Wakehurst was leading CC Strikers 4-3 deep in injury time at Lionel Watts Oval on Saturday when Wakehurst’s goal-keeper conceded a penalty, while in possession.
Strikers striker Stef Foti duly converted to ice a game that Strikers coach Ryan Butcher described as “freakish”.
“I have never seen a game end like that. The Wakehurst keeper – who was in possession of the ball – fouled our player and Stef scored from the spot. It was a freak moment.
“We were fortunate to get a point. Wakehurst deserved to win,” Butcher said.
Wakehurst coach Paul Juergens agreed. “On balance I believe we deserved the win and I couldn’t be prouder of the determination, teamwork and belief the boys displayed. We played some great football on Saturday. Sometimes it doesn’t fall your way – that’s football,” Juergens said.
Strikers opened the scoring after 15 minutes before Wakehurst responded to lead 2-1 at half time. Strikers scored from a corner to level the scores in the 60th minute. Wakehurst went ahead 3-2 (70th minute), Strikers levelled again from a free kick (80th) before Wakehurst made it 4-3 in the 88th minute.
Juergens said his team “moved as one around the park, connected with each other, closed down quickly and provided options for their teammates on the ball”.
“We had four goals scored against us – two corners , one free kick and a penalty. So defending against the set piece is an obvious area of improvement.
“But all our players were excellent, it would be unfair to single anyone out. But special mention to young Gus Chipman who must’ve run half a marathon on the day.
“Overall I’m pleased with the effort against a very good team. CC Strikers are well coached and deserve to be where they are on the table. And we’ve shown over the last few weeks we should be higher up the table,” Juergens said.
Butcher agreed. “Wakehurst look to be flying and will be a handful in the second half of the season. They’re a very dangerous and hungry squad,” Butcher said.
Butcher didn’t nominate any of his team as standouts. “Although I thought our subs in the second half, Stef Foti and Sam Webber helped drive the energy of the team. Will Martin and Michael Morrison were good from the starting side. Aside from that, I don’t think we were allowed to hit our straps.
“While I was proud that we fought back three times and never gave up, it was not a good performance from the side. The truth is Wakehurst were excellent and dominated large portions of the game.
“Early in the year we were on the wrong end of a freakish result [a 3-2 loss to Curl Curl] and I think the tables turned in our favour on Saturday. Wakehurst deserved to win. But to win a competition you need some luck and we got that,” Butcher said.
In other games Pittwater RSL beat Manly Vale 4-1, Curl Curl got over Seaforth 3-0, BTH Raiders went down 3-0 to Brookvale, Narrabeen and Mosman had an entertaining 3-3 draw while Saint Augustine’s crushed Harbord 4-0.
By Matt Cleary