By Tania Phillips
Stanthorpe United will be out for victory in this weekénd’s Toowoomba Football League major semi-final at Gatton against Willowburn after narrowly missing the minor premiership in this their inaugural season.
The Redbacks, who joined the competition this year after Covid restrictions put paid to the local fixtures, went down three-two to rivals Willowburn at the weekend to see them drop to second spot with the more experienced Willowburn leapfrogging them into first.
With seven minutes remaining the Redbacks and Willowburn had been locked at two-all with a draw and penalty-shootout looming. However their opponents were able to break through their backline to grab both the minor premiership and the Presidents Cup which had also been on the line and put pay to Stanthorpe’s triple crown aspirations.
Not giving in, the Redbacks continued to push forward in search of the winning goal but were caught short at the back after losing position in midfield. The Willowburn forwards were clinical with their finish giving United’s keeper Carnell no chance.
Late in the game ill-discipline from Brad Thompson again saw him sent to the sin bin. It had a demoralising effect on the morale of the team, but his teammates fought valiantly without him with seconds on the clock went close to scoring, but to no avail
For the neutral football supporters who did not have a vested interest in the result the game was a classic encounter.
WIllowburn scored in the first few minutes, however Ace McDonald equalised after a great cross from Simon Mascardi.
At half-time it was one-all but not before the heavens had opened up and drenched the players and field for 15 minutes. In the second half Willowburn scored from a free kick just outside the box. Again, United equalised through a Hunter Murphy header from a corner. The game had everything and was end-to-end excitement.
Hunter Murphy and Jared Hitchener worked hard and were the standouts in the midfield, while Josh Crestani’s return was full of merit.
Jordie Lanza an Aiden Halford also defended strongly and were also close to the best on the park.
These two teams meet again this Sunday in Gatton at 3pm in the major semi-final clash and everyone is looking forward to another classic encounter.
Stanthorpe United successfully introduced live streaming of the game for the many supporters following United’s progress but were unable to make the trip to Toowoomba.
Anyone who wishes to watch the game live this weekend it will also be live streamed. Simply visit the Stanthorpe United Redback’s Facebook page on game day and connect to the link.