FLAME REACH YET ANOTHER MILESTONE
It wasn’t the prettiest of games nor was it perhaps Flame’s best game of the season but, when it comes down to Finals football, all that matters is the result. A hard-fought and sometimes physical battle loomed as Flame edged out rivals Hurstville FC for the third time on the trot this season. A goal to Yuki Mandai midway through the second half was in the end, the difference. This follows last weeks 2-0 win which effectively secured Flame a playoff position.
The conditions pre-match were fantastic with bright sun shine and warm conditions.
It was the visitors though who looked to start a little better with Sebastian Coello dissecting the Flame defence and sending Paul Gagro through on goal on 5 minutes. Gagro forced a strong save from Matthew White as he deflected it up and over the bar.
It was a tentative start for Flame as the young squad looked a little nervous in the opening 15 minutes. The longer the half went though, Flame looked to grow in confidence.
Midway through the half, Flame won a free kick out wide 20 metres out. Matthew Mazevski whipped a ball over keeper Matthew Massarotto but the ball just went past the far post. Seconds later, Hurstville make their way up the other side of the field and a lovely cross finds Jesse Gagro who swings and misses from 7 yards out.
The game started to get a little physical as both Mazevski and Justin Smith took knocks on the half hour mark. Smith forced off the field early and replaced by Yuki Mandai.
Hurstville did finish the half strong and had multiple corners as Flame were looking to defend with a safety-first mindset. A cross to the far post found Coello but he could not keep his header down as it sailed over from 6 yards out.
Just before half time and from yet another corner, Hurstville beat White but Darren Jones was able to clear the ball with his head off the line.
In what was the last action of the half, Flame had a free kick out wide and on the left. Jones this time whipping one in and the ball bounced across the goal with Julio Mushaba and Wade Wilton throwing themselves at the ball but it was to no avail as the pace of the cross alluded them. Hurstville breathed a sigh of relief as both teams went into the break scoreless.
Flame lost Mazevski early in the second half as he succumbed to the earlier injury with Johnny Vicoroski getting a taste of first team finals football as his replacement.
On 56 minutes, Wilton let loose with a cracking shot from 25 yards out after Hurstville could only partially clear a corner. The shot forced Massarotto in a diving save to his left.
Just a couple of minutes later, some great lead up work from Connell saw him cut the ball back for Mandai but his effort skewed off his foot rolling comfortably out of play.
The game was starting to open up as both teams were going for it. On 62 minutes, Pedro Almeida was played through after a neat combination with Gagro however White made another crucial save to keep the visitors out.
It turned out to be a crucial save as just a minute later, Mandai put pressure on the Hurstville defence inside their own penalty area. He won the ball on the edge of the goal line and penalty area as the defender was looking to escort the ball out of ball. Some neat work saw Mandai beat two defenders and tuck it past the goalkeeper to put Flame ahead as the home supporters cheered on.
Hurtsville were clearly rattled and some cynical fouls followed not long after as the visitors looked a little frustrated.
The pushed players forward and use all three substitutes in an effort to save the game. Hurstville came close on 83 minutes as Adrian Livo this time got a shot away but White was once again having none of it.
Just a minute later, Hurstville came even closer to levelling as Gagro’s free kick struck the crossbar and was cleared in the dying minutes. Flame were not without their chances either as Hurstville pushed forward. Vicoroski coming closest with his shot grazing the cross bar from the edge of the box.
In the end, Flame saw off Hurstville FC winning 1-0 and progressed through to the second round of the Finals where they will play the loser of the Western Condors and Fraser Park match being played on Sunday.
Saturday 24 August @ Ian McLennan Park | Elimination Semi Final
South Coast Flame – 1 (Mandai 64’)
Hurstville FC – 0
South Coast Flame:
1. Matthew WHITE, 13. Alex BOARDMAN, 8. Andrew CHRISTIE, 9. Louis CONNELL, 3. Darren JONES, 10. Matthew MAZEVSKI, 39. Julio MUSHABA, 15. Jayden SMILESKI, 22. Toru SUZUKI, 35. Wade WILTON
Substitutes: 4. Daniel LUCAS, 32. Lachlan MORGAN, 17. Yuki MANDAI, 11. Johnny VICOROSKI, 44. Deakin SOUTHERN.
1. Matthew MASSAROTTO, 7. Pedro ALMEIDA, 4. Sebastian COELLO, 19. Christian DE MEGLIO, 13. Costandi FALLAS, 9. Jesse GAGRO, 10. Paul GAGRO, 12. Daniel KOCINA, 15. Nicholas KOUGIOUS, 11. Adrian LIVIO, 14. Daniel MARAS, 8. David PAVEY, 5. Stephan PERAK, 17. Aleks TRENOSKI, 20. Rhys TURNER, 21. Anthony VRINAT
Photo Credit: Richie Wagner