TEENAGE debutant Matthew Simpkin came off the bench to deliver the knockout blow as Wodonga Diamonds triumphed in a cup final replay against Myrtleford in the Ovens Valley yesterday.
The 16-year-old’s goal late in the game was all that separated the two sides in the 1-0 victory.
Diamond’s coach Jimmy Bell was just glad the reigning league and cup champions came away with the three points.
“It was a scrappy affair and we didn’t move the ball quick enough, particularly in the first half,” he said.
“But it was a typical round one game where both teams were almost in a stand-off, waiting for the other to show their hand.
“Certainly after we scored there was a little more confidence in our game.
“There were positives but there were also plenty of things we have to work on before next week against Twin City in the local derby.
“Simpkin was outstanding in reserves and we pulled him off with about 30 minutes to go so that we could give him a run in seniors.
“He was just one of several teens we were forced to play because of injuries.”
Myrtleford’s Nathan Mirt was also taking the positives out of the game despite the loss.
The 2009 star player was forced to leave one of his English imports on the sidelines still awaiting a clearance, Adam Vescio returning from two years out with a knee injury left the field with a suspected broken arm and Nathan Gasperoni was another to be injured.
“We haven’t had a great pre-season and many of the players were together for the first time,” he said.
“Things will only get better.
“We had 10 corners in the game and then let in a pretty soft goal.
“But to be fair I don’t think that either side created too many chances.”
Mirt labelled newly-appointed captain Brenton Cook their best and dismissed comparisons with last year’s stellar list of imports.
“Those guys were here for four or five weeks, played three or four practice matches before the first game,” he said.