OAK FLATS Falcons Football Club had to overcome the send-off of Toby Napier to score a tense 1-0 win over Kemblawarra at Keith Bond Oval on Saturday.
Considered by many as one of the fairest players in the competition due to a host of Best and Fairest awards and having never previously been booked or sent-off in his years at the club, the referee presented the veteran with a red card.
It then turned out to be a real battle to survive the final part of the match, the opposition pressing hard to equalise.
Praise must be given to the remaining 10 Oak Flats men for defending desperately and holding out until the final whistle.
Goal-keeper Brendon Jovanovski had an outstanding game, making some miraculous saves.
The deciding goal came in the 10th minute, when the Falcons were awarded a penalty, converted by Jason Murdzevski.
Next weekend the Falcons travel to West Illawarra, another tough opponent.
Youth grade coach Klaus Wunsch was thrilled with a top performance by his relatively young team, who played their heart out against a superior opposition, which fielded five players a year older and formerly with the Falcons, having played in last year's grand final for the Oak Flats team.
Kemblawarra took the lead into the second half before the Falcons equalised with a well-played goal by Sam Markoulis.
Considering the lesser age of the Falcons youngsters compared to their opponents, one can understand the jubilation afterwards.
The Falcons recruited their players from the local junior soccer clubs and will mature with age.
Reserve grade had a day to forget.
Nothing seemed to go right, and as much as coaches Nathan Porteous and Michael Guinery tried they could not swing the match around in their charges' favour.
The boys must put that disappointment behind them and look forward to next weekend.