The race for the Orange A Grade minor premiership is still up for grabs after Sunday’s blockbuster match between Millthorpe Tigers and Barnstoneworth United ended in a 1-1 draw.
The draw means Millthorpe hold onto top spot on the Orange District Football Association ladder, three points clear of Waratah United while Barnstoneworth United slip to third, with their club mates Barnies FC on equal points with them in fourth.
The game started at a frenetic pace with United on top in the early passages of play, with some strong defence from Matt Downer, Aaron Driver and Niall Cummings.
United’s Sam Sutton had the first real chance of the match when he fired from well outside the box, only to be denied by the cross bar.
Sutton made amends for the miss moments later when he latched onto a free kick ball from Tim Denman to head one past the Tigers keeper.
Barnstoneworth United could sniff an upset but an injury to Harry Isaacs early in the second half left the United bench bare, meaning the rest of the team had to dig deep to see out the match.
Millthorpe got back to parity mid-way through the 2nd half when a Nathan Davis left foot bomb found the United defence and keeper napping.
With the scores locked at 1-1, both sides had equal chances to hit the winning goal late in the match, but neither side were successful.
United coach Chris Jacobs said it was a quick game, which had gone against the slow, possession play the side had been looking to build over the past month.
However, his young charges looked up for the challenge, taking control of the first half and repelling Millthorpe’s run in the second half when the tide turned.
“They dominated the second half more than we were in control of the first half,” Jacobs said.
“We nearly stole another goal in the second half which wouldn’t have seemed fair (considering the run of play), Millthorpe were on top.”
He said the entertaining clash was a confidence booster for the side, but may have come at a cost, with Harry Isaacs coming off just before the half with a suspected broken arm, but was confirmed as a dislocated elbow late on Sunday.
Isaacs is Barnies’ leading goal-scorer for the year and is a crucial part of the side, with Jacobs unsure how long he will miss.
The draw, combined with Barnestoneworth FC’s surprise 2-0 loss to CYMS on Saturday, has thrown the minor premiership race wide open, with Millthorpe still to have the bye in the final round.
United take on Waratah FC next week as one of their two matches in a game that will go a long way to deciding the minor premiers, with a win to either side putting them in a box seat and a draw potentially handing the title to the Tigers.
Every game is a danger game from here on out.Barnstoneworth United coach Chris Jacobs
“It’s really tight this year,” Jacobs said.
He’s also worried by the make-up game this weekend, which will have the side facing Kinross on Saturday and Waratahs FC on Sunday.
“I’m concerned about the Kinross game, they’re a very good side with some good young talent and some older heads with Paul Bloomfield and Mark Nelson,” he said.
“Every game is a danger game from here on out.”
Waratah FC racked up a 4-1 over Kinross to take second place, and Barnestoneworth FC slipped to fourth spot after a loss to a young CYMS.
Jacobs saw the first half of FC’s clash and said they were “a bit flat” and missing players.
“That’s taking nothing away from CYMS though, they were a really good young side,” he said.
The highlight of CYMS 2-0 was a brace to playmaker Joe Kay, and despite Barnies midfield’s solid possession, corners and shots sailed wide and CYMS defence held out.
However, CYMS are still nine points adrift of the top four which means nearly everything has to go their way, including other results, for them to make the final four.
In the other game, Saints Turbulence proved too strong for Waratah United in a 4-1 win, while Barbarians had the bye.