THE dreams of having an all-expenses paid trip to Melbourne to compete in the Pacific finals of the Manchester United Premier Cup were shattered on the weekend.
The North Coast Football (NCF) 15-years boys team was playing in its State Youth League clash against Macquarie at Woolgoolga on Sunday but the encounter had extra spice attached to it as it doubled as the qualifier for the lucrative tournament.
Unfortunately the local boys weren't good enough on the day going down to their southern opponents 2-0.
Hopes of making it through to the finals were raised last week after a convincing 3-0 win over Mid North Coast in Kempsey saw the local team reach the qualifying match.
On that occasion, goals to Lachlan Arthur, Rees Duncan and Zack Smith as well as another superb job by goalkeeper Je Jacobs had confidence among the squad soaring.
The midfield of Liam Fuller, Noah Bedford and Arthur started strongly on Sunday and showed more desperation early to win the ball in the 50-50s.
This provided NCF with some domination in the possession stakes as well as the inevitable few good chances in front of goal.
The fact that none of these chances were able to be turned into goals proved costly shortly after.
Against the run of play Macquarie played a long ball through for its striker.
The NCF defence led by Will Aranyi and Chris Lambert raced to cover the pass and player and cut down the opposition striker's run but the referee pointed to the spot for a penalty.
Not even the athletic Jacobs was able to stop Macquarie being the first on the scoreboard.
“In the second half we looked very impressive knocking the ball around but as time ticked on Macquarie kept their shape better than us,” team coach Rees Duncan said.
“We started to panic, chasing the game and turning over the ball in the attacking third.”
As the locals were chasing an equaliser, Rees Duncan jnr was brought down in the box but no penalty was awarded.
With only 10 minutes remaining Steven Shute looked like he was about to provide the all-important equalising goal after he headed the ball over the 'keeper but it was kept out by a last-ditch clearance.
As is often the way, Macquarie were able to score from the counter-attack after winning a corner.
The ball was not cleared cleanly and it was finally knocked in to sound the death knell for a brave North Coast Football outfit.