SOUTH Armidale continued its wonderful march through the second half of the Northern Inland Football Premier League season when the side returned to Tamworth’s Scully Park to beat North Companions 3-1 in Saturday’s preliminary final and earn a grand final berth against Tamworth’s Oxley Vale Attunga.
While the OVA Mushrooms were inflicting a 1-nil defeat on North Armidale Redmen at Phil Wheaton Oval in Armidale, the Michael Lord-coached South Scorpions were winning for the second successive week on Scully Park.
A penalty goal shootout win against Tamworth FC at Scully the previous week had been a highlight of South’s sudden death run and they turned up to produce another tightrope effort.
Leading 2-nil at halftime after goals from Jamie Wright and Jake Graham (penalty), the Scorpions had to withstand a determined second- half North Companions fightback.
When Ben van Aanholt scored for Norths to make it 2-1, they had a sniff but couldn’t capitalise on some some good, dominating play.
It was the Scorpions who stung next, Josh Frost adding a deserving third to break the North Companions hearts.
“We didn’t come out very well in the second half,” South coach Michael Lord said.
“In the first half both sides were very enthusiastic but we made more of our chances than they did.
“In the second half North came out firing and knocked the ball around really well.
“They put us under a lot of pressure but we did defend well.
“Josh’s goal gave us a bit of leeway after they had us under the pump.”
North Companions coach Gavin Thompson was disappointed his side couldn’t convert some first-half pressure and good play.
“We played well today.
“I thought we dominated possession. We just conceded two poor mistakes in the first half and they changed the game.
“The boys never gave up though and knocked around some good stuff in the second half.
“It would have been nice to score a couple more but South did defend well.
“In the end they took their chances and we didn’t. We’ve got no excuses.”
Lord was delighted with his side which went into game without two of its stars, Ben Wright and Jake Pamment.
However Josh Frost filled in for Wright up front and Heath Milne started in Pamment’s place. Both were impressive, with Frost scoring a deserving second-half goal.
SOUTH ARMIDALE 3 (Jamie Wright, Jake Graham, Josh Frost gls) d NORTH COMPANIONS 1 (Ben van Aanholt gl).