Woodside’s senior men played away from home, in the Adelaide Parklands, last weekend with both grades visiting Pembroke in Collegiate League Soccer competition. Following Hahndorf’s shock 22-0 loss to Elizabeth Downs (the heaviest ever defeat for a Hills side at A-Grade level) - and the online mocking of Hills teams that followed – Woodside’s First XI were eager to restore some pride to Hill’s soccer against the city-based CSL Division 4 leaders, Pembroke.
Pembroke, top of the table with a 5-point buffer over second placed Woodside, promised to be the toughest test the travelling team had faced thus far in 2017 but coach Neil Williams had the luxury of a full-strength squad at his disposal.
Williams was keen to ensure that in-form Will Pashley retained his place in midfield but that meant shifting Harvey Watson to the left-back position in place of Billy Hyder who was unfortunately dropped to the bench. The other three defensive positions were reserved for the regulars – Andy Hampel at right back with David Grant and Tully Challen in the central partnership.
In addition to Pashley in midfield, Liam Bucco, Diederik Polman, Thomas Morgan and Tom Yeardley took up position. Matt Thoday was, again, the sole attacking option.
Pembroke are probably the most underhanded side in the competition and the surreptitious nature of their gamesmanship started before a ball had been kicked when officials asked Woodside to prepare in an open area of the park devoid of the comforts of privacy, seating or shade. “That’s just where we put away teams” was the nonchalant instruction, which Woodside followed with dispassion.
Woodside started the game strongly, unperturbed by any opposition tactics and entirely focussed on the task at hand. They pressed the host’s defence from the start with Challen, Pashley and Thoday all coming close; the latter with a wonderful volley from distance that would have been contender for goal-of-the-season, had it not been disallowed for off-side.
Pembroke, seemingly unprepared for the birr of their opponents, had no answer to the midfield dominance and crisp passing of the Hills side and midway through the first half, Woodside took a deserved 1-0 lead when Liam Bucco converted from a tight angle close to goal.
Antagonised by this, Pembroke attempted to get into the game but simply weren’t permitted by their guests and therefore barely tested Woodside’s goalkeeper, Brad Bateman. The young ‘keeper had but a few crosses to deal with but otherwise spent more time retrieving wayward balls from the shrubbery behind his goal than he did in actual play.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first with Woodside in the ascendancy but the team were really in need of a second goal if they were to significantly harden the task of victory for Pembroke. That goal finally came when Bucco, on a jinking run down the right, was felled by the last Pembroke defender inside the penalty area.
The referee had little hesitation in awarding Woodside the penalty kick although the Pembroke faithful cried foul, asserting that Bucco had made the most of the contact. Unfortunately, for Pembroke, the claim was irrelevant. The defender had made no attempt for the ball and had clearly impeded Bucco’s charge toward.
Thoday was quick to nominate himself for the kick and scored past the Pembroke ‘keeper with ease, putting his side into a 2-0 lead. From this point, the game entered an unsavoury phase. Pembroke, having conceded just twice all season had now doubled their deficit in just 60 minutes of play.
And so a number of off-the-ball incidents resulted in a number of yellow cards and one Pembroke player was fortunate to stay on the park after the referee missed a head-butt delivered with particularly malicious intent. Woodside players, to their credit, retained their discipline, only receiving two yellow cards during this period.
Williams then made a change – moving Bucco to the left side of the field and introducing Billy Hyder for Diederik Polman. The nail in the Pembroke coffin was hammer-struck 15 minutes from time when Andy Hampel took the ball from defence and played it to Will Pashley in midfield. He, in turn, found Thoday in attack, who raced in on goal to score Woodside’s third.
Woodside then ran the remaining time out to win the tie 3-0. The referee, it has to be noted, was the best the League has provided to date. Cautioning players when required; allowing advantage when required and addressing players in a most effective manner. He held control throughout.
At the game’s conclusion, Woodside delighted themselves in their achievement – arguably the best in the club’s four years of senior football and the A-Grade now have the best defensive record in the league having conceded just 4 goals in over 10 hours of league games - they may be boring but they are very good.
Woodside’s Reserve Grade side also faced Pembroke in the later game at 3pm. Lining up with Brad Bateman in goal, the Woodside team had Lee Maker and Alex Aloisi commanding the back lines, accompanied by Gary Miller and Luke Beltrame.
In midfield, Neil Harnett, Steve Knipe, Jake Howe, Bruce Tonkin and Billy Hyder were put through their paces by a strong Pembroke side. This left Jesse Aloisi as the Woodside’s attack option.
It was apparent from the start that Pembroke would provide the Woodside team with a stern test and on 15 minutes, won a penalty after Maker was judged to have fouled his opponent in the box. Bateman saved the kick superbly though, diving low to his right, but was beaten easily 10 minutes later when Woodside failed to clear the back line and Pembroke shot from the edge of the area.
The visitors held Pembroke to half time but it was clear that the hosts were the better of the two sides and that was confirmed in ink when the home side scored two second-half goals without reply.
There were appearances for James Cochrane and Sam Farley off the bench but neither could alter the course of the tie as Pembroke gained revenge for the earlier game, winning this one 3-0.
In one of the more unusual moments of amateur soccer, a streaker ran the full length of the park during the game's first half. The individual, apparently unconnected with either playing club, departed via Greenhill Road and was last seen clutching his jeans and t-shirt. The only item he didn't carry with his hands was his tweed flatcap.
Next week, Saturday 24th June, both Woodside teams are at home behind the Woodside Oval. The A Grade face Immanuel College at 1pm whilst the Reserves, also play Immanuel, at 3pm.