University have left it to the very last day of the season to clinch their first finals appearance since 2013, taking Fernhill’s place in the top five with a 2-1 win over the Foxes at Ray Robinson Oval on Saturday afternoon.
The equation was simple for both sides; win and it’s finals football, lose and the season is over.
It was just two seasons ago when Fernhill had three results go their way to sneak into the top five on the last day of the season, at the expense of University, and the students were wanting their revenge heading into the final day of 2022.
The first opportunity of the match came in the 2nd minute for the visitors when Oskar Pruks lashed his shot over the bar from the right.
In the 26th minute, the students hit the front. A deep cross towards the back post saw the header from Chris Twigg rebound off the crossbar.
Pruks was first to react, smashing it into the back of the net from eight yards.
Chances became minimal for both sides for the next fifteen minutes and Fernhill almost found an equaliser when Kurt Foulger’s header bounced over the bar following a corner.
It wouldn’t worry Fernhill coach Dale White and his side too much, however, as a great solo effort from Nelson McLeod saw him beat two defenders up the right and finish under Kipps just before the break.
The late goal to the Foxes saw the sides go into the break even.
Fernhill flew out of the gates early into the second half, and it took a strong hand of Kipps to keep Matt Galanti out inside five minutes.
Pruks continued to be a danger to the Fernhill defence, pinching the ball of Foulger on the bi-line.
He found Cameron Hanson in the box, but a scrambling defence were able to block the shot.
The main threat from the Foxes came from their goalscorer, McLeod and in the 60th minute forced another save out of Kipps before lashing it past the far post a few minutes later.
In the 66th minute, Twigg sent a curled effort goalwards that went inches wide of the far post before Ash Hawkes popped up following a deep free-kick but saw his header rebound off the post.
Just minutes later, McLeod had yet another sight on goal after beating his defender up the right, forcing another save out of Kipps.
A low cross from Luke Inglis proved to be a difficult one to deal with for Fernhill, as it bounced through many bodies to fall to Matheus Scapin. The midfielder tapped it into an empty net from six yards, pushing University in front with 10 to play.
Running down the clock, the students frustrated Fernhill and held on to a 2-1 win to secure finals football for the first time since 2013.
The win also ended the Foxes’ season, by pinching fifth place by one point.
Fernhill 1 (Nelson McLeod 45’)
University 2 (Oskar Pruks 28’, Matheus Scapin 80’)
Fernhill: 1. ZERNER Kiel, 2. JORGE Daniel. 3. CALDER Lachlan, 4. FOULGER Kurt, 5. OLIVER Anthony, 6. PASSLACK Mattias, 7. HUGHES Jordan, 8. GALANTI Matt, 9. DJUKIC Daniel, 10. TURNER Mitch, 11. MCLEOD Nelson
Substitutes: 21. HADAYA Yacoub (GK), 12. THOMPSON Nathan, 13. DJUKIC Dejan, 14. HOWARD Jesse
University: 1. KIPPS Jordan, 2. MORGAN Lachlan, 3. HAWKES Ashley, 4. FLINT-PETERSON Eamon, 6. MARTIN Joshua, 9. PRUKS Oskar, 12. HANSON Cameron, 22. TWIGG Chris, 23. SINCLAIR Ryan, 30. INGLIS Luke, 33. SCAPIN Matheus.
Substitutes: 31. RAUT Anshuman (GK) 14. GIGLIOTTI Anthony, 19. COETZER Alex, 66. ZAMUNER Liam
Date: Saturday, 17th September 2022
Venue: Ray Robinson Oval
Referee: Reece Edwards
Assistant Referees: Joel Nees and Stuart Bell
Report by Nathan Turner, on Twitter @nathanturner23_
Photo by UOWFC