Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Lakoseljac Cup Final was a great day for Tasmanian football

Photo:  Knights' Pajari Sculthorpe controls the ball despite the attentions of Devonport's Toby Barton. [PlessPix]

Lakoseljac Cup Final (KGV Park, Monday, 14 June 2021)

Glenorchy Knights 2 (N Naden 80, O Thomas 122)

Devonport Strikers 2 (D Syson 85, K Mulraney 118)

HT:  0-0   FT:  1-1   AET:  2-2  Penalty Shoot-out:  3-4

Att:  1200  Ref:  B Kopra

Glenorchy Knights:  Hart  -  Bowman, Hill, Harrison, Schmidt  -  Muller, Luttmer, Mearns, Castaneda  -  Naden, Sculthorpe  [Subs:  Griffin, H Huigsloot, C Smith, Thomas, Woodham (GK)] [Coach:  James Sherman]

Devonport Strikers:  Pitchford  -  Barton, Reynolds, Mulraney  -  Syson, C Bidwell, Stone, E Bidwell  -  Lamb, Barnard, Denehey  [Subs:  Lizotte, Payne, Pearce (GK), D Smith, Sturzaker) [Coach:  Chris Gallo]

Photo:  Nathan Pitchford saves Connor Schmidt's penalty to give Devonport victory. [PlessPix]   

For the neutral fan, this was a game in which one did not wish for either side to lose.

But, in a cup final, there has to be a winner and a loser and it was appropriate that a penalty shoot-out would decide the outcome.

Both sets of players gave it everything.  There was total commitment, skill, speed and physical endeavour, and if the setting was not Tasmania football, and if it was played decades ago rather than now, the cup final would have warranted a replay, as used to be the case in the English FA Cup Final.

But, given our amateur status and the distances involved, a midweek replay was out of the question and the modern tradition of a penalty shoot-out was called for, and rightly so.  It would have been tragic for one side to lose through a goal in normal play, no matter how brilliant, and the lottery of the penalty shoot-out was fair and justice was done.

Photo:  Knights' Eduardo Castaneda (left) does battle with Devonport's Joel Stone. [PlessPix]  

The attendance was excellent, and it was heartening to see that so many Devonport fans had made the trip south.

Glenorchy Knights supporters were there in numbers, too, and I recognised faces from the past, both former players and supporters, and names that are synonymous with the club.  Kerschbaum, Tattam, Glasovac, Brkic, Dzelalija, Huigsloot, Baric, Kvarantan and Begovic were just some of the faces and names prominent in the crowd.  The only thing really missing was that famous chant of “Croatia! Croatia!”, which used to bring the house down.

And it was encouraging to see so many fans from other clubs at the game, too.

The game was fast and furious and chances few and far between.  The first half was goalless and neither keeper was really tested.

Photo:  Devonport's Miles Barnard and Knights' Jordan Muller in an aerial duel. [PlessPix]  

Four examples demonstrated the commitment of the sides.

First, Devonport defender Raphael Reynolds appeared to dislocate a shoulder and went to the boundary fence where he leaned over the railing and appeared to be trying to nudge it back into place.  He eventually went to the dressing rooms and remerged and played out the game.  He was totally in command and never lost a contest.

Second, the commitment and effort of Knights centre-forward Pajari Sculthorpe was exemplary.  The youngster was given an endless supply of high balls and he went for every one, despite invariably being outjumped and out-headed by Reynolds.  A lesser player would have given up and demanded a change of service.  When given the ball to feet, he was able to find space and use it effectively and he had a hand in the opening goal when he was able to chest the ball to a team-mate.

Third, Lucas Hill, the Knights defender, was indefatigable, despite the physical demands imposed on him.  At one point, seemingly exhausted but with a high ball heading his way, he set himself, let out a determined yell, and almost with superhuman  effort got high off the ground to head clear.  It was an impressive physical feat.

