The scoreline did not reflect the performance in a stellar match that saw Northern NSW Football’s under-16s team bowing out in the semi-final in Wollongong on Thursday afternoon.
The side went down to NSW Metro 6-1 in a high intensity, thrilling match that left NNSWF’s holding their heads high after wrapping up a successful tournament.
NNSWF and NSW Metro both came firing out of the sheds with chances and goals in the first two minutes of the match.
NSW Metro’s goalkeeper pulled off a top-shelf save to deny NNSWF’s Ruby Jones’s shot on goal in the opening 60 seconds before NSW broke down the line at the opposite end to chip NNSWF’s goalkeeper and put themselves ahead in the second minute.
NNSWF looked like they would respond with a dangerous ball into the penalty area before it was cleared away by NSW Metro’s defence.
NSW Metro struck on the counterattack again, to double their advantage in the fourth minute.
Jones continued to threaten for NNSWF, creating multiple goal-scoring opportunities. Laura Knipe also had her own opportunity to score, with her top-corner strike denied with a sensational save again by NSW Metro’s goalkeeper.
In the final minute of play in the first half, NSW Metro extended their lead, chipping the ball over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
In the second half, NSW Metro continued to apply the pressure, scoring in the 33rd minute.
But Knipe was able to finally put her name on the scoresheet for NNSWF, scoring a sensational individual goal in the 40th minute. The NNSWF attacker received the ball on half way before charging through NSW Metro’s defence and striking the ball into the back of the net.
This injected energy back into the NNSWF side but it was all too late before NSW Metro scored again in the 45th and 51st minute to put the game to bed.
NNSWF’s under-16s coach Damien Zane did not think the score justified the performance of his side and was proud of their efforts from across the week.
“You look at the game and I will watch it back and be pretty happy, there were just moments. We just needed a bit of luck and they seemed to get it, not us,” Zane said.
“We had more entries than them and we probably had more ball in the first half.
“We executed everything I asked all week, so I am proud of them. I couldn’t ask for a better performance. I know how it looks on the scoreboard but they did a fantastic job.”
“I think northern NSW has our own unique style, we’ve always had work rate and we have crafty players. Northern have had so many so many different types of games and different traits shine through over the week.”
The seasoned premier men’s coach was surprised by how much he enjoyed coaching the girls' team over the week of the tournament.
“For me, it is my first venture into women’s football outside of coaching my daughter’s team and I am sad that the week’s over, to be honest. I really enjoyed it,” Zane said.
NNSWF’s CEO Peter Haynes was pleased with the success of the NNSWF teams who took part in the National Youth Championships tournaments and looks forward to seeing what the future holds for the young footballers in northern NSW footprint.
“I am immensely proud of our teams. It is a culmination of a really long process to get us to this point and benchmark ourselves against the rest of the country. It’s important for us to track where we are at and see the progress we are making,” Haynes said.
“The results from the tournaments in the last two weeks show that we have made some great strides forward and that we are at the top of the tree in terms of developing young talent across the country.
“We are always looking at how we continually improve which is really important. We want to keep doing better and continue to identify more players and coaches across our federation.”
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