INTERNATIONAL has passed its biggest test of the 2020 Limestone Coast Football Association season so far with a 3-0 win over traditional rival Apollo on Sunday.
Off the back of two convincing wins, Inter coach Tony D’Agostino was pleased with the round three result in his team’s first heavyweight clash for the year.
The match was also for the Peter Thomas Cup – played annually between the rival clubs in memory of the Webb Street stalwart known by most as Mr Thomas.
The winner of the cup is decided by the team which wins the most grades on the day, which handed Inter the 2020 honours after four wins and a draw in the reserves.
Although the cup was already decided heading into the final match of the day, it did not take away from the anticipation as the A Grade teams locked horns in what is always an entertaining encounter.
In the opening 20 minutes both teams were neck-and-neck until Inter broke the deadlock through a well executed team goal.
“The first 15-20 minutes were really tough,” D’Agostino said.
“Credit to Apollo they played well and defended really well.
“I did not think we were in danger,
but we were struggling to break Apollo down (in defence).”
However, when youngster Austin Rossi was set up by a pass from fellow Under 17 talent Connor Prior to find the back of the net, Inter seemed to have broken the ice.
“It was a good build up and a fantastic finish,” D’Agostino said.
“I think that settled the nerves and then Matty Bueti came up with a cracker goal to put us two-nil.”
Heading into half time with a two-goal buffer D’Agostino said he felt comfortable, but knew the fight was not over yet.
The scoreboard only changed once in the second half when Bueti scored his second goal – to bring his season total to 11 from three games.
“The second half was probably a bit more of a midfield fight from one end to the other,” D’Agostino said.
“No one really dominated as much but we got a third goal which made things a little bit more comfortable to finish.”
D’Agostino said he was impressed by the impact Bueti has had so early in the season, while he also gave credit to the youngsters who have cemented themselves in A Grade company.
“With Christian Cella out for a while and losing my co-captain for the year in Ricky McRobert through injury you have to rely on those young kids,” he said.
“The good thing is even though they are young in age, they are not young in playing ability.
“Some of those guys are coming into their second and third years of being involved in this group and they are fantastic players.
“Koko Htoo who I do not think is 16 yet, Kaleb Gentile, Austin Rossi and Connor Prior – four kids who front up for Under 17’s and then do not bat an eyelid to come out and have a go in the A Grade.”
D’Agostino was impressed by all four youngsters – along with the rest of the side – in what he described as a strong team performance.
“I do not think I had a passenger all day,” he said.
“My midfield was brilliant, run by Nick Morony, Caleb Casey – who I thought was probably best on ground on Sunday – and Connor Prior and our defence has only conceded one goal so far (this season).”
In all D’Agostino is pleased with the start to the 2020 LCFA competition but is not getting ahead of himself just yet.
“I am quietly happy – it is early on and there is a long way to go,” he said.
“With so much uncertainty we are just happy to be playing.”
In other A Grade games of the round Naracoorte showed it has top-four potential with a solid 5-1 win over Blue Lake.
The home team set up a two-nil lead in the first half, before it continued to put the pressure on after the break.
The Rangers found success with a goal to David Htoo but it was not enough to recover on the scoreboard.
Over at Bishop Road Gambier Centrals prevailed over Millicent by eight goals in a well-rounded performance in front of goals.
Speedy youngster Broc Linden continued his strong start in Lions colours with two goals on the day, while a list of five single goal scorers and an own goal to Millicent wrapped up the 8-0 result.
This weekend just one match will be played in the Blue Lake city when the Rangers host Inter.
Naracoorte will face its biggest test of the year when it hosts Centrals for round four, while Apollo makes the trip to Millicent.