You get the sense that the ball controversy from last season’s grand final has gnawed on Mushies coach Tim Coates’ mind.
And perhaps rightfully so: an OVA goal that would have made it 1-1 was cancelled after it was discovered that it was scored with a ball not match-approved. North Companions went on to win 2-1.
So when OVA won the grand final replay 2-1 at Marius Street on Saturday, it is perhaps understandable that Coates quickly referenced the ball controversy.
When asked if the win must have been especially satisfying, he replied: “Yeah, all the match balls were match balls this time.”
Much as changed since the grand final, with Coates saying both sides have a lot of new faces.
But after suffering a 4-0 opening round loss to East Armidale, OVA have won four straight to sit second on the ladder behind Tamworth FC but equal on points.
Coates is preaching caution – the “one week at a time” mantra – but it is obvious he is delighted with his side’s early season form.
He said: “We played the competition leaders last week in Demon Knights and beat them, which was a good game. We beat North Armidale, which was a hard game [and then] the grand final replay [victory].”
He added: “There’s no superstars [in the side]. Everyone’s playing for everyone else.”
On Saturday, North Companions led 1-0 at the break before Mushies rebounded from a “slow start” through a 73rd minute Luke Purcell strike and a 77th penalty goal to James Bailey that beat the goalkeeper high and wide.