Wingham v Macleay Valley Rangers
THE old football cliché about the better side losing was nevermore true than of Wingham Warriors State Cup bout with Macleay Valley Rangers on Saturday, with Wingham going down 2-1 despite creating the best scoring chances and playing some very attractive football.
Despite some entertaining end-to-end football the game was scoreless at half-time, with Wingham's Nick Beacham and Osama Ali coming closest to breaking the deadlock.
However some contentious decisions allowed Rangers to register a goal early in the second half. Wingham were caught out of shape protesting a decision to award a throw-in to Rangers, who seized the opportunity and got through Wingham's previously impenetrable defence to score from close range. To make matters worse for the Warriors an equalising goal just minutes later was denied by the linesman who adjudged the corner kick to have crossed the by-line earlier in the play.
Another goal to Rangers followed, with Rangers allowed to play on despite a Warriors defender seemingly being wrestled to the ground but, to their credit, Wingham rallied - mounting some impressive attacking forays which Rangers had to work hard to foil.
The pressure finally told when a Rangers' defender handled the ball inside the 18 yard box and Wingham were awarded a penalty which was coolly dispatched by Osama Ali.
The introduction of some fresh legs off the bench spelt further trouble for a tiring Rangers defence but unfortunately time ran out before an equalising goal could be found, despite Wingham's late surge and their overall dominance.
Wingham displayed some great teamwork and resilience, and showed definite signs of being a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League this season. Though everyone gave their all there were some standout performances, notably Jared Cooper at right full-back, centre-back Ryan Haley and Michael Ihlow who had a superb game in the centre of midfield. Substitutes Beau French and Kaleb Robinson, also impressed - causing problems for the Rangers' backs with their pace in both attack and defence.