FMNC Premier League new boys Wauchope travelled to Tuncurry on Saturday to take on a Tigers’ squad refreshed by the weather-enforced break the previous weekend, and boosted by the superb turnout at training on Thursday night of around 30 players.
This meant competition was very hot for a spot in the home side’s starting line-ups, which wouldn’t have given a depleted Wauchope squad much to be positive about.
Having slumped to two losses on the trot the Tuncurry-Forster Tigers were in a must-win situation if they were to keep pace with the teams further up the table.
A rejigging of the line-up saw Jack McDonagh handed his first start in the top grade, and he grabbed his opportunity with both hands, terrorising his marker, and calmly finishing his first two opportunities on goal to put the Tigers 2-0 up inside 20 minutes.
Overconfidence then saw the Tigers’ resting defence caught a bit flat after a botched set piece routine, and a blindingly fast counter by the visitors saw them score with their first opportunity to set the jitters going in the home team.
A sticky pitch was making it difficult to string passes together, and the game became a battle for a while until McDonagh finished his hat-trick before the interval to calm the Tigers’ nerves once more.
The talk at half time was about making sure the visitors were not allowed to break quickly, and making sure the lead was maintained.
Not long into the second half, a great turn and strike from distance by Jake Camilleri gave the Tigers a more comfortable cushion, but again the home side was caught relaxing too much at the back, and another quick counter saw Wauchope bag a second goal against the run of play.
Again the Tigers became edgy, and began to allow too much time and space for the Axemen’s midfielders who were shooting accurately from range, only to be thwarted by Curtis Jones in the Tigers’ goal.
After a great interchange of passes, Matt Whight sealed the win for the Tigers with a fine turn and shot inside the box, and the icing on the cake came from Blair Smith, returning from a 14 month layoff, who scored with his third touch after coming on with five minutes to go.
The final score was TFFC Tigers six Wauchope Axemen two, with Jack McDonagh a clear player’s player, followed by the ever-reliable Pete Goonan, and Joey Newman who had a strong second half.
After weeks of failing to put away early chances, the Tigers reserves found themselves in the unfamiliar position of being three nil up after 13 minutes after a blistering start.
They continued to put away virtually every chance that came their way, with first half hat-tricks to Daniel Barry and Will Moran, an own goal, and a fine strike from distance by Jason Ward.
The half time scoreline of 6-0 allowed coach Coombes to empty his bench early, and this saw the debut in Tigers colours of Bryce Cramp, who looked very assured on the ball.
Dave Hardy returned from a concussion enforced spell on the sidelines and led his defence well, and skipper Billy Newman was awarded players’ player.
The 8-0 win sees the Tigers reserves put some distance between them and the lower half of the table, and they will look forward to taking on a solid Taree reserve grade side next week.