TIGHT CONTEST: St Pat’s White centre half Cameron Liles (left) is put under pressure by Souths Aces rival Jono Baillie (right) in Sunday’s Bathurst Men’s Hockey Association first grade major semi-final. Photo: ZENIO LAPKA ZEN_0234SOUTHS are one win away from their third consecutive Bathurst Men’s Hockey Association first grade premiership after booking their place in the 2014 grand final courtesy of a 2-1 win over Pat’s White on Sunday.
A tense major semi-final at the Cooke Hockey Complex saw neither side able to score in the first half, before two goals in the space of nine minutes in the second stanza headed Souths to victory.
Last year Souths claimed the premiership with a 3-2 win over St Pat’s Gold on grand final day, and they have been the team to beat in 2014.
Souths claimed the minor premiership and went into the grand final qualifier against Pat’s White as heavy favourites, given they had won all three prior meetings with the Saints this year.
However, Pat’s White had the better of the chances in a scrappy first half that saw both sides guilty of soft turnovers in their attacking third.
Whereas Souths looked most dangerous on the quick break, Jono Baillie and Nick Milligan launching some promising counter attacks, the Saints used more width as they tried to draw out their rivals’ defence.
The Saints had the first chance of the match after two minutes when Brodie Cooke found Trevor Weal unmarked on the left of the circle, but Souths goalkeeper Daniel White was up to the task.
Three minutes later Souths tested their rivals with a penalty corner play, but Andrew Cranston’s on-target strike was well-trapped and quickly cleared by Lachlan Menzies.
Souths had one more chance from the set play during the half which was sent wide, while Pat’s White drew three penalty corners during the opening 35 minutes.
White was good enough to block Tobbie Muldoon’s drag flicks from those penalty corners, while 10 minutes out from the break he came up with a double save – smothering a Riley Hanrahan rocket from close range then parrying another attempt to safety.
Souths began the second half a man short after Bryce Hitchcock was shown a yellow card for dissent late in the first stanza, but Pat’s White was unable to take advantage.
The Aces’ custodian produced a fine glove save low and to his right when Luke Thorncraft tried to steer a shot around him, while defender John Clarke came up with some important tackles.
Having absorbed that pressure, a quickly-taken penalty saw Souths catch out the Pat’s White defence and score against the run of play, Cranston beating goalkeeper David Clews at the top of the area to make it 1-0.
That advantage was doubled nine minutes later as Pat’s White were unable to clear from Souths’ third penalty corner of the match. The ball found its way to the far post where Mike Stanford tapped it in.
Pat’s should have pulled a goal back a minute later when Thorncraft broke quickly, drew out White at the top of the area and passed off to team-mate Peter Davis.
However, Davis took too long in firing his shot in on goal and a scrambling White made a diving, full-length save.
In the final 10 minutes the Saints had two more penalty corner plays that went unconverted, and while Thorncraft scored with 12 seconds remaining to make it 2-1, it was Aces who earned the first grand final spot.
This weekend’s preliminary final will be a battle of the Saints with Pat’s White taking on Pat’s Gold after the 2013 runners-up defeated Kelso 4-0 in Sunday’s minor semi-final.
SOUTHS ACES 2 (Andrew Cranston, Michael Stanford) defeated ST PAT’S WHITE 1 (Luke Thorncraft)
ST PAT’S GOLD 4 (Niel Howard, Charlie Schofield, Shane Conroy, Peter Cobcroft) defeated KELSO 0
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲美睫培训学校.