Saturday was a rollercoaster for Gunnedah FC.
While first grade booked a spot in their third grand final in a row, to go with three straight minor premierships, reserve grade were knocked out after a heartbreaking defeat.
Taking on North Companions – who FC had beaten twice before – in reserve grade, Gunnedah FC went down 1-0 after Northies scored a winner in the 85th minute.
Jake Manley, who was ill on match day morning, managed to play the whole game and blocked the first shot that led to the goal but was unable to get back up for the second shot that went in.
Despite the loss, Gunnedah FC first grade coach Andy Cygan said the future looked bright for the reserve grade side.
“As I’ve said before Alexzanna Budge [reserve grade coach] and myself are incredibly proud of this young bunch. They are the majority at training and are only going to get better,” Cygan said.
“We can only hope they stay together and we get a few more local players coming along next year.”
In first grade it was a typically hard, physical game with big tackles.
Cygan should have scored within a few minutes but didn’t connect well with his shot when chipped through by Rob Pryor.
It was then a long free kick from Matt Davis that sent Pryor chasing. He got there before the keeper, looped his shot over the top which bounced into the goal to make it 1-0.
Then, as half-time approached, Zac Crowhurst was defending a corner and as the ball came in, Gunnedah FC keeper Kameron Manks punched the ball out only to smash his hip into Crowhurst’s head as a Quirindi player also challenged and hit Crowhurst from the other side. He fell to the floor with severe neck pain and was taken to hospital by ambulance. Further scans are required but he looks set to miss the final.
The second half was a repeat of the first as FC held a 1-0 lead. FC’s defence was solid, and needed to be, as Michael Cooke was sent from the field in the 60th minute.
Cygan said the send-off came after Cooke swore in the direction of the referee after he didn’t see him getting his shorts pulled.
There weren’t many chances in the final third of the game barring a Pryor dot shot which was saved after Cygan was fouled in the box.
The defensive players were the stars and have now played Quirindi three times without conceding a goal and only conceded two goals in open play in 15 games.
Boyd McCormack has stood out all year alongside the experience of Welington Sardinha, Matt Davis and Justin Lawrence while Mitch Whitten does an amazing job whenever he steps up. The final is on September 22 at 7.45pm at Scully Park.
Cygan sent a shot out to The Courthouse Hotel who have committed to another two years as major sponsors and the club’s other major sponsor ADS Australia Drilling Systems and GLP Gunnedah Leather Processors for their continued support. Also to Gunnedah Junior Soccer who have supported Gunnedah FC all year.
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