The Tumut Eagles have shocked Pascoe Cup premiers, Leeton United, by holding them to a one-all draw at The Bull Paddock on Sunday afternoon.
Knowing that Leeton were bringing with them an attacking arsenal, after they had belted Tolland 11-nil the Sunday earlier, coach Lachlan Anderson tinkered with his side, with Tumut offering up a more defensive and midfield orientated 3-5-1-1 formation, which almost brought about a surprise victory.
Tumut held Leeton to nil-all at the break, and went ahead with 20 minutes left on the clock, after Jay Casey scored his second goal in as many weeks.
After a free kick, Casey was able to get to the ball, beating a defender and the Leeton keeper to take his side ahead.
Tumut looked to be on their way to a win, but the home side conceded with just six minutes left on the clock.
The final minutes were frantic, with Leeton throwing everything except for the kitchen sink at Tumut, but the home side held on for a one-all draw.
Leeton will be left to rue the loss, with the visiting side boasting more attacking opportunities according to their coach Frank Alampi.
“We just missed our opportunities,” Alampi said.
“I would say we had 10 genuine chances, which were either one-on-one or open goals, but we couldn’t score.”
Alampi praised a new-look Eagles, who he believed deserved the result.
“They are young and they kept running, they are energetic and they blocked a number of our shots,” Alampi said.
“They deserved the draw; I will give them that much.”
Anderson was also full of praise for his defence, who he believed was the key to his side’s draw.
“They had a lot of shots outside of the box, but we did keep out a lot and we had plenty of blocks,” Anderson said.
“Our defence was incredible; it was so good. It was good to see our team play for the entire game.
“We played three at the back, four central midfielders and two wing backs and (Rhys) Creed was up the top by himself and it seemed to work.”
Anderson played alongside Ben Johnson and Ethan Kass at the back in the first half, while Zac Struthers came on for Johnson and made a real difference in the second half.
“He (Struthers) had the Gardner brothers on his side, but he had them in his pocket,” Anderson said.
“He played really well, and I couldn’t really afford to take him off.”
Tumut who would have been disappointed to lose the week earlier against Lake Albert, after leading 2-1 before dropping off in the final 10 minutes of the contest to lose 4-2, played out the entire 90 minutes against Leeton.
“The main difference from last week to this week was that you could see that everyone put 100% in the whole game,” Anderson said.
“Even though you could see everyone was tired, everyone kept running and playing.
“We still need to work on fitness, and we can tell a lot of people were tired, and we were pretty gassed, but it was still a good effort.”
Anderson said Tumut’s attack wasn’t quite where he wanted it against Leeton, but he put the team’s lack off chances and finishing back to changes in their formation.
“With our passing and attacking side of the game, it wasn’t quite as good as the Lake Albert game, but we were defensive minded against Leeton,” Anderson said.
“We will have to work on that formation and see if we keep using it.
“I think once we start playing teams that aren’t quite as good, we will see some goals and results.”
Taking a point from the contest will boost the Eagles according to Anderson, who was proud to see his young side stand up to the might of the reigning premiers.
“It’s definitely a good result, because it gives us a confidence boost for the rest of the season,” Anderson said.
“We didn’t let the reigning premiers intimidate us.”
Tumut will now prepare for a home game against the Young Lions next Sunday, and Anderson said his side would work on the basics as they searched for their first win of the season.
“We haven’t worked on a lot of passing, and it was a little off, so we will work on that and maybe just talk tactics and work on the new system and decide if we go with it again,” Anderson said.
Unfortunately, Tumut’s third grade side had a tough trip to Temora on Saturday, which ended in a 1-nil loss to the Redbacks.
The result means back-to-back close losses for the Eagles, who will now prepare to host Henwood Park on Saturday.