Being a short season with COVID disruptions and a few washouts, Football Wagga Wagga decided to give all 10 teams in the men’s Gardiner Shield reserve grade competition, a shot at finals football.

An extra round of football was given to the Strikers, and although they went out 7-2 to the Young Lions on Sunday, man-of-the-match Jaidyn Campbell is hesitant to look back at the past season as a season of negative results.

“Everyone was really excited to have another game and we really wanted to go out there and come away with the win. There was plenty of energy in this week’s training and it showed in the early warm up too,” Jaidyn said.

“This season, despite having its ups and downs with COVID and losing key players, it’s been good. We all stuck together as a group and picked each other up along the way, it was also great to see heaps of new and young faces.

“The Strikers mentality is definitely about family and lifting each other up. If we continue to do that, it’s only a matter of time which I think, we will improve as a unit and be real contenders for the premiership.”

The first few minutes of the match began positively for the Strikers, when they were able to force Young backwards through high pressing and strong one-on-ones.

But as evident throughout the last few games, formational discipline and man-marking on marquee players became complacent, this allowed Young to slip a couple of early goals past keeper Ryan Breese, which put the Strikers on the back foot from then on.

With only two substitutes available for the Strikers, the task at hand got a lot harder when young Kaleb Johnson took a nasty fall to the ground, needing to be subbed off for the rest of the game, with winger Jaidyn Campbell replacing him.

Usual defender Matthew Hoy started the match upfront and was fairly quiet in the first half as the Strikers were slow off the blocks in getting the ball past the half way.

But, late in the first half, Hoy began to command his authority against a couple of Young defenders, when he fed a ball to attacker Christopher Tan to go through on goal and have a close range shot into the keeper’s hands.

The Strikers were down 4-0 at half time, and despite all the heavy heads and tired legs, coach Ian Wilson and captain Mark Rogers encouraged the boys to keep going, to finish the season strongly.

And that, the boys did.

A scrambled bit of play for winger Campbell on the left side, saw him determined to push the ball forward and make a pass onto the running Tan.

When Tan took his first touch, he looked up to see if he should feed the ball back or go forward himself.

With no one around him, he ran up to the edge of the 18-yard box and decided to take a hit at the top of the ball.

The shot stayed low and Young’s keeper made a dive for it, however, he was far too slow to react and the ball snuck through the bottom-right hand corner of the goal.

As the ball bulged the net, the Strikers were seen celebrating Tan’s first goal for the club and many Coota supporters on the sideline believed a miracle could happen.

But after Young put a few more in the back of the net to see the game out, there was one final fairy tale moment for the Strikers, to cap off a tough 2020 season.

This was when Coota were given a penalty, after a Young defender handballed the ball in the box.

The moment to bag Coota’s second goal was given to 16-year-old Corey Doohan, who was earlier knocked down in the box in an off-play incident.   

Teenager Doohan made no mistake from the spot, converting it right down the middle as the keeper went the wrong way.

In a match with many players unavailable, Strikers stalwart and club president Wally Parkinson kitted up and put on his boots to play around 50 minutes of the match.

Wally showed no signs of slowing down with a few strong runs down the right wing as well as a few aerial contests for the ball.

In a post-match interview, Wally said the result was not a true reflection of the boys effort and that he was proud of every single player this season.

“The boys as usual, never gave up until the final whistle,” he said.

“Everyone truly tried their best. As for me, it was great to get a couple of touches as well as get on the field with the boys for one last time.”

The boys learnt of the news of an added game last Tuesday evening, which gave them an opportunity for one final training session on Thursday, before the big day at Rawlings Park on the weekend.

At training, coach Wilson put the boys through their paces, extending the famous “hill” drill to double its usual length, in sets of three.

None of the boys complained and every one of them ran as if they were fighting for their places in the squad.

Training was extended to over two hours on Thursday and the boys showed hunger and determination to chase every ball and correct any mistakes during every minute of training.

With the season officially over now, there has been rumours for pre-season training to commence as early as within the coming months.

The Strikers mens side would like to thank all its sponsors, supporters and players for the past season.

Christopher Tan

 

 

 

Strikers ladies ready for finals soccer after win on final day

Cootamundra Strikers womens final regular game of the season in the Leonard Cup, finished positively, with a convincing 3-1 victory against Wagga United at Rawlings Park.

The match started well for the fierce Strikers, with Heidi Parkinson having a one-on-one with the keeper, she was able to parry it onto the path of Niketa Smart into an open goal to put her side up 1-0.

A second goal was scored spectacularly by skipper and standout player Ashley Holder, who volleyed the ball into the back of the net, off a Strikers corner.

The Strikers led 2-0 at half-time.

The second half then saw their opposition lift their game, forcing the Strikers to play a defensive game of football to contain their lead.

Around the 60th minute mark, Wagga United made a shot outside the 18-yard box which, Striker’s keeper Annette Parkinson tipped it onto the crossbar and United then slotted the rebounding opportunity.

With 10 minutes left in the match, Taylah Dickinson scored arguably the match winner to put the match to bed, with a one-on-one effort.

Finals football is in two weeks and with the win last weekend, coach and goalkeeper Parkinson is happy with the girls’ performance and ability to bounce back this season.

The Strikers are back at Rawlings Park again on October 11, 10.30am against Tolland in the elimination final.

In the previous meeting two weeks ago, Cootamundra went down 7-0 to their counterparts Tolland.

Tolland are a strong attacking side and this season, have four players sitting in the top five of the golden boot race.

Strikers’ Kirrilee Cameron sits in seventh with three goals and Ashley Holder is in ninth with two goals.

The Times wishes the Coota girls the best of luck against Tolland and hopes they can bring a win home for the entire Coota community to celebrate.

Christopher Tan