FRASER PARK PROVE A LITTLE TOO GOOD FOR FLAME
Fraser Park showed just why they are one of the leading contenders this year with a solid 3-1 win over a 10-man South Coast Flame on a cold, blustery evening at Ian McLennan Park. As was the case in the first meeting, the damage was done in the first half.
Fraser Park started the game running left to right and with the aid of a stiff breeze. Flame found it difficult to play anything in the air as it was just flying back into their face such was the force.
On 10 minutes, Fraser Park managed to pierce the Flame defence allowing Matthew Nezval through on goal. Nezval elected to round keeper Matthew White however the Flame custodian struck out an arm to deny his opponent.
Not long after, Luiz Lobo danced his way past three defenders as he weaved his way into the penalty area however some desperate defending was able to deny him an effective shot with the goal at his mercy.
Half way through the first half, Flame managed to muster their first real threat. The energetic Hiroaki Ushijima ripped past a couple of defenders as he flew down the right side. He cut the ball back across goal for Yuki Mandi however the ball just came too quick for him as the chance went begging.
As luck would have it, Fraser Park capitalised on the let off when in the 27th minute, another ball through the middle found Torihara who appeared off side. He squared the ball to Nezval who smashed it past White from 15 yards to put the visitors ahead.
On 30 minutes, things got worse for Flame. Matthew Mazevski having been booked earlier in the match saw red for a second cautionable offence as frustration looked to set in. It was a bit of a brain snap from the midfielder.
Things then were compounded as Domenic Siu found space and time to whip in a ball which was well controlled by Lobo who turned his defender before finding the bottom left corner to put Fraser Park 2-0 up on 34 minutes.
Just before the half time break, Louis Connell combined well with Mandai to make a darting run down the right before whipping in a teasing ball across goal. Ushijima was inches away from getting a toe to it on the far post as Flame looked to counter.
Flame looked to regroup at half time and started the second half on the front foot. It was however Fraser Park who extended their lead on 50 minutes after Nezval was allowed to turn inside the box. He thumped the ball past White from 8 yards out to extend Fraser Park’s lead to three.
With the game going into a lull for the next 20 minutes, Flame suffered further setbacks with both Connell and Ushijima being forced from the field through injury.
Flame did however finish the game strong and applied great pressure on Fraser Park over the last 15 minutes even with 10 men.
On 83 minutes, Darren Jones tried an audacious chip from 35 yards out which had Fraser Park keeper Ian Johnson scrambling. The effort narrowly went wide.
Just a minute later, Jayden Smileski beat two defenders out on the left side before chipping back across goal. The lob caught everyone off guard as it sailed over the head of Johnson and with the aid of the breeze nestled itself into the corner of the net to pull a goal back for the home side.
Just 60 seconds later, Mushaba struck the ball across the goal and in a wild goal mouth scramble, Fraser Park somehow eluded conceding again. That would have made things rather interesting however the visitors were able to compose themselves and see out the game running away 3-1 winners.
Other results did not fall the way of Flame this week however the good news is that we are still in the hunt for a playoff position finish with destiny in our own hands. A win against Hurstville next week will see Flame qualify for the finals with the team an outside chance of finishing third (depending on other results). A loss however and the team will finish sixth, thus ending their season.
The Under 18 fell 3-1 to Fraser Park and this has effectively ended any chance the boys had of making the playoffs this year. They will be hoping to get maximum points next week to consolidate a sixth position finish.
The Under 20 just could not claw their way back and fell 2-3 to Fraser Park and they too now sit in sixth spot and whilst a win could still see them make the playoffs, they will be relying on one or two other results to fall their way.
Next week, we finish the regular season at St George Stadium on Sunday 18 August against Hurstville FC.