SOUTH Armidale’s Northern Inland Premier League second grade success was a good example of a side turning up on grand final day ready to play.
It’s a cliche that many players and coaches hope for, but it doesn’t always happen.
The Scorpions were certainly on their game in a 3-1 win over Oxley Vale Attunga at Scully Park on Saturday.
“It was good that we turned up to play today,” South skipper Christian Nexo said.
“Everyone on the field had a good game.
“It was a perfect day for us and a great year for South Armidale.”
The first goal was well-worked but also relied on the referee playing a good advantage.
Dan Lockeridge was almost brought down by a tackle just outside the box but stayed on his feet and fed Jacob Graham for the goal.
It was 2-nil when Kirk Burton became the provider for Michael Stephens, who slotted the goal from close range.
That was the halftime score but it didn’t take long for number three to come in the second half.
It wasn’t as impressive as the first two but Nexo’s rolling shot was on target and a goalkeeping error saw it go in.
OVA pulled one back through Jacob McGoldrick but South didn’t have any real reason to be nervous.
“We played really good soccer in the first half and the start of the second half,” Nexo said.
“Then they started to put pressure on us and fought back well.
“It becomes a mind game in the last few minutes.
“3-nil up is a good position and when they got one back it was still tough for them to get another one.
“It’s a mental game in the last half.”
It’s South’s first second grade title since 2001.
The first grade team also went close to making the grand final.
Nexo said the club was in good shape and his second grade side performed well throughout.
“Credit to our backs – our defence was very strong this year,” he said.
“That was a big difference for us.
“We had a lot of older guys and some younger guys.
“That experience and youth is fantastic.
“It was a good mix this year.”
It was a disappointing decider for the Mushies.
Not a lot went right and the two first-half goals in the space of five or six minutes made it hard for them.
“We had a good chance before that,” coach Sam Higgins said.
“If we put that away it changes the game quite a bit.
“We talked about coming out after halftime and tightening up our marking.
“But we didn’t do that and they got an opportunity to get a shot in and unfortunately it went under the keeper.”
Higgins also had to endure a first grade loss later in the day but said his second graders had done well to make the decider.
“It’s a good effort,” he said.
“Some of these guys have come a long way.
“It’s a special effort in my opinion.”