Bonnyrigg White Eagles are the 2007 NSW Super League champions after dominating Northern Tigers 2-0 in Sunday?s grand final at Seymour Shaw Park.
The White Eagles were unflappable as they weathered an early Tigers onslaught before turning the tables with a powerhouse second half display, goals to Ilka Gurbuz and Matthew Mayora underlining Bonnyrigg?s title romp.
The Tigers were definitely below their best and struggled without the services of an injured Ryan Jones. Coach Hugh McCrory delicately put it, ?We could?ve played for two more days and not scored, while Bonnyrigg could have scored two more.?
?There has been nothing between the two sides all year and, today, someone had to win and someone had to lose.?
White Eagles mentor Blagoje Kulevski was the perfect face for a jubilant club after securing his first grand final win as a coach. He rated the achievement better than winning a National Soccer League title with Marconi in 1994.
?Oh, definitely I am more happy to win as a coach, because you have more of a responsibility for all the team,? he said. ?The only thing better, I think, would be for Bonnyrigg to be back in Premier League. It is a good club, a future club and this is a very good step to getting back to Premier League.?
A packed Seymour Shaw Park saw almost 2000 people basking in glorious September sunshine and the Bonnyrigg supporters were in particularly fine voice, although most of the songs were unrecognizable to many.
Northern enjoyed an early glut of possession before the White Eagles found their wings, striker Jason Kencevski testing the Tigers defence, while man-of-the-match Matthew Mayora was also impressing.
Mayora thought he had scored the opener in the 40th minute, breaking away and rounding Tigers keeper Dean McReath, but he was forced to stall his victory lap when he saw the linesman?s flag up for offside.
Bonnyrigg were slowly getting on top of the Tigers midfield and the half-time whistle probably couldn?t have come soon enough for McCrory?s outfit.
To their credit, the Tigers started the second term briskly with Gledhill playing Michael McCrory through from the kick-off but Holmes was quick off his line to snuff out the brewing danger. Seconds later, the same moved unleashed McCrory for a proper shot on goal with Holmes, again, coming to the rescue.
The Tigers fans erupted on 53-minutes when Brendan Salameh tested Holmes in the Bonnyrigg goal and Tim Gledhill snapped in the rebound, but the flag was already up for offside and the score remained at 0-0.
A free kick to Bonnyrigg in the 55th-minute was the breakthrough with captain David Petkovic floating a long ball to the far post and finding a well-timed run from Gurbuz. His ballooning header back over a scrambling McReath found the back of the net and the White Eagles supporters cheered as their team led 1-0.
Mayora then set up Willoughby for a 70th-minute attempt and McReath did very well to keep the initial shot out but he could only watch on in horror from the ground as the rebound fell into the path of Mayora, who made no mistake from in front of goal, blasting hard and right and over a couple of desperate lunges from the Tigers defenders.
Bonnyrigg led 2-0 and looked likely to score more when Kencevski and substitute Steven Bozinovski played a neat one-two but the linesman?s flag again shot up for offside and the Tigers breathed a sigh of relief.
As if on cue, Bonnyrigg players fell to ground across the park clutching at cramps and, at one stage, it looked like there were more legs in the air than a Moulin Rouge dance routine.
With Northern pushing forward, Mayora was the beneficiary of a swift counter attack and his first shot was saved well by McReath, while his second attempt cannoned off the post as referee Kristian Griffiths-Jones blew for full-time.
It was a tough way to end the year for the Tigers, who were well-deserved minor premiers and had compiled an unbeaten hit list dating back to May. But McCrory wasn?t interested in making excuses and congratulated Bonnyrigg on their win.
?They were too good today,? he said. ?We had to chase the game and it?s very difficult to win a grand final playing catch-up football. But the guys should be very proud of what they achieved throughout the year ? and the club has gone very well across the board.?
Bonnyrigg?s Kulevski was stunned. ?I couldn?t believe that second half. We got a tough game from the Tigers but there was not much any team could have done to beat us the way we played in the second half. We have worked 10 months for this and I couldn?t be happier with the result.?