Finals within range for Blue Lake

LET LOOSE: Blue Lake’s Yuki Akita breaks through the Naracoorte defence in an effort to score during the Round 7 Limestone Coast soccer clash on Sunday, which saw Akita with four goals for the game. Picture: JAMES MURPHY

BLUE Lake Soccer Club’s senior side has remained in touch with the top four after a good win on its home deck against Naracoorte on Sunday.

The Rangers came out of the gate strong to bang through a couple of early goals and set themselves up for an eventual 5-1 victory, which keeps them in third place on the ladder.

Across town at Casadio Park, International claimed a dominant 16-1 triumph over Portland to remain undefeated at the top of the table.

The win will surely come as a positive sign for the club, as it adjusts to its new management, with Travis McDonald and Michael Prior taking over the reigns of coach from Gareth Vonduve, who stepped down from his role last week due to personal reasons.

The clash saw Matt Bueti with a monstrous nine-goal haul and the the visiting Panthers were left with no answers for the Inter onslaught.

Another do-or-die match was held at Webb Street, as Apollo fought to reclaim its place in the top four of the competition.

A sturdy 6-1 win over over Millicent saw the side return to finals’ contention, as Naracoorte’s defeat puts it outside the top four, while Apollo took fourth place.

The closest match for the round was also a must win battle for both teams involved, but it was Blue Lake which emerged the easy victor.

With the sun on its back in the opening half, the Rangers capitalised to score in the opening minutes and had established a 4-1 margin by half time.

After the break Naracoorte took control of the ball early, while Blue Lake players struggled to hit targets as the sun set in their eyes.

However, despite plenty of possession throughout the term, the guests were unable to hit the scoreboard again.

The Rangers’ defence stood tall and a couple of saves from goal keeper Andy Armandi kept Naracoorte out of the fight, while Yuki Akita was able to capitalise with his fourth goal of the day to see the final score at 5-1.

Saw Yor Hay Doh Say joined Akita on the score sheet with a goal of his own.

Blue Lake coach Jared Vause was pleased with his team’s performance and was happy to stay in the top four.

He said the result on the day come down to the intensity shown in the first half, which allowed the side to run away with the game from there.

“We started really well, that was the key I think,” he said.

“The first 10 to 20 minutes we had a lot of possession and we made our chances count.

“We scored in the first couple of minutes.

“That was what we needed because we had the sun in our eyes for the second half, so we couldn’t hit targets very well .”

Slowing down in the second half, Vause said both the sun and fatigue were factors that came into play, but the Rangers had done enough early to seal the win, while holding strong defensively.

“They did have the ball a lot more (in the second half), but they didn’t really threaten in our defensive third,” he said.

“We were getting a bit tired and played really well in the first half, where we spent a bit of energy.”

In terms of best players for the match, Akita could not go unmentioned, as he played a solid game with a sore knee to bang home four goals for the day.

Vause also mentioned centre-back Bryce Strachan who continued to be a consistent performer, along with Si Pler who returned to the midfield after a few weeks off.

Pler made countless runs through the middle and was a vital link in moving the ball forward for Blue Lake.

Vause also said Tristan Guess, Sam Richards and Fraser Howard played well, in what he described as a “good team effort”.

As is often the case, there was a dampener on the win, as a collision with the Naracoorte goal keeper saw striker Andy Costin taken off the field with an ankle injury.

Vause said he will likely spend a few weeks off the ground.

In other games Inter’s powerhouse performance boasted six goal scorers, with Bueti leading the way on nine.

Dan Bronca also had a field day with three goals, while Christian Cella, Chris Fallas, Tyler Michielan and Sar Hay Moo contributed one each.

Sunday saw Apollo continue to struggle with numbers across many of its grades, as injuries and unavailability threatened the strength of the squad as it came up against Millicent.

However, the club was still able to win each game on the day, even after Tom Inglis, Cameron Wallace and goal keeper Ben Morris filled in for the depleted reserve side prior to playing seniors.

In the A Grade clash, the returned Lungani Emmual was strong in front of goals and led the way with two for the match, while Erike Irakoze, Stewart Wallace and Espoir Shondo scored singles.

Morris even made a mark on the scoreboard, as the Apollo keeper converted a penalty shot to see his name on the scorer’s list.

For Millicent, Jaime Sneddon scored the only goal in its defeat.

This weekend will see an anticipated clash between Inter and Centrals, as the top two teams fight for the bragging rights in the Indigenous round, while Blue Lake hosts Millicent and Portland makes the trip to Naracoorte.

Apollo has the bye for the round.