Mareeba bulls were full of confidence going into the Youth Grand Final on Saturday at Endeavour Park Cairns, up against their counterparts from Innisfail.
It was Innisfail who made the most of the first half with striker Ivan Ozzi scoring the opening goal after a breakaway down the left wing left Bulls Keeper Josh Leporati exposed for him to put in a floaty which sailed over his head and into the right hand corner of the net.
The teams went to the dressing rooms with Innisfail 1-0 up.
The Bulls came out fighting in the second half and once they settled were soon on the score board when John Bambino struck a bullet to even the scores.
The match then settled into a battle of the midfield as both teams battled to get the upper hand. Neither team was able to take advantage of each other’s tiredness but both teams gave their all for their club.
Three minutes in Innisfail capitalized on a bull’s defensive error and scored a creamer through Ivan Ozzi giving Innisfail a 2-1 lead. It was short lived a Mareeba Struck back immediately again through John Gambino.
The match went in to extra time and it was the Bulls who took the lead through Milan Quintieri after just five minutes. The bulls seemed to have done enough but it wasn’t to be as Ivan Ozzi scored his hat trick to even the score two minutes from time.
The lottery of a penalty shootout loomed and it was the Innisfail keeper Elliot Ferguson who saved the only penalty of the shootout to give the Innisfail Cutters the grand final after a 3-3 draw in normal time and 5-4 on penalties.
After the match Coach Luch Avoilio said he was disappointed with the loss but not with the way the boys played. “They gave 200%, the hot and windy conditions were no excuse and the teams were very evenly matched, we look forward to next year.
Innisfail Coach Marc Di Carlo said “It was great to see the two country teams in the final, neither deserved to lose but there has to be a winner, both teams played a tremendous game it’s a credit to our boys as this is the third time in a row that the youth have won the Grand final”.