Newcastle Titans took on Ballarat in the final group match, before tomorrow’s cup final. The match was exciting to watch as Newcastle needed the win to gain their spot into finals, where Ballarat just needed a point, or a glut of goals to secure their position. The match saw Ballarat progress through to the final, with a 3-3 draw.
With a Newcastle victory leading to three sides being tied on six points, and goals scored being the deciding factor, the mathematicians amongst the crowd were keen to point out that a high scoring game with victory for Newcastle would send both teams through. However, the opening exchanges made it clear that this would be a tight match and no repeat of the earlier goalfest between Brisbane and Islanders.
Midway through the half the scoring was opened. Titans’ talisman, number eight Matthew Hoole, scored an expertly taken goal, giving the New South Wales side a lead to hang onto.
The match remained tight with both sides hungry for possession. Frustration began to creep in and a number of needless fouls were given away. With five minutes left on the first half clock, Newcastle committed their fifth foul, meaning they were treading a tightrope.
Both teams probed to try and finish the half on a high, resulting in a number of shots at both ends, however credit goes the keepers of both sides, putting on a solid display to save their teams from conceding.
Newcastle Titans 1-0 Ballarat FC.
With the second half just a few minutes old, emotions spilled over. Heated words were sent from stands to the officials and the match was temporarily halted. Eventually, after much discussion, the match continued from where it left off.
After the break in play, Ballarat began to take the ascendency. Five minutes into the second half, their number nine Brian Te scored an was in the right place at the right time to squeeze home the equaliser. Almost straight from kick-off, the Victorian side scored yet another goal with Liam Dawson slotting it home.
Ballarat’s Dawson scored again to increase Ballarat’s lead, after leaving the Titans defence trailing in his wake.
It was an almighty setback for the Titans, but they certainly didn’t show any signs of giving up. Hoole converted a close range set-piece to half the deficit, before number four Scott Pettit slammed home an inviting cross to level the scores.
Titans threw everything at Ballarat in the closing stages. By this point Ballarat’s foul count was above five and two 10 metre penalties were awarded. However goalkeeper Matthew Hick was in inspired form, making a series of late saves to see his time over the finishing line.
The victory sees Ballarat FC into the final tomorrow against Atletico Brisbane. Atletico have never won against Ballarat FC, which sets up and intriguing match. The loss sees Newcastle drop into the third and fourth place play-off against Islanders Futsal. Extremely harsh on a Titans side who offered a lot to the competition.
Newcastle Titans 3-3 Ballarat FC.
Magic Moment – Newcastle:
Pettit’s equaliser was an excellent move and set up a grand finale.
Magic Moment – Ballarat:
Hick’s penalty save was top class. When he pulled it off, you had a feeling it wasn’t going to be Titans’ day.
POTM – Newcastle: Matthew Hoole scored twice and continued his excellent form.
POTM – Ballarat: A number of worthy contenders, but after his late heroics you cannot look past Matthew Hick.