WEST Griffith’s brave run to the Football NSW Champion of Champions final has come to an end at the last hurdle.
The Magpies under 18s fell 3-0 yesterday to State Cup champions Wakehurst FC in nightmare conditions at Cromer Park in Sydney.
The effects of three road trips to the state capital in the space of one month clearly caught up with Wests, as they went 1-0 down around half-an-hour into the contest before Wakehurst killed off the match in the second half.
Club president Steve Perlowski said he was “immensely proud” of what his youngsters achieved in the prestigious tournament.
“For these boys to have gotten as far as they did is a fantastic effort,” he said.
“The team we played actually won the State Cup so they weren’t exactly a weak side. It was a huge effort but everything was against us. They tried their hardest but they were all basically out on their feet.
“But we’ll move forward and build on this – we’ll keep the majority of these boys together next year so they’ll be back.”
Wests were dealt a double blow before the match had even started – coach Frank Portolesi did not make the trip due to family commitments, leaving the duties to Sharif Moursi, while the loss of the pre-match coin toss meant Wakehurst had the early advantage of a howling wind.
“It was about 30-32 degrees, as well. The boys were running into the wind and were complaining they couldn’t breathe because it was hot air going straight down their throats,” Perlowski said.
“We competed on par or even above them – we had more possession in the first 20 or 30 minutes but the boys just ran out of steam.
“They let in a soft goal – it was anyone’s ball but it was a bit of a scramble and they scored.
“They lifted a bit then and put a lot of pressure on our guys for the rest of the half but they hung on for 1-0.”
If the football gods hadn’t already made it clear they weren’t on Wests’ side, they did so at the start of the second half.
“We were hoping we’d have the wind with us, but we went out in the second half and lo and behold, the wind died,” Perlowski said.
“Then it started chopping backwards and forwards and we just couldn’t get anything out of it.”
Wests kept at it but Wakehurst secured the victory with two goals in quick succession midway through the half.
Perlowski praised Steve Zalunardo, Chris Rosetto and Zac Robertson for their performances, while also singling out goalkeeper Nick Harrison for special praise.
“He stopped a couple of certain goals so he kept us in the game for that little bit longer,” he said.