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June 22, 2024 10:49 PM

Unfinished business for the Strikers

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BY ALEX TIGANI

The Singleton Strikers’ first grade finals series came to a climatic end last month.

An anxious Civic Park crowd watched on as Mick Jarvis’ men rectified a 3-1 half time deficit to the Toronto-Awaba Stags to secure a 3-3 draw.

Sadly, the Stags would prevail via a penalty shootout and Jarvis was forced to shift his focus to season 2023.

“As far as a side that has some real fight in them there is no die in this group of players,” Jarvis told The Hunter River Times.

“Some of the games that they have pulled back this year have been mesmerising.”

Former Muswellbrook junior Jake Barner scored the Strikers’ only goal in the opening half before captain Hayden Nicol was brought on to close the gap.

“We went in without Hayden Nicol, Brad Cox and we were a bit asleep there for 10 minutes before finishing the first half trailing 3-1,” Jarvis reflected.

“The boys believed we could make a statement at halftime so we thought let’s give it 15 minutes and see how we go but no luck.

“We then changed some shape with Hayden Nicol coming off the bench because he had been absent during the last two games due to covid.

“He was underdone but his experience was needed and Joe Civello was brought on to play between Joel and Jake Barner and we thought we could run them down after that.”

Nicol bombed a crucial goal before Jake Barner slotted the equaliser outside the box just off the corner with seconds remaining.

“The place went nuts, it was a really good atmosphere,” Singleton Strikers first grade coach Mick Jarvis on Jake Barner’s equaliser.

After a week’s reflection, he will not accept anything less than another finals finish in 2023.

“I like to leave a place in a better place than what I found them and there’s probably some senior players who feel there are things that are left undone,” he concluded.

“I was hoping to see all three senior sides play semi-finals and we got two including the under-18s who played finals for the first time in 20 years and the reserve grade was one grade off.”

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