Golden Plains shock Rangers to gain place in Geelong Cup final
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In probably the biggest upset in the long history of the Geelong pre-season Cup, newcomers Golden Plains downed host and joint tournament favourite Geelong Rangers by a goal to nil to reach the final where they will meet Corio next Sunday. Corio came from behind to beat Bell Park by four goals to two in the other semi-final. Corio has lost the last five finals in succession, but if the club thinks they are sure to lift the trophy in 2017 they had better learn from what happened on Sunday night.
Golden Plains played a disciplined first half, packing the midfield and defence and relying on the odd breakaway to lift the pressure. Lucas Bonifacio of Golden Plains split the Rangers defence in the second last minute of the first half, but the grounder was saved by keeper Hayden van der Chys.
At half-time, long time Rangersâ€™ president Paul Millar expected Rangers to run over their opposition as they had done in all the previous second halves in this yearâ€™s cup, but though the Dark Blues had nearly all the possession they could not convert that into a goal.
On the hour mark Golden Plains got a free kick a few metres outside the Rangers penalty area and slightly left of centre. Andrew Longo, formerly of Bell Park, has scored some cracking goals from distance in his career but none better than this swerving effort which flew into the top left hand corner of the goal.
Rangers still had plenty of time to get on terms and they peppered the goal for much of that time finding Hamish Flavell quite unbeatable until the very last minute. Stefan Bisinella of Golden Plains tripped Ryan Calder on the edge of the box. Jordan Swaney, who had a quieter game than usual, stepped up to take the kick, but it clipped the cross-bar and with it went Rangersâ€™ chance of saving the game.
In the early game Bell Park went behind after only seven minutes when following Corioâ€™s corner from the left defender Ronnie Clayson was celebrating as if he had scored, but the last touch was probably by Josh Berta of Bell Park. Four minutes later and Corio were level. Once again a corner kick was involved and big Mijo Marinovic jumped for the ball and though he missed his header the ball went in off his shoulder.
Bell Park took the lead again in the 25th minute. This time Daniel Grozdanovski was given the freedom of the park and he ran through to beat the unprotected Adam Kumcevski. Three minutes of injury time had been played at the end of the first half when Elton Savice picked up a cross from the right and cut in to finish sweetly and put Corio level once again. The second half saw Corio gradually gain supremacy. Michael Boyar set up Jasmin Ikanovic for a shot which curled round the keeper in the 52nd minute. In the 70th a good cross from the right was met by substitute Vedran Stojanovic with a precise near post header to make it four-two to Corio.
The match for third place will take place next Sunday at 4 pm between Geelong Rangers and Bell Park and the grand final will follow at 6 pm as Corio takes on surprise packet Golden Plains. The Bannockburn club will go into the match full of confidence, determined that the fairy tale is not yet over.