It was all happening on and off the pitch at Casadio Park on Sunday night when International and Gambier Centrals locked horns in the headline clash of the fourth round of the 2021 Steeline Limestone Coast Football Association season.
The high-stakes battle was not only an unmissable event being one of the sport’s fiercest rivalry, but the clubs were also fighting for Indigenous round honours while a Foodbank food drive was held at the entry gate.
After Inter strolled out in its impressive Indigenous playing strip and both sides lined up shoulder to shoulder during the welcome to country, the heat was on under the lights of Casadio Park.
Seeking revenge following a shock defeat in the Steeline Cup final earlier in the year, the hosts were hungry to strike back at the Lions, but the visitors held firm.
Gambier Central held sway in the opening stages and appeared the most threatening to score.
The speed of Lewis March and Broc Linden on either wing caused headaches for the Inter defence and eventually the quick pair broke through.
The Lions found the perfect method of silencing the home crowd when March and Linden both scored to put the visitors in the box seat at half time.
Trailing 0-2 at the main break, Inter had to respond from the underwhelming start and came out firing when play resumed.
Suddenly Centrals felt all of the pressure on their shoulders and had to use every ounce of their skill to keep the hosts at bay.
The referee also felt the heat as the crowd screamed at full voice whenever an incident occurred and as a result Matt Bueti, Ricky McRobert and Sam Bueti all received yellow cards.
However, the bookings did little to slow down Inter’s growing momentum and with the crowd behind them the home side changed the game in an instant.
Connor Prior came to the party and broke the stalemate with an awesome long-range strike to put the black and blue on the board.
Sensing an opportunity to avoid defeat, Inter continued to press hard and it did not take long for the team to capitalise on another chance.
Anticipation was building as Sam Bueti ran from the wing and crossed the ball from the pocked towards the box.
Once again it was Prior, who delivered when he perfectly placed the ball in the back of the net to spark wild celebrations.
The Inter players were delirious after the equaliser running all over the ground, while the Lions were forced to lift their heads after the latest blow.
International’s assault did not relent and the side could have stolen the game if it was not for a couple of clutch saves from the diving Centrals goalkeeper Steven Hughes.
After an epic battle, a 2-2 draw was a fair result and it whets the appetite for future battles later in the season.
There was also plenty of action off the pitch with both clubs throwing their support behind the Foodbank food drive.
More than 440kg of food was donated which equated to 884 meals for hungry people around the community, while some monetary donations were also received.
Foodbank branch manager Lynne Neshoda was overwhelmed by the generosity shown by all the players and spectators at Casadio Park.
“Both soccer clubs got behind it and we thank them for that and the donated food was fabulous,” she said.
“All the food will goes back into the community into out food hub where people have access to the food plus free fruit and vegetables.
“It is great exposure for us and great for the community because it is one of two food drives we do each year.
“It is something we are keen to continue with and grow each year.” Elsewhere Apollo appeared in deadly touch against Blue Lake United at the unusual setting of Blue Lake Sports Park.
The game was supposed to be played at Webb Street, but the pitch was deemed unfit for play and Apollo enjoyed the open spaces of the new venue.
The blue and white were flying in the first half with Say Har Moo and Say Say Wah kicking two goals each themselves.
Apollo enjoyed a 6-0 lead after a barnstorming first half, but struggled to keep up the breakneck speed in the closing stages.
Blue Lake fought back with a goal through Tristen Guess, but that was the only happy moment for the visitors.
Jack Donehue, Tobbei Kennett and Reuben Van Eyk joined Moo and Wah on the goal scorer’s list in Apollo’s huge 6-1 victory.
Naracoorte a second consecutive win over Millicent away from home at McLaughlin Park.
The yellow and black kits moved fast on the pitch with Jawad Hassani, Kevin Marshall and George Matutuva all finding the back of the net in the 3-0 triumph.
LCFA teams enjoy a bye this weekend.