Picton Rangers have fallen just short of a finals place despite edging past Balgownie Rangers 2-1 at Judy Masters Oval on Saturday afternoon.
Goals to Bailey Fitzsimmons and Brodie O’Neill sent the visitors into halftime with the lead.
Stuart Dallas’ penalty for Balgownie set up a nervy last few minutes of the match, but Picton held on and claimed the points.
Balgownie had the first opportunity of the match as Jackson Dummet fired off a shot from just outside the box in the fifth minute that went wide of the right post.
Despite an early effort from the hosts, Picton started to work their way into the game with Jackson Andrews taking on two shots from range that failed to find the target over the next 15 minutes.
Connor O’Neil unleashed a powerful strike midway through the half, that Balgownie goalkeeper Damian Bedwell was able to hold on to.
The side struck the woodwork just before the half-hour mark as a left-sided freekick met the head of O’Neill at the back post who rattled the crossbar.
Zane Freeman saw a volley roll just wide of the right post seconds later as the away side ramped up the pressure.
Picton reaped the rewards in the 32nd minute as O’Neil slipped Fitzsimmons into the right channel of the box, the winger driving an accurate finish into the bottom left corner.
Balgownie almost restored parity with three minutes to play in the first half as Kieren Duggan rolled the ball into the right of the box, but Tristian Michelmann smothered the ball.
The away side doubled their lead in the final minute of the first period as a deep freekick dropped to O’Neill – the consequent volley taking a wicked deflection and rolling past Bedwell into the right corner.
A commanding first-half display from the Bush Pigs had the side two goals to the good heading into the sheds.
With Balgownie needing a couple of goals to square the ledger, the side pursued an early goal with two dangerous set pieces in the first quarter of an hour.
Jacob Miller’s right-sided corner was flicked on at the near post by Brandon Waeger six minutes in; however, the ball fell over the back post.
Another corner from Miller six minutes later, this time found Martin Luskin, but he directed his header wide of the right post.
Picton almost added a third an hour in with Fitzsimmons’ central freekick just bouncing past the left post.
Balgownie stepped up their attacking impetus for the remainder of the match pushing numbers forward.
In the 71st minute, Duggan got on the end of Miller’s freekick from the right, but his header went over the bar.
The away side looked to take advantage of a numerically committed Balgownie team finding space on the break having two chances to seal the result with nine minutes to go.
Liam Gregory was played through one-on-one with Bedwell; however, the keeper stayed big and prevented the goal.
Freeman wriggled his way through the left channel and into the box moments later, but his shot lacked the power to trouble Bedwell – rolling to the shot-stopper.
The home side was awarded a penalty in the 87th minute that Dallas stepped up for emphatically finding the top right corner setting up a tense finish to the match.
Balgownie were unable to a late equaliser as Picton took all three points with a 2-1 win.
A run of three defeats including two this week proved too much for the Bush Pigs to overcome to make finals sitting a point off fifth after 22 rounds.
Key defeats to Fernhill and Warilla in the past month compounded by a 12-1 walloping off Helensburgh mean Balgownie also finish outside a finals position.
Balgownie Rangers 1 (Sebastian Dallas PENALTY 87’)
Picton Rangers 2 (Bailey Fitzsimmons 32’, Brodie O’Neill 44’)
Balgownie Rangers: 1. BEDWELL Damian, 2. BELLINATO Nathan, 3. MCDONALD Luke, 4. LUSKIN Martin, 5. BUBB Matthew, 6. DUMMETT Jackson, 7. DALLAS Sebastian, 8. BRUCE Lucas, 9. DUGGAN Kieren, 10. MILLER Jacob, 11. WAEGER Brandon
Substitutes: 12. JARRET Riley (BELINATO 73’), 13. LUC Cedrick (WAEGER 90+2’), 14. SEFANELLI Anthony, 15. JAMES Kallin (DUGGAN 73’)
Yellow Cards: Nathan Bellinato 59’
Red Cards: Nil
Picton Rangers: 1. MICHELMANN Tristian, 3. CASNO Oscar, 10. O’NEIL Connor, 7. MICKAN Joshua, 2. COOLEY Craig, 4. O’NEILL Brodie, 11. O’NEILL Cameron, 14. ANDREWS Jackson, 17. FREEMAN Zane, 16. FITZSIMMONS Bailey, 12. GREGORY Liam
Substitutes: 5. FITZSIMMONS Brodie, 22. WHITTINGHAM Aaron, 6. LOPOVIC Aaron, 9. TESORIERO Matt (CASNO 65’), 8. WARREN Jaiden
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Date: Saturday, 17 September 2022
Venue: Judy Masters Oval
Referee: Steven Bozic
Assistant Referees: Caleb Blanch and Mick Agim
Report by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_
Photos courtesy of Graham Brown