Kyle Martin’s return not enough to see Noble Park home

Kyle Martin's return to action was a welcome sight for Noble Park. 277789 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Marcus Uhe

The return to the football field for beloved Noble Park midfielder Kyle Martin was overshadowed by a shock two-point loss to a previously winless Norwood on Saturday afternoon.

Martin, wearing the Bulls colours for the first time since the 2022 Eastern Football Netball League grand final triumph that made him a premiership captain. made his much-awaited comeback to the game after missing the entire 2023 season through injury, having ruptured his Anterior Cruciate Ligament on the eve of the season last year.

But his presence wasn’t enough to lift the Bulls to a positive result, having trailed at every break in a 10.12 72 to 11.8 74 loss at Norwood’s Mullum Mullum Reserve.

The margin grew as wide as four goals early in the afternoon before the Bulls mounted a comeback in the second half to make the contest close.

Trailing by 11 at the final break, Noble Park made the perfect start to the final term with a goal from the first centre clearance, courtesy of Bailey Lambert’s eighth – shockingly the Bulls’ only goal kicker to that point in the contest.

The Bulls dominated possession in the early stages of the quarter, not allowing Norwood an inside 50 for nearly six minutes and rebounding the ball immediately when the defences were breached, but failed to capitilise on time in possession on the scoreboard, with a hattrick of misses from goal scoring opportunities.

Norwood’s first shot on goal became a certainty after a 25-metre penalty advanced ruck, Joseph Fisscher, to point-blank range after Levi Young infringed in a ruck contest, restoring an eight-point buffer.

The goal kicked Norwood into gear, finding a second wave of energy as they looked to eke-out a much-needed win, and pressed home for a larger advantage in the following minutes.

But Ben Marson found brother Jordan on his own inside the forward 50, who converted from a tough angle to cut the lead to just two points in the 20th minute, and snap Norwood’s momentum.

Martin and Chris Horton-Milne then combined at the next centre bounce to find Matthew Nelson on the lead, whose shot on goal from the 40-metre arc dropped into the hands of his brother, Tom, who took a contested mark on the goalline, and put the Bulls in front after 22 minutes, for the first time all afternoon.

Norwood won the next centre clearance, however, and goaled through key forward James Menzies, to restore a two-point lead in favour of the home side.

Martin won the final centre clearance of the contest but the Bulls failed to score on his entry as the home side flooded numbers in the Noble Park forward line in an effort to kill the contest.

They were able to rebound from defensive 50, with the final siren sounding at a stoppage on the wing.

Lambert finished with eight majors while Martin successfully ran out the contest in the midfield alongside long-time teammates Jackson Sketcher and Lachlan McDonnell.

The Bulls return home to Pat Wright Senior Oval next week to face Blackburn in what will be Martin’s first home game since 20 August 2022 as his side looks to snap a three-match losing streak.