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COMETH the hour, cometh the man.
For the second time in as many seasons Falcons captain Jesse Kennedy scored a Battle of Britain Cup final brace to inspire his side’s defence of the oldest trophy in Victorian football.
Falcons took out the league-cup double with a 2-1 victory over Churchill in yesterday’s BOB final at Latrobe City Sports Stadium, with Kennedy repeating his heroics from last year’s decider against Sale United.
“I just love it, we haven’t had much success over the years so it’s good the last few years we’re doing alright,” Kennedy said.
“It’s all thanks to Dela (coach Nick D’Alessandro), he’s done everything, it’s all Dela.”
The Gippsland Soccer League golden boot winner of the past two seasons also racked up his 50th goal in all competitions for 2015 with his second, and gave a little salute to the Falcons’ faithful in celebration.
“I don’t know what to say, it’s all thanks to these boys that give me the ball, I couldn’t do it without them,” Kennedy said of the miraculous feat.
Falcons survived a late scare as Churchill nabbed one back about the 90-minute mark, but the Morwell side held on for a significant victory.
After taking the league championship on a dramatic final matchday last weekend, D’Alessandro was thrilled to add the cup to the club’s trophy cabinet again.
“The last couple of weeks have been pretty unreal so today was just a credit to all the hard work we’ve done all year, so really going to enjoy it,” D’Alessandro said.
“We don’t do it too easy every time, it’s been getting harder and harder the last few weeks so just stoked, rapt to win it.”
The match began at a slow tempo as Churchill attempted to absorb Falcons’ early pressure.
Kennedy was lively without seeing much ball in the opening exchanges, but made a half chance when he picked the Rams’ pockets as they attempted to clear the penalty area.
Isaac Abas, returning to the line-up for the final, also threatened when he stabbed at one in a goal mouth scramble but again to no avail for the Birds.
The Rams were holding strong through the centre of defence, forcing Kennedy to ghost toward the left flank in attack, but the Birds were making hay out wide through the speed of Abas and Dj Matar.
After thwarting a raid from Matar, Churchill fashioned its best chance of the half when Taylor Jackson dinked a chip into the path of Ellis Hayes-Hills but Falcons keeper Adam Brooker defused the attempt.
Kennedy continued to chip away at the other end, first dancing into the six yard box before jabbing at his shot from a tight angle, then beating the keeper with an angled strike only for the ball to be cleared off the line by a retreating Rams defence.
The marksman looked to turn provider on 20 minutes with a neat cut back for D’Alessandro, but the coach’s shot lacked power and precision and was cleared away.
A free kick from 40 yards was almost the catalyst for the Rams to break through 10 minutes from half-time with a strong header from Jackson forcing a diving fingertip save from Brooker.
Abas took a hefty knock to the head just ahead of half-time, and while he took the field after the break lasted just minutes before withdrawing, bringing Kev Carcellar into the game.
Some 10 minutes into the second half Kennedy finally broke the deadlock.
With the ball yo-yoing up and down around the Rams’ 18 yard box, Kennedy deftly flicked a header backward over a helpless Churchill keeper and into the back of the net.
The Birds continued to assault the Rams’ goal with nice interplay between Kennedy, D’Alessandro and Tommy D’Alia resulting in a chance, before Kuiy Jiath thundered a long range effort just over the top left corner.
Carcellar then slipped Matar through on goal but the Rams scrambled to deny him and kept their hopes alive.
With 15 minutes left to find an equaliser Churchill striker Paul Riess was substituted for former golden boot winner Luke Cheney.
Kennedy looked to seal the result on 85 minutes when he curled a pinpoint free kick into the top right corner from a difficult angle, sending the Birds 2-0 ahead while notching his personal half-century for the season.
The goal-scoring machine then made way for club veteran Conor Clarke to enjoy the final moments, but there was drama yet to come.
A scrambling Brooker save rebounded into the path of Cheney, who smashed a searing strike in off the crossbar from the top of the box to make it 2-1.
With only stoppage time remaining the Rams surged to find a second but to no avail as Falcons ran out the clock to hoist back-to-back BOB Cups.
Still there was no sighting of the league trophy – yet to be awarded to Falcons while investigations are made into potential international clearance breaches across the GSL – a fact D’Alessandro did not let slide during his victory speech.
The day was not a complete disaster for Churchill, which took out the reserves Shopwell Trophy courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Moe United.
Matthew McGrath and Ben Skinner scored for the Rams, while the Red Devils pegged one through Jayden Camm.
The second division Nan Bosma Cup went to Monash following a 1-0 win over Traralgon City, with Mark Koolen scoring the lone goal of the match.
Battle of Britain Cup
Falcons 2000 d Churchill United 2-1
(Jesse Kennedy 2; Luke Cheney 1)
Browne Huizer Trophy
Monash SC d Tyers SC 4-2
(Kiara Hiriart 1, Jasmine Steger 1, Emily Robinson 1, Renee Vidler OG; Nicole Blackwell 1, Abbey Taylor 1)
Churchill United d Moe United 2-1
(Matthew McGrath 1, Ben Skinner 1; Jayden Camm 1)
Nan Bosma Cup
Monash SC d Traralgon City SC 1-0
(Mark Koolen 1)