Cobram Roar have made the historic step of securing three spots in the 2017 AWFA grand final, with the senior men, reserves and under-18s all making the big stage.
Not since 1976 has Cobram had all three top-age sides compete in the grand final, a fantastic effort in only the second season in the Albury-Wodonga Football Association.
The senior men came out against Albury United on Sunday, a team that had previously defeated them on both occasions this season but only by one-goal margins.
Cobram had an unchanged squad for the first time all season, with Nathan Thomas passing a late fitness test to start the match.
Cobram started the brighter and almost took an early lead when a perfectly placed Billy Marshall free kick looked destined for the top corner but was denied by an even better save by the United goalkeeper.
It was a midfield battle as both sides defended tightly. United created some chances late in the half but their shots were well off target and scores were level at the break.
After half-time Cobram seemed to get on top but clear chances were still hard to come by as United marked both the Bills very tightly, but they were still looking the more likely to score as Cobram keeper Sam Varley was rarely tested.
Tyler Seebrook was introduced on the hour mark and his speed caused plenty of concern down the right wing but that elusive goal just wouldn’t come.
Raymondo Diramacca was doing plenty of good work down the left as Cobram created plenty of forward thrusts but the United defence remained strong.
Marc Startari was introduced for the tiring Thomas and the fresh legs in the midfield lifted Cobram another gear — but no goals in regular time.
Extra time began with a golden goal in play and it only took Cobram three minutes to seal the win when a goal kick from Varley was flicked over by Gatcum and the bouncing ball was met first by Billy Marshall who lobbed his shot over the United keeper and into the back of the net sending the Cobram faithful wild in celebration as he sealed a spot in the 2017 grand final, the club’s first AWFA grand final. Score: 1-0. Goal: B. Marshall.
Cobram started strongly against Wangaratta, with Josh Koopman breaking through on goals with only the keeper to beat only to shoot over the bar.
Wangaratta managed to take the lead after 20 minutes, as Cobram seemed very flat going into the break.
After half-time a very different Cobram side came out to play and got just rewards on the hour-mark when Nathan Stoate made no mistake taking on his defender before slotting the goal.
From then on it was end-to-end football as both sides came close to sealing a win but it couldn’t be decided in regular time.
In extra time both sides started to tire and it still could have gone either way with Wang being denied in the final minutes with a great shot from the top of the box, well saved by keeper Jake Keating as the match went into penalties.
Wangaratta missed their first penalty by former Cobram captain Madeira as Meola, Santoro and Nankaville all slotted home their kicks for the Roar.
Wangaratta then missed their second shot, leaving it up to youngster Joseph Ballerini to slot home his penalty and record a massive win.
Cobram will now take on Albury City, who caused a massive upset in the preliminary final, defeating league champions Albury United. Score: 5-3. Goal: N. Stoate. Penalties: C. Meola, N. Santoro, J. Nankaville, J. Ballerini.
Division three men (under-18)
The under-18s had a very tough game to get through to the grand final, pushed all the way by Wodonga Diamonds.
Cobram failed to take many of their great chances, with scores level at half-time.
After the break it was more of the same until Roar was awarded a penalty, which Hamish Sweeny converted.
Diamonds pushed for an equaliser but Roar hung on and booked a spot in the grand final against Albury United. Score: 1-0. Goal: H. Sweeny.
Cobram was the better side and created plenty of chances, but against the run of play Myrtleford managed to break the deadlock.
Cobram pushed forward in numbers but just couldn’t find that elusive goal, leaving the youngsters shattered going down 0-1. Score: 0-1.
Correct score: Cobram Roar’s under-18s are heading to an exciting grand final berth after eclipsing Wodonga Diamonds with the only goal of the game.
Howzat: Cobram Roar reserves hammered Wangaratta in a penalty shoot-out on Sunday to assert their grand final status.
Victorious: Cobram Roar senior men toppled Albury United on Sunday with a thrilling finish in the Albury-Wodonga Football Association.