THISTLES: Back row, left to right: Pat Nielson, Jonty Miller; middle row, left to right: Craig Kennedy (coach), Joe Melino, Zac
THISTLES: Back row, left to right: Pat Nielson, Jonty Miller; middle row, left to right: Craig Kennedy (coach), Joe Melino, Zac

Thistles so close to the big one



LISMORE Thistles Grade-13 soccer side were far from disgraced when they were defeated 2-1 by Oak Flats in the grand final of the Statewide Champion of Champions knockout competition at Valentine Park, Sydney on Sunday.

Oak Flats, from the Wollongong area, were a much bigger side and had the edge in that department, but the local boys refused to let that intimidate them.

Despite the game being played in consistent rain throughout and poor conditions that needed the lights turned on, both teams played a good style of soccer and entertained the big crowd on hand.

The turning point of the game came in the dying minutes of the second half when talented 12-year-old player, Jake Nind, split the Oak Flats defence and was confronted with a one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

The 'keeper illegally took Nind out and despite the linesman raising his flag for a penalty, the referee unbelievably saw it differently and waived play to continue.

Players to stand out for Thistles were sweeper Zac Fletcher and goalkeeper Pat Nielson, who took on the job late in the season and looks to have a bright future between the posts.

Despite the loss, the Thistles players can hold their heads high, after winning the Soccer FNC minor premiership, major premiership and finishing runners-up in the Champion of Champions competition.

Thistles coaches Craig Kennedy and Michael Nind were wrapped with the team's performance and said that every player gave a wholehearted effort and should be very proud of themselves.

The team would like to thank Suncorp, Mazzers Coaches, Yowi (Youth On Wheels Inc) and East Lismore Bowling Club for their support during the past five weeks.



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