North Beach played State League Division One winners Olympic Kingsway in the FFA Cup third round on Saturday, losing 3-8 in a very competitive game of football at Charles Riley.
Kingsway started the first half with two early goals, after which Beach responded by taking the game to the visitors.
A through ball split Kingsway’s defence, and Benny Reynolds was one on one against the keeper, calmly taking it past and slotting home, making it 2-1.
The goal gave Beach momentum leading to more great scoring chances, including a diving header from Chris Judge, which was matched by a quick reaction save by the Kingsway keeper’s feet.
Beach were able to contain Kingsway for most of the second half, but tragedy struck when centre-half Luke Wearing was forced off due to a head injury sustained in an earlier collision with the opposition keeper. He was replaced by Alec Etheridge.
Towards the end of the first half, Kingsway scored two more goals in quick succession, making it 4-1. Another goal from Reynolds in the last few seconds of the half meant Beach still had a chance of fighting back at the break.
Early into the second-half, Kaimon Parker and Ross Westwood were replaced by Michael Rea and Kitson Catalfamo.
Within the first ten minutes of the second half, Kingsway scored their fifth goal, a minute later Beach responded with Seb Brekke blasting it past the keeper.
The score held for about 15 minutes, but three goals in six minutes put the game beyond reach with 20 to go.
A final substitution saw the young Harry Richings come on for Luke Aitken to play out the final 20-or-so minutes of the game.
Despite the result, Beach played well for good parts of the game and troubled the Kingsway defence more than enough. However, Kingsway’s quality showed at important times throughout the game and ultimately sealed them a five-goal margin at the final whistle.
Although conceding eight goals, the performance by Beach was commendable. It was always going to be a tough battle, and at times it seemed Beach were able to match Kingsway, but the visitor’s proved why they won the State League last season.
Set-pieces seemed to be an issue, with corner kicks not being dealt with effectively, something to work on for the season ahead. Play-wise, the football was good once the boys got going. Long balls from the back seemed to work well with Benny and Seb’s pace up front, and in possession, Beach looked comfortable.
Coach Stephen Critchley says he and the boys were disappointed with the result.
“Says a lot about the club at the minute to be disappointed about losing to a team that good doesn’t it? To compete with them for 45-60 minutes is really positive, and I’m proud of the lads,” he says.
“Unfortunately, they got away from us in the end.
“It was a huge loss losing big Luke at 2-1, massive player for us, but that’s football.”
Critchley says the team agrees they will compete for the Division One title this season and take the Saturday game’s positives into this year’s league competition.
Lineup: Hughes, Dean, Wearing, Di Carlo, Felstead, R. Westwood, Judge, Parker, Aitken, Reynolds, Brekke
Subs: Etheridge, Catalfamo, Rea, Richings
Critchley made changes to the side from the 5-1 win against Wembley in February, with Jake Dean and Ross Westwood coming in for the injured Torren Diletti and David Kelliher, respectively.
Aaron Roberts was named in the teamsheet but pulled out due to injury.
Alec Etheridge and Michael Rea both made the teamsheet for the first time this season, with Etheridge getting more than 45-minutes of first team action due to the injury to Wearing in the first half.
Harry Richings came on for his debut, showing a great amount of energy and ability with the ball at his feet.
The team decided to award Benny Reynolds the player of the match after his brace and consistent performance.
Pre-season friendly news
The reserve and third teams played a preseason friendly on Sunday against Noranda City’s Division Two first and reserves team. The reserves won their game 4-0, and the thirds drew 3-3.
This season North Beach has THREE competitive teams in the men’s squad, with the third team competing in the Metro League Division Four.
There is a lot of numbers and healthy competition for places in the first team this season.
This is just the beginning of the North Beach Revolution, and the season ahead will be exciting.
The first round of matches are expected to be played in April.