It was an eight goal thriller that won’t be forgotten for some time. Football Mid North Coast premiers Wallis Lake battled Macleay Valley Rangers in the first grade grand final.
Lake went into the match on the back of an undefeated regular season and at half time looked well on track to complete a near perfect season.
They were fast out of the blocks with top scorer Ethan Perry firing home in the fifth minute to give his side the lead.
Lake had most of the running and looked to be in control of the game from that moment on. Chances came and went with Macleay Valley Rangers at times just hanging on.
It took until the 32nd minute for the Forster outfit to find the back of the net again and it was Perry once again who sprung the offside trap and calmly slotted the ball. A goal from Tyla Cook in the 40th minute made it 3-0 and Lake seemed destined to win their third successive title.
The second half developed into more of an arm wrestle in the early stages with Lake looking determined not to concede a goal which would provide Rangers with a lifeline.
As the minutes ticked away, the game looked to be slipping away for the Kempsey side. But in the 68th minute, a long range effort from Chris Walker found the back of the net after the ball looped over the head of Lake goalkeeper Logan Morgan.
Just six minutes after Walker’s strike, Chad Applegate scored and the game well and truly back on.
Momentum had swung and Rangers pushed forward to look for the equaliser. As unlikely as it may have been, it came in the 78th minute. Last season’s first grade golden boot winner Andrew Potter guided the ball into the back of the net to make it 3-all.
Almost instantly, Wallis Lake thought they were back in front however the goal was ruled out due to offside. The stage was set for an enthralling final 10 minutes of the match and both sides went looking for the winner.
Neither would find it though and the 90 minutes came to an end with a good sized vocal crowd wondering just what may happen next.
An extra time of 20 minutes was added and began with a lot of tired looking players after giving their all for the cause. In the final minute of the first half of extra time, the go ahead goal came.
After a strike on goal was ruled to have struck a Wallis Lake players hand, a penalty was awarded and John Henry made no mistake for Rangers to make it 4-3.
Wallis Lake pushed on, trying to avoid their first loss of the season and now looking for their own miracle come back. It was the team from Kempsey that would have the last say however and again it was Applegate finding the back of the net. The goal made it 5-3 right at the end of extra time.
Great Lakes United Football Club secretary Kevin Stevens was ecstatic with the turnout to the weekend.
“We had about 2500 people on the day and 1800 for the grand final so it was a real festival of football,” Kevin said.
“I’d say it’s the biggest crowd we’ve ever had in the area for a football match.
“First and reserve grade were both magnificent games to watch and we congratulate Port United and Macleay Valley,” Kevin said.
“Great Lakes United would like to thank everyone who attended, Football Mid North Coast for their organisation and the fire brigade who ran the barbecue,” Kevin said.
Wallis Lake went through the first grade regular season undefeated and won the premier’s plate nine points clear of grand final winners Macleay Valley.
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