DEPLETED FLAME TAME RAGE
South Coast Flame ground out a 1-0 win over Granville Rage on Saturday night with youngster Jonathan Mushaba netting the decisive goal right on the stroke of half time.
The first team had several omissions from the squad through injury, illness, and suspension, yet they found a way to overcome a stubborn and resolute Rage defence. Teenagers Sebastian Arancibia and Joel Dowling were given starting debuts whilst Mushaba started in just his second match in the first team.
Flame were left scratching their heads a little after dominating the Round 1 game against UNSW where they just could not find the net. They had the bye in Round 2 and were keen to get maximum points in this compressed season against a team that was left floundering after two early defeats.
Flame looked to get things going right from the kick-off when inside two minutes, a great switch found Daniel Lucas flying down the right side. His cross found debutant Dowling who just could not get enough purchase on his header from 8 yards.
Dowling was involved again on eight minutes when he threaded a neat ball to Sandy Lowcock who was free on the left. His left foot snap from just inside the penalty area found the side netting.
On 25 minutes, Flame thought they had the breakthrough they deserved when Alex Pappas found the net but was judged offside in the lead up.
Flame was well on top inside the opening half hour. Pappas did extremely well to get to the goal line before cutting back to Justin Smith who was lurking on the edge of the penalty area. He took a touch before unleashing a shot that went inches wide.
A minute later, Smith had another chance from the edge of the area but this time, he fired straight at Granville keeper, Samuel Bortolazzo.
Granville were limited to set pieces and corners for chances although to be fair, Matthew White did not have a great deal to do with the backline of Lucas, Kasey Kulcsar, Carlo Stella and Wade Wilton repelling any Rage glimmers.
On 39 minutes though, Granville mustered their best chance of the half with Declan Munro controlling a pass into the box before turning and shooting however this missed the target.
On the stroke of half time, Lowcock got on the end of a mix up in defence to sneak a touch past Bortolazzo who took him out inside the box. To the referee’s credit, he played advantage as Mushaba was on hand to tap the ball into an empty net and give Flame the lead.
Just 6 minutes after the restart, Mushaba rounded a defender and headed for goal. He unselfishly laid off for Smith who was trailing through the middle however he blasted over from 8 yards with the goal at his mercy. A golden chance went begging for Flame to build a buffer.
Flame continued to be aggressive and on 66 minutes, Mushaba did extremely well to keep the ball from crossing for a goal kick. He managed to get some control and flight the ball to the far post but Lowcock’s stretched header hit the wrong side of the goal.
Just 3 minutes, Granville’s Anthony Gallo went on a mazy run that ended with a shot from just outside the penalty area that grazed the outside of the post. After dominating possession and chances, Flame would have been forgiven to be deflated had Granville leveled with this opportunity.
A Smith freekick on 81 minutes was perfectly flighted across goal however it skimmed off the surface and beat everyone.
Granville threw players forward as time was ticking down. With just a few minutes left, Gallo found a yard of space before hitting a rocket which fortunately for Flame went straight to White. It was to their last chance as Flame saw out the rest of the match to record their first win of the new campaign.
Speaking with Coach George Kulcsar post-match, he was clearly delighted to get the team’s first win of the season.
“The whole team’s defensive performance was first class and the score line perhaps did not reflect our dominance. We really should have done better with the amount of chances we created tonight.”
Kulcsar also took time to praise the effort of the youngsters who got opportunities.
“Despite injuries and suspension of several regular first team players, the under 20 boys that stepped up tonight performed exceptionally well. We had five teenagers on the field at one stage. It is going to make selecting the starting line up next week all the more difficult.”
It was Flame’s second successive clean sheet and they are yet to concede in the second installment of the league season. This resoluteness will be required next week when the boys travel to Bathurst to take on leaders Western NSW.
Flame currently sit five points adrift of top spot however having had the bye early, this bodes well and effectively gives them a game in hand.
Saturday 1 August 2020 @ Ian McLennan Park
South Coast Flame – 1 (Mushaba 45’)
Granville Rage – 0
SOUTH COAST FLAME: 1. WHITE, Matthew, 22. ARANCIBIA, Sebastian, 25. DOWLING, Joel, 15. KULCSAR, Kasey, 7. LOWCOCK, Sandy, 4. LUCAS, Daniel, 30. MUSHABA, Jonathan, 13. PAPPAS, Alex, 6. SMITH, Justin, 5. STELLA, Carlo, 3. WILTON, Wade.
Substitutes: 34. RIDLEY, Preston, 41. SOUTHERN, Deakin, 29. MORGAN, Lachlan
GRANVILLE RAGE: 1. BORTOLAZZO, Samuel, 8. BORTOLAZZO, Daniel, 21. BURBAGE, Grant, 10. GALLO, Anthony, 7. ISSA, George, 12. LAMOND, Alex, 2. LUC, Mitchell, 3. MUNRO, Declan, 4. RASSIOS, Dean, 14. SADLER, Ryan, 13. WARWICK, Jackson.
Substitutes: 18. ANGELOPOULOS, Manuel, 15. NAKHOUL, Jayden, 22. NAVAN, Jacob, 16. THAPA, Asheem, 5. PETERSON, Caleb, 6. CHAN, Patrick.
Assistants: B.MERCHANT and H. GEE
Report for South Coast Flame | @SCFlameFC
Photo courtesy of Nic Coutts.