The NSFA Premier League Grand Final took place on Northbridge Oval on Saturday 23rd of August between Willoughby Dalleys and North Sydney United. Both teams had enjoyed a very good season. North Sydney had come third on the competition ladder being narrowly edge-out of second spot by Kissing Point on goal difference. North Sydney had beaten Kissing Point soundly in the semi-final last week, winning 3:0
Willoughby Dalleys had almost nothing to prove; they had won the Premier League and had won it well. They were eleven points clear of Kissing Point and North Sydney. In the semi-finals they played last years’ champions; Lindfield. They had beaten Lindfield in a penalty shoot-out.
So the teams took to the field with an air of confident calm about them, but that was soon to change.
But before we get in to the game, I want to do a shout-out to the referees and linesmen that turn out each week; Premier League could not exist without the tireless work of these folks who keep games running smoothly, efficiently and fairly.
Dalleys took the kick off and immediately put North Sydney under pressure. Quickly Dylan Harapoff crossed to Guy Burrows who has a good shot on goal but it was well defended by North Sydney sending the ball back out to Anthony Farac who had a stellar shot on goal, but it was gain deflected away, putting Milad Hemmatparasat under pressure in the North Sydney goal.
Joe Fell for Dalleys was constantly bringing the ball down the left wing until a hard tackle from Ignacio Lopez Scala from North Sydney earned Dalleys the first free kick of the match just outside the 18 yard box, but nothing came of it.
Defenders Uwe Helmes, Kirk Emans and Allan McGregor from North Sydney were soaking-up all the pressure being piled on them. Emans was also having a go at the other end of the field, firing in a couple of early shots at Dalleys, just making sure Dejan Josipouic had brought his A-game to the Dalleys goal keeping duties.
The rain started to fall early in the first half and with the change in the weather there came a change in pressure, with North Sydney stringing together some good plays and asserting their grip on the game.
The breakthrough came for North Sydney after twenty-five minutes when McGregor managed to get his head to a ball floated in to the penalty area from a corner and pushed the ball in to the left of the net.
Dalleys are not a team to fall apart after one goal, and immediately brought the pressure back on North Sydney. Harapoff was continuously finding space on the left and setting up lots of opportunities for Fell and Briggs, but North Sydney were not having any of it, thwarting any scoring opportunity and that lead to a few niggles and grumbles from the Dalleys boys as the half was closed out.
Half time score 1:0 to North Sydney
The speed and pressure from both sides had noticeably increased in the second half. Any idea that this was going to be a social game of football was gone and both sides were clearly hunting for a win.
5 minutes in to the second half and North Sydney had a free kick just outside the 18 yard box but the ball was skyed over the cross bar.
Then Scala from North Sydney went in for a hard tackle taking out a Dalleys player from behind, immediately earning him a red card.
North Sydney would have to play the remainder of the match with ten men against a fired-up Dalleys side. This was going to be tough.
Play settled down and Dalleys turned the screw. Chad Cowley fired in a good ball from a free kick which found the head of Jarod Cowley but it was pushed out to the left of the goal.
North Sydney’s Lucas Goode was now playing upfront, using his size and pushing hard, with several good opportunities on goal. It was obvious that North Sydney were willing to bring the fight right up to Dalleys.
Late in the second half the breakthrough Dalleys had been looking for came when Jarod Cowley had a throw-in which found Burrows who spun through ninety degrees, dragging his foot over the top of the ball but pushing it towards the goalie. The ball bounced awkwardly and scooted past Hemmatparasat and in to the back of the net. Not the prettiest goal I have ever seen, but effective.
One-all and only ten minutes to go.
The play of the match for me came from a Dalleys corner which floated over the top of the goal, Harapoff then pushed the ball out to Fell who made a brilliant diving head for the ball but fired it straight in to the arms of goalie Hemmatparasat. Good, well-connected play, but sadly nothing to show for it.
As full time was reached the scores were locked-up at one a-piece with only a couple of minutes of injury time to play. Then North Sydney’s Ed Bowers brought the ball down to the Dalleys 18-yard box, brought the ball across the front of the goal which found Lucas Goode, but he missed his opportunity only to have it swept up by Daniel Talbot who pushed in to the back of the net.
2:1 to North Sydney and the final whistle is blown. North Sydney winners of the 2014 NSFA Premier League Grand Final.