Wolves led by the experienced Johno Melton and Glory with first year Casey McMahon at the helm will take the field on Saturday to battle it out for the 2018 Championship Cup in the Maryborough Soccer Club's Under 17's Grand Final. After a three year purple dominance ended in 2017 due to a Strikers Grand Final win, Glory are out to ensure their name is etched on the cup once again. Wolves however, the underdogs in this match, will be looking to go one better than 2017 after their heartbreaking loss in last years Grand Final. Recent form will suggest that the Glory will take home the spoils on Saturday after an incredible undefeated run during the 2018 season. However last week's qualifying final against Strikers showed that the team in purple can be challenged with them just scrapping through to the Grand Final with a 1-0 victory. Wolves will have taken notice of this result and will be keen to make an upset, they have nothing to lose which is an advantage over their opposition. This one is shaping up to be a cracker of a match so be sure to head down the ground kitted out in team colours and help your team over the line in Maryborough Soccer Club's biggest match of they year.
Wolves: Mitchell Gardam, Sam Bundy, Will MacDonell, Kaileb Norton, Mitchell Nisbet, Jack Huggett, Patrick Pritchard, Kynan Carter, Pearl Hodges, Patrick Knowles and Isaac Duncan.
Glory: Lily Thornton, Adelaide Lighten, Jullian Callea, Seth Gibson, Dylan Jacobs, Josh Hunt, Lachlan Hall, Cade Linton, Josh Brand, Riley Hicks and David Mutisya.
Mitchell Gardam is well known for being the club's most talented junior goalkeeper, if he is on his game it doesn't matter how many shots Glory take, there will be no chance of them scoring. Although he is a capable outfield player, expect his skills with the gloves to be utilised all game tomorrow. His experience from the BDSA Seniors will be invaluable to the sides chances tomorrow with his on-field leadership key to the defensive structure of the team in purple. Should the match come down to a penalty shootout, the odds and favourite tag will suddenly be placed on Wolves, a scenario Glory coach Casey McMahon will be well aware of and will be hoping to avoid. Gardam likes to play out from the back and that has been incorporated into Wolves style of play, Something Glory should consider closing down as Mitch has the ablity to set up a goal scoring opportunity from the opposite end of the field.
Kaileb Norton has had a stellar year for Wolves, using the skills he has learnt from his time in the Ballarat Futsal Academy, he has become one of the competition's most prolific midfielders. A hard-runner, Kaileb not only provides a goal scoring outlet upfront, but also helps keep the defensive line of Wolves structured and hard to breakdown. He will need a massive game tomorrow if the side is to get over the line. Norton has proven time and time again that his long-shot is his most deadly precise skill. Given any space near goals and he will force a save or score every time. Glory goalkeeper Josh Hunt will also need to be on top of his game, especially if Wolves are given a free kick anywhere in Norton's Distance as Kaileb also possesses incredibly accuracy from Free kicks. His experience from the BDSA Seniors will also help the side, especially late in the game and in terms of on field leadership. Norton will set the tone for the side's intensity as he knows from his seniors experience what work rate is required to win the game.
Jullian Callea has once again dominated the competition this year, winning the golden boot with an incredible 28 goals. Combining all season with the likes of Riley Hicks, Dylan Jacobs and David Mutisya, the four make for the best attacking combination the competition has seen over the last five years at least. Callea, although still young, is one of the most consistent players in the Maryborough BDSA senior side due to his incredible workrate, skills and pace. Any play that Glory will have tomorrow being either defensive or offensive, Callea will be involved. His own-field leadership has been a major aspect of the sides success this season with Jullian acting as a playing coach, ensuring the structure of the team is always standing strong and that all players are bringing the level of intensity required. Callea has the ability to cut a defensive line apart so it will be important for the Wolves defense to watch his runs all game. He also scores many goals from corner kicks due to his ability to reach the ball with his head at great heights. Winning the Sue Hayes medal for being Best on Ground in the 2017 Grand Final, expect him to be a key player once again this year.
David Mutisya who is one of the youngest players to take to the field tomorrow has taken the competition by storm this season. His incredible footwork and dribbling skills will be causing those in defense for Wolves nightmares tonight. For a player who is technically eligible for Under 13's, his game sense is amazing considering his age, Mutisya is always looking to make clever runs through defensive lines and often sets up play through clever through balls. When he is on his game, Glory's opposition stand no chance as he is either scoring goals himself or setting them up for his teammates to finish.
The Glory will be hoping that experienced defender Lily Thornton is able to recover from her ankle injury which as plagued her finals campaign, Thornton is an excellent defender and also provides the side with strong on-field leadership, her absence will make a big difference to the end result of this match. Promising young Goalkeeper Josh Hunt also took a knock to the head in the sides qualifying final last week but showed no signs of slowing down so there should be no concerns for the Glory in goals.
From the Coaches Box:
Johno Melton leading Wolves is one of the most experienced coaches currently in the competition and knows all to well the pressure that Grand Final day brings having been there in 2017. This will be his second Grand Final as coach in as many years which shows he knows what he is talking about, can this be his first championship as coach? With all odds stacked against his side, Melton's biggest challenge will be ensuring the team has the drive and fight to challenge Glory. For Wolves to win this game they will need to work two times as hard as Glory, it is possible, but can Melton lead his players to believe its possible? Expect some strong tactics coming from the Wolves sideline with Melton known for his ability to research ways to break down his opposition. A win tomorrow will require the greatest coaching performance of Johno's career. And there is no doubt he will be up for the occasion.
First year coach Casey McMahon has lead the purple revival after last years form slump by the team. He has instilled discipline into his side and worked them harder than any other side at training. And its paid off in results with the team going undefeated and mostly unchallenged for a vast majority of 2018. To his advantage he has the experience of Jullian Callea on field to act as a playing coach, ensuring the instructions from the sidelines are made clear to those on the field. McMahon's biggest challenge will come from the external pressure and expectation on his team. This is their cup to lose after being the most dominant side all year. A slight sign of complacency has worked its way into the Glory's game of late with the side just scrapping over the line in the Qualifying final thanks to a lone penalty. Can McMahon inspire his team to continue their 2018 form for just one more game, can he instil the drive and hunger required to stamp out any chance of an underdog upset? Expect to see the Glory restructure into a more defensive style if the side scores early which is in line with what McMahon has seemingly preferred to do this season in those close matches. This is a smart move and one Melton will be weary of as once Glory shut up shop, there is no getting through.
This is shaping up to be a must watch, remember, anything can happen in finals... Good Luck to Both teams!
MSC Expert Tips:
Jackson Barby: Glory
Johno Melton: Wolves
Sami Melton: Wolves
Jay Murdock: Glory
Matthew Bundy: Glory
Dylan McMahon: Glory
Bailey Melton: Wolves
Riley Gardam: Wolves