Oak Flats Falcons vs Thirroul FC @ Wetherall Park, 2:30pm
The Falcons couldn’t make it back-to-back wins to make the final day as they fell to a dominant Bellambi outfit who ran riot in extra-time. Oak Flats will be disappointed with that result too, with the side well and truly on top for majority of the game before conceding three after normal time. Their performance in the 90 minutes will be what they’ll take away from it, holding the champions to a one-all draw. Daniel Munilla scored their only goal as he returned to the starting line-up, scoring what would be his first goal since round 13 – also his second goal against Bellambi this season.
Thirroul continued their dream finals run and back end of the season form into yet another week when they clipped Helensburgh 2-1 at King Mickey Park. Thirroul ended the better side, answering all questions in defence to what Helensburgh threw at them in attack, capping off an impressive performance. Angus Nicol turned out to be the hero in this clash with the striker scoring either side of half-time to take his overall tally up to nine goals this season. With a spectacular finish setting up a goal-of-the-year contender, he may be the one to watch in this one as well.
The Thunder have taken a 2-1 win on both occasions this season, and with form and morale on a high in the Thirroul camp, may just lead them to the centre stage against Bellambi.
Helensburgh Thistle FC vs Picton Rangers @ Wetherall Park, 12:15pm
Helensburgh’s reserve grade side was the only team who finished top and lose in their first game of the finals series. Now, having to get to the grand-final the hard way, they will be rueing the missed chances they had in their tight, 1-0 loss to Thirroul. It was just the second time this season the Thistle have been held scoreless in a match for a side that scored 70 goals in the regular season. Reggae Rowley scored 18 of those too – with the midfielder eager to get back on the scoresheet for the first time since round 20.
Picton advanced to the third week of the finals in dramatic fashion, winning their penalty shootout over Oak Flats, 8-7 after a one-all draw at Elizabeth Park. Picton’s young goalkeeper, Aaron Whittingham turned out to be the hero as he saved three penalties before stepping up to bury his penalty to claim the win. Benjamin Baxter scored the Bushpigs only goal of the game when he netted in the first half to grab his first goal in reserve grade since round 11 following his call-up to the first grade. He will undoubtedly be the one to watch in this one as the last time he played the Burgh in reserve grade, he ran away with a hat-trick in round three.
The two sides’ games this year have resulted in two high scoring affairs with a win a piece. First, a 6-4 win for Picton in round three and then a 6-1 win for the Thistle in round 14. With a grand-final spot on the line, this game will prove to be a cracker with a tight, high-scoring clash that could swing either way.
Balgownie Rangers vs University FC @ Wetherall Park, 10:00am
The first lot of the preliminary finals will kick off with the youth grade fixture between Balgownie and University – two teams who just played each other two weeks prior – in the qualifying semi-final. In that contest, Balgownie ran away with a 3-1 win thanks to a brace from Thomas Spargo midway through the second half. However, the Rangers were unable to go straight to the final day, when they fell to a tight 3-2 loss to first placed Helensburgh with goals to Nathan Bellinto and Alexandre Folque. Bellinto also scored in that qualifying fixture in finals week one, so will definitely be the one to watch when he comes into this one looking for a goal in three straight matches.
As for the students, they bounced back from their defeat to Balgownie two weeks ago with a 1-0 win over Shell Cove at a windy Elizabeth Park last weekend. Despite their positive results against the Cove in recent games, they couldn’t break the deadlock until the 82nd minute when Oscar Borschmann scored his first goal since round 14 at the right time. Even though Borschmann missed those eight games, he still managed to hold his name in second of the top scorers list and will be eager to get back into his goal scoring form from earlier in the campaign.
A win a piece in the normal season saw these teams end level but with a win already over the students in this finals series, it may act as a confidence booster for the Rangers to set up another date with Helensburgh.
Preview by Nathan Turner, on Twitter @nathanturner23_