Matt Vaccaro has jumped the highest to nod in the winning goal for Shepparton South against Shepparton United in Regional Premier League on Sunday.MATTHEW GALEA September 2, 2014 3:15am
With players such as Adam Scott, Shaun Kane, Manny Soetan and Fahad Alghazaly on the park, not many would have picked Matt Vaccaro to be the game-changer.
But that’s exactly what the Shepparton South defender was when he rose highest to turn home a brilliant Scott free-kick in the second half, booking the Southerners’ spot in the Regional Premier League grand final in the process.
A scrappy opening to the game where both sides showed some finals nerves failed to hint at the drama that was to follow.
The Blues were the better in possession and looked calmer on the ball, with the Southerners adopting a more direct approach.
Scott troubled the Blues from set pieces, but neither side was able to create much in the way of clear chances for much of the first half.
It was eventually Scott who pounced, breaking through the United defensive line to latch onto a long pass, slotting home coolly to give the Southerners a 1-0 lead at half-time.
The Blues started the second half the stronger and peppered Lee Allen’s goal with a number of long-range shots.
Adam Burchell showed his skills when he embarked on a mazy run from the left wing into the box, only to see his shot denied by Al Ghazaly.
The Blues broke instantly and forced Allen into a fine save of his own as the game finally opened up.
Nick Kalafatis scored from a corner and the game looked destined for extra-time until Vaccaro’s intervention.
However, the result was twinged with heartbreak when Southerners defender Jordan Montagner put the team first and sacrificed his place in the grand final when he earned a second yellow card for a professional foul to halt a Shepparton United counter-attack that would have resulted in a clear goal-scoring chance.
Shepparton South coach Reno Lia praised the defender for his contribution to the side this season.
‘‘I feel for him .
‘‘But we had to get there and we showed a lot of character today.
‘‘We didn’t capitulate when we copped the goal, we were still pressing and it was a clinical free-kick that we’ve been working on that sealed it.’’
Lia also praised the efforts of Greg Nash and Kane, who was asked to play a deeper role.
Kalafatis was less than impressed with South’s game plan and tipped the winner of next week’s preliminary final between his Blues and Cobram to be the eventual winners.
‘‘We knew how they would play and I think it’s a bad style of soccer, they just kick long and hope,’’ Kalafatis said.
‘‘They caused us trouble with those long balls as they always do from their keeper, which is why they fought so hard to get him back.
‘‘I honestly think Cobram is a better side and we’re more worried about playing them and I think whoever wins that game will win it.’’
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