In our second game of the 2022 AFL D-League competition, we came up against a vastly improved Eagle Claw side from the one we faced earlier on in the season where we recorded our highest ever victory.
We went into this fixture without a few influential players due to injury, those missing and amongst others included Asharn Hodge and Tre Gumbs, so we knew before the game that we would be in for a tough night. However, credit to the lads who played, they showed a great desire to play for the Uprising badge, and this goes to show what a hardworking and talented squad we have at the club.
We started the game at a blistering pace and in the opening seconds of the game, Jauron Gayle forced a good save from the Eagle Claw goalkeeper. Our early dominance continued, and we opened the scoring in the 5th minute of play. Rene Thomas found Jauron Gayle with a delightful pass which put Jauron clean through on goal, his shot was saved by the goalkeeper, but Kelley Fleming was on hand to put the ball into an unguarded net from ten yards out. The early lead is what we thoroughly deserved after making such a good start to the game.
Against the run of play, Eagle Claw got back on level terms in the 9th minute when their number 12 lifted the ball over Darian Carty. This would now be a test for our character to see how we responded after receiving this setback. We responded very well! Just four minutes later we were awarded a free kick in a dangerous looking error but the shot from Jordan Deans went straight into the opposition wall. Then, in the 21st minute, Jauron Gayle was denied for a third successive time, on this occasion from a tight angle, by another good save by the Eagle Claw goalkeeper after being put through by Rene Thomas.
There was further disappointment for Jauron and the team as a whole when in the 25th minute his right footed shot found the back of the net but was ruled out for offside, quite an harsh looking decision. Despite us being on the front foot, we still had to be aware at the back and we had Matthew Brown to thank for clearing the ball off the line to keep the scores level shortly after Jauron's disallowed goal.
Chances were now being created at both ends and in the 38th minute, a Jordan Deans piledriver from 30 yards flew narrowly wide of the post. Then, the moment came when Jauron Gayle deservedly got himself on the scoresheet with his first goal for the club. Rene played a long ball over the top of the Eagle Claw defence, Jauron latched onto it had his speed helped him get clear of his marker before firing a shot low past the goalkeeper and into the net.
The score remained at 2-1 when the referee blew his whistle for half time, a half that saw us playing some good football.
The opening exchanges of the second half were quite scrappy with neither team able to take control of the ball for any length periods. That all changed in the 52nd minute when our opponents put a good move together which culminated with them getting back on level terms through a well taken strike that gave Darian Carty no chance of saving.
We tried to change the game a few minutes after being pegged back when we brought on Rachad Thomas and Kymani Hodge for Denny Derrick and the scorer of our first goal, Kelley Fleming. Despite us trying very hard, we were unable to create any chances of note throughout the remainder of the second period. Despite that, we defended very well and kept a good shape which prevented our opponents from creating anything either. All the main action in this encounter came in the first 45 minutes and due to that early second half goal from Eagle Claw the game finished as a 2-2 stalemate.