Woodside’s A-Grade senior men’s league title aspirations received a pinch and a punch for the first of the month, when they were beaten 4-3 last Saturday, 1st July, at West Beach against Sacred Heart in CSL Div 4 league competition. The loss was a significant setback in the league campaign. However, the club’s Div 5 side – the Woodside Reserve team – travelled home victorious over Pulteney with a 3-0 win under their collective belt.
If ever there was a weekend that the First XI, sitting second on the table, might be caught out, it was this one. With several key players missing, coach Neil Williams had just thirteen protagonists available. He was also forced to shuffle some of the regulars to unfamiliar positions, in compensation of these absences.
This was an under-strength and misconfigured team that was certainly capable of a win but equally untried and untested.
Brad Bateman started in goal with Andy Hampel and Neil Harnett at right and left back respectively. With club captain Tully Challen unavailable, the skipper’s armband was handed to David Grant who partnered Tom Yeardley in the heart of the defence. Steve Knipe was introduced to the starting eleven in a defensive midfield role with Harvey Watson, Liam Bucco, Will Pashley and Diederik Polman making up the rest of the midfield. Matt Thoday was the side’s sole striker.
Neil Williams listed himself on the bench along with Damien Sheridan.
Losing the toss, and therefore the right to play away from the direction of the bright winter sun, Woodside started poorly with Sacred Heart applying pressure from the get-go. Within just 10 minutes, the score was 2-0 in Sacred Heart’s favour but young Liam Bucco pulled one back for the visitors after a fine solo run straight through the heart of Heart’s defence.
However, this had been against the run of play and Woodside failed to apply much pressure on their opponents during this first half. There were large gaps in midfield and the defence were caught out of position on a number of occasions. Added to this, when trying to distribute the ball into the sun, Woodside players could make out the forms of others on the park but distinguishing shirt colours in split seconds was no easy task.
By the half time break, Woodside were 4-1 down and in some disarray. However, the second half saw great improvement. The side lifted intensity and pressed the hosts whose turn it was now to struggle with the setting sunlight.
Despite coming close twice, including a shot off the bar, Sacred Heart had little to show in the second 45 and failed to score. Woodside, on the other hand, were potent in attack. Diederik Polman scored the team’s second to make it 4-2 with a fine finish and Matt Thoday scored a wonderful goal, to the far top corner, to further decrease the Sacred Heart lead and bring it to 4-3.
Pushing desperately for the equaliser, Woodside were in danger of conceding on the counter-attack but held firm at the back keeping Sacred Heart scoreless for the entire second half.
As the tie wore on, Neil Harnett and Steve Knipe were retired for Damien Sheridan and Neil Williams respectively but still Sacred Heart continued to hold on to their single goal lead. Then, with minutes remaining, Liam Bucco had a chance to score from close range but the ball came to him quicker than expected and he made no solid contact with it.
The referee drew the match to a conclusion shortly after with Sacred Heart holding on to their 4-3 lead.
With the club light on numbers this week, the Reserves travelled to Pulteney with just the bare eleven. Luke Beltrame was unavailable after a bout of gastro and Nathan Langford was lost to injury.
On a bright sunny day in the Adelaide Parklands, the travelling Woodside team started strongly with the melancholic James Cochrane, in goals, seldom troubled. By half time Woodside were 2-0 up after goals from the ebullient Jake Howe and the effervescent Jesse Aloisi.
With the irascible Lee Maker and the incorrigible Bruce Tonkin commanding the defence, Pulteney were finding it difficult to make inroads. The Woodside team also featured a midfield of Andrew Perrin, Zac Ferguson and Alex Aloisi as well as the aforementioned Jesse Aloisi and Jake Howe.
This left Sam Farley as the sole striker and he was unlucky not to get his name on the scorecard with a strike at goal that went narrowly wide. As the opposition tired in the second half, Jake Howe’s scored his second for the afternoon, to make it 3-0 to Woodside, effectively killed off any Pulteney challenge.
Next week, 8th July, Woodside Reserves have a bye. However, for the First XI in Div 4, it is “second versus third on the ladder” as Woodside’s First XI host Mercedes College in a must-win match if they are to maintain a challenge to leaders Pembroke’s competition dominance. The game kicks off at 1pm.