Capalaba lifted their first major trophy, in recent memory, yesterday evening with a 2-1 win over Rochedale Rovers. It was a sweet victory orchestrated by coach Tim Brown, a recruit in late 2009 from Rochedale. Brown did not overhaul the Bulldogs line-up but a few players he added proved the difference.
The game started out in the traditional nervy approach that normally permeates a final. The game sparked to life midway through the first stanza, with the players adding a bit of bite in their challenges. Steve Unsworth copped a cut to the face close to the eye and went off to get treatment. Unsworth returned to the field but 5 minutes later, Alan Milliner ordered him off to get the wound re-attended to or to change his bloodied shirt.
When Unsworth was ready the referee would not let him rejoin play and whilst he and the Rovers staff complained, Capalaba broke down the left and side and the cross was perfect for Greg Thomas’s half volley which gave Mario Aparicio no chance.
Luke Muir, who has to be considered one of the best keepers in Brisbane pulled off a fine save to deny Tim Smits, but could not stop Smits next effort. Carl Tabulo found Steve Unsworth who held firm and daintily shifted the ball to his right with his left foot, into the path of the onrushing Smits. Smits shot nestled in the onion bag with Muir not moving at all. The quality of the build-up and the power of the strike were too good.
Locked at 1 each at the break, Rochedale remained the favourites and came out the shed slightly the better side, however they conceded the all-important goal when Moses Petelo fired home from a narrow angle. Aaron McAllister had put a ball in behind John Thompson for Petelo, who burned the Rochedale player for pace. McAllister had gained the ball when Lovell, who’d had a splendid first half, dribbled straight into him.
Capalaba created gilt-edged chances to make it three, however in the last ten minutes Rovers looked the most likely scorers as Capalaba hung on. Rochedale’s ball movement went up a gear and Tabulo amongst others produced creative quality that forced the Capalaba centre-halves and ‘keeper Luke Muir into their best performances in order to protect the lead. One pass from Tabulo was mesmeric, on the left sideline with little backlift he flicked the ball with the outside of his right boot around the right back Lincoln Thew, into the space behind. So mesmerising was the pass it took his own side a long time to see the ball he was playing.
On the day, the result could have gone either way but Caplaba did create more clear-cut chances in the game. The experience the Bulldogs have after their grand final loss, also played at Perry Park, seemed to help; there is a confident and belief about the squad. Two years ago, Power won their first major trophy by winning the Premier Cup. It concreted Terry Kirkham’s team as one of the challengers for all competitions. They backed that performance up by winning the league title last year. Capalaba will hope for the same next season.
Caplaba cannot celebrate too much with an upcoming finals game at John Fredericks Park on Wednesday night against Olympic. The winner gets to face Rochedale at Underwood Park