Host club Geelong Rangers ensured qualification for the finals of the Goforyourlife Cup, sponsored by the Victorian government, at Myers Reserve on Friday night. Provisional League club Surfcoast held Rangers scoreless in the first half despite playing against a strong wind on a very bumpy pitch. Sixteen minutes into the second period Rangers got a free kick on the edge of the area and young keeper Barry Schroeter will have learned a lesson, when he only put four men in the wall then took up position behind it and virtually invited Scott Davison to fire the ball into about a quarter of the goal, which he promptly did. Six minutes later James Blackburn and substitute Juma Wade combined to allow another substitute Alister Smart to spring the offside trap for his second goal in successive matches. A Blackburn cross was flicked on by young Smart for Davison to nod home his second and Rangers’ third in 63 minutes. Surfcoast looked lively in the first half with Rorie Flanagan and Billy Bunce stretching Rangers on occasions, but the team fell away after the interval.
In the early match Bell Park took command early on against the combined side from the Geelong Regional Football Association and the fourth member of the Nelson clan, Liam, took advantage of a back-heel by Eric Lawrence to put his side ahead after only five minutes. When Rodney Antoine looped a first-timer over GRFA keeper Adam Ball a minute after half-time it appeared that Bell Park would cruise to an easy win. But Charles Fitzpatrick’s GRFA side led by the perpetual motion machine Luke Delmo went on the rampage. Substitute Jordan Nelson sent over a cross from the right and it was flicked on for Delmo, whose flying header gave Joe Fiala no chance. That was in 43 minutes and four minutes later the Sunday leaguers were level as Delmo chased a loose ball, gathered it, rounded his man and drove home the equaliser. Ian McTavish had a chance to put the GRFA ahead but shot just wide, while Park also had opportunities but the match ended in a two-all draw.
On Sunday the Geelong branch of the referees’ association donated $350 to the bushfire appeal, adding to the gate takings from last week’s round of matches.
The Go-for-your-Life Cup, sponsored by the Victorian government, kicked off in Geelong on Friday night with two intense but ultimately scoreless games.
The combined side from the Geelong Regional Football Association held Corio, while Provisional League Division Three team Surfcoast upset North Geelong, who play in Division Two of the State League. All teams gave starts to a number of young players as they tried to find out what talent they will have at their disposal for the upcoming league campaigns. But the GRFA bridged the ages by having three generations of the Nelson family in their squad. Seventy-year old evegreen Everett Nelson was back-up keeper, while son Darren came on for the last half-hour and grandson Jordan played an excellent full game for the Sunday leaguers.
GRFA coach Charles Fitzpatrick was surprised when a number of the players who have trained with the squad over the summer dropped out at the last minute and he had to draft in replacements. But those who took the field did not let him down, creating a number of chances and clearing their lines effectively most of the time in the face of Corio’s attacking threats led by Nigel Madzikander with Steve Luczo powering in headers as he came up from defence for set pieces. Pero Prodanovic’s skills stood out in the sometimes frantic midfield action.
In the second match it was expected that North’s youngsters marshalled by Michael Radojevic would be too strong for Surfcoast but in fact the latter had the better of the play for substantial periods. Billy Bunce had three efforts which flew over the crossbar, Jack Taylor was a constant threat in midfield and Ian Crane should have sealed the points with a late run through a North defence weakened by the sending off of Andrew Diantino for his second yellow card. Referee Mitko Nikolovski allowed the game to flow, permitting a number of strong challenges to go unchecked. Marko Devcic had North’s best attempt with a fierce free kick which was just tipped over by the outstanding Barry Schroeter. Former Surfcoast keeper, Tom Dunn had an excellent debut game for North, including the last minute stop to deny Crane.
On Sunday night the games were overshadowed by the news of the devastating bushfires and the organising committee followed the precedent of Ash Wednesday 1983 by donating the gate takings to the support of those who suffered on this occasion.
In the early game, tournament host Geelong Rangers overwhelmed a youthful Hoppers Crossing team by six goals to nil. Jumo Wade opened the scoring in the ninth minute. Tournament all time top scorer Troy Hardy made it two five minutes later then forced Hoppers’ defender Chris Harding into conceding an own goal shortly afterwards. James Blackburn powered through for the fourth goal and Alister Smart, one of Ken Smart’s two sons in the Rangers line-up got the fifth just after coming on at half-time. David Ellis came up from the back to head home the sixth in 54 minutes.
The second match saw the upset of the tournament so far when Bell Park from Division Two of the Provisional League swept Geelong aside by two goals to nil. The first was a free kick driven in by former North Geelong player Marinko Pausak, and then Eric Lawrence turned his defender and thundered a shot across keeper Alec Kitanovski into the top corner. Jasmin Ikanovic had several shots on target for Geelong but found veteran keeper Joe Fiala unbeatable on the night.