From goals galore to red card chaos; the Namoi Soccer League qualifying final had it all.
Seven goals were scored and six red cards were handed out in Narrabri FC’s 4-3 win against Moree Services FC One at Hogan Oval.
The home side looked destined to obliterate the travelling team after leading 4-nil at the end of the first half.
However the tide quickly and dramatically changed, almost sweeping away Narrabri FC’s home grand final dreams.
Moree struck back with two goals early on in the second half before a red card catastrophe occurred.
Three Narrabri players and three Moree players were sent off after a coming together between most players on the field seemed to spark from thin air.
Five minutes later the referee had another crucial decision to make as he deemed a Moree player to be taken down inside Narrabri’s 18-yard box.
Moree converted the subsequent penalty with eight minutes left to play to make the score 4-3.
But the home side held on with the eight players it had left.
Narrabri will now take on the winner of the preliminary final which will be fought out between Wee Waa United FC and Moree One.
Wee Waa secured its spot in the qualifying final after a 3-nil win over Moree Services FC Two on Saturday at Cook Oval. Tom Gavin kick-started the host’s win before AJ Swansbra scored two goals to secure Wee Waa’s first finals victory in the past three seasons.
In the qualifying final between Narrabri FC and Moree One the home side began on the right foot.
Five minutes into the contest Nathan Trindall scored the opening goal after he continued a barnstorming run from centre-back to smash the ball on the half-volley into the back of the net.
Moree lifted after the opening goal and held strong for 20 minutes.
The visitors could have been level but Narrabri’s captain and goalkeeper Zaac Brayshaw made a great save to deny Moree an equaliser.
On the 27-minute mark an awkward bouncing corner was not cleared by the Moree defence.
The ball instead bounced to Narrabri striker Blake Jarrett who struck the ball sweetly, watching it rocket into the back of the net to double his side’s advantage.
Seven minutes later Narrabri would have its third which was scored by Colby Williams.
A ball from the backline put Williams through one-on-one with Moree’s goalkeeper.
Williams had the skill and where-with-all to lob the ball over the shot-stoppers head, scoring a wonderfully taken goal.
With less than one minute remaining in the half the home side would score its fourth goal.
Cooper Brayshaw whipped in a free kick from the right edge which travelled swiftly towards the front post.
Cooper’s brother Jake Brayshaw attempted to flick the ball into the goals with a header but the ball travelled into the goal untouched by a Moree or Narrabri player.
The fourth goal of the half finished the first stanza and set Narrabri up for what seemed a certain home grand final.
But the second half almost flipped everything on its head.
Moree made its intentions clear when it smashed a free kick off the crossbar early on in the second stanza.
In the 66th minute the visitors struck and just five minutes later Moree had its second of the afternoon.
After the second goal, Narrabri was forced to react and it almost did in the best way.
Jarrett flicked a header into the path of Cooper Brayshaw who ran into a one-on-one situation.
But the midfielder could not double his tally for the game as the Moree goalkeeper made a terrific save to keep his side in the contest.
It was then five minutes later that the most shocking part of the contest occurred.
The two sides came together in a mass of players arguing between each other over what was a minimal incident.
After the fiery coming together, the referee handed Narrabri’s Jarrett, Trindall and Zac Lauritsen a red card each for their involvement in the incident.
Three Moree players were also sent off after the event.
The game resumed with just 16 players on the field and it was Moree that almost made its make to secure a miracle comeback.
The visitors earned and scored a penalty with eight minutes to go.
But Narrabri held on and secured its third consecutive home grand final which it will host on September 21.