CROWNING GLORY: The United men's team made a dramatic comeback to be crowned champions in 2019 after a 3-2 win over Ballandean.
CROWNING GLORY: The United men's team made a dramatic comeback to be crowned champions in 2019 after a 3-2 win over Ballandean. Julie-Ann Spiller

United men reign supreme while Rovers claim ladies win

SATURDAY threw up a classic match that won't be forgotten for some years.

Stanthorpe United men's side retained their champions trophy, but 10 minutes before full-time it looked impossible.

Heading into the A-grade grand final clash, United were slight favourites, however, Ballandean had upset Stanthorpe City in the preliminary final and had form on their side.

With hundreds watching on, both teams tried to ease their way into the encounter. It was up and back, side to side, with neither defence giving an inch to their opposition.

As the clock wound down to the 30-minute mark, United struck the first blow. A cross was swung in and met by fullback Josh Musumeci, who managed to head it goalward and onto the head of Jared Crisp who found the net.

Despite their 1-nil lead heading into the break, United looked far from comfortable.

Ballandean came out guns blazing in the second half as their supporters rallied behind them.

When Bradley Knight was pulled down outside the box, Rovers striker Ben Rametta stepped up and curled a free-kick past United's Josh Crestani.

Play swung in favour of Ballandean, who soon had a 2-1 lead after a cross was met by Bradley Knight, whose deflected shot put them in front.

But Ballandean knew they could never relax with a determined United side desperate to send out veteran coach Steve McEvoy on a winning note.

Ten minutes from time Liam Hitchener found himself one on one with the goalkeeper and calmly slotted home to make it 2-2.

With less than five to go, United won a corner. Captain George Merritt swung in a wicked ball with Hitchener able to get in front of the keeper and send it goal bound for his brace.

Ballandean tried to mount a couple of last ditch efforts but it was to be United's day.

The Ballandean ladies celebrate their gutsy extra time victory over Tenterfield.
The Ballandean ladies celebrate their gutsy extra time victory over Tenterfield. Julie-Ann Spiller

Earlier that morning and Inter Club's fillies' side treated grand final day like any other at the office.

The girls in yellow have been dominant all year and Saturday proved no different as they claimed the title with a 3-1 win.

Best on ground for Inter was player of the match Almari Botha, as well as Shania Politch and Addison Swan.

For Carlton, Alexandra Giamettei, Bridget Day and Jacinta Weston all shone despite the loss.

Stanthorpe United delivered Stanthorpe City's only loss of the season when they ran out upset winners 2-0 in the major semi-final.

The way the half started, United looked good for another win.

The young Redbacks looked hungry, while City showed intent with several scoring opportunities.

By full-time, nobody had managed a goal, forcing things into extra time.

The first half of extra time see-sawed from end to end, with no team able to score.

With only a couple of minutes to go it was looking like the game would be decided by a penalty shoot-out.

But when City's Coen Cook pounced on a loose ball near the goal, he grabbed the only goal of a long battle and secured the title for his side.

Tom Harvey was named player of the match.

Rolling into the senior colts and the competition's two strongest outfits were set to go head-to-head.

Ballandean and City both started hesitantly, just looking to hold defensive structures.

City looked to capitalise on a stiff breeze at their backs and opened the scoring when a well-placed free kick was fumbled by Ballandean's keeper to be slotted home by Josh Carlson.

Soon after, Ballandean's Dan Grogan pulled back an equaliser after a goal-mouth scramble.

The intensity lifted after half-time, with both teams looking to break the deadlock.

The winner eventually came for Nathan Fermor, who finished off some great lead-up play from Byron Whitaker.

City pushed hard with minutes remaining but couldn't find the equaliser, which gave Ballandean a deserved 2-1 win.

Ballandean's ladies walked onto the pitch on grand final day having gone all season unbeaten.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Tenterfield sat last place for much of the year and pulled off a miracle in the remaining weeks to get into the final.

Their luck kept coming when they opened the scoring in the second half.

With an upset on the cards, it was going to take something special to get Ballandean back in the game.

Up stepped Sarah Day. A mistake in front of the goal saw her beat two defenders and bury a shot to make it 1-all.

Tenterfield had a couple of late chances but neither side could be split as play moved into extra time.

With five minutes of extra time one the clock, Day again pulled something from her locker to put Ballandean 2-1 in front.

With the game theirs, Ballandean put numbers behind the ball and defended solidly for the last 10 minutes.

They were able to keep their unbeaten season intact and lift the 2019 ladies' trophy.

Stanthorpe Border Post

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