NPL2 Preliminary Final Wrap
Canberra White Eagles 0 def. by ANU FC 1 (Jan Wojna 90+2’)
By Vincent Smith-Koppie
A beautifully headed goal by Jan Wojna two minutes into stoppage time has booked ANU FC a spot in the NPL2 Grand Final.
The late winner saw ANU overcome premiers Canberra White Eagles 1-0 despite being under the pump for large periods of the match.
The White Eagles’ lack of killer instinct cost them as they were unable to take their chances on a windy Sunday afternoon at McKellar Park.
It was ANU who, inside ten minutes, had the first chance of the match when a cut back found a perfectly positioned Chase Deans who sprayed his shot to the left from six yards out.
The first of many attacking opportunities for the White Eagles came in the 28th minute when Zinelabiddine Eljammoudi beat two defenders with his footwork before sliding the ball past ANU goalkeeper Jake Bradley, only for his shot to be cleared off the line by a retreating Deans.
Eljammoudi again threatened minutes later when his shot from the edge of the penalty area beat the opposition number one only to be again denied, this time by the left goal post.
In the shadows of halftime, ANU were gifted the opportunity to open the scoring when they were awarded a penalty.
When Maximillian Mottl was brought down by the keeper inside the penalty area celebrations broke out amongst ANU players, but they were short lived as Tim Lopez’s spot kick hit the post and bounced out.
The White Eagles were quick out of the blocks in the second half and when Eljammoudi outjumped an ANU defender in an aerial battle, he was rewarded with enough time and space to find the feet of one of the three teammates waiting unmarked in the area, only for Bradley to deny Milan Santrac with a miraculous save.
Against the run of play, ANU were presented with a golden opportunity to break the deadlock when a Nelson Cary through ball put Rowan Peterkin past the last defender, but Peterkin was unable to test the goalkeeper, putting his shot wide.
With five minutes remaining in normal time, it looked like we would finally have a winner when the White Eagles won possession back and quickly found Santrac up front, who dribbled the ball with no one in front of him before having his shot saved by Bradley, who continued to keep his side in the contest.
As the match passed the 90-minute mark both sides began to think of extra time, but not before ANU launched one final attack.
After a few passes around the outside of the 18-yard box, the ball was sent back to defender Euan Peterkin, who put in a curling cross which went over the heads of all players waiting in the box except Wojna, who stood waiting at the far post.
Wojna made no mistake with his finish, burying an unstoppable header in the top-right corner of the net to secure a memorable finals win for his team.
ANU’s victory sets up a Grand Final clash with the O’Connor Knights at Deakin Stadium next week.
2019 NPL2 Capital Football Grand Final | Sunday, 15th September
Grand Final: O’Connor Knights v ANU FC | 3pm @ Deakin Stadium