ANYONE who has played the game will understand.
He is the captain of the team.
At 27 Josh Vanoli is one of the oldest players in Ingham Wolves’ 2020 premier league squad.
The left-back was the hero two weeks ago when he scored a late free-kick to seal the points in a five-goal thriller against Wulguru.
So when a bicycle kick looped over the ‘keeper and Vanoli was the only man who could prevent it from hitting the back of the net after 30′ minutes against Saints – instinct kicked in.
He stuck out a hand and stopped a certain goal.
Vanoli didn’t wait for the referee to brandish red for deliberate handball.
Ingham’s leader was already walking off the pitch when the card was flashed at the number 3 on his back.
League leaders Saints scored from the resulting penalty – despite Haydn Grazioli guessing correctly and nearly getting a hand to a ball that was hit hard and low to his right.
Ingham fought valiantly until the final whistle. Saints scored two late goals, earning a 3-0 win that flattered them against ten men.
On the handball Vanoli said: ‘I had a bit of a brain fart. I lost concentration and threw out a hand.
‘It’s hard because we were in the game. It was still 0-0.
‘They’re at the top of the ladder.’
Anyone who knows Vanoli knows that he would run through a concrete wall for Ingham Wolves.
He will bounce back stronger from his disappointment.
Ingham had been competitive until that moment, and remained so.
It was always going to be tough against one of the title favourites – but our team did not roll over.
Vanoli added: ‘I thought the boys showed a lot of heart. It didn’t look like they had ten men.
‘It was heart-breaking to see Saints get two goals late on.’
The team dug in and made Saints work hard for the three points.
A week earlier Ingham had gone 1-0 up through a strike from the in-form Jonte Grazioli away at Brothers and were unlucky to lose the match 3-1, with a controversial penalty proving decisive.
After levelling up in the first-half Brothers scored from the spot midway through the second period and grabbed a third late on as Ingham pushed for an equaliser.
On the way the Brothers player went down to win the penalty Vanoli said: ‘It could have been a feather touching him.’
Graham Stokes defied the limits of human fatigue by playing 90 minutes for the reserves – who lost 4-1 – before being called up to play almost the entire game for the first team.
The Quabba brothers linked up for Ingham’s goal, with Jason assisting for his brother Karl.
James Stewart scored for Ingham’s thirds as they went down 5-1 in a game that saw two ambulances called to treat Bryce Consenza and two Warriors players after a group head-clash.
Ingham’s first and reserve sides play MA Olympic in Townsville on Sunday.
By Jonny Pearce and David Casale.