"SO CLOSE but so far away" just about sums up Saturday's preliminary finals at Caloundra for the players and supporters of Noosa Lions Football Club.
There was only one goal in it for the Under 13s, Under 14s and Premier Men's teams, as they all lost 2-1. The 4th Division lost by the same scoreline at Kawana on Friday night.
The Under 14s had the added agony of losing in extra-time.
The Over 35s secured their eight grand final appearance in a row with a penalty shoot-out win over Maroochydore.
The Over 35s will play Coolum at Buderim tomorrow night from 8.30pm.
The Lions' Under 17s had got the day off to a perfect start with a convincing 4-0 win to advance to Saturday's grand final.
The Lions will take on Woombye at Maroochydore, kicking off at 9.30am.
Their success on Saturday was to be the end of the joy for the Lions.
Only a week ago the Noosa Premier Men's team played 120 minutes of high quality and high intensity football to reach keep their season alive.
However, it was only in the final 15 minutes of Saturday's match that the Lions began to play with anything like that same urgency and verve.
Trailing minor premiers Kawana 2-0, Evans scored in the 83rd minute to narrow the gap but that was as close as they would get.
In the first half both teams struggled to find their rhythm on the large and unforgiving playing surface, though it was Kawana who exploited the additional space more effectively.
Three times they fired shots into the side netting despite finding forwards unmarked on either edge of the area.
As Noosa tried to play down the channels, Kawana adopted a more defensive formation.
Bbut the Lions' subtle changes of tactics were beginning to create openings and in the 35th minute Kawana had to scramble to clear their lines following a deep cross into the penalty area from left-back Alan Walsh.
Evans and Thompson got shots away following good work from the Ferris brothers but in the 40th minute, Kawana took the lead.
A speculative cross to the edge of the area was met by the Kawana forward with a looping header, which bounced in at the far post.
Right-back Percy Cash almost made instant amends with a driving run and shot across the goal but the 'keeper kept it out.
Close, but 1-0 down at half-time, Noosa knew they had to lift.
Desperate to score, Noosa pushed additional players forward in search of the equaliser but it was Kawana who scored on the counter-attack to lead 2-0 before Evans' late strike.
At Senior Presentation night on Saturday, September 22, there will be plenty of positives to reflect upon and while the team were disappointed on Saturday, the supporters made it clear they are proud of Evans and his players.
The club is equally proud of the efforts of the junior teams, whose presentation is this Sunday, from 11am to 3pm.
All junior players will receive something to eat and drink and a trophy for the season.
Deserving of special mention will be the Under-13 and Under-14 teams, whose progress has been spectacular.
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