SHOALHAVEN Heads will play semi finals football this year after they defeated Illaroo 2-1 at Sharman Park on Saturday.
At time it was a little close for comfort for the visitors, but they eventually managed to walk away with the three points to put fourth place beyond Bomaderry’s reach.
Heads opened the scoring early in the first half through Dane Tasker, but were brought back to earth a few minutes later when Aaron Crittenden equalised for the home side.
They managed to re-gather and score the next goal, with Tim White putting them back in front 2-1 on the half-hour mark.
Heads carried the 2-1 lead into the break and that’s where the scoreboard stayed for the entire second half.
Heads coach Ross Tasker described it as a ‘pretty scrappy old effort.’
“We didn’t play well, but we did just enough and nothing more,” he said.
“They probably could have won it, there were a few chances and that certainly would have been very disappointing for the boys,” he added.
If Illaroo had managed to win, or even get a draw, Heads would have been sent packing after Bomaderry upset Shoalhaven United 2-1.
“I was surprised by that, but we were always going to have to do our bit,” Tasker said.
“As I’ve said before, if we hadn’t won, we wouldn’t deserve to be there anyway,” he added.
Tasker was spared the nervous moments of watching on to see if Illaroo would make a comeback as he missed most of the second half.
“I had a bit of a brain snap and forgot that I had to go and pick my daughter up,” he said.
“I did think I might come back and we’d be down, but to be honest I was more nervous about getting a speeding fine,” he laughed.
Illaroo coach Andrew Timbs said he couldn’t fault any of his players for their effort, but their tired legs just got the better of them.
“A win would have been a nice way to finish our season and I think even with a draw we could’ve helped Bomaderry go through,” he said.
“You go out to try and win every game anyway, but unfortunately we couldn’t do them a favour.
“I’ve got some good mates at Bomaderry, so I would’ve liked to see them make it, but it’s just hard to keep that intensity with tired legs.”
Timbs has had many headaches due to the mounting injury toll this season, which has really put their depth to the test.
“We haven’t been able to put a fresh side of players on the park for the last month,” he said.
“The positive thing is they continue to put in the effort and it’s really shown their dedication to the club.
“We had six blokes backing up from reserve grade on Saturday and everyone gave it their all, so I couldn’t ask for much more.”
Brad Page, Dane Tasker and Ben Rawlinson were picked as the best players for Heads, while Trent Bray and Sam Leedham stood out for Illaroo.
Heads will now play United in next week’s minor semi final, where Tasker is expecting a very tough game.
“I think it’s a game where both sides know they can win, but also know the other side is capable of taking it away from them,” he said.
“I rate us a good chance and then anything can happen from there,” he added.
Timbs said he wanted to thank his players for the season and wished the best of luck to all the teams playing in the semis.