THE Leongatha Knights hosted the Inverloch Stars and there were some top quality contests from the juniors through to the seniors.
The first game of the season for the Leongatha Knights’ senior team saw them up against the team it beat to win the Korumburra Cup.
Inverloch was looking to show that it was better than its last loss.
It was the kick-off that seemed to cause the Knights most concern as in only four passes backwards they almost lost the ball as the Stars attackers went close to scoring inside 30 seconds of the start.
This settled the Knights as they realised that they couldn’t take it easy and from here on they went more direct.
With Charlie Dougherty in goal and Tom Barker, Tom Rycks, Fergus Warren and Curtis Rintoule in defence, Inverloch were going to have a hard day putting a ball in the back of the net.
It was hard fought all day with five yellow cards handed out by the referee who was able to maintain control of the match.
Late in the first half Inverloch won a corner and as a result scored when the kick found an unmarked player at the back post 0-1.
With forays forward well matched by the Inverloch defence it was hard to see how Leongatha would be able to score at all.
But when Blake Moscript, Braydan Moscript, Jack Bainbridge and Ethan Bath started to win some possession, the second half began with renewed vigour. John Stephen and Joel Moore in attack were pressuring the defence and making runs that kept getting closer and closer to scoring.
But it was a solo run down the right wing by Blake that enabled the Knights to even the score. Blake took on a number of players and with the ball on the goal line and defenders descending he was able to cross the ball to Eros Galli who found himself without a defender and only the keeper to beat. Eros’s shot was around the keeper and the nearest Stars defender could only help it into the net instead of clear it off the goal line – 1-1.
With Sean Villasevil coming onto the field he was able along with John to put the Stars players under serious pressure.
It will be interesting this year to see how teams cope with the closing speed these two have and it was this attack that caused the Inverloch team to spill the ball over for a corner.
With Jack taking the kicking duties it was reminiscent of the Korumburra Cup when he was able to hit John at the back post for a header into the back of the net – 2-1.
With only 10 minutes of time left the Stars team started to play frantic football, sending long balls forward time and time again only to be thwarted by Tom, Tom, Fergus, Curtis and Charlie.
These five played as a tight unit and it will allow the rest of team to be constructive and get up the ground and pressure oppositions.
The Knights are away to Lang Lang next week, with the prospect of PJ O’Meara and new signing Pierre Cohignac being available.
With Chris Gale in goal and a defensive line-up that included seniors keeper Charlie Dougherty, Nicholas Bongers, Dylan Van Puyenbroek and Michael Phillips the Knights were trying to find some stability with their team.
The game started well with Sam Bainbridge, Brian Gannon, Wade Bashaw and Will Barker able to keep possession and send the ball forward into the Stars half.
The ball spent plenty of time between each team’s midfield as both sides fought to gain control.
The first goal of the match came when Inverloch won a corner and as a result of the kick the Knights were unable to clear the ball out, and could only put it in their own net – 0-1.
With Matt Wardle and Sean Villasevil up front it was inevitable that Sean would apply some pressure and cause the ball to spill.
The ball luckily fell to Brian who dribbled through the defence and was able to shoot over the keeper’s head and score the equaliser – 1-1.
It was to be Brian’s day as he scored the Knights’ next goal when Will took a corner and the Stars could only head the ball straight up. Brian utilised his height and his header looped deep over the keeper’s outstretched arms for a goal – 2-1.
In the second half Jake Thomas, Malik Phillips, Jack Bainbridge and Ethan Bath were all utilised to provide rests for some players.
When Will sent in a long throw, the Stars were able to scramble the ball out to the edge of the box where Brian was again waiting. His dynamic left foot was able to crunch a strong shot that the Inverloch keeper had no chance of stopping – 3-1.
Inverloch provided strong opposition but the Knights now have two strong wins on the board and play Lang Lang away next week in the grand final replay.
Brave effort from the U14 Inverloch Stars team; with the majority of the team moving up from the under 12s to take on a confident Leongatha side. Inverloch absorbed a lot of pressure in the opening stanza with Oscar Ward, Luca Iddon and Noah Anderson repelling many of Leongatha’s attacks.
Jack Farmer managed to score in a break in play to put Inverloch up 1-0 at the break.
In the second half Leongatha finished strongly scoring two goals both from Mitch Bath.
The Inverloch lads kept battling away bravely and if it was not for the sterling efforts of Jonah Hill in goals the scoreline may have been further in favour of the Knights.
In the U12s the Inverloch Stars faced a fresh and firing Leongatha side. The writing was on the wall early as the Knights pinched three early goals putting the Stars structures to the test.
Jack Farmer made several strong runs into the Leongatha box however was unable to beat the Knights defence.
Despite the best efforts of the team a more skilful Leongatha side continued to score regularly throughout the match to come home deserved winners.
Special coaches mention to Luca Iddon, Hugo Norton, Asher Anderson and Hamish Gleeson for outstanding persistence and effort throughout.
Mini Roos (U10s and U8s)
New season coach Paul had the Inverloch Stars Under 10s focusing on holding defensive lines and team structure, with the players rotating positions.
It was great to see a couple of different pairs of hands in the goal keeping role and some more additions to the team.
With only four players from the opposing side being able to play this week the Inverloch Stars under 8s showed great sportsmanship in forming rotating teams with the Leongatha players.
It won’t be long before Thompson Reserve becomes the true hub for the Inverloch Stars Football Club as the lights will shine for the first time later in the month.
This will enable the senior and junior teams to train there throughout the season.
The club is looking to encourage more players to fill the ranks of Under 14 and Under 16 teams so if you have a son or daughter keen to get involved with soccer this year please contact Vaughan Gleeson at the club on 0418 418 406 or get down to training at Thompson Reserve Inverloch on Wednesdays from 5pm. To keep up to date with happenings at the club please ‘Like’ and follow the Facebook page @Inverlochstars.