Unlucky Lottery - Under 17s Grand Final on Dreaded Penalty Shootout

Post date: Aug 30, 2017 1:27:17 PM

The sun was shining down on Pratten Park in Ashfield to set the stage for a thrilling Grand Final between Cooks River Titans and Canterbury Juniors in the Under 17s Division 2 competition in front of almost 200 supporters.

A rivalry had formed between these two teams during the season as some of them attend the same school and both teams finished equal top but Cooks River sealed the minor premiership based on a better head to head record.

During the season Canterbury won the first match 4-2 and Cooks River won the reverse fixture 4-1. In the major semi final Canterbury led 3-1 only for the Titans to bring the game back and level it 3-3 sending it to golden goal where the sky blues prevailed with another goal.

The Grand Final promised to be another tight affair and it certainly panned out that way. From the kick off the match was battled in the midfield with neither team gaining a stronghold on the match. Both sides managed to create some decent chances but the eventual breakthrough came from Canterbury in the 33rd minute where a through ball saw their striker virtually one on one and he slotted the ball past the advancing Titans keeper and into the back of the net. Canterbury managed to maintain their 1-0 lead going into the break.

Cooks River certainly received a rev up at half time by coach Laki Andrikopoulos as they came out with renewed vigour. They started to play more direct football and exert more pressure on the Canterbury defence but were either missing the last pass or were getting caught offside. This forced Canterbury to play on the counter and they too broke through on several occasions but any chances were either saved by the keeper or went wide of the goal.

Two of the best chances of the second half fell to the Titans. The first was from one of countless corners which was whipped in and sailed over the keeper but neither of the two Titans players running in could get any connection to the ball from just 2 metres out. The second huge chance was a powerful shot which forced the keeper into a save above his head and at one stage the ball looked like still going into the net but landed just over the crossbar.

With 5 minutes to go Cooks River managed to get the ball into the net but the goal was ruled out for offside. It seemed like the Titans just couldn't get the rough of the green and would never get their breakthrough despite the pressure and multiple chances but with 44 seconds left in the match another ball into the box was pushed out by the upper arm of the Canterbury defender leaving the referee no choice but to award a penalty. The spot kick was expertly converted to send the Titans faithful into rapture. The referee blew full time literally seconds after the restart to send the game into extra time golden goal.

A quick team talk by the respective coaches was all they could afford before the commencement of extra time. Both sides created half chances but neither were able to snatch the win and avoid the dreaded penalty shootout. Canterbury took the first penalty and scored. The Titans equalised with their first. Canterbury scored their next spot kick as did Cooks River. Canterbury converted their next kick. Cooks River had their 3rd penalty saved. Canterbury saw their 4th penalty saved. The Titans had to score their 4th penalty to get back to parity but their shot hit the woodwork. Canterbury had the opportunity to seal the win with their last penalty and they did so to their delight and to the despair of the sky blues.

Cooks River Titans can still hold their heads up high and managed to finish as minor premiers and make the grand final only to lose on penalties. The team was formed by a group of mates who mostly go to the same school and showed strength and determination under the guidance of their experienced coach to achieve great things.