Sunday the 12th of October is a date that will live long in the hearts of Herston Hatchets fans the world over. “On this day in 2014,” they will loudly proclaim, many years hence, “I watched my team demolish QUT 4-2 and move into the final of QIF Sunday Premier division!” A wordy, and more to the point kind of boring, statement, sure, but the sentiment is what’s important here. Where was I?
‘Semi-final day’ dawned clear and bright. “What a day for football,” caretaker manager Kregg Laundon muttered to himself as he sniffed the morning air and put the finishing touches on his first team sheet. There were a few difficult decisions this week for Laundon, with several important Hatchets players unavailable for selection. Included below is footage from his pre-game press conference.
Talisman Jenya Demidenok, pint-sized winger Sam Shum and season assists leader Adam “No Man Is An” Irelandes are all on loan stints overseas, while the in-form full back Tom Souchen also missed out.
At Opperman Park SC (Bethania), the Hatchets eyed off their opponents for the day. Unsurprisingly, QUT were fielding several players that had never been seen before. Only time would tell whether this squad of talented individuals would be able to play as a team and compete with the organisation and hard running that has become the trademark of Herston this season.
The first twenty minutes of the game were dominated by the Hatchets. Superior organisation at the back and some inventive forward play helped the boys in red control possession and force several saves from the decidedly shaky-looking QUT goalkeeper.
In the seventeenth minute, a Sonesh Amin corner was only partially cleared to the edge of the box by the QUT defence. Centre-back Simon Bennet proudly thrust his left leg into the path of the ball and deflected it towards the ever-present Kregg Laundon, who struck it towards the far post with the outside of his foot. The shot just snuck under the goalkeeper’s outstretched hand to nestle into the bottom corner, and the Hatchets had hit the front.
However, there are few things more fragile in life than a 1-0 lead, perhaps apart from life itself. QUT began to work their way back into the game after the goal, and produced several quality chances around the 30-minute mark of the first half. A speculative long ball was flicked on by one striker into the path of another onrushing player, who was able to beat one man and finish calmly past the outstretched arms of Naz Wahab. 1-1.
Not long afterwards, the Hatchets found themselves behind. Another fast break saw a dangerous ball played into the middle, which was collected by an opposition striker. With space to turn, he was able to draw a foul from the Tuscan Freight Train himself, Steven Cecchi, and win the penalty. Despite protests from Herston players that the ball wasn’t on the spot, and a despairing dive from goalkeeper Naz Wahab, the shot found the bottom corner. QUT were in front.
At half time, with the score at 1-2, there was little joy to be found in the UQ huddle. Players lounged comfortably in the shade of a well-placed Eucalyptus, staring a thousand yards into the distance and contemplating the reality of an early exit from this year’s finals. But it was Laundon that brought the team back to the present with a quite frankly inspirational motivational team talk. Shown below is a slide from his PowerPoint presentation.
After the break it was Hatchets Hatchets Hatchets. A new-found energy coursed through the veins of our brave men in red. Attack after attack was launched, and it seemed only a matter of time before the scores were once more level.
That fateful moment arrived in the fifty-eighth minute. Midfielder Alex Cote used ‘strength’ to create a yard of space on half-way, before lofting a ball towards Mickey Ryan at the top of the box. Ryan was able to bring the ball down under pressure and lay it off towards Sonesh Amin. The Herston attacking midfielder turned the last QUT defender with consummate ease, and finished past a hapless opposition goalkeeper.
Not long after that, it was Amin that put UQ into the lead. A free kick was won 30 yards from goal, after Laundon was rudely shoved in the back while attempting to go about his own business with the ball. Up stepped Amin, who was yet to score a free kick this season. Bringing to mind memories of Zidane, Ibrahimoviç and of course Beckham, he curved the ball perfectly into the top corner of the net.
With that goal, and the score at 3-2 in the 75th minute, QUT began to attack desperately. They threw players forward with gay abandon. But it was not to be.
The final goal of the game came from another Hatchets free-kick. This time, Amin elected to cross the ball. It was flicked on by Bennet to the far post, where Mickey Ryan was on hand to head into the goal. At 4-2, the game was surely over.
The final whistle blew shortly afterwards to yells of jubilation from the UQ supporters. Many could scarcely believe that their boys had managed to topple QUT. Some, apparently, still don’t.
The next step for the Herston Hatchets comes on Sunday morning, when UQ takes on Naita Phoenix in this season’s final. The game will be played at Bethania again. Kick-off time is yet to be confirmed.