The Raiders back at home on the svelte (but thirsty) surfaces of the Cabbage Patch, sunshine pouring down to boot and look you just wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Today’s prey a rejuvenated Grafton United sitting in 5th place after 6 rounds, yes you read that correctly- 6th spot. A 3-2 result over the Northern Storm and 1-0 over Coffs Coast Tigers. Stone motherless last in 2017, conceded an eye-watering 170 goals in that season (9.4/game for you mathematicians out there) scoring 6, I just have no idea what that could do to your football state of mind, but here they are winning matches a true testament to resolve and perhaps therapy.
All in the past though, the United machine exuded a vitality, enthusiasm and will to win on display as the visitors defended in an organized and drilled fashion led by a calm Richard Akoto in the heart of the purple defense. United had to be as well, the Raiders looked as committed as I’ve seen them. Kale Hopper painting a football picture for the small but parochial crowd, his incisive passes a constant threat to the United defense. So no surprise after Hopper stroked pass for Pablo Kastner to whack in on 19 minutes. Kastener’s one touch control set up the opportunity and really denied any chance of a save from Grafton’s keeper Wylie Tynan. The rest of the half, a series of Raiders attacks with perhaps ‘the ginger bread’ Jai Waddick man somewhat unlucky after he bounced one off the underside of the crossbar mmm not easy to do and fire a couple of other chances wide. The Raiders 1 up at the break.
Jake Leslie, for the Raiders, came on 10 minutes into the start of the second stanza producing an immediate effect. A United defense that was creaking looked about to come unstuck, Leslie slipping a variety of cleaver balls to Raider runners to capitalize on. Tim Rupprecht on the end a of few, but to their credit Grafton were able to deflect all chances, right up until Cale Simmonds thumped one in with 10 to go. It was on the back of a fast break the United defence somewhat disorganized, Rupprecht good enough to slide a pass to Simmonds who did the rest.
The final score 2-0 to the Raiders and probably a good reflection of the match, Grafton certainly a different beast to last season. In the earlier match the Raiders ressies smashed United with 11 unanswered goals, notably President Homes on the score sheet after an accidental deflection went in and he claimed it! The Raiders women’s first grade 7-1 winners over Woopi Reserve grade while the Raiders women’s ressies 6-0 down to Woopi 1st grade (I mean what’s going on in the women’s division?) Anyhow think about this, the Raiders V Maclean Bobcats this weekend at the Patch 12 and 2 whooo a litmus test for sure.
Hope to see you on the hill.
Go U Raiders!