Narrow Grand Final defeat for SMS

In the end, unfortunately, it was a fairly predictable result. Despite a disciplined, efficient performance, SMS were once again bridesmaids after yet more Grand Final heartbreak. Little more could have been asked from the players, they gave their all for the 30 minutes, in what was a match up against overly physical, ill-disciplined and, at times, wreckless opponents. A pre-match warning from the referee that he would not entertain any arguing against his decisions was soon shown to be no more than empty, meaningless words as the Froths bullied their way to Grand Final success. However, a win is a win, and as the dust settles on a third Grand Final defeat for SMS, it is the result that will be remembered. It would be ungracious and untrue to claim that the Froths did not deserve their victory, they were the better team and had been the overwhelming favourites. Their keeper in particular was outstanding as he saved numerous shots from Bobby, Mandeep and Toby. The nature of the win, however, left a bad taste in the mouth. What they lacked in talent they made up for in physical presence but the dangerous tackles, flapping arms and constant bad mouthing went unpunished by a referee who lacked the balls to carry out his initial promise of keeping the match under control. Time after time players were given a 'final warning', yet repeat offences were merely punished by way of a free-kick rather than quite legitimate sendings off.

Having gone into half time at 3-3, SMS were very much still in with a shout. Despite a lacklustre performance from Toby, apparently playing through a bout of sickness, SMS had more chances to win the match than their opponents, but just failed to beat the Froths goalkeeper who continued to be a thorn in the side of SMS. It was a far improved performance compared to the 8-3 hammering SMS had received from the Froths in the group stages, but picking up their third set of runners up medals, the disappointment was clear to see. Regardless of the rough play of their opponents, it was a failure to outscore them that cost SMS the match and the elusive championship. Changes will need to be made to galvanise the team for the new season, an additional goalscorer being the most urgent requirement in a team which lacks sufficient striking options to push through and claim the ultimate prize. On a positive note, the team can be proud of how they conducted themselves in the face of provocation. They defended well, passed accurately and remained a threat until the end. The season will still go down as a success and the foundations are definitely in place for another attempt at the title in the new season. Once again, the line between Grand Final glory and heartbreak was extremely fine, and it will be mental strength as well as footballing skills which will need to be a key focus in the new campaign.

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