Redbacks end lengthy premiership drought

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2019 LGSHA men’s A-grade premiers North Albany.
Camera Icon2019 LGSHA men’s A-grade premiers North Albany. Credit: Laurie Benson

North Albany’s premiership drought is officially over after two classy finishes on goal ensured they claimed a first men’s A-grade title since 2006 in the Albany Retravision Lower Great Southern Hockey Association, downing Spencer Park-Tigers on Saturday night.

It took less than five minutes for Redbacks to open the scoring through Ashley Eikelboom and that was followed by a third-quarter field goal from exciting youngster Pieter Coetzee.

The two-goal margin at three-quarter-time was significant and despite the best efforts of Spencer Park-Tigers to wrestle back control in the enthralling final term, the early damage helped Redbacks break a 13-year premiership drought.

Coetzee was named best on ground in the Redbacks’ triumph as they prevailed 2-1, Spencer Park-Tigers scoring the only goal in a tense final 15 minutes.

North Albany's Pieter Coetzee gets past Spencer Park-Tigers' Liam Wesson.
Camera IconNorth Albany's Pieter Coetzee gets past Spencer Park-Tigers' Liam Wesson. Credit: Laurie Benson

Spencer Park-Tigers won five penalty corners, but their only conversion came in the fourth of the stick of Tim Yap.

A searing run from playmaker Sam Want led to Spencer Park-Tigers earning an penalty corner a couple of minutes into the fourth and Yap converted to give his side some hope.

Redbacks won two penalty corners of their own and continued to attack though, as they failed to give their opponents a chance to equalise in the dying minutes.

A diving Eikelboom netted the first Redbacks goal with their first foray forward after keeper Antony Payne was drawn off his line.

North Albany's Tom Dinneen saves a Spencer Park-Tigers shot on goal.
Camera IconNorth Albany's Tom Dinneen saves a Spencer Park-Tigers shot on goal. Credit: Laurie Benson

Payne denied Redbacks a second goal on the stroke of half-time and in the third quarter it was his opposite number in Tom Dinneen who stood tall.

Dinneen was superb in goals for Redbacks, denying three penalty corners and stopping a couple of Spencer Park-Tigers’ fast breaks dead in their tracks.

Jarah McLennan was twice sent off in the third term for Spencer Park-Tigers and Redbacks capitalised, Dinneen saving a shot at one end which led to Coetzee slamming home a clever goal at the other end.

Redbacks were best served by Coetzee, Dinneen and the experienced Toby Tweddle while Travis Douglas worked tirelessly in the middle.

Coach Dan Smith said it was a superb result, winning their first title since 2006.

Spencer Park's Hennie Botha gets clear of North Albany's Simon Philpott.
Camera IconSpencer Park's Hennie Botha gets clear of North Albany's Simon Philpott. Credit: Laurie Benson

“One we were relieved and ecstatic also,” Smith said.

“We thought the whole team played their role and we were strong across the park.

“It was very enjoyable for us, caps off a bit of hard work and we’ve got a great bunch of guys.”

Spencer Park-Tigers were well served by Want and Oscar Latham in the middle, the pair providing constant drive into attack.

Jack Dawson was dangerous up front and the work of Yap and goalie Antony Payne helped keep their side in the game for long periods.

Captain Sam Brown said Redbacks’ finishing proved the difference. “We probably didn’t play to our potential, he said. “We were a bit sloppy with our skills and didn’t execute in front of goals.

“We knew their strength was in the midfield and when we did turn it over, they have good goal scorers in Ash and Pete who are dangerous and they made us pay.”

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