Apollo v International
After three brutal clashes, onlookers are still no closer to finding out who is the better side when International and Apollo face off in the 2022 Steeline Bendigo Bank Limestone Coast Football Association senior men’s season.
The round 11 clash at Webb Street was the pair’s third battle of the season and the most anticipated after the rivals scored a thrilling win each away from home.
The third contest was just as exciting with stunning goals, close one-on-one contests and controversial moments which created many talking points.
With a big crowd in and outside of the precinct awaiting with anticipation, both teams went at it hard with top intensity in the opening minutes.
The ball moved from end to end quickly giving everyone something to get excited about.
Eventually Apollo was the side to overcome the early nerves first by finding a quick break at the 14-minute mark.
The Inter defenders could not keep up with the speed of Gay Nay Say Ler, who powered the ball into the back of the net to give the blue and white the opening goal against Inter for the third straight occasion.
The black and blue’s response was to match the intensity and pressure.
The visitors started to control more possession and were rewarded when Sam and Matt Bueti combined beautifully to level the scores.
With honours even before half time, tensions flared and the first half finished on a sour note as players released some anger on one another.
When the players returned to the field in a calmer condition, both teams made changes, while the home side was the heaviest hit with Hayden Cutting going down with a head injury.
Inter sensed an opportunity and started the second half with some strong soccer.
The visitors built nice passages of play and threatened to snatch the lead with Matthew Bueti looming large with the support of Nicholas Morony, Lachlan Charlton and Christian Cella further up the ground.
While Inter attacked and enjoyed the majority of possession through the opening stages of the second half, Apollo’s defensive unit stood tall and repelled everything that came its way.
Robert Nagy and the returning Adam Walker used their expertise to cut off International’s attacks at key moments to stay in the game.
Their work allowed the hosts to enjoy more of the ball and chances went begging at both ends.
With the clock ticking and no clear winner in sight, tempers flared again after the speedy Shar Nay Than went one-on-one with the Inter keeper and intense discussions were held around the coach’s boxes.
It took something special for the Phoney War to be broken and it arrived from the boot of Sar Hay Moo.
Moo had looked dangerous all day with his leg speed and this time he bolted clear and surged towards the deep pocket at the dog park end of the pitch.
Despite creating a tight angle at goal, it was no issue for the youngster, who perfectly placed his calculated chip kick over the goalkeeper’s head and into the back of the net.
It was a special moment as the entire International team celebrated in front of a large and vocal section of the crowd, but their party was quickly cut short.
Apollo went on the attack immediately and earned a penalty just a minute after conceding the lead.
It was the perfect chance for the hosts to get back into the game, only for Nagy to overcook the kick way over the crossbar.
However, he was given another life when a retake was awarded and he made full use of the second invitation, launching a low bullet past the keeper with authority.
Although plenty of heat remained on and off the pitch, both teams had to settle for a 2-2 draw.
Naracoorte v Gambier Centrals
Ladder leaders Gambier Centrals went on the one-hour journey up the highway to fight for the annual Ian “Jockey” Cup with Naracoorte.
The Lions lived up to the favourite’s tag by taking control early, but they could not complete the job and Mcdonald Nehanda made them pay by putting the hosts in front.
Despite Sam Shoemark putting Centrals on the board, the visitors went into half time a touch concerned knowing they could have been down 2-1 if it was not for a save by keeper Alex Hill.
Desperate to avoid embarrassment, the Lions roared after the break and went on the charge.
Cam Saint and Shoemark converted on their chances, while an own goal completed the turnaround and the 4-1 win.
Blue Lake v Millicent
An undermanned Blue Lake managed to get a solid win over Millicent on home turf.
The Rangers were on fire early with Jack Latham threading the needle to open proceedings before Lay Bae and Shar Ku got into the act to build an imposing 3-0 scoreline by half time.
The second half was a different story as Millicent was able to address the loss of captain Webster Monmanyi and make life difficult for the hosts.
Sam Adie and Abbas Ansari troubled Blue Lake’s defence but could not find a breakthrough as the hosts held onto a clean sheet.
Rangers’ coach Andrew Armandi was pleased with how his different looking team performed.
“It was a solid showing from an undermanned side with many reserves stepping up for their second game of the day,” he said.
“Lay Bae sprung into action with a pearler from eight metres out before Shar Ku finished off the half by silently sneaking the ball into the back post.
“The second half became more physical towards the end with great strength and skill shown by all players.”