WESTERN NSW FC were hoping to end their lengthy NSW Youth Leagues 3 under 15s and 16s campaigns with premiership glory but those hopes were dashed in Saturday's semi-finals.
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The under 15s side were left to regret their missed opportunities in a 2-1 loss to Camden Tigers FC while the Western 16s went down 3-2 to Hawkesbury City FC in a back-and-forth tussle.
Following a 30-round regular season the two Western sides had finished their seasons ranked fourth, forcing them into a meeting with the minor premier clubs, but the teams went into their games confident they could find underdog victories.
Both Western sides went into half-time of their games down 1-0 but full of confidence that they could turn the situation around.
They were nearly able to do that, but their efforts weren't quite enough to book a grand final appearance.
For the under 15s it was another game where they had the better share of opportunities but couldn't get themselves on the right side of the scoreboard.
Coach Scott Mutton said it was a tough result for the team to take after they'd looked the dominant side throughout much of the game.
"It's disappointing because we were the better team. We would have nearly had triple the shots on goal that they had, but we conceded from two set pieces, which was probably the only way that they were going to score," he said.
"We just didn't deal with two of their corners. Our finishing wasn't quite good enough. That's just the way things can be with youth football. Sometimes the better team doesn't win."
Western had gone down to Camden 3-0 and 1-0 through the regular season but had confidence their brand of possession football would prevail over the Tigers' more direct play.
Outside of the two corners that Western conceded from, that almost proved to be the case.
"We dominated, especially in that second half. In the first half we still had all the field position," Mutton said.
"We just attacked and attacked after the second goal, and even our goalkeeper had a shot with five minutes to go. That's how high up we were. It just wasn't meant to be.
"We were also unlucky to get a penalty call against us for a handball."
In the case of the under 16s it was a game of two evenly matched side producing quality football.
It was expected to be another close games between the teams after they played out a nil-all draw just a week earlier.
"It was just a game that could have gone either way. We were chasing the game. We were behind, got it back to 1-all, went 2-1 down, made it 2-all and then they scored with five minutes to go," Mutton said.
"It was a good, close game. It just came down to who took their chances or who made an error."
Mutton is hopeful that the results a good sign of things to come for Western NSW FC as a youth development program.
"There will be a few 15s going to Sydney, so they'll move on, which is good. That's my job - to develop individuals while also developing a team," he said.
"That's the beauty of youth coaching. While you want your team to do well, you've still got to develop individuals as players.
"We're dealing with coaches who just want to win that comp. Technically, we're a lot better than other teams, which is great for a country team."
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