Graham, Canberra FC’s Head Coach, made some changes to the starting team that were turned over by Olympic with defender Marcin Zygmunt and midfielder John Glass relegated to the bench as the visitors flooded the midfield and went with a three-man back line. Belconnen combated this approach with a fluid looking 4-4-2 with the Beaton brothers, Callum and Taylor, buzzing around in their industrious fashion and closing down the space afforded the quality of Adam Spaleta and the energetic Grbesa.
The Blue Devils gave notice that they were prepared to attack last season’s treble winners when leading scorer, and Rock Premier League Golden Boot, Dustin Wells flashed a low drive towards goal that Ben Klug did well to dive, full stretch, and push round the post for a corner. Unfortunately for the Belconnen supporters the usually influential Wells was superbly marshalled by young defenders Ryan Keir and Izach Clements who, alongside the more experienced Aidan Brunskill, restricted the former Hyundai A-League player to efforts from distance.
Shepherd in the Belconnen goal was by far the busier of the two ‘keepers though and did well to deny Ivan Pavlak when the speedy Canberra FC winger broke goal side of the Blue Devils defence and advanced on goal only to flick a tame right foot shot at the ‘keeper which Shepherd blocked with an outstretched foot. The same player flashed a drive across goal moments later before Wells tried his luck with a chip from range in response. Canberra FC struck a killer blow on the cusp of half-time with a brilliantly taken second goal. A swift counter attack saw Paul Ivanic flick a delightful pass over the Belconnen defence and into the path of the flying Stephen Lee. Lee connected with the ball just before Shepherd and slid it under the young stopper to give his team a crucial 2-0 cushion at the break.
It was Canberra FC that started the more positive in the second half with Adam Spaleta seeing a corner header off the line by Cameron Reinhart with Shepherd beaten before the Blue evils ‘keeper did magnificently to save from Ivanic when the tall striker collected a knock-down from Victor Yanes and thumped a venomous effort at goal. It was inevitable that a third goal would come and when Spaleta cut inside Elliot Zwangobani at the end of a lightning fast counter raid, seconds after Matt Valeri had seen a looped header cleared by Brunskill from under the cross bar, the Belconnen defender brought him down and left referee Luke WIthell with no option but to award a penalty. Ivanic stepped up to thrash home the resultant spot-kick and effectively send Canberra FC into the Grand Final.
Belconnen did get on the score sheet with nineteen minutes remaining when burly substitute Ryan Jones got the end of a neat flick and side-foot a composed finish past Klug, but it was a mere blip for Canberra FC who rounded out the match in style with the goal of the game. Man of the match Spaleta found himself with the ball on the edge of the area, spun and sent an audacious chip over Shepherd who could only watch in admiration, along with an appreciative crowd as the ball arced over his head and nestled into the net to send Canberra FC into the big showdown.
ACT Finals Series
Sunday 11th September 2011
Rock Premier League
(McKellar Park, kick off 17:00)
Belconnen United 1 (Ryan Jones 71’) Canberra FC 4 (Matt Grbesa 8’, Stephen Lee 43’, Paul Ivanic 62’ (pen), Adam Spaleta 90+2’)
Belconnen United: 1. Rohan Shepherd (gk), 2. Matt Valeri, 3. Dustin Wells, 4. Lee Pietrukowski, 5. Taylor Beaton, 6. Elliot Zwangobani, 7. Callum Beaton (17. Ryan Jones), 8. Cameron Reinhart (18. Jack Blackley), 10. Danny Macor, 12. Michael Reeve (15. David Arranz), 16. Zac Maybury
Canberra FC: 18. Ben Klug (gk), 4. Izach Clements, 6. Ryan Keir, 7. Paul Ivanic (9. Michael Spaleta), 10. Stephen Lee, 11. Ivan Pavlak, 12. Ian Graham, 16. Matt Grbesa (5. John Glass), 19. Adam Spaleta, 76. Aidan Brunskill, 99. Victor Yanes (23. Marcin Zygmunt)
Preliminary Final Results
Rock Premier League under-16
Woden Valley 3 (Thomas Zeitlhofer 51’, Daniel Lopera 82’, Marco Gayer 83’) Canberra City 2 (Nicholas Vecchi 25’, T. Vurak 43’)
Rock Premier League under-18
Woden Valley 3 (Josh Gregory 32’, Darcy Crosthwaite 34’, Sam Ossato 82’) Canberra Olympic 0
Rock Premier Pathway League
Canberra City 0 Cooma Tigers 1 (Callum Patterson)
ACT Finals Fixtures
ROCK PREMIER LEAGUE
Saturday 17th September
Kick off 17:00