Cobram Roar took on the AWFA league leaders on Sunday, the Wangaratta Red Devils, hoping to continue a great run of form and push higher up the ladder after a slow start to the season.
For the first time this season, coach Adam Gatcum had a full list to choose from as he welcomed Ray Diramacca back from injury and fielded his strongest side yet as he looked to get at Wang from the first whistle.
Pounce Cobram did, as players went at Wangaratta from the start and pressured the defence in numbers, before a break run down the wing and into the box by Tyler Seabrook allowed him to pick out Bill Puckett, who made no mistake finishing to open the scoring after only three minutes.
Wangaratta looked shell-shocked and Cobram continued to attack, and on five minutes made it 2-0 when a dangerous cross into the box by Smith found the chest of the Wang defender who somehow put the ball back to his keeper to double Cobram’s advantage.
The game seemed to even out after the crazy start as Cobram looked to have backed off the intensity, but still remained solid down back, containing Wang’s quick forwards.
Just as half-time was approaching, Cobram seemed to lack concentration for a brief moment and a set piece by Wang out wide picked out its player at the far post to head home with almost the last touch of the half to bring the scores back to 2-1 and put some pressure back on Cobram, which had taken the foot off the pedal.
After the break Wang had the momentum and looked the more likely to score as Cobram came out flat.
Wangaratta thought it had equalised 10 minutes in when a defensive mix-up allowed Burchall to pounce and score from close range, only for the goal to be ruled offside.
This seemed to spring Cobram players into gear as they began to push forward, looking to kill off any Wang comeback, and were rewarded a golden chance 20 minutes in when Seabrook was taken down in the box and Cobram was rewarded a penalty.
Billotelli Marshall stood up and coolly slotted it home into the bottom corner to again give Cobram a two-goal advantage.
This seemed to kill off Wang as the match lost its intensity once again while Cobram looked to hold on to its two-goal advantage.
Again in the dying stages of the half Wangaratta caught Cobram sleeping and managed to score its second for the match to set up a tense final five minutes.
Cobram did manage to hold tight and secure a massive three points that now moves it above Wangaratta, but still only to third position, two points behind new ladder leaders Myrtleford and Albury United.
In a very close season there is only four points separating top and seventh-placed Melrose, as no side can afford to drop any points at this stage of the season.
This Sunday Cobram Roar is at home again and comes up against Wodonga Diamonds.
Score: 3-2. Goals: B. Puckett, B. Marshall, own goal. Best: N. Thomas, A. Feldtmann, T. Seabrook.
The reserves also continued their great run of form and cemented their top spot on the ladder with a convincing 2-nil win over Wangaratta.
The Magoos also fielded their strongest side of the season and scored a goal in each half with Lee Tweddie opening the scoring before Michael Startari sealed the win with a second-half goal.
The boys face a massive test this Sunday as they take on third-placed Diamonds, their biggest challenge for the past month.
Score: 2-0. Goals: L. Tweedie, Mi. Startari. Best: L. Tweedie, A. Zito, C. Meola.
Division three men
A strong Cobram Roar side came up against a young Wangaratta side on Sunday.
Continuing from last week’s great performance the Roar came out to play with some great possession play, breaking the Wangaratta defences. First-half goals to Seabrook, Cabading and Stoate brought the boys 3-0 at the break.
After the break it gave the coach a chance to blood some younger players with Cassidy and Hyde being given their first opportunities of the season and fitting in perfectly.
Cobram was unlucky not to score in the second half but ran out as the match winner.
Score: 3-0. Goals: W. Seabrook, M. Cabading, N. Stoate. Best: M. Demaio, K. Attana, J. Nankiville.
This week’s clash against Wangaratta proved to be quite disappointing after Cobram conceded three goals by half-time.
The second half proved to be just as difficult, although there was a great through ball passed by Giuseppe Mete to Sam Woods, who then had a run down the left wing, dribbling around a defender and scoring Cobram’s only goal for the game.
Hunter Goodin and Connor Baxa proved themselves again to be quite capable in the defence along with Nick Woods, but it was the Reds that proved too strong for the Roar, winning the match 5-1.
Cobram Roar took on the under-12 division’s only undefeated team, Wangaratta City.
The Roar got off to the best start with Jackson Koopman scoring in the second minute and putting the league leaders in an uncomfortable position.
Roar kept the pressure up and defended well but the fast passing City forced some errors in defence to score three times in the first half.
The Roar defenders were still solid, allowing defending midfielder Neil Suphun to carry and pass the ball forward.
At the half-time break the Roar was still confident and ready to go. It was a battle where both defences held strong, and Michaele Mustica kept with strong hands.
In the 17th minute Jackson scored again, giving Roar a sniff of a chance.
In the 21st minute, Roar was awarded a free kick a long way out from goal. Jackson took the free, having a shot and putting the crowd in a state of excitement as he scored in the top right corner and levelled the score 3-3.
City pushed but ran out of time.
It was certainly an exciting game of football, played by two teams full of talent.
Score: 3-3. Goals: Jackson Koopman 3. Best: Jesse Brogan, Chaz Boyd, Zainul Alibraheem, Ethan Baxa and Liam Kelly.
The under-11s came up against a competitive opponent in Wangaratta and ended with a 3-3 draw.
Jake Kalz opened the scoring after a great through ball in which he made no mistake in getting it past the keeper.
Sony Rowe was solid in the backline and he and Spencer Clark repelled many Wangaratta forward thrusts.
On the wings, Adam Champagne and Tyrone Baxter were busy creating chances.
Wangaratta fought back and scored an equaliser before a Jake Kalz cross was deflected in by a Wangaratta defender.
Harry Patterson then made the most of a keeper fumble to score Cobram’s third and go 3-1 up at half-time.
The second half saw Wangaratta fight back and score two goals to level the scores.
Lachlan Kelly and Logan Stone defended well and Sonny again stopped many of Wangaratta’s forward thrusts.
The game went end to end with both sides searching for a winner but the match ended in a three-all draw.
Score: 3-3. Goals: Harry Paterson, Jake Kalz and own goal. Awards: Sonny Rowe and Jake Kalz.
●Senior women: Cobram Roar 2 (A Iannucci 2 – 22,26) lost to Wangaratta 6 (B Mulqueen 2 – 23,72; C Rizzo 1 – 34; C Suter 2 – 39,70; J Devlin 1 – 38).
●Under-13 girls: Cobram Roar 1 lost to Wangaratta 6.
●Under-14: Cobram Roar 4 d Wangaratta 1.
●Under-16: Cobram Roar 3 drew with Wangaratta 3.