FLAME SUFFER CRUCIAL BLOW
South Coast Flame took the field for the first time at home looking to make a good impression in front of their faithful supporters. It was Parramatta Eagles though who spoiled the party and doomed the Flame to their second successive defeat. An unfortunate own goal to Carlo Stella towards the back end of the game was followed not long after with a cracking strike from Neram Yalda which was enough to see off Flame 2-0.
Both sides started the game with attacking intent with half chances at both ends of the field inside the opening fifteen minutes.
The game came to life when on 19 minutes when Sandy Lowcock chased down a loose ball and laid off for Louis Connell who found himself in front of goal with only the keeper to beat. He hit a firm shot that almost got under the advancing keeper Nikola Bratic. Somehow Bratic got a firm hand to it as the ball trickled on the wrong side of the post.
Just two minutes later, a nice move from the Eagles saw Michael Martinovic unleash a stinging shot that forced Matt White into a smart save.
Just on the half hour mark, the Eagles chipped the ball into the penalty area and found Jamie Nicolaou whose first touch was exceptional, and he turned Stella quickly and fired low and hard to the near post from six yards out. White got down extremely well to make the save. In the ensuing clearance, Flame managed to break quickly, and the ball fell to nicely to Justin Smith who blasted high from 10 yards out and the goal at his mercy.
Flame were looking dangerous every time they ventured forward however veteran and former Condors defender Gabriel Gomes was usually front and centre in repelling these raids. The teams went into half time scoreless however much like last week, Flame got off to slow start before cranking up the gears towards the back end of the first half.
Coach George Kulcsar would have demanded more of the same from the troops as they returned from the break. Flame did just that. Two early chances inside the opening ten minutes on resumption to Lowcock and Matt Mazevski respectively were both off target.
On 57 minutes, Mazevski whipped in a dangerous freekick which had the Eagles scrambling and when the ball fell to Smith, he looked destined to score however the ball ballooned over the bar from seven yards.
As so happens in football, you are likely to get punished when you do not take your chances. Flame were dealt a crucial blow on 62 minutes when Masudi Elongo crossed across goal. In trying to clear, Carlo Stella shanked his clearance which went over the head of White and clipped the underside of the crossbar before going in.
Flame did not dwell on their misfortune and continued to play some good football. Just two minutes later and despite being on an angle, Connell should have done better when he shot the ball across goal from just six yards out.
Minutes later, a cross from Hiroaki Ushijima was brilliantly brought down by Lowcock who found himself ten yards out and his flick produced an outstanding save from Bratic who once again came to his sides rescue.
With 20 minutes left, Parramatta won a free kick 30 yards from goal. With Flame anticipating the ball to be floated into the penalty area, the ball was actually played sideways to Neram Yalda who took a soft touch before letting loose with a left foot shot that swerved away and high out of reach hitting the roof of the net. In truth, it was a cracking goal which effectively ripped the heart out of Flame.
To Flame’s credit, they never stopped trying right to the death. With just ten minutes left, a deft flick from substitute Daniel Lucas presented Connell with yet another golden opportunity who missed the target again from close range.
With time running out, Lucas took matters into his own hands and looked to have chipped Bratic from distance however the man of the match managed to get a fingertip to the ball and preserve a clean sheet.
Whilst Flame can consider themselves unlucky not to get anything from the game, they simply cannot afford to be off target as many times as they were tonight. In saying that, Eagles shot stopper Bratic must have felt ten feet tall and six feet wide as he produced a string of great saves.
Flame now find themselves without points in the opening two rounds and next week’s trip to Lithgow takes on extra significance as the boys look to get their season going.
In the Under 20’s, things didn’t quite go to plan there either. Parramatta Eagles looked to be gifted a goal in the first half as their cross somehow managed to find its way in the back of the net. Things got worse for Flame midway through the second when an errant back pass gifted the Eagles a second for an own goal. The Eagles iced the game with a third late but by that stage, the horse had bolted.
The Under 18’s continue to fly the flag for the senior grades at the moment. In a see-sawing game, Flame edged out the visitors 3-2 with Ryan Chard netting a brace and Noah Lehn also chiming in with a goal.
14 March 2020 @ Ian McLennan Park
South Coast Flame – 0
Parramatta Eagles – 2 (Stella OG 62’), Yalda (70’)