THE Royal Hotel Singleton Strikers were back at Howe Park for the last home games for season 2014 last Sunday.
The three fixtures against Thornton were shaping as very important games with both the Viatek U19s and the Concept Controls First Grade teams needing wins to keep their semi final hopes alive.
The Viatek U19s had the chance to cement third spot on the competition table if they were able to secure all three points against Thornton, but unfortunately they were not at their best and went down 2-0.
For not the first time this season, the Youth Team were let down by the late withdrawal of goal keeper Harry Green, forcing a very late reshuffle for coach Brett Taylor’s boys. Maybe it was this disruption that caused the strong U19 line up to look flat for much of the game.
Thornton played well enough without being overly impressive, and did enough to win with a goal in each half of the game.
The win leaves the Viatek U19s needing to win at least two, and probably all, of their last three games to ensure semifinal football.
The ATC Williams U23 are not in a position to push for the semis in 2014, but they can certainly have an impact on who does play in the semi finals, and they went into the clash with Thornton relishing the opportunity to upset one of the teams above them.
But in the end Thornton proved too strong, and ran out 2-0 winners. The Strikers held their own for long periods of the game without really threatening the opposition’s goal, but just like in Youth Grade, Thornton were not overly impressive but did enough to run out comfortable winners.
The Concept Controls First Grade team took to the field knowing a win would move them above Cessnock on the ladder, and to just a point behind Thornton with winnable games in hand, and they looked the better side from the outset.
Even though the scores were still level at 0-0 at the break, the first half of the game was a clear point’s victory to the home teams as the Strikers dominated the game.
The second half continued in much the same vein with Singleton looking the stronger. Twice they were denied goals by the wood work with Jackson Cox and Josh Gilmore both hitting the frame of the goal.
When the Strikers were awarded a penalty for a blatant foul on Lloyd Wakewood, it appeared that Singleton would make the break through, but Singleton’s Albanian striker Klaudon Ahmataj’s well struck penalty was equally well saved by the Thornton goal keeper.
This would prove to be a pivotal moment in the match, as Thornton’s confidence grew after the miss, and Singleton’s belief appeared to waiver.
With just minutes left in the match, a defensive mix up saw a single Thornton attacker manage to win the ball despite the presence of three Singleton players, and he coolly slotted the ball into the unguarded net.
There was barely enough time for the restart, and Thornton won the close contest 1-0.
The loss effectively ends any hope the Concept Controls sponsored First Grade team had of playing semi finals this year. It is still a mathematical possibility, but the permutations of wins required and dependence on other teams losing is too problematic to be a genuine chance.
The Royal Hotel Singleton Strikers are on the road this Sunday against Belmont Swansea.
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