TAMWORTH FC and North Armidale United will have to produce three straight wins to take the Northern Inland Premier League title after falling in Saturday’s quarter-finals.
The upset results saw the southern conference champions, Tamworth, and northern conference leaders, North, go down to the teams ranked second in each division.
Tamworth matched Demon Knights for most of their clash in Tamworth but the Knights banged two goals away in a few minutes to take it 2-nil.
“It was a good performance,” DK coach Alan Waddle said.
“We had three or four chances in the first half.
“That concerned me a little bit.
“I was hoping we wouldn’t rue those missed chances at the end.
“But we kept going and we got the penalty.
“It was an obvious penalty, there’s no doubt about that.
“And then we got a second goal.”
Geoff Donnan slotted the penalty while Declan Humphries hit the other from outside the box.
Apart from that five-minute period, Tamworth was reasonably happy with its effort.
“It was pretty even,” coach Wayne May said.
“We knocked the ball around while they went for the long balls.
“We both counter-acted each other.
“We lose the home ground advantage (in week three) but we get a home game next week.
“We’re not looking too far ahead.”
North Armidale had a shocker according to coach Andy Lennon and went down 4-1 to Oxley Vale Attunga.
The Redmen must now beat South Armidale to earn another crack at OVA.
Tamworth has to beat East Armidale to face DK again in the semis.
“We had to win two matches to make the grand final,” May said.
“I guess we’ll have to pull the next two now.
“But we have to look at next week’s game first.”
East beat Moree 2-1 in the elimination quarter-finals and could pose a threat.
“In the last few weeks the boys have started to hit their straps,” East coach Daniel Preston said.
“We’re getting back to the way we played at the start of the season when we were knocking off all of the teams that made the top four.
“The thing that shone through today was the brains and the heart they showed.
“It was a top effort.”
OVA and DK get a week off to prepare for the grand final qualifiers but won’t be counting their chickens just yet.
“It’s great,” Waddle said.
“But there’s still all to play for.
“As I said to the Tamworth coach, we lost to OVA 5-1 and went on to play them in the grand final last year.
“It’s not over and we won’t take it for granted.
“There’s one more to make the grand final and we’ll keep our feet on the ground and keep playing.”