No one could have scripted a better finale for the last round of NPL Northern NSW. First taking on second to decide who would be crowned 2014 Premiers.
Entering Round 18, second placed Weston Workers knew only maximum points against top of the table Newcastle Jets Youth would be good enough to snatch the Premiers tag, while the youngsters from the Jets a draw would be enough thanks to the two point buffer they took into the final round. The stage was set for a last round showdown.
With so much on the line, the match started in typically intense fashion, and depite both teams’ commitment to play attacking football, neither side could manage to break the deadlock in the opening 45 minutes.
But less than 90 seconds from the resumption the Rockwell Automation Park crowd erupted as Carl Thornton headed Weston into the lead.
The home side had looked dangerous from Nathan Morris set pieces and one finally came off as his corner from the left hand side found Thornton who drove a header past Hartnett in the Jets goal.
Later in the half Nick Cowburn curled in a stunning free kick from distance, however the goal was disallowed after the goalkeeper was ruled to have been fouled.
Holding onto their advantage with less than ten minutes remaining, the Bears were on their way to a famous victory. But games of this importance often throw up late drama and so it would prove again as Tom Whiteside equalised for Newcastle Jets Youth, throwing his boot towards a loose ball after Tim Pratt had initially saved a Reece Papas free kick that was destined for the top left hand corner.
Whiteside and his teammates celebrated their joy, aware that they were moments away from becoming Premiers.
Weston surged forward in the dying stages in search of a winner but time beat them as the full time whistle sounded with the sides locked at one apiece. The Jets had done it. In just their third season they were the NPL Premiers.
While it was heartbreak for Weston, it was not all doom and gloom as they qualified as Northern NSW Football’s entrants in the upcoming NPL Finals Series due to the stipulation that no youth team from any of the Hyundai A-League clubs are eligible to participate in the end of season eight team showcase.
Weston Workers 1
Newcastle Jets Youth 1
Saturday 9 August 2014
Rockwell Automation Park