It was billed as the biggest game in Manly Allambie United history and had an atmosphere to match with hundreds of supporters in Cromer Park’s grandstand to see the MWFA Challenge Cup final on Wednesday night.
And while BTH Raiders were worthy finalists, the goodwill towards Manly Allambie after they fulfilled their destiny and won 4-0 spilled out of Cromer Park and into the night.
Victorious Manly Allambie coach Kyle Cannon said it was a “huge occasion for the players and the club”.
“There were so many fans and it was very good to play in. It had a real ‘Cup final’ feel. Afterwards there was a tremendous round of applause from supporters. It meant a great deal to our club and it was great so see so many people there as the club claimed its first major trophy,” Cannon said.
Yet BTH Raiders had come to play and in the first 30 minutes created several chances. Cannon admitted his team “were on the back foot a little”. Yet his experienced team has been together for several years. And when the goals needed scoring, Ellen Wheatley stepped up.
She banged in two in the first half, and another 5 minutes from full time to claim her hat-trick, with Tiffany Patterson’s curled-in corner providing the other goal.
The first goal came in the 17th minute when Wheatley shot from outside the box on an angle and dipped the ball just under the crossbar. The other two were similar though she beat defenders on both occasions and rifled strikes home from just inside the 18-yard box.
The score at half-time was 2-0, after which Manly Allambie decided to sit deeper and let BTH come to them and their experienced backline.
“Our backline played very well and mopped up everything in the second half,” Cannon said. “We were confident we could get the job done, particularly after Tiffany curled her corner kick straight in. Ellen’s hat-trick in the final five minutes was the icing on the cake.”
Or in the case of the team, the pepperoni on the pizzas they enjoyed later at the Brookie Hotel.
BTH coach Andy Saunders paid tribute to both teams.
“We started really well and were extremely competitive for the first 30 minutes. We were probably unlucky not to score a goal or two. But credit to Manly Allambie, they’ve played together a long time and were the better team on the night. But I was delighted for our girls. We’re a completely new team and they enjoyed the experience.”
Saunders said best for his team were centre-back Izzy Keech who was “outstanding”, defensive midfielder Jazz Hill who “ran all night”, while “Chloe Higgins and Ella Barrington up front created so many opportunities and were unlucky not to score”.
“But it was more about the team,” Saunders said. “Everyone had a red hot crack. We’ll be better for it,” Saunders said.