Bell Park’s defence of its Geelong Community Shield is in tatters after an opening night four-nil defeat by host club Geelong Rangers at Myers Reserve on Friday night. In the early game Deakin Ducks and Surfcoast played a one-all draw. Both games were in Group A of this year’s tournament.
The first half of the Bell Park-Rangers game was very even though Park, playing against the wind, had to defend in depth at times. Rangers young left winger Jak Banks was already showing his skills and speed, while Bell Park’s Liams, Page and Nelson, along with Frank Modica did a lot of hard work in midfield. After the break Rangers took control as the wind dropped. Mathew Humphries broke down the right and drove the ball across for Adrian Bate to finish from close range in the 40th minute. Nine minutes later Banks beat two men as he cut in from the left and drove the ball past Angelo di Mauro in the Bell Park goal. His second followed soon after as Noah Baker and he combined to leave the keeper exposed. Jordan Swaney completed the rout with a decisive shot from close range after holding off two challenges.
Deakin Ducks made their debut in the competition but found it hard going against Surfcoast. There were no goals in the opening half, but immediately after the break Surfcoast’s Liam Dunn came charging down the right and cut in to beat keeper Brenton Walker on his near post. Deakin nearly went further behind when Dunn fired over a cross-shot and in trying to defend it Ipy Killimbe deflected the ball on to his own cross-bar and away, while the follow up by Noah Trickett was blocked. Gradually Deakin began to turn the screws and a series of attacks had the Surfcoast defence stretched but it was not till three minutes from time that the equalising goal came. Sam Gower forced the ball under keeper Joel Gawne to bring his side level.
For the first time since the Geelong Advertiser Cup began in 1981 North Geelong did not field a team. In recent seasons it has put out its youth team which has been good for the youngsters taking part and for the competition as a whole. While their absence probably opens up the tournament a little and allows new team to take part, it is not good for the collective ethos of the exercise that was always intended to give the top local clubs a flying start to league competition through quality match practice.
The tournament continues on Sunday night at 6 pm when Group B teams take the field. Golden Plains, another new entry, meets Lara. At 7.20 pm it is Corio versus Geelong, as two of the tournament’s regular heavyweights clash once again.