points in the final seconds and stress levels were high as MDU continued to press but with Fish Creek working the ball around the boundary line and into relative safety, the siren sounded and they’d lived to fight another day; against Stony Creek at Toora next Sunday.
Final scores: Fish Creek 9.13.67 def MDU 9.10.64.
Moments that mattered
As good as Ashley Snooks was at the stoppages for Fish Creek last Sunday, it was Travis Manne who added the essential ingredients, in the ruck, and around the ground, taking crucial marks front and back at pivotal moments in the game.
They haven’t listed Brent Cooper among Fish Creek’s best players but he had a purple patch of possession early in the second quarter which mattered in the final result, kicking a goal from a downfield free himself, getting the ball across to Gus Staley for the next soon after and then setting Tom Fusinato on his way to Ashley Snooks for a third in a few minutes.
Standing on the sidelines and taking a keen interest in proceedings was Fish Creek forward Andrew Seccull who was operated on during the week for a shattered jaw. With some swelling still evident in his face after the ordeal, Seccull declared he was still a chance to return if the Roos progressed to the Preliminary Final.
Not a good look
The crowd was extremely well behaved inside the grounds at Foster on Sunday but the sight of a young fan urinating, towards the traffic, at the town’s main intersection shortly afterwards was poor. It’s a shame he wasn’t caught by police as he actually urinated on a passing car. They’d have thrown the book at him.
Coach’s Box with
Fish Creek coach Kevin Barnes
It was a hard, tough game. We played pretty well in the first half and then dropped away a bit in the third quarter or it was more them picking up but we were good enough to hold on in a tough slog at the finish. We’ve won a few close ones now so that’s a good thing. He singled out Ashley Snooks, Jason Rouda and Travis Manne for special praise but was generally pleased with a “team effort” on the day.