VETERAN goalkeeper Chris Bowling rose to the occasion for Broadmeadow in a penalty shootout against 10-man South Cardiff to hand the club their second and last Northern NSW Football State Cup title on Wednesday night.
Bowling blocked the first and last shots from the Gunners in a 6-5 shootout victory after scores were level 1-1 at full-time in the knockout competition decider at Magic Park.
Last night’s match between 2011 champions South Cardiff and 2012 winners Broadmeadow was the last State Cup fixture.
The nationwide FFA Cup, which started this year and involves last night’s finalists, will replace the State Cup name next season.
Bowling’s heroics gave Magic a win they should have sealed in a dominant first half in which they scored on 16 minutes then saw Gunners defender Matt Darr sent off after a second yellow card in the 38th minute. But Magic’s lead was wiped away as the gallant Gunners fought back to level then almost stole a win.
Relieved Broadmeadow coach Glen Chapman was pleased Bowling had played a winning hand, given the shot-stopper, who turns 37 tomorrow, is unsure if he will play on next season.
‘‘It makes a massive difference having a keeper like Bowlo there,’’ Chapman said. ‘‘He’s a good keeper, he works hard at training, so it’s rewarding for him.
‘‘Whether he plays another season or not, it was good for him.’’
Magic skipper Peter Haynes scored the shootout opener.
But opposite number Jarryd Johnson was denied by Bowling before Chris Berlin, Chris Gazzard, Daniel Casciaroli and Mitch Wallace converted.
Gunners keeper Mick Stafford blocked Scott Pettit’s attempt to give the visitors hope, but Mat Grey smashed the next shot way over the bar to give Magic the edge again.
It was shortlived as Stafford denied Josh Piddington.
Daniel Johnson and Matt Paul converted before Stafford stepped up and scored. Matt Hoole, Nathan Stevens and Jon Griffiths scored then Bowling made the decisive stop off Matt Wilesmith.
Gunners coach Greg Asquith was proud of the second-half effort but lamented their performance before Darr was sent off.
‘‘They should have been ahead by a few. They were much better than us in the first half,’’ Asquith said.
‘‘We gave it away for fun in the first half, which is disappointing because it’s not how we usually play. We played a bit nervously, I thought, but we addressed that at half-time and we improved, especially after the send-off.
‘‘I’m just proud that we got to where we did, especially to get to penalties, and what happens there is a bit of pot luck.’’
Pettit scored in the 16th minute after getting in behind the Gunners defence when Grey misread a Haynes long ball over the top. Stafford blocked the first shot but Pettit buried the rebound.
The hosts should have extended the lead before half-time, but Haynes, Griffiths, Berlin and Pettit all wasted chances.
The Gunners came alive after Darr’s clumsy and debatable foul on Haynes three minutes into the second half.
Their work was rewarded in the 53rd minute when Jarryd Johnson hit a clinical header off a Wallace ball into the penalty area.
Asquith did not want to comment on Darr’s send-off, but it was clear by the sideline reactions of the usually reserved coach that he was shocked at the call.
Chapman was just happy to claim a title amid a forgettable league campaign which has the three-time defending champions at long odds to make the finals.