RESILIENT SOUTH COAST CLAIM DRAW AGAINST STATE LEAGUE HEAVYWEIGHTS
In what was an eventful evening of football, South Coast Flame fought against the odds to claim a point against Nepean FC – with the score finishing 1-1. South Coast took the lead through a Matthew Mazevski penalty, before Nepean levelled the scoreline after two dubious red cards for South Coast.
There was action aplenty in the U/18 and U/20 matches, with the U/18’s finishing 2-2 and the U/20’s finishing 3-3. There were a total of 5 red cards across all three grades, and no shortage of entertainment.
Nepean are tipped as one of the State League’s competition favourites in 2019, and looked to assert their dominance early in the piece.
Their first true chance of the game came in the 6th minute, after some beautiful combinations from their midfield forced the ball towards the head of Farres Aoun. Aoun’s header hit the crossbar, as Nepean threatened from the get-go.
South Coast had a chance to take the lead in the 16th minute after a link-up between Justin Smith and Hiroaki Ushijima troubled the Nepean defence. Smith was able to find Ushijima’s feet, before the Japanese attacker was able to turn and shoot towards goal. The shot brushed past Nepean’s left post, and the scores remained level.
As the first half went on, the Flame were allowed more possession of the ball and were able to create some dangerous attacks. In the 29th minute, Ushijima was able to slot the ball out wide to Louis Connell. Connell was able to hit a dangerous cross into the Nepean penalty area, but the power of the cross was too much for Ushijima in the box as the ball breezed past the oncoming attacker.
The first half concluded with neither side able to break the deadlock. There was plenty of intensity from both squads, however no goals to show.
South Coast were an improved outfit in the second half, and began to control more possession more so than what they were able to in the first half.
The game was brought to life in the 54th minute, after South Coast were able to take the lead. Mazevski was able to lob the ball over the Nepean defence into the path of Ushijima, who was fouled in the box after gaining possession of the ball. Mazevski thundered the ball into the top left corner, converting his third penalty in two weeks.
Nepean were awarded a penalty of their own in the 59th minute, after Reec was fouled in the box following a defensive scramble. Captain Matthew White was able to save Aoun’s powerful penalty, and a sense of belief was instilled into the Flame’s squad as the chances of an upset grew greater.
Tension grew around Ian McLennan Park after Smith was shown his second yellow in the 78th minute, and South Coast had to hold firm despite the adverse circumstances.
Things went from bad to worse for the Flame, after Nepean were awarded a dubious penalty in the 79th minute – which lead to Jayden Smileski being shown his second yellow card of the night as South Coast were reduced to 9 men. White could not save Reec’s penalty, and Nepean found an equaliser.
The Flame had to hold firm if they were going to get a result, and that is exactly what they did. South Coast continued to fend away a barrage of Nepean attacks in the closing stages of the match, and were able to hold on for a well-fought draw against the club championship favourites.
South Coast Flame coach Paul Robaard was delighted with his side’s resilience against the competition heavyweights, even after finishing the game with 9 men.
“They worked hard. We had two players sent off but we worked hard all the way to the end and everyone put in, so it was a great effort from the guys” Robaard said.
Robaard was impressed with all 3 grades grabbing a result, after not being able to grab any results against Nepean last season.
“We learned a lot from last year, so obviously a great result from all. The 18’s potentially should’ve won and the 20’s to come from 3-0 down to get a point was fantastic, so great effort from those guys”
South Coast and Nepean’s U/20 sides played out a thrilling 3-3 draw which went all the way down to the wire in a bizarre and entertaining contest. Nepean scored three early goals to lead 3-0 after 15 minutes, as the 2018 league champions looked to make a statement. South Coast were able to claw one goal back through Jayden Nikolovski before Nepean’s Rory Mcgeown was shown a straight-red for dissent. Johnny Vicoroski was able to pull another goal back for the Flame to make it 3-2 at half time. The Flame pushed for a winner throughout the entire second half, however couldn’t break through. With the last play of the game and everything on the line, South Coast were able to level the game through Harrison Ellem and snatch a point after a horrid first 20 minutes of the match.
In the U/18’s, South Coast claimed a 2-2 draw after a double to Jonathan Mushaba. There was no shortage of controversy, with two Nepean players being shown red cards after South Coast’s second goal. Unfortunately for the Flame, Nepean were able to equalise shortly after this and both sides settled for a draw.
South Coast’s first grade side travel to Chopin Park mid-week to face the Western Condors in the FFA Cup. South Coast will be out to avenge their 7-0 defeat to the Condors just two weeks ago, which will make for an interesting contest.
South Coast return to Ian McLennan Park next Saturday to face another State League heavyweight in Central Coast United, in Round 4 of the FNSW State League. U/18’s kick off at 12pm, U/20’s kick off at 2pm and First Grade kick off at 4pm.
Report by Jarrod Pollard