France strikes late as Bombers sink Lions

Picture courtesy of David Wigley

For thirteen years Luke France has been haunted by a grand final moment at C.Ex Coffs International Stadium.

In 2007, the striker had not one, but two opportunities to find the back of the net for Sawtell and spurned them both as the Scorpions went down 1-0 to Coffs City United.

So there was perfect symmetry in his 87th-minute winner for Boambee on Saturday night as they claimed a 1-0 Coastal Premier League northern conference grand final victory over the Lions.

Fittingly, France’s header in the shadows of fulltime was almost on the same patch of grass at the southern end of the venue as when he missed more than a decade ago.

Coach Jon Fergusson said the wheel had turned full circle on Saturday night.

“There’s a bit of fairytale ending there for Luke that he gets to score a goal at precisely the same end where 13 years earlier he’d missed,” Fergusson said.

“I was watching from the grandstand after playing reserve grade that day I remember Gary Phillips put the ball on Luke’s head twice and twice Luke missed the target.

“At the time he was a young bloke scoring goals left, right and centre and he did say to me afterwards it haunted him he hadn’t scored in that ’07 grand final.

“So to have that sort of relationship with someone from back then to being with him now, it was terrific.

“Quality players often create or score goals for you.”

Coffs City United coach Glenn Williams lamented their lack of polish in a first half he thought they had dominated only to see Bombers ‘keeper Darcy Newell thwart them on numerous occasions.

But Newell had plenty of help from his defence who managed to carry out the team’s game plan and blunt the Lions attack.

In three of the four matches between the two sides in the season, Boambee only conceded one goal from the penalty spot.

“Darcy was fantastic in between the sticks for them; he’s a quality ‘keeper,” Williams said.

“There was a save in the second half where Chris Dooley had a shot from 30 out and the boys on the sideline said ‘it’s in’ because it dipped and swerved.

“Then at the last minute he tipped it over the bar.”

Williams said it was a disappointing way to finish an otherwise successful campaign.

“I thought we completely dominated in the first half and didn’t get a cherry; that’s the cruel part about football,” he said.

“You dominate a fair percentage of the game and then they score with a couple of minutes to go so it makes it real hard.

“It’s disappointing because you go all year to get to that point and in Australia you’re taught to watch a grand final and that’s how it’s going to be remembered.”

Williams, however, remained proud of what his team had achieved in a challenging, stop-start season.

“We’ll take a lot from this year,” he said.

“We were a bit upset about it and that’s good to be upset about it because it means something, but we’ll try again next year.

“I’m sure the girlfriends, families and partners are glad it’s finished for the year.”

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