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Slater wears blame - September 5 2012
Slater wears blame
September 5 2012
Cobram coach Luke Slater has shouldered the blame for his Regional Premier League side’s stunning fall from grace.
With three rounds to go, the Tigers sat one point clear on top of the ladder, but they did not win another game and missed out on the flag, before crashing out of the finals series in straight sets.
Slater was unavailable for Saturday night’s second semi-final defeat to Cobram Victory with work commitments and said he could hardly bring himself to follow the game.
‘‘I’m absolutely devastated and it was hard not being there at the end,’’ Slater said.
‘‘It was a bit of a failure on my part. If you look at the two teams that knocked us out in Shepparton and Cobram Victory, we took nine points out of a possible 12 against them during the season.
‘‘The week before against Shepparton was the killer blow. If we won that it would have given us a lot of confidence.’’
The drama that embroiled the league late in the season interrupted finals preparations for several teams, but Slater insisted it played little part in his side’s eventual demise.
Instead, he said ‘‘timing’’ was a bigger factor.
‘‘It was a distraction, but I don’t think it was the players under performing, we just had a slump at the wrong time,’’ he said.
‘‘We had such a good run in the middle of the year it was almost inevitable we would hit a bad patch and we just didn’t have enough time to recover.
‘‘Had the season been a bit shorter or a bit longer maybe we would have been okay.
‘‘That’s not making any excuses, though, we still should have been good enough.’’
Although ending prematurely, the season was hardly a disaster for the Tigers.
The club embarked on its first finals campaign in several seasons and for much of the year appeared the team most likely to deny Shepparton United the premiership.
Scottish imports Kevin Moffat, Sean Ellis, Michael Ellis and David McGurk combined well with a group of talented locals and Slater remained hopeful the squad could remain largely intact.
‘‘We’ll definitely lose two or three key players, but we’re certainly keen to get all four Scottish boys back and keep the core group together,’’ Slater said.
‘‘We had a really good group of young men and I would much rather enjoy playing and not win than (the other way around).’’
Cobram will lose Goulburn North East Football Association journeyman Stuart Vance and talented attacker Umut Ozduzenciler, who are moving to Queensland.