Photo:  Devonport's Charles Bidwell in hot pursuit of Knights' Nick Mearns. [PlessPix]  

Fourth, Jack Bowman never gave up.  He made some errors that let opponents past, but his powers of recovery were impressive and he would subsequently launch some full-blooded tackles that retrieved the situation.  It was his pass down the right, too, that led to Knights’ opening goal.  His replacement in the last minute of extra-time by fellow medical student Oscar Thomas proved crucial.

Knights were ecstatic when Nick Naden put them ahead 10 minutes from the end of the regulation 90 minutes.  Bowman set the ball rolling with a pass down the right, where Sculthorpe and Naden combined to cross to Nick Mearns on the left.  He cut the ball back to Connor Schmidt, who played the ball across the box for Naden to hammer home from 15 metres.

Devonport drew level 5 minutes later.  Joel Stone crossed from the left to the far post and Eddie Bidwell knocked the ball back across goal for Brody Denehey to shoot home off the face of Daniel Syson.  I’ve given the goal to Syson, even though he didn’t know much about it.

Photo:  Knights' Eduardo Castaneda with the ball in midfield. [PlessPix]  

That took the game into extra-time and, in the 118th minute, Devonport skipper Kieran Mulraney headed home a Stone corner to make it 2-1 for Devonport.  They must have thought they’d won it then, but there was more drama to come.

In the last minute of extra-time, Knights coach James Sherman brought on Oscar Thomas for his first appearance of the season.  Thomas is studying medicine in Launceston and had not featured all season.

In the 122nd minute, a high ball forward by Schmidt was inadvertently nudged on by Stone and into the path of Thomas, who with his first touch, beat Pitchford to make it 2-2 and ensure a penalty shoot-out.

Photo:  Knights' Eli Luttmer and Pajari Sculthorpe go for the same ball. [PlessPix]  

In the penalty shoot-out, Charles Bidwell scored with Devonport’s first spot-kick, while Eli Luttmer was successful with the first for Knights.

Reynolds, obviously handicapped by his shoulder injury, had his spot-kick saved by Lachlan Hart, which enabled Knights captain Tyler Harrison to put his side ahead.

Denehey made it 2-2 with his penalty and it stayed at that when Nick Mearns hit the post with Knights’ third effort.

Eddie Bidwell then put Devonport 3-2 ahead and Jordan Muller made it 3-3 with the Knights’ fourth penalty.

Toby Barton edged Devonport in front when he converted their fifth, which proved the winner as Pitchford saved Schmidt’s fifth penalty for the Knights.  It was ironic that Schmidt, who had an important role in both Knights’ goals, should be the fall guy in the shoot-out.

Devonport thus qualified for the FFA Cup Round-of-32 on a great day for Tasmanian football.

Photo:  Knights defend their goal. [PlessPix] 

Photo:  A desperate lunge by Devonport's Joel Stone in an attempt to prevent Eli Luttmer from launching a Knights attack. [PlessPix 

Photo:  Knights' Pajari Sculthorpe tries to evade Devonport's Toby Barton. [PlessPix]

Photo:  Knights' Eli Luttmer (left) is tackled by Devonport's Jordan Lamb, who showed trickery and excellent skills throughout the game. [PlessPix]
Photo:  Knights' Pajari Sculthorpe tightly marked by Devonport's Toby Barton. [PlessPix]
Photo:  Devonport's Joel Stone tries to make up ground as Knights' Eli Luttmer surges forward. [PlessPix]
Photo:  Devonport's Brody Denehey is unable to prevent Knights' Jack Bowman from clearing. [PlessPix]
Photo:  Devonport's Joel Stone turns with the ball to pose a threat to Knights. [PlessPix]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you Walter as a neutral this is probably the best cup game that I have seen 1!! Well done to both clubs and supporters.

And we will we have decent change rooms at KGV to accommodate male and female players?? I know the funding is there but a date??