BALLARAT Red Devils missed out on a piece of silver to brighten an otherwise bleak season in the FFV Regional Challenge Trophy against Cobram on Sunday.
Having conceded the first two goals of the match within eight minutes at the Melbourne Knights Stadium, it was always going to be an uphill battle for the Haymes Red Devils.
However, they showed a lot of character early in the game to level the score at 2-2 after 18 minutes, with an incredible four goals split between the two sides in the opening stanza.
Ballarat awoke from their slumber and not a moment too soon on 12 minutes Dom Swinton skipped past a couple of Cobram defenders and his drive from the edge of the box brought a wonderful save from Victory keeper Lyall Beazley.
But the Reds only had to wait a minute later before they scored.
Stefan Nigro received a pass from Liam Harding and weaved his way through a crowd of players on an agile run before getting into the box and firing low past Beazely.
Amazingly Ballarat were back level on 18 minutes when Swinton beat the off-side trap this time from a great Nigro through ball and one-on-one with Beazely he coolly passed the ball home.
With a further two shots from Liam Harding and Will Georgiou sailing just wide for the Reds, they were soon getting on top of the game.
Ballarat looked to have taken the lead when Ryo Kyoto volleyed home from 10 yards, but a late linesman’s flag stopped the celebrations.
In an end-to-end clash, something had to give and it was Cobram who scored on 41 minutes after soaking up plenty of Ballarat pressure.
“The first half was just some great attacking football,” said Reds coach Sinisa Cohadzic.
“You could be critical of the defending of both teams, but it really was more to do with some excellent players on both sides up front and in the midfield and even as a coach it was great to watch.”
In a frenzied start to the second half, it was opposition coach Craig Carley that scored to put his side 4-2 in front.
Ballarat battled to the end but could not find a third goal, with Cobram claiming their second country cup in three years.
The regional challenge final is held between the two country sides that advanced the most in the FFV state knockout cup.
“We went into the match to play an attacking brand of football and that is what boys did,” Cohadzic said.
“I am proud of our players and I thought that we played well and had lots of chances to score but it was not to be as it was the case all year.”
- Saturday’s edition of The Courier stated this match was to be played on Saturday, when it was actually played on Sunday. The Courier apologises for the mistake.