STATE CUP MATCH REPORT
Menai Hawks swoop to Robertson Cup victory
Two Sutherland Shire Association sides met in the 21 Men's Robertson Cup Final and put in a tremendous performance resulting in a hotly contested match by two local rivals before an expertly taken free-kick and thunderous shot by Ben Towell and a late Barnes strike settled proceedings for the Menai Hawks by three goals to nil.
Ben Towell gave the Hawks the lead in the 4’ minute when slotting home a free-kick from fully 25-yards out after a Ridgebacks’ defender unluckily handled the ball but the shot comprehensively beat Joshua Ashton between the sticks when nestling in the ‘keepers bottom right corner. It was a perfectly executed dead ball.
Menai pushed on trying to increase their advantage however resolute defending kept them at bay as their counterparts regrouped from the early setback.
Another Hawks set-piece looked ominous just outside the box without the same result when the ball sailed harmlessly wide of the target when Nicholas Dillon was guilty of leaving his foot in as Jared Snellenburg attempted to skip past the defender to create an opening inside the first 15’ minutes. Barden Ridgebacks were under the cosh and when gaining possession found themselves sitting deep with a long way to go to goal.
On the counter Tahl Hanna forced Hawks’ ‘keeper Joshua Towell into a terrific save to keep his side in front in the 19’ minute with the high press game of the leaders starting to fade slightly.
Hanna was through again moments later only for his header from Mitch Palmer’s right wing cross to drop wide of the upright. The Ridgebacks were finding their rhythm at last and were looking dangerous and finding space going forward.
Hanna should have done better when played clean through in the 37’ minute however attempting to slip the ball under Josh Towell the gloveman was able to make the stop with his legs to again deny the equaliser. It wasn't a great effort nor save but with nerves playing a part it was understandable.
With two strong combatants the break arrived with Menai retaining their one goal advantage in what was rapidly turning into a tough encounter. The half-time team talk for both would carry a lot of weight in the final result and with 45’ minutes to play, it was still anyone's game.
Nick Dillon came close with a header six minutes after the break but couldn’t find the target under heavy Hawks pressure although the match had settled into one more of attrition as the legs began to tire after a rapid and fiercely contested opening half.
Great work down the right from Connor Davaram saw goalscorer Towell force the save of the match out of Aston who needed to get down very sharply to his left at the base of the post to deny a sure fire goal but the burly striker wasn't to be denied in the 65’ minute when blasting high into the net to extend the lead.
In time honoured fashion the Ridgebacks had it all to do and threw everything, and everyone, forward in a desperate bid to get back into the game but it wasn’t to be and bragging rights would need to wait for just a while longer.
A late Mekael Barnes strike put the icing on the cake for Menai who were fully deserving of the win although Harrison Melchert might have netted a consolation goal for the Ridgebacks.
There was still time for Snellenburg to pull another fine save out of Ridgebacks’ gloveman Aston but it wasn’t to be and the Hawks finished as 3-0 winners.
Menai Hawks 3 (B.Towell 4’, 65’, Barnes 83’)
Barden Ridgebacks 0
Sunday, 17th July, 2016
Valentine Sports Park, Pitch 2
Referee: Matthew Sheath
Assistant Referees: Nicholas Walker & Alexander Walker
Menai Hawks: 1. TOWELL Joshua, 2. AZZOPARDI Liam, 3. WILLIAMS Jacob, 5. BASIC Luke, 6. AGIUS Andrew, 7. DAVARAM Connor, 8. MENDEZ Joshua, 10. ROLL Jacob, 11. GEORGE James, 12. SNELLENBURG Jared ©, 13. FOSCA Connor, 14. BARNES Mekael, 15. TOWELL Ben, 16. DA LA FUENTE Andrew, 17. MARSHAL Thomas, 22. THORNE Jack
Super Coach – John DIAZ, Ast.Super Coach – John BASIC, manger – Stephen SAMIOS
Yellow Cards: Da La Fuente 47’, Agius 73’
Barden Ridgebacks: 1. GRIFFITHS Timothy, 2. ROPER Timothy, 3. JACKSON Brock, 4. DILLON Nicholas, 5. CUPITT Joshua, 7. HANNA Tahl, 8. ROBERTSON Blake, 9. DOBELL Jordan, 10. PALMER Mitchell ©, 11. FRASER Benjamin, 13. BURROWS Jack, 14. ARMSTRONG Scott, 15. BRANNELLY Nathan, 17. MELCHERT Harrison, 21. ASTON Joshua, 23. ROUMANOS Nathan, 117. MCCUTCHEON Liam
Coach – David NEILL, Manager – Grant PALMER
Yellow Cards: Armstrong 31’
-By Micky Brock