It was always going to be a conflicting weekend for fans of Crookwell Soccer, when both of their men’s teams faced off in the semi-finals of the Southern Tablelands All Age Men’s Division One.
The Crookwell Griffins and the Crookwell Reds were battling it out for a place in this weekend’s preliminary final against the Goulburn Stags, and neither side wanted to give an inch.
The match began quickly, and in the Griffins’ favour. The Reds found themselves outpaced and out of sorts in the first ten minutes, which allowed the Griffins to take a 2-0 lead right out of the gate.
In part, this was due to a shortage of players in the Reds’ side, but captain Nick Harrop commented that it was no excuse for his side’s early performance in the match.
“I think we just started faster, was the biggest difference [in the early stages],” Crookwell Soccer Association president and Griffins player David Shepherd said.
“We just started faster, and when you get that first one, then you get a quick couple and you tend to push forward more and attack more.”
The Reds eventually snapped out of their stupor and began to play competitive football about 15 minutes in, which quickly resulted in a goal and gained them some ground at 2-1.
That remained the score in to the half time break. Once the second half kicked off, it proved to be more of a subdued arm wrestle than the first.
The Griffins had regular control of the ball, and spent much of the last 45 minutes camped inside the Reds’ half, however resolute defence and inaccuracy curtailed their attempts on goal.
Both teams only managed one goal apiece in the second half, but it was enough for the Griffins to maintain their lead and pave the way to 3-2 win which set up a preliminary final this weekend against the Goulburn Stags.
The Stags, along with Marulan White, have been one of the two dominant teams in the competition this year.
“We’ll definitely be the underdogs,” Shepherd said.
“We haven’t beaten them this year yet, and they’re returning from being the Grand Finalists in State League One in Canberra last year.
“They’re a good-level team, so we’ll be up against it. If we have a really good game, I think we can do it.”
For the Griffins to have any chance of success, they will need to begin the match in a similar fashion to last weekend.
“We need to get an early goal, and our defence will have to be right on the money,” Shepherd said.
“Everyone’s upbeat, they’re confident. We’re going to give it a red-hot crack.”
The preliminary final between the Crookwell Griffins and the Goulburn Stags will kick off from 2.30pm this Saturday at Cookbundoon 2.