It was a wet, cold and miserable day as all three senior Redbacks teams travelled to Kempsey on the weekend to take on Kempsey Saints.
For the Ladies, the match saw the squad up against the top of the table team, which first time round had ended in a 0-0 draw. Buoyed by a strong performance two weeks earlier, the Redbacks were confident going into the match, but knew that Kempsey would be a formidable opponent.
The first half saw Redbacks dominating the play, with a number of attacking chances presenting themselves for the visitors. Saints quickly became desperate, and though showing glimpses of the reason why they were coming first, never really threatened the defence. Midfielders Lani Slade and Bri St Ledger did a fantastic job of limiting the typically strong Saints midfield, whilst simultaneously creating attacking opportunities, and at half-time, it looked as though the Redbacks may be able to come away with a win.
The game however was set to be a game of two halves, and as the two teams retook to the field, it became clear very early on that the home side had found their rhythm. The first ten minutes saw a continuous onslaught from Saints, whose passing game and ability to create an overlap created all sorts of headaches for the Redbacks. However it was a short corner, and a shot from outside the box high into the net that saw the Saints get on the board.
Though disappointed at the goal, the Redbacks continued to persevere. The strong defence lead by Yas Egan and Alicia Bales held steady to shut-down any further opportunities Saints had. Two injuries late in the game to Slade and Bales saw players Hannah Morson and Shannaye Hartland required to step up into the key positions left vacant. This highlighted the depth of the Redbacks squad, as both closed out the match in outstanding form.
Coach Tamara Burns was disappointed in the final result, but at the same time optimistic of what the game produced.
“Naturally we would have preferred a win, or at least a draw, and I definitely think the team deserved that given the way they played, but that’s soccer, and full credit to Saints for taking their chance,” she said.
“Despite the loss though, the game demonstrated the strength of our team. We took on the top of the table team, and held them to 1-0. We could have won that game, so I’m very positive of what the rest of the season holds.”
Once again desperate for players, the Redbacks Reserve Grade squad took to the field with Ben Morgan and Zac Alchin stepping up from the Under 18’s. David Rowe and Ethan Alchin stepped in from the Under 16’s.
Despite the low numbers, the boys fought hard, and with scores at 0-0 at half-time, it was a positive sign on how the remainder of the match may go. Stalwarts Daniel Morgan and Captain Ray Grimson were outstanding, and their commitment to the team, and training paid dividends on the field as they led the way for the side. However once again, fitness, or lack-there- of, got the better of the Redbacks, and three goals late in the match sealed the win for Saints.
Man of the Match was awarded to Ben Morgan, closely followed by Zac Alchin. A fantastic effort for two players who had played the night before.
As First Grade took to the field, the conditions had certainly deteriorated. The match looked certain to be a slippery affair.
A missed penalty and some very close attempts could have made all the difference in what was a tight match for most of the time. However as is the case in football, it is the team who makes the most of their opportunities who will ultimately walk away with the prize.
Midfielders Aiden Shaw and Jaryd Shaw were outstanding, demonstrating a true ‘brothers- in-arms’ commitment to each other. Third brother Logan Shaw also played a fantastic game, before having to retire injured. This made way for Jordan Malzard to make his First Grade debut. Ben Morgan, already having played Under 18’s the night before, and Reserve Grade just minutes before, was a true credit to passion and dedication. He put in a solid effort for his third appearance for the weekend.
But despite the effort, down 2-1 with 10 minutes to go, the Redbacks looked set to level the scores a number of times. However some sloppy defence saw two soft goals to the home side, with the final score of 3-1 going to Saints.