A dominant grand final win for our U18 JPL team over Tweed United capped off a triumphant and equally frustrating morning last weekend for the Eagles, bringing at least some relief to the Nerang camp shortly after the U16 boys came agonisingly close to causing the upset of the day over their Pacific Pines rivals and earlier our U13 Girls falling on the sword to Magic United. More photos below….
U16 DIV 2 vs Pacific Pines FC (2-3)
In what was the underdog story of the day, Nerang’s U16 Div2 Boys faced off against Premiers and final favourites, the undefeated Pacific Pines outfit, in what would be a final packed full of all the highs and lows any great final should represent.
A defensive first period saw Nerang on the back foot from the start, only to erupt mid-half with a stinging counter attack and net the game’s first goal, deflating the initial confidence of the Pacific Pines lads.
Despite the uphill battle, Nerang only solidified their position with another goal against the run of play int he second half to lead 2 nil all the way and heading towards the end of the game.
In what mirrored somewhat a Shakespearean tragedy of sorts, the boys had given it all and began top tire, opening a crack wide enough for Pacific Pines to finally find the net themselves with just over 10 minutes left in the game. The goal was the beginning of the end as the Pac Pines boys lifted and pushed forward, netting two more in short succession, sealing the game at 3-2 over Nerang with just a couple of minutes to go.
Coach Fred Stone lamented the loss but nonetheless applauded the outstanding efforts of his boys who rose to the occasion masterfully.
Absolutely galant effort from every player who exceeded all expectations on the day and certainly made everyone stand up and take notice. Well done lads, outstanding finish to the season!
U13 Girls vs Magic United (0-2) (coach’s report from Michael Opie)
The girls had a great season finishing 3rd by only won point, with 16 wins 3 loses and 2 draws, scoring 97 goals and only conceding 10 goals all year.
We were the youngest side in the under U13s, with nearly half our team eligible for U12s and Ruby who could still play under 11!
They girls fought hard in their first semi-final, beating a very defensive Robina City 1-0 and the following week saw us take a trip down to Kingscliff for the elimination semi.
Again we came away victors with a great goal from Kiara in the 2nd half of extra time sealing it for Nerang, allowing us to progress to the Grand Final against Magic.
Grand Final day was very warm early which, with only substitute, was going to make it difficult. We started well, but Magic were playing the better football and scored a goal part way through the first half, with Angelina getting her fingertips to the shot but just being unable to push it past the post.
The girls began to fight back in the 2nd half which was amazing to see. The Eagles regained their passing game and turned up the heat on Magic with some great 1-2 passing from Ruby and Mollie cutting through the Magic defence, but in the end we just were not able to convert.
Kiara had a couple of great free kicks shots from well outside the 18-yard box forcing the Magic Keeper into some goods saves … with only 10 minutes to go we changed formation to become more attacking but to no avail – Magic’s defence holding strong and with scoring another goal with 3 minutes to go.
The girls fought extremely hard and deserved to be in the Grand Final but the day just wasn’t to be ours … they will all be back next year as smarter and better players. A tremendous effort it is to make a grand final, let alone do it twice in two years.
Well done girls, you are all great young ladies and I look forward to what next year brings!
U18 JPL vs Tweed United (3-1)
It was never going to be an easy task for Tweed United coming up against the Eagles in this contest, however from the first whistle they poured on their best and made Nerang get straight down to work.
Undefeated for the last two seasons and only having lost 2 games in 3 years, the fluid squad of emerging talents from Nerang coming through the Academy of Football Australia program quickly showed just why they have earned their reputation as one of the most dominant youth football outfits in the history of football on the Gold Coast.
Despite a depleted squad (having lost a handful of players recently to overseas scholarships and pathways) the U18s put in the first goal and set the tone for the game, with constant ball movement, zeal for winning the ball and rapid plays through the wings and centre, making it difficult for Tweed to contain the attack.
Two more goals would follow including a wicked left foot volley strike from Max King which shook the back of the net before half time.
A free kick just outside Nerang’s box just before half time offered one of the only glimmers of hope for the Tweed side, with an exceptionally perfect strike skipping just past the fingers of Nerang’s keeper Riley White to find the top corner and put the score at 3-1 going into half time.
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The second half was a frustrating affair, with Nerang’s continued dominance of the game causing plenty of damage in the middle of the park but a lot of chances going unrealised through some hard work from the Tweed keeper and a some unlucky chances missed.
Comfortable winners, the U18s again cemented themselves at the top, winning every game they have played this year and only conceding two games in 3 years, both of those back in 2017.
An absolute credit to Academy mentor and director Gary Scott, coach Keith Garland and to the lads themselves who shown nothing but class and talent with everything they do.
Speaking after the game, team coach Keith Garland was proud of the boys achievements this year saying, “At the end of the day we lost 5 players to overseas, but what you do is you give young players opportunities to replace them, and to do what they’ve done today and to come out and win, deserve to win and win the double, not many teams can do that.
“It’s a credit to the boys, a credit to the AFA, to the Nerang club and to everybody involved.”