Shepparton has booked itself a grand final berth after bagging three goals from corners and defeating Cobram in a hard-fought contest.By Damen Francis
Describing Shepparton as a one-trick pony would hardly do the Reds justice, but they only needed one to get past Cobram at Numurkah on Sunday.
The Reds booked a Regional Premier League grand final date with old nemesis Shepparton United, courtesy of a gruelling 3-2 win against the Tigers, with all three goals arriving from corners.
Reds coach Matt Gray, who made his return from a three-match suspension, admitted it was a weakness his side had identified and deliberately looked to exploit.
‘‘We found that when we beat them 6-3 earlier in the season and we scored four or five from set pieces,’’ Gray said.
‘‘We have some people that are fantastic at attacking the ball in the air and they got their reward.
‘‘The boys were ecstatic. I’ve never heard the song sung so loud. I told them they have 90 minutes to go and to enjoy it because they’re part of the biggest game of the season.’’
The preliminary final marked the first time this season the Reds have won after falling behind.
Kevin Moffat opened the scoring with a superb drive into the top corner from the edge of the area, after the Shepparton defence allowed Carl Lamb’s low cross to roll across the box.
However, the Reds were level a short time later in comical circumstances.
Stand-in goalkeeper Luke Slater let the ball run for what he thought was a goal-kick, but the referee pointed to the corner flag, where the set piece was taken short to Gray, who whipped a curling cross-come-shot beyond a stranded Slater.
The Reds were ahead, when Gray’s deep corner was headed back across the box by Robert Watkins and turned home by Johnny Davkovski.
But a defensive blunder from Adam Scott allowed Sean Ellis in behind and his well-weighted cross was nodded in off the bar by Carl Lamb to make it 2-2.
Gray’s frustration was clear, as he remonstrated angrily with Scott.
The second half was an arm-wrestle as both clubs sought space in the final third, but struggled to find it on the small pitch.
Gray pulled the strings from deep and Abdullah Wahidi worked hard to link defence and attack, while Cobram captain Ivo Madeira patrolled the centre of the park.
Lamb continually provided his side with an outlet, but was often left too isolated.
As the match wore on, the Tigers looked the more likely winners, but another set piece was their undoing, with the otherwise quiet Michael Charles stealing in at the back post to score the winner.
‘‘We had a deficiency at the back and they exposed our weakness,’’ Tigers coach Paul Amadei said.
‘‘It’s a sad day, because the club (Cobram) has got a lot of soul this season. All my blokes emptied their tanks on the day and they were distraught after the game.
‘‘This year we won a final, so we’ve made a step forward and Cobram will improve.’’
Artist Nici Cumpston will hold a free Artist Talk at Shepparton Art Museum tonight, speaking about her body of work based around the Shepparton region.
It’s been a long journey for Tim Roadley but his dream of creating a multi-sport endurance event on the Murray River is now going to be a reality.
It was a big day for Jye McNeil on Sunday, not only celebrating his 19th birthday, but riding a double at the Tatura and Shepparton Racing Club’s meeting, including the big one, the Vraca and Varapodio Italian Plate (1600 m), on the Gerald Egan-trained Jetconi.
Echuca Football Club has signed Joel Magnabosco and Kane Morris for next season.
On Friday Rochester’s St Joseph’s Primary School opened a time capsule which was buried in the 1980s.
Waste collection in Campaspe Shire will change for two weeks during the festive season.
Valley Park Farms' egg production facility is expected to increase production and staff after a $100 000 Victorian Government grant.
Murchison’s Jane Spencer’s first exhibition It Just Dawned On Me will be on show in Shepparton in the first half of next year.
Lisa Milligan has started a new dog grooming business in Heathcote to help fund her Wild ABout Wildlife centre in Kilmore.
Police allege a man attempted to rob a Cobram supermarket today.
Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley says plans are in the works on how to get natural gas to Deniliquin.
New Transport Accident Commission research has revealed why some young country drivers habitually take risks on regional roads.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Parks Victoria and Country Fire Authority will be performing planned burns in Goomalibee on Monday.
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