Nanango scores fifth first division title in seesawing final
FOOTBALL: The undefeated Nanango first division squad tested the nerves of coach Lauren Mangan after they fell behind in the grand final.
In an off the cuff statement she said she would retire if her team lost the grand final.
This statement was almost put to the test after the Gunners took the lead in the grand final in Kingaroy on Saturday.
The Gunners, hungry for a title after losing last year's grand final against the same team, scored a 2-0 lead to force the pressure on the minor premiers.
Mangan said she was still confident after Nanango fell behind by one but when the second found its way into the back of the net she was worried and rightly so.
Even though the Kingaroy side were mostly reliant on counter attacks in the first-half, the Gunners stepped up their play in the second-half and matched Nanango's intensity on the ball.
Nanango were able to pull one goal back in the 55th minute, thanks to the imposing number 10 Harry Sterling who won the golden boots for the most goals scored in the first division.
This marked a come back for Nanango which Mangan said was a characteristic of her team's play and ultimate dominance in the first division competition for the past five years.
"The thing about our team is we're very hard to keep out for 90 minutes because we play such attacking football,” she said.
Wave after wave of attacks were held off by the Gunners though.
In the first-half the Gunners were under near constant pressure but were able to keep Nanango from scoring.
The Gunners were the first to score after a stunner of free kick by Jacob Copas in the 41st minute.
Torren Anderton doubled the Gunners' lead in the 54th minute and Simon Linnane added another in the 72nd minute. By this stage the Gunners had a 3-2 lead.
But Nanango's relentless attack forced errors in the second-half which was when it staged its comeback.
Mangan said the experience of her team, built from a core group of players started to connect and chase the Gunners down.
Goals by David Ashby in the 61st minute, Elliott Mangan in the 75th minute and Kieran Mangan in 80th minute had Nanango take the lead.
Mangan admitted the goals scored were not pretty but they were goals nonetheless.
This lead came under fire as the Gunners were rewarded a penalty after a handball in Nanango's box.
Gunners' Neil Gurnett stepped up to the spot but fired the ball directly at Nanango's keeper Trevor Adams. In a heart in mouth moment, Adams juggled the ball but safely pounced on it to prevent the Gunners from equalising.
This concluded the high scoring finale and tied the bow on another successful season for Nanango's first division.
"In five years we've lost three (games) and drawn one,” Mangan said.
Nanango's first division won the minor premiership, major premiership, president's cup and golden boot.
Gunners' coach Debbie Ovens said she felt heart broken by the loss after all the work she and her team had pooled in over the season.
This was heightened by the potential loss of many of her players as they move away for university and work commitments.
Ovens said the Gunners had the chance to win the game but lost focus in crucial stages.
"Our goals were quality,” she said.
Ultimately the Gunners succumbed to the pressure but proved the gap between Nanango and the rest of the competition is tightening.