Lions pay heavy price for missed chances
By GREG WHITE
THE confidence evident in Friday's semi final win went missing overnight when Northern New South Wales under-14s tumbled 1-0 to South Australia in the final of the Qantas National Boys' Football Championships.
In a scoreless opening session at the Coffs Coast International Stadium, the Lions missed two golden opportunities to score and had great difficulty taking teritorial advantage.
Team manager Gerard Carey made an impassioned attempt to spark Northern at half time, calling for more awareness.
"We get rolling in the middle third of the field," he said, "but then we back off.
"A lack of urgency is hurting."
Northern responded after the break ? for five minutes -? before going back into their shell.
The relentless attack of South Australia always looked to have control of the field but when the winning ace was produced from the deck 18 minutes from the end, it came totally out of the blue.
Contesting the ball on the right flank, captain Nathan Farrell put a long cross to Chris Pepe lurking to the left of the net before star striker Teddy Yabio fired a deflection off his left boot past goalkeeper Jim Fogarty.
South Australia narrowly missed going two-up three minutes later.
Tony Tripodi had only the 'keeper to beat when Northern's Adam Cooper pulled off the save of the day by sliding in from nowhere and driving the ball out of the park.
It brought a rare smile to coach Michael Boogaard who sat forlornly as the clock counted down.
"The better team on the day got the prize and that's how it should be," he said generously.
"This isn't about winning ? it's about finding talent to develop and we've done plenty of that."