After bagging a brace against Wagga United in the final game of the regular season last weekend, Jay Casey has backed up this form with another double against Junee at Rawlings Park on Sunday.
This performance, which was accompanied by goals to Ethan Parker and Flynn Piper-Bye, led the Tumut Eagles to a vital 4-2 win over the Jaguars in their elimination final, meaning they will progress to the second week of finals after the October long weekend.
The 16-year-old, who generally plays at left back, has been thriving up front in reserve grade, and said that scoring boosted not only his confidence, but the team’s confidence.
“Scoring goals is a good feeling, especially coming into finals knowing that I can put them away. (It) boosts not just mine, but everyone confidence,” Casey said.
The Eagles youngster said the win was good, but believed Tumut could improve, after letting in two goals during the strong win.
“A win was good; everyone loves to see a win. It has really pushed us forward and prepared us for the next game,” Casey said.
“The game was a good game. It was a good battle (and) Tumut were good in patches (but) we went a little quiet towards the end of the game, which let them score two goals.”
Casey was confident Tumut could go all the way in the Gardiner Plate, with the Eagles now facing a preliminary final against either Henwood Park or Wagga United; the latter of the two teams they recently beat 6-1.
“I think there is no reason why we can’t (go all the way). Everyone is in good form,” Casey said.
In the other Gardiner Shield elimination final, Young thrashed Cootamundra 7-2 and will also progress to the preliminary finals.
Sharks bite down on Eagles Plate hopes
The Tumut Eagles will be forced to take the long road if they are to replicate their 2014 or 2017 Pascoe Plate glory, after going down to the Lake Albert Sharks 1-nil in their preliminary final match at Rawlings Park on Sunday.
The Eagles ran into a determined Sharks, who found the front in the first half via a goal to Justin Curran, with Lake Albert then working hard in defence and stopping Tumut from converting any of their chances late in the game.
Lake Albert captain/coach Mitch Tinnock said it was a match of two halves, and admitted they were a little lucky to hold off a late blitz from a luckless Eagles.
“The game started off pretty hectic and was pretty even, but I think we had the best of the first half and probably could have scored a couple more and have gone into second half a couple up,” Tinnock said.
“It was a different second half and they started well and were all over us in the last 20 to 25 minutes, but they did bugger up a couple chances and could have easily won.”
Tinnock said Tumut were very unlucky not to at least level the match and send it to extra time right on the final whistle.
“Right at the end of the game, they had a free kick and it hit the post, so they are probably a little unlucky,” Tinnock said.
A win for Lake Albert has them playing Tolland Wolves in two weekends time for a place in the Pascoe Plate decider.
“We are pretty happy with how we went. We’ll keep working and push for a win next time, and who knows, we might be playing Tumut again very soon,” Tinnock said.
When asked if Lake Albert were the team to beat now, Tinnock said it was still a three-horse race between the Sharks, Eagles and Wolves.
“I hope we are the team to beat, but Tolland next time will be tough, and it has been a long time since we played them,” Tinnock said.
“A lot of people would probably say Tolland are the team to beat, but we are going well, and the Eagles are a chance too.”
The veteran coach said Tumut would need to address some issues up front if they were a chance of beating either side though.
“They are a bit better since the last time we played them, but they are lacking a bit of something, they are knocking the ball around nicely and they have the quick fellas, but they don’t know how to score,” Tinnock said.
“They missed some pretty easy opportunities today.”
Tumut, who will be left to lick their wounds over the October long weekend break, will now take on Wagga United, who held off South Wagga 3-nil in their elimination final.
United bounced back from their forfeit to Tumut last weekend, and a timely weekend off will only help their chances as they continue to welcome back players from injury.
Blake Plate chances boosted
Tumut’s Blake Plate team have also progressed to the preliminary finals after a strong 2-nil victory over Tolland Wolves at Rawlings Park on Saturday afternoon.
Playing with just 11 players due to eligibility rules, Tumut dug deep for the win, with Oliver Gilbert and Jacob Gray each netting a goal.
Keeper Andy Dodds, who played a telling hand in the result by making some key saves and registering a clean sheet, said it was a determined effort by the whole team.
“We have shown glimpses of great play throughout the season, however yesterday (Saturday), we were able to maintain that high level of communication and intensity,” Dodds said.
“The game was made difficult for us having no substitutions, but everyone put in as much effort as possible, resulting in a full 90-minute team performance.”
Tumut gained the upper hand in the first half when Gilbert placed the ball in the bottom left corner from near the top of the box, putting the Eagles ahead.
10 minutes, a lovely through ball was placed perfectly for Jacob Gray, who showed great pace and strength to blast the ball past the keeper.”
According to Dodds, it was this strong start that had Tumut confident across the park.
“This confidence in offence was reflected in our defence, with Tolland only producing scoring opportunities when the ball was distributed very wide,” Dodds said.
“Even in these situations, our defence remained composed, allowing only a handful of scoring opportunities to the Wolves.”
Dodds said the win will give Tumut’s third grade side a massive boost ahead of a preliminary final match against either Wagga United or Young in two weekends time.
“We draw great confidence from this result, especially our defensive performance,” Dodds said.
“It enables us to play with confidence knowing that our defence is highly capable in both defusing oppositions’ scoring opportunities and distributing the ball effectively in possession.”
Tumut will now have another week off, before preparing for their final and a potential place in the Blake Plate decider.