Wee Waa United FC has progressed to its maiden Namoi Soccer League grand final after defeating Moree Services FC One 2-nil in the preliminary final on Saturday afternoon.
The match was played in Moree and the visitors started with a bang.
Within the first five minutes Wee Waa had scored a terrific goal through David Avery to take an early 1-nil advantage.
Wee Waa had a few chances to double its lead throughout the first half but Moree remained strong in defence.
The half time score remained 1-nil and the second half began with Wee Waa dominating proceedings.
However the visiting side could not find the final touch it needed to double its lead until late in the second half.
It was Jayden Hamblin who finally broke through for United after Dean Hamblins’s shot deflected into the path of Jayden who slid in to force the ball over.
Moree attempted to grind its way back into the match but Wee Waa kept a third consecutive clean sheet, two of which have come in the Namoi Soccer League finals series.
Wee Waa’s focus now shifts towards Narrabri FC and the United’s biggest match in recent memory.
Wee Waa captain Steve Phelps said his side was ecstatic with the result but said the team could have played even better.
“Happy enough to get a win but not overly happy with how we played,” he said.
“We had some glimpses of magic but at full strength we weren’t overly happy with how we all meshed together.
“After David Avery’s goal in the opening five minutes we lost a bit of shape and a bit of drive.”
Phelps said he was happy with his side’s recent defensive performances.
“It is one of the things we have prided ourselves on in the past season and a bit,” he said.
“Our attacking ability has always been good but we’ve always really needed a solid defensive line.
“We’ve had a really consistent defence for the past season and a bit.
“That is a big part of our game.”
Wee Waa United FC started picturing its grand final dream in the opening few minutes of the preliminary final against Moree One.
A long ball through from United’s midfield put Avery one-on-one with the Moree goalkeeper.
Avery, as he has done all season, stood up when his side needed him the most.
Avery slotted the ball past the helpless shot-stopper who could only watch as the ball rippled the back of the net to give the Wee Waa side a crucial 1-nil lead.
After scoring the opening goal Wee Waa continued to put the Moree defence under a tremendous amount of pressure.
An attempted corner clearance from a Moree defender bounced back off the crossbar towards Avery.
But the striker could not find the finish heading the ball well over the bar.
United’s dominance was so incredible it took 20 minutes for Moree to earn its first corner of the contest.
But as the momentum began to shift Moree should have brought the game back to level terms after a shot from the home side’s striker looked to be a certain goal.
But Nathan Hamblin positioned himself brilliantly on the goal line to clear the ball and save Wee Waa from conceding an equaliser.
Moree’s best chance ended the half with Wee Waa holding onto a slim 1-nil advantage.
The second half started with United pushing for their second goal of the contest.
A terrific give-and-go play between AJ Swansbra and Avery sent the latter into open pasture.
Avery bumped a Moree defender off the ball with a fair shoulder-to-shoulder challenge and crossed the ball towards the back post.
Awaiting a deep cross at the far post was Elise Vinson who had a good first touch but was unable to get a hold of her shot. The visitors were unrelenting in its pursuit of a second goal and it should have double its lead in the 60th minute.
Nathan Hamblin burst through the Moree’s defence and found himself one-on-one with Moree’s goalkeeper.
His first shot was too straight allowing the shot-stopper to parry the ball away.
The home side’s keeper then smothered Nathan Hamblin’s second attempt saving his side from a 2-nil deficit.
However soon after Wee Waa would eventually score its second goal of the contest.
Dean Hamblin found enough space on the right hand side of the goal to unleash a powerful shot.
The shot was deflected into the middle of the goal where three Moree defenders and Wee Waa’s Jayden Hamblin stood waiting.
It was Jayden Hamblin who reacted first, sprinting in towards the ball and forcing the ball over the line.
The goal gave Wee Waa a one goal bumper but the visiting side did not need it in the end.
United held strong in defence and shut Moree’s attack out for the remaining 15 minutes.
The result means that Wee Waa United FC will travel to Narrabri next weekend to take on Narrabri FC in the Namoi Soccer League grand final.
Wee Waa is yet to beat Narrabri FC in the league this season however the hosts have lost two consecutive grand finals.
United have not been scored against in the 2019 Namoi Soccer League series.
The last time Wee Waa had a goal scored against it was back in round 19 against grand final opponents Narrabri FC.