NORTH Companions were looking at an early exit from this year’s Northern Inland Football Premier League when they trailed Moree FC 2-1 at halftime of their knockout semi-final clash at Marius Street, Tamworth on Saturday.
However the Gavin Thompson-coached Men In Black recovered with a much better second half to beat the visitors 3-2 and keep their season alive.
South Armidale Scorpions were doing the same thing in Armidale where they beat visiting Gunnedah United 3-2 in their knockout semi as well.
Tamworth FC and Oxley Vale Attunga earned a week off when they registered wins in their qualifying finals, OVA Mushies beating North Armidale 4-3 at Phil Wheaton Oval, North Armidale and FC full of control in a 3-nil win over Joeys FC at Johnson Field, Tamworth.
Andrew Cepak scored a double for Tamworth FC while Chris Soto returned from injury to net the other in a controlled performance.
“We dominated the first half but couldn’t score until the 43rd and 45th minutes,” FC coach Wayne May said.
“It effectively killed off the game.
“We played good possession football and controlled it in the second half.
“We had enough chances to make it five or six-nil too.”
While Chris Soto was back in the FC lineup, Matt Gardner was missing through illness.
Soto and Cepak worked well together as strikers but it was the back four – Damien Puyenbroek, Scott May, Brett May and Steve Marshall – who shut Joeys FC out.
They and keeper, Troy Osborne, were best for Tamworth FC.
It was a good day for Tamworth FC, with its second grade also winning 3-nil, against Demon Knights.
Across town, North Companions had struck early through Nick Bowden to lead 1-nil after 15 minutes before Moree FC took over and scored through goals to Adam Ha and Matthew Urquhart.
“It was a game of two halves,” Thompson said after his side had regrouped at half- time.
“The first 15 minutes we dominated and led 1-nil but then they got on top and we struggled.
“We spoke about it at half- time and made a couple of changes.
We spoke about being soft on the ball and getting bodies behind the ball and they worked real hard in the second half.
Moree FC coach Darrell Smith was delighted at half- time.
“We’d scored a couple of good goals,” he said.
“They had dominated the first 15 or so but we dominated to half-time.
“We had a few other chances and couldn’t score.
“Then they made a few changes in the second half and had a real good 10-minute period to score those two goals and we couldn’t come back.”
He thought Stephen Pinner and Adam Ha were his best.
“They played well at the back and closed down a lot of stuff.”
Thompson thought Will Kam was his best.
“It was probably his best game of the year for us.
“We also lost Ben van Aanholt – he’s gone to the hospital.
“It’s going to test our depth now – we’ve got four first graders out,” Thompson said.
While Bowden scored NC’s first-half goal, he also added one in the second half after Zac Kam had equalised.