It was another long trek as our do or die match against Ashburton United Soccer Club was hosted at the neutral Altona Magic grounds, but for those who went, it was worth the drive.
The first half was spent trying to manage the width of the field, with Jake Buckley and Chris Duncan, eager to user their speed against Ashburton's backline. With half of the first gone, your Citizens found themselves down after a bad clearance gifted Ashburton a 0-1 lead from a scramble just beyond the penalty spot. From that point, our opposition looked to drop back in an early attempt to park the bus and absorb the pressure, which CCFC began to pile on, looking for an equalizer.
The second half started out as the first had ended with Ashburton dropping to a lone striker and inviting pressure from any player wishing to push forward. With our pressure came silly fouls as we saw several Citizens hacked down in various parts of the field. Duncan looked at one point to have been elbowed in the head as he was taken down, but only a yellow card was produced. We saw a series of corner kicks that Nick Tzevakos and Craig Tweedy interchanged but could not find the goal we needed.
Adam Gallo and Captain Dan Quinn linked up down the left side from some brilliant individual skills and we broke the deadlock. Both players ended up casually sliding the ball between the legs of the same defender before Quinn got the ball to the touchline and drove for goal. Our midfield had pressed up and Quinn picked out Marc Gavigan in the box, who let the ball come across his body before slotting home his first goal as a Senior player, and what a time he picked to score!
From that point, the tide turned squarely in our favour. The next five minutes began an all out assault in order to find our second as a stunned Ashburton were forced to switch tactics to get the lead back. Our defense came up big to stop players squarely outside the box to allow Christoph Acshenick the chance to collect shots only coming directly at him, making it easier on him and our fans.
Gavigan would then pick the ball up in our half and spy the run of Quinn. Turning provider now, he lofted an amazing ball to the captain who calmly controlled it and sent the keeper the wrong way, as we took the lead. Coach Bates made tactical changes with ten minutes of regular play left as our defense was shored up against Ashburton's last ditch efforts. The calm heads of our players prevailed with several runs resulting in chances to once again be one on one with the keeper, or in Adam Kweifio-Okai, having caught out the defense when the keeper had been sent up in the hopes of winning a corner kick header.
Mercifully, stoppage time ended and your Citizens are now in State 3 South-East, our first promotion in ten years!
A big thanks needs to be given to Coach Richard Bates who took on the Senior Coaching role this year for getting us to where we are, Ross Evans for being his assistant coach, filling in as needed, and Rich Garnett who was there to warm up every keeper for both the seniors and reserves matches.
The club would be remiss if we did not thank the players of both squads who trained and trekked across the eastern suburbs to see us in a position to make the playoffs as well as win them! We hope to see you all in Collingwood City colours next season!
Thank you to Richmond's Biggin and Scott for your support this year, we hope we made you proud!