Raiders? Champions title chase comes to an end

URUNGA Raiders played in the second round of the Champions of Champions tournament last weekend when they took on the highly regarded Sydney side Asquith at Mills Park.

In weather conditions that were reminiscent of Dante's seventh level of hell a torch like hot north-westerly wind gusting to 70km/h at times made football on the dry surface somewhat difficult to say the least but as the sides took the field the only thoughts were to progress to the round of eight in this prestigious tournament.

Asquith are no strangers to this competition and success having topped the Kuringia area which includes sides such as Lindfield North Sydney and Kuringia for the last five seasons and previously been in the Champion's final albeit unsuccessfully.

It would be the Raiders, however, asking all the questions in the opening passages of the match as Grant Homes drove into Asquith's area rounding two defenders but was not able to release a shot as the ball moved away on the uneven surface.

Only minutes later Trevor Sparkes missed another golden opportunity when somehow a poorly cleared ball fell to him his quickly taken shot from 3m slapped into the crossbar.

Fifteen minutes in and the Raiders might have been two up, these missed opportunities left 'Boss' Breton seeming unperturbed this as the great Pele once said is the beautiful game and not everything goes your way.

If it were a basketball game Asquith's coach would be calling for a time out they were rattled by the opening exchanges and knew they had to lift.

With the considerable wind at their back the Asquith boys gained a succession of corners and when a poorly directed clearing kick found Asquith's main strike weapon Hasan El Kansa he was able to put Asquith 1-up on 20 minutes his shot from 18m to good for the diving Jakob Campbell.

This turned to two after 30 minutes when poor defending let Rodney Myles stroll through the Raiders' defence.

The remaining stages of the half were punctuated by smooth attacking raids by both sides, it was entertaining stuff that in better conditions would have been so much better.

At the break though the Asquith boys in blue and white held a 2-0 lead which they must have thought would could be enough.

Not to be though as only two minutes into the second half Josh McGovern slipped brilliant ball through to a rampaging Mitch Tutt who stroked in the Raiders first and at 2-1 down the Raiders were right back in it.

Asquith again surged though with their midfielder Chris Siliga missing from close range his efforts mirrored at the other end when Homes left one defender hypnotised only to be chopped down by another the free kick whipped in by the 'mailman' Jaxen Heward was smashed into the side netting by Sparkes.

It was Kasan that would score next when he skated between two defenders to shoot from close range to make the blue and whites 3-1 leaders with 20 minutes left on the clock.

This was to become 4-1 after Andrew Davis picked up a shot that had cannoned off the Raiders crossbar his shot whacked in from the left side.

Surely the Asquith boys had it - well I can tell you in the last 10 minutes they had their backs to the wall.

Trevor Sparkes rammed home what seemed to be a consolation goal after he drove through the heart of the Asquith defence 4-2 but when Josh McGovern threaded through the Asquith defence and nailed the Raiders third goal it was time to fasten your seat belts with only seven minutes to go and the Raiders were knocking on the door of extra time if they could get one more.

This opportunity presented itself only minutes later when great work from Kale Hopper saw him slip a ball for McGovern to run onto Josh was one on one with the keeper and was partially able to round him but unbalanced McGovern's shot shaved the post.

It was the last hurrah for the Raiders going down 4-3. It was a tremendous game fought in good spirit and won on the day by the better side the Raiders left to ponder what could have been - but not everything goes your way in the beautiful game.

As they hand up their boots after a record season of two losses two draws and a whopping 21 wins, both major and minor premierships they can be justifiable proud of their achievement.

A reminder that the clubs presentation night will be held on October 14 at the Urunga Bowling Club, it should be a great night for more information phone Tom Campbell 6655 6413.

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