The B-Grade KO [Knock Out] Cup final took centre stage Wednesday night as West, who have been dominant in the B-Grade this season, took on a youthful Alma side for the chance to hoist the first trophy on offer this season.
A gripping final, the match went the full distance as neither side could take advantage through the regulation 90 minutes, and 30 minutes of extra time. Following the two-hour stalemate, it went to a penalty kick lottery to decide who would win the B-Grade KO Cup.
In front of a raucous crowd, both sides had the chance to take the advantage, but neither front line could find a way past the opposition goalkeeper.
A minor fracas broke out right at the end of extra time between the Alma goalkeeper and the West attack after a coming together. Players from both sides were probably saved from red cards because the incident happened right on the final whistle.
The dreaded penalty shootout followed, and it was Alma goalkeeper Ethan Kelly who was the hero, saving two penalties and watching another fly past the post as he led his team to glory.
It could have been so different for West. Their goalkeeper, Matt Johnson, did save two Alma penalties but was judged to have moved off his line prior to the ball being struck, resulting in the penalties being retaken.
“Credit to the Alma goalie, he was fantastic, but they were pretty poor penalties by us,” West coach George Bugeja told the Truth.
Alma co-coach and goalkeeper Ethan Kelly said, “we knew from the get-go they’re a lot more experienced side than us. I reckon our average age would have to be 25, 24 at best.
“Young Tate Hebbard played amazing, and Lane Ticehurst had the game of his life. It was our young players who stepped up so I was very chuffed with that.”
It was 14-year-old Tate Hebbard who stepped up, cool, calm, and collected, and scored the winning penalty.
With talent like Hebbard and Ticehurst coming through the ranks and showing the type of composure usually associated with veterans, the future is bright at Alma Soccer Club.
B-GRADE KO CUP FINAL RESULT
Alma won 3-2 on penalties.
Player of the Match: Ethan Kelly (Alma).