THE difference between victory and defeat in the nail-biting Coastal Premier League grand final between Boambee and Coffs United was merely a matter of inches … twice.
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In the 87th minute the decisive difference was the width between the goalkeeper’s legs as Boambee’s Luke France sent a header towards goal and found the back of the net via the gap between goalkeeper Jake Mahoney’s legs.
It was unfortunate for Mahoney who did a sterling job keeping a clean sheet until that moment.
“It was a perfect ball, as soon as it come off the boot I knew I had a 100 percent chance,” France said of the cross sent in by Joe Soergel.
“A little bit of luck going in the back of the net going through the keeper’s legs but it was a great ball.”
But just as the Bombers thought the 1-0 lead late in the piece might be enough to earn the prize, Coffs United had a moment a couple of minutes later that almost sent the match into extra time.
Awarded a free kick just outside the 18-yard box, substitute Gum Mayak took a shot on goal that beat the wall and had many thinking the keeper Darcy Newell as well.
Diving to his right, the game of inches came into play again.
Newell was able to just get a finger on Mayak’s rocket.
It was enough to deflect the ball into the upright and rebound back into the field of play.
“It was lucky I got a finger on it, it was full stretch,” Newell said.
Boambee enjoyed the majority of possession in the second half but prior to the break it was the Lions who dictated terms but were unable to convert any of their opportunities.
Coffs United Coach Glen Williams said the first half was what hurt his team the most.
“We dominated that first half and we should’ve put it away but young Darcy is a great keeper and I think he just kept them in the game,” Williams said.
The Lions had been the pace setter throughout the season and it was trying to do something different to catch them that forced Boambee coach Jon Fergusson to change the way his team plays.
“We had to change our formation, we had to match them 3-5-2, we had to go one against one. Going 4-3-3 wasn’t going to work against them,” Fergusson explained.
“We’ve done that in the last month and that’s a very rapid time to try and change and be a defensive team and a possession team.
“We just had to give up possession in the first half and say ‘OK, we don’t concede, we’ll get chances’.”
By Brad GREENSHIELDS