Cobram Roar recorded a massive first-up finals win on Sunday, coming away with a huge five-nil win against rival Albury City.
City shocked the football world this time last season, knocking the first-placed Cobram out of the finals race and going on to make the grand final from eighth spot.
This year there was to be no repeat — with the result still raw in the minds of many of the players they were not going to make the same mistakes for the second consecutive season.
Cobram had a full list to choose from for the first time all season, with Nathan Thomas and Raymond Diramacca returning after lengthy lay-offs as Cobram pushed from the first whistle and almost broke the deadlock instantly when a long range effort from Marshall came back off the cross bar.
Cobram was creating plenty of chances early on but they were either going just wide or forcing the City keeper into some great saves.
Down the other end City also had a great chance to break the deadlock when its striker broke through and found himself with only the keeper to beat — only to shoot just wide.
Finally after 20 minutes Cobram was rewarded with a goal when a pinpoint cross from Marshall found the head of Puckett who headed home past the City keeper to give his side a deserved one-goal lead.
City now had to push and was caught out moments later when a set piece was saved by Cobram keeper Varley whose long range kick put through Marshall who cheekily chipped the keeper from outside the box and doubled his side’s advantage.
Cobram was now well on top and City didn’t seem to have any answers as the scores were 2-0 at the break.
After half-time Cobram knew City would come out firing, but put that to rest in the opening two minutes when a cross by Justin Smith picked out Puckett who again made no mistake finishing and took his side to a 3-0 lead.
Albury City’s heads were down as Cobram continued to push in numbers and on the hour mark made it 4-0 when Puckett found space in the box and rounded the keeper to score his hat-trick.
Cobram still continued to push and could have easily scored many more goals as players missed many opportunities.
But the result was never in doubt as coach Adam Gatcum scored his side’s fifth with literally the last kick of the match.
Cobram is now in the preliminary final against Albury United this Sunday at Jelbert Park, Lavington at 3pm.
Roar has had no luck against United this season, going down in two close encounters 1-2 and 2-3, but could have easily won both matches and will go into this game full of confidence to book a spot in the grand final.
Score: 5-0. Goals: B. Puckett 3, B. Marshall, A. Gatcum.
The reserves were coming up against the only side they hadn’t defeated this season and were pushed all the way in a thrilling and often fiery encounter.
The first half was a very scrappy affair as Cobram went against a strong breeze but still should have taken the lead but just couldn’t hit the target.
In the second half the Cobram players lifted their game and started to play their style of soccer and took the lead 10 minutes in when Joseph Ballerini scored direct from a corner kick.
For the next 10 minutes Cobram was well on top but started to get complacent and paid the ultimate price when Diamonds pushed through and equalised.
The reserves kept their heads and continued to push and soon found themselves in the lead again after a good run down the wing by Ballerini picked out Michael Startari at the top of the box to slot home his left-footed effort into the bottom corner and restore his side’s lead.
Diamonds had a golden chance to level the scores after the kick-off only for their chance to go just wide as Cobram managed to hold tight and fight out a very entertaining match to book a spot in the preliminary final.
Roar will play Wangaratta at 12.50pm at Jelbert Park.
Cobram has recorded two-goal wins in both matches against Wangaratta this season but will be expecting a much tougher contest this time around.
Score: 2-1. Goals: J. Ballerini, M. Startari.
The soccer season came to an end for the under-16 boys on Sunday after they were defeated in the elimination final.
The boys played Twin City Wanderers in what was going to be a challenging match.
The boys took to the pitch with commitment and enthusiasm and played great soccer.
They were competitive and courageous and the opposition was not able to get a score on the board until the second half. Nick Osborne kicked Roar’s only goal from a Jack Cassidy free kick for the boys to level the score.
Unfortunately in the last 10 minutes of the game, Twin City sealed the win with two more goals.
A valiant effort from the under-16 boys — they played with courage and never gave up. Well done boys!
Score: 1-3. Goals: N. Osborne 1. Best: K. Lissington, J. Cassidy, C. Sorrenti, T. Hyde.
Roar under-12s played their first final against the Myrtleford Savoys.
The game started in a very competitive fashion, with the Savoys looking the stronger of the two sides.
Once the Roar boys settled and got their passing together the tides turned and the ball went from end to end.
Defenders Chaz Boyd and Zain Alibraheem constantly ran and controlled play while Thomas Corso was the general in the middle giving constant feed forward.
Jackson Koopman took on the Savoys to have a cracker shot, to put Roar up in the 23rd minute of the first half.
The second half was another battle, seeing Myrtleford catch out the Roar defenders to equalise.
Jackson troubled the Savoys’ keeper many times to see a full time score at 1-1.
Extra time was taxing on both teams, but the Savoys took advantage of a Roar mistake to take the game with the golden goal in the last minute.
The Roar boys certainly put their heart into the game, with every player worthy of an award and all came off the pitch exhausted.
Score: 1-2. Goal: Jackson Koopman. Best: Neil Suphun, Zain Alibraheem, Jackson Koopman, Thomas Koopman, Michaele Mustica and Chaz Boyd.
The under-11s played a very competitive and tough match against Albury Diamonds and prevailed, winning 2-1.
From the outset Cobram was on the front foot with Mikael Artavilla-Bennett providing some great runs down the right wing.
The defence line of Sonny Rowe, Harry Paterson, Spencer Clarke and Tyrone Baxter were stoic and stopped all of Diamonds’ forward movements.
Cobram hit the lead after Sonny’s booming free kick was run onto by striker Jake Kalz who slammed it past the keeper.
Jordan Kelly played a solid game in goals, stopping Diamonds’ shots, and Leo Quinane played well as a forward, generating forward play.
Despite this, Diamonds hit back and levelled the scores.
The ball then went end-to-end with both teams searching for a winner.
Leo did a great run and passed the ball to Logan Stone who crossed the ball perfectly to Jake who scored a good goal to put Cobram 2-1 up.
The last 10 minutes were frenetic with Cobram holding firm and winning the game.
Cobram now plays Myrtleford on Sunday with the winner proceeding to the grand final.
Score: 2-1. Goals: Jake 2. Award: Leo.
●Division three men (under-18): Cobram Roar 5 d Myrtleford 0. Play Wodonga Diamonds this Sunday at 9.25am at Jelbert Park.
●Under-14: Cobram Roar 1 lost to Albury City FC 2.
●Under-13 girls: Albury Hotspurs 9 d Cobram Roar 0.
●Under-13: Wodonga Diamonds 2 d Cobram Roar 0.
●Under-11: Cobram Roar won 2-1. Play Myrtleford this Sunday at 8am at Jelbert Park.