Australia Cup action to return to Inverell today when Schutz’s men host Goonellabah FC

There was always guaranteed to be just one Northern Inland team still alive heading into the fifth of Northern NSW Football’s Australia Cup preliminary rounds today, and that team is Inverell FC following their dominant 4-1 victory on home soil against South Armidale United FC last Saturday.

The highly-anticipated round four clash the saw the 2023 Namoi Premier League champions host the 2023 Northern Inland Premier League champions on a grueling hot day at the Inverell Sporting Complex.

It was the visitors who struck first when South Armidale’s Cody Godwin scored about 25 minutes into the contest, but the home side hit back when an unmarked Paul Leo got onto the end of a cross and found the back of the net from close range in the 43rd minute to lock the score up at 1-1 at half-time.

Riley Schutz broke the deadlock five minutes into the second stanza with a cracker from outside the 18-yard box that flew into the top left corner, and then Leo made the score 3-1 with another strike from close range in the 58th minute after getting onto the end of a Sam Byrne cross.

Norman Mininty put the result beyond doubt after play resumed following the mid-half drinks break when he headed home a Schutz corner kick, and the hosts held strong to win the contest 4-1.

It was a victory that saw Inverell FC progress to the fifth NNSWF preliminary round of the Australia Cup. They will host Football Mid North Coast Premier League side Goonellabah FC at the Inverell Sporting Complex today from 2:30pm, and the winner of that match will be one of the two Northern Conference teams that will join the Southern Conference sides later in the year in the final eight of NNSWF.

Inverell’s coach Damien Schutz was thrilled with what he saw from his men last Saturday and is excited for another Cup clash on home spoil today.

“The first 30 minutes was really good football. It was like chess, both teams were patient and working each other out and trying to conserve energy in the heat,” Schutz said.

“We conceded to start again, but credit to the boys, they bounced back just before the second half, and going in at 1-all helped the motivation going into the second half. Then fitness told in the end.

“The boys didn’t get above themselves once they got the lead. They kept their composure. We’ve been working on control and we controlled the ball well. Once the boys knew South Armidale were blowing, they just started knocking the ball around and took control of the game that way.

“It’s pretty exciting for a club of our size. We’re not on the map or anything. The guys are excited and we had a good crowd down their last weekend so hopefully we get another one down there (today).

“We’ll have a couple away. Cricket season this time of the year doesn’t help and our captain (Josh Cashel) is away down the coast, but we’ve got enough depth to cover those spots.

“Goonellabah come from a pretty strong comp, the Mid North Coast Premier League, they’ll be no slouches. They’ll be physical and they’ll turn up ready to play.”

Regardless of today’s result, this Cup run has filled Inverell FC with confidence for the year ahead. They are one of the newcomers to the Northern Inland Premier League in 2024 and Schutz said that his side were initially hoping to just be competitive in their return to the competition, but last Saturday’s result proved to them that they should consider themselves as contenders for the coming league campaign.