Jaffas in to NNSW State League grand final: photos
LAMBTON Jaffas will look to the class and fresh legs of Jobe Wheelhouse to help them overcome a gruelling play-off campaign when they take on Broadmeadow Magic in the Northern NSW State League grand final on Sunday.
The competition newcomers qualified for the decider with a second penalty shoot-out win over Hamilton in three weeks on Saturday at Edden Oval.
Goalkeeper Danny Ireland again stood tall for the Jaffas, saving a penalty in the first minute of extra time then stopping two strikes in the shoot-out for a 4-2 win after a 1-all draw after 120 minutes of play.
Ireland made saves off Joel Grenell and Matt Swan in the shoot-out then Riley McNaughton buried the clincher for the Jaffas, who lost 4-0 to Magic two weeks ago.
Lambton will enter the decider battered and bruised and possibly without Abe Wheelhouse, who was carried from the pitch with an ankle injury in the 58th minute on Saturday. He has been cleared of a break and will be assessed by a physiotherapist this morning but must be long odds to recover in time.
Barring training mishaps, Magic will be at full strength for the decider and fresh after playing only once in the month-long finals series.
The positive for the Jaffas is that former Jets skipper Wheelhouse will be back after serving a two-game suspension.
Coach David Tanchevski, who has also finished a two-match ban, said Wheelhouse’s return would be a huge boost.
‘‘We’ll have a week to recover, and we’ll have only a light session on Tuesday, but playing 120 minutes twice in two weeks will probably take its toll,’’ Tanchevski said.
‘‘But Jobe will be fresh, and he’ll bring a lot back into the team as well.’’
The win on penalties on Saturday was deserved given the Jaffas created the vast majority of chances, especially in the first half. They went ahead in the 10th minute when John Majurovski scored a penalty after going down in the box in a challenge from Greg Anderson.
Only Hamilton goalkeeper Brad Swancott prevented the Jaffas from going further ahead. Swancott made several scrambling saves to deny the Jaffas, who were made to pay for their poor finishing when Mason Campbell scored in the second minute of injury time.
Olympic were missing key attacker David Hodgson and Andrew Swan, but coach Michael Bolch said there were no excuses.
‘‘I thought they were better. Especially in the first half, they were a lot better,’’ Bolch said.
‘‘We got into the game the longer it went.
‘‘It’s disappointing missing that penalty during the game, we could have wrapped it up.
‘‘You go to penalties and they’ve got a very good goalkeeper.
‘‘But to me it was a scrappy game and I don’t think either team would match Magic going off what I saw out there today.
‘‘But there was a lot of bouncing balls and it was a terrible surface.
‘‘Joel Grenell and Harry Maguire did well for us when they came on, but we were a bit flat up front.’’
HOT SHOTS: Danny Ireland is swamped by teammates as the Jaffas got through to the grand final on Saturday. Pictures: Simone De Peak