- Written by Walter Pless
- Published: 30 August 2009
Tilford Zebras 4-2 Prospect Knights
KGV Park had surface water for the first time in a while, which made things a little slippery, but it is still the best football surface in the south.
Tilford Zebras had numerous chances in this game, but managed only four goals.
They could easily have doubled their tally.
Prospect Knights also had enough chances to make a game of it, but they failed to convert and this took the pressure off the home side.
Zebras were without central defender Ryan Smith, which meant a recall for Michael Connolly.
Midfielder Kurt Engels was also an absentee, which gave a start to Matt Hall.
Tommy Fotak was also back at the heart of the defence.
Dwayne Walsh missed two good chances in the opening minutes, first when he shot wide, and then when his effort produced a fine save by Innis Gallagher in the Knights goal.
Imagine Zebras’ shock, then, when the visitors took the lead in the 9th minute, following a corner and a handball offence which resulted in a penalty, converted comfortably by Nathan Balym.
Zebras regained their composure immediately, however, and right-fullback Brayden Pace equalised within a minute when he pushed forward and ran diagonally across the field before planting a left-footed shot from just outside the left of the box into the top left-hand corner of the net.
Walsh threw away a gilt-edged chance in the 13th minute when he mis-kicked in front of goal.
Paul Cairns shot tamely at Gallagher on the half-hour as the Zebras continued their toil in search of a goal to give them the lead that their possession probably deserved.
On the stroke of half-time, Walsh got on to the end of a through-ball into the box, but, as Gallagher came off his line, Walsh’s attempted flick came off the keeper and the chance was gone.
Seven minutes into the second half, Knights striker Chris Pickering missed a glorious opening when he fired wide from the left of the box.
It was the sort of missed chance that Knights would regret as the game wore on.
Within five minutes, Zebras were in front as Walsh sped into the area from the left and finished with a low shot that flew in off the left-hand post.
Ricky Self forced an excellent save from Gallagher on the hour, but Knights hit back in the 63rd minute when the ball was crossed from the left to Sean Harris, whose shot at goal took a deflection and rebounded harmlessly wide.
Five minutes later, Welch squared the ball to Cairns, but his shot flew straight at the keeper.
In the 74th minute, Hall made it 3-1 from Walsh’s cross from the right and the Knights’ chances appeared to have evaporated.
But, within four minutes, they were back in the hunt as Pickering’s cross from the byline on the left flew low past keeper Troy Kaden at the near post and carried to Harris, unmarked at the far post. He was untroubled in scoring to make it 3-2.
Jayden Welch missed a sitter in the 82nd minute following Hall’s right-wing cross, but he atoned four minutes later when he set up Walsh for the Zebras’ fourth to make the game safe.
Ben Crosswell, who had a very quiet game, was substituted by Adam Young with five minutes remaining.
The match ended with an incredible double miss by the Zebras.
Young crossed from the left and Walsh missed the ball completely. When it fell for substitute Fabian Lapolla, he mis-kicked from close range and the ball flew wide of the goal.
· Tilford Zebras coach, Nick Lapolla, said:
“It was a typical winter’s game, that one.
“Very sloppy, but I think we had pretty much control of the game.
“We had a lot of chances which, in these conditions, you’ve got to take.
“It only takes one goal and you can go down.
“But, we slogged it out well and we’ll look to the second round now.”
· Prospect Knights coach, Dane Hudson, said:
“We had our opportunities but I think they were probably a little more polished than us.
“They got a lot more completions than we did.
“I thought, overall, it was a pretty even game and any side could have won it, and they did.
“Congratulations to them and all the best for the rest of the finals competition for them.”
Tilford Zebras: Kaden - Pace, Telega, Fotak, Connolly - Hall (F Lapolla 87), Cairns, Self, Welch - Walsh, Crosswell (Young 85) (Substitute not used: Mainella)
Booked: Crosswell 69, Self 87
Goals: Pace 10, Walsh 57, Hall 74, Walsh 86
Prospect Knights: Gallagher - Firth, Young, Nutting (A Balym 77), N Balym - Hudson, Atherton, Baker, Harris, Kelly - Pickering (Substitutes not used: Gartrell, Maher)
Goals: N Balym 9 pen, Harris 78
Att: 100 (KGV Park, Top-Four Finals Series)
Ref: K Barker