The final match of sixteen saw hosts Atletico Brisbane take on group winners Ballarat for the Escape AFA Travel Cup and the chance to represent Australasia in the EFA Inter-Continental Cup. A large crowd assembled at Oxley Stadium, with the home town support determined to see their heroes overcome bogey team Ballarat, who hadn’t lost to Brisbane in recent years.
The first half was predictably tight. Both sides demonstrated their excellent defences and the score remained 0-0 for most of the half.
However, eventually the first goal came. Ballarat earned themselves a free-kick midway inside the Brisbane half. The free kick was taken by number 23 Jake Francis who sent it in the direction of number two, Liam Dawson, who diverted the ball into the back of the net.
With less than five minutes remaining in the half, Brisbane’s number six Jai Bell had an attempt at goal, however he couldn’t find a way past Ballarat’s in-form keeper, Matthew Hick.
It looked like Brisbane making a come back saw a great counter attack play, where number four Carlos Moore drove down the centre, passing the ball to his left to number eight Matthew Schmidt who played the ball to the back post where number two Samuel Lowrie fired it past Ballarat’s keeper, Hicks.
Just sixty seconds later the home crowd was on their feet as Brisbane completed a stunning turnaround. Moore turned from provider to goalscorer, dinking the ball cleverly over the advancing Hicks to put his side in the lead with the half-time whistle looming.
Atletico Brisbane 2-1 Ballarat FC
If the first half was cagey, the second was anything but. The late flurry of goals set the tone for a second half of all out attack.
Brisbane’s hard working number five, Andres Pascoe, headed home, after Joshua Buxton picked him out with a pinpoint pass from deep in his own half. An incredible assist.
The next player to find the scoresheet for Atletico was Lowrie, notching his second of the match. By this point Ballarat were playing fifth man and a long-range shot let to uncertainly in their defence, with Lowrie on hand to slam the ball home.
With many teams, 4-1 down after a draining four days of futsal would have been game, set, match. However, you knew that wasn’t the case with Ballarat. This time, the fifth man structure was worked to their advantage, with number five Kevin Robinson passing the ball to the false goalkeeper Liam Dawson, who tapped it in at the back post.
Shortly after another great team move by Ballarat saw number 23 Jake Francis find Dawson, who once again found the back of the net. This was Dawson’s third goal of the game, earning the IFA U17 World Cup winner a hat-trick.
Despite the pendulum swinging in Ballarat’s favour, Brisbane didn’t sit back. A free kick was awarded to them due to a handball by the goalkeeper just outside the penalty area. The free kick was fired against the post by Pascoe, and Buxton was on hand to tap the ball in at the back post. This left the score at 5-3 to Brisbane. Only seconds remained on the clock but there was enough time for Lowrie to complete his hat-trick and put the icing on the cake and seal a momentous victory.
It was a tale of hard luck for Ballarat, who had been the most impressive and consistent team of the tournament going into the final. They deserve a huge amount of credit for how well their young team has fared over the course of the four days.
The win for Brisbane saw them win their second successive tournament after their recent success in China. The score of 6-3 was an incredible achievement, and their first win to Ballarat FC in a few years. They look forward to a trip to Spain to represent the continent in 2018.
Atletico Brisbane 6-3 Ballarat FC.
Magic Moment – Brisbane:
Brisbane’s magic moment is when Buxton played the ball from deep in his defensive half, to Pascoe who pulled off a perfect header past Ballarat’s keeper.
Magic Moment – Ballarat:
Ballarat’s magic moment goes to Dawson’s second goal from fifth man (and third overall), putting Ballarat back in the game and setting up a grand finalé.
POTM – Brisbane:
Andres Pascoe earned himself POTM in today’s final, after leading his team to victory with an inspired display.
POTM – Ballarat:
Liam Dawson earned himself POTM with a superb hat-trick and all round display.
Click here for a full match set of match statistics courtesy of Soccer Club Stats.