After suffering their first loss in eight weeks in last week’s major semi-final clash with Waratah Old Boys, Millthorpe has rocketed into the Orange District Football Association A grade grand final after a thumping 3-2 win over last year’s premiers, Barnstoneworth United.
Tigers skipper Nic Smith was pleased with his side’s return to form, which came with the bare minimum 11 players on the field and against a side full of confidence following a 4-1 win in week one of the semis against early-season pace setters Waratah FC.
The result is a dream ODFA A grade grand final, with the Tigers keen to get one back on Old Boys after a tough post season opener.
“Very pleased,” Smith fired early after his side’s victory.
“After last week (against Old Boys) we were a bit down. But we’d beaten Barnies before and we were confident we could do it again.”
Smith said after a brilliant opening goal from Mitch Christie – the Tigers gun launched a long-range shot that found the back of the net – Millthorpe lifted.
“We got our confidence back up after that,” he added.
Nathan Davis found his side’s second winner mid-way through the opening half to shoot the Tigers out to a two-goal lead before the defending champs kept their hopes of a grand final berth alive with a winner just shy of the break.
“We only had 11 players for the game, so we were a bit worried we might lose a bit of steam (in the second half), that did happen,” Smith said.
Barnies locked up the preliminary final at 2-all during the second stanza – but the mini-scare shot the Tigers back into action.
Nathan Davis’ strike ricocheted off the post, but the deflection went straight to Zac Van Valen who was presented with an empty goal mouth.
He slotted the winner and Millthorpe hung on over the final 10 minutes, despite Barnies’ best efforts, to secure the club’s second A grade grand final appearance in the last three years.
“Very confident,” Smith said ahead of the big game.
“In that major semi, we had plenty of chances, hit the post once, two goal-line saves. We can score goals against them, we just need to play the whole 90 minutes.”
DENLEY MOOR’S STREAK CONTINUES
The weekend of come-from-behind wins in the ODFA had an early start in the over 35s competition on Saturday when Denley Moor clawed back the Millthorpe Tigers’ two-goal lead to win the preliminary final.
Before the win, Millthorpe’s tally for the season stood at four victories to one over Denley, but the Barnstoneworth side kept up its series of finals wins.
Fresh from last week’s victory over premiers Gladdyatahs, Denley went into the match with boosted confidence only to find themselves 3-1 down at half-time.
With the Tigers ranks depleted by injury and down to the bare 11 by the end, Denley struck back with goals from Phil Bennett and the second of a double from Matt Barr late in the match to send the game into extra time.
The extra 15 minutes each way almost found a breakthrough when winger Matt Barr was felled in the box. The resulting penalty saw injured Denley striker Harley Smith step up to the ball. The forward’s decision not to opt for either side, but send the ball up the middle found the Tiger’s keeper waiting, and the scores were locked 3-3 at full-time.
The first penalty kick from each side was successful, but Denley keeper Pat Driver blocked Millthorpe’s second, sending his side’s supporters into raptures. When the Tigers sent their next shot wide and Denley converted, the balance tipped and Denley Moor’s end-of-season run claimed yet another scalp, up 4-2 on penalties.
Denley will meet club-mates and minor premiers Barnstoneworth United in the over 35s grand final at Brabham’s Stedman Stadium at 12.50pm on Saturday.