SATURDAY night soccer certainly did not disappoint as the blockbuster clash between International and Gambier Centrals opened round five of the Limestone Coast Football Association season under lights at Casadio Park.
Doubling as the Indigenous Round a strong crowd flocked to the venue for the clash.
After a full afternoon of competition it all boiled down to the awaited A Grade match, which after two tightly contested halves was won by Inter 1-0.
The hosts deserved to win on their first-half efforts alone as their backline proved impenetrable.
However, down the other end it was also tough and it took some work before Inter found the back of the net after a frantic team effort rewarded Sar Hay Moo with the only goal of the game.
Centrals pushed hard to tie things up, but Austin Rossi, Ricky McRobert, Josh Grubb and Tyler Michielan ruled the Inter backline with an iron fist.
Inter’s set up allowed it to always have at least two players behind the ball, while Centrals relied heavily on youngster Broc Linden to make runs into the forward line where he was met with several hurdles to overcome.
As such Inter appeared to dominate the first half, but could not capitalise and carried a dangerous one-goal lead into the break.
Inter fans would certainly have been on the edge of their seats, especially after the Lions roared to life in the second half and wasted no time creating opportunities at goal.
They were denied by goal keeper Brayden May, whose efforts were rewarded with the in-house best player award for the Indigenous Round clash.
With renewed intensity, Centrals gave its all to get back in the game and Linden had several chances at goal.
However, the Inter defence stood tall and a couple of late saves by May handed the hosts the win.
In addition to its first loss of the season, disaster struck for Centrals midway through the second half when Nathan Fleetwood found himself on the receiving end of a McRobert slide tackle.
The result was a knee injury which could rule the Lion out for at least the remainder of the season.
However, for Inter it was a rewarding encounter, as it sits undefeated on top of the ladder after a full round of games.
“It was a really tough game and we were happy to get the result,” Inter coach Tony D’Agostino said.
“It was probably what we expected – we knew Centrals was going to be a tough team.”
D’Agostino was impressed with his backline on the night and said any one of them could have received the club’s best-on-ground award.
“That could have gone to Ricky McRobert, Austin Rossi, Josh Grubb, Tyler Michielan or Nick Morony – I think all of them were exceptional,” he said.
D’Agostino also gave credit to players up the field, who were equally as impressive in the solid team performance.
He said the result made him proud of both his team and his club, in what was a great display of the game.
“To play a Saturday night game – which is probably the first time we have been involved in for as long as I can remember – was a great initiative,” D’Agostino said.
“I think the crowd showed it was worth doing and should be something done more often because the people do want to come out and watch it.”
Looking to Sunday’s games the biggest surprise was Blue Lake’s solid effort against Apollo.
The Rangers did not taste victory, but scores were locked at one-all after the first half.
However, a renewed effort in front of goal allowed Apollo to steal the lead and it finished up with a 5-2 win.
The final match was another close game as Naracoorte edged out Millicent 2-1.
The scoreboard went untroubled before half time, but Naracoorte came out of the gates strongly to keep itself in the top four.
This week Centrals hosts Blue Lake, while Inter welcomes Millicent to Casadio Park and Apollo travels to Naracoorte.