DEMON Knights almost pulled off another finals upset on Saturday.
After knocking out Northern Conference minor premiers Inverell Joeys last week, the Armidale side had defending premiers Oxley Vale Attunga on the ropes for a fair portion of their preliminary semi-final at Ken Chillingworth Oval.
But in the end they fell just short, with a Lachlan Browne strike with just under 20 minutes to go burying their grand final hopes 3-2.
The sprawled players on the field after the final whistle showed how much it hurt.
They’d twice held a one-goal lead and created more than enough chances to win.
“I thought we probably had more chances in the game, especially in the first half,” coach Evan Quaife said.
“We could have been up a few more at half-time.”
As it was, they weren’t even up, with OVA snagging a goal in the final minute to make it 1-all at the break.
They had the defending premiers on the back foot for a lot of the first half though.
“I thought for most of the first half we dominated them,” Quaife said.
“We were cutting them open. We just couldn’t get that second goal.”
Their pace up front really troubled the Mushies and allowed them to get in behind the defence.
“The three up front had a heap of pace and heap of skill,” Quaife said.
He said the late first-half Mushies goal was a dent, although they’d done the same last week to Joeys.
They re-established their lead early in the second half with Callan McGregor showing that pace Quaife alluded to, to run down the left flank and then turn the ball inside and get to it first.
But from there it all just unravelled.
“After that I don’t know if we were tired, or hanging on or trying to defend,” Quaife said.
“But OVA got on top.”
That came through the midfield, with Mushies’ midfield taking control.
“Towards the last 15 they got on top in the midfield and found a lot of space,” Quaife said.
He thought Tom Landes played pretty well in the midfield for them. Josh Quaife also had a pretty good game, as did Sam Constance at centre back.