It was always going to be a tall order to take on the Gold Coast Knights at their home ground and secure a win. Despite going four goals down and losing our goalkeeper to a nasty 50/50 challenge, the Eagles came within an inch or two of equalising late in the game.
There’s no doubt that on paper, the Knights had the numbers as they hit the ground on Sunday afternoon with all the experience of a seasoned men’s football side, but that did little to take away from the enthusiasm of the young Eagles team as they met the challenge with high-energy and optimism.
Nerang were unlucky not to put a couple of goals in early if not for some good goalkeeping and the Knights’ woodwork cruelly denying a near-perfectly executed free kick shot
That optimism was tested early however as the Knights played well, slowing the game and dominating much of the play with wide football, structured passing and good shape which eventually delivered them a series of well-deserved goals.
Nerang was unlucky after a first-half free kick from just outside the Knights box was hit perfectly, cutting the air and leaving their keeper with no chance, only to be denied by the top corner of the woodwork.
Early in the second half, Nerang goalkeeper Joel came out with pace towards a 50/50 challenge at the edge of his box, colliding nastily with the Knights attacker whilst airbourne and impacting heavily. The cracking sound of the clash sent the crowd silent as Joel was attended to, eventually being stretchered from the field to an ambulance.
This image does little to show the impact of Joel’s challenge as just split-seconds earlier the pair were in the air at high speed, colliding heavily just outside the 18-yard box. The Knights number 9 player was able to stumble to his feet however our keeper needed attention, coming off second best
Scans revealed no major injury or fractures however Joel did sustain whiplash and a neck sprain, as well as some mild concussion – wishing a speedy recovery and we’ll see him back in a couple of weeks.
Sam took the job as keeper in the interim, however by two thirds into the game it looked all but over with the Knights bagging four goals.
With less than 15 minutes to go, the fitness of our team began to show and a flurry of goals ensued. Two precision bottom-corner shots hit their net and before you could blink we were in again with another one knocked in, setting the stage for an equaliser to upset the match.
In stoppage time and with just 4 minutes left, a rolling and bouncing ball across – just outside their 6-yard box – was struck with force by Nerang, rocketing over the Knights’ keeper’s hand only to hit the underside of the crossbar and bounce forward, denying Nerang their comeback.
And with that shot, the match became a game of inches as our almost certain equaliser hit the underside of the crossbar ferociously, bouncing out and away from the goal and a subsequent follow-up shot going agonisingly close, slipping just left of the post and away for a goal kick
With that, the Knights wisely took the ball to the opposing corner and played out a non-eventful couple of minutes to end the match 4 – 3 in their favour.
A vastly impressive game to watch from both sides and the Knights, deserved winners despite the late rally from the Eagles.
Next week, we’re at home to Tweed Heads on Saturday in what should be a fantastic game.