South Coast Flame registered their second win of the season in the midweek Round 3 catch up game against Hawkesbury City. Goals to debutante Cody Waller and Matthew Mazevski saw Flame run out 2-1 winners giving the team a huge boost as they near the half way stage of the season.
It was a historic night for the club as Zander Alston, Terrance Jah and Cody Waller all got starting debuts whilst Jett Black also debuted off the bench. The average age off the team was just over 22 years. Flame were without Daniel Lucas (injured) and Carlo Stella (suspended) for this match and the back-line needed a reshuffle.
Flame started the game the brighter of the two sides and the midfield was in total harmony with the back four and forward line. Jack Balmforth coming close inside the opening 10 minutes as his stinging strike was well held by Daniel Schwarzer.
Flame’s early dominance was rewarded on 15 minutes as Balmforth and Connell linked up to cross the ball to Waller whose first time left foot shot from the penalty spot could not be kept out by Schwarzer who got a hand to it.
Midway through the first half, the game turned on its head and it appeared Flame’s early season misfortune would continue. Firstly Connell was on the receiving end of a heavy challenge which forced him off the field with a dislocated shoulder and then moments later, Kasey Kulcsar was adjudged to have denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity and was subsequently sent off.
This forced further changes to what was already a makeshift back-line. Mazevski dropping in and filling that void for the remainder of the first half.
It was a momentum shift as Flame suddenly were limiting themselves to counter attacking opportunities although they held on well without giving up any clear opportunities for the visitors.
The start of the second half saw Jett Black make his debut in First Grade as he dropped into the back four pairing up with Lachlan Morgan in the middle.
It was a tremendous start for Flame to the second period as Mazevski got himself on the end of a corner to the far post to rise above the defenders and head the ball into the roof of the net giving Flame a two goal lead. It was in fact the first time this season Flame hit the back of the net twice in a game.
To Hawkebury’s credit, they rallied and the experience of Gregory Kondek and Keiran Pace had the visitors dominating large chunks of the second period as Flame looked to sit back and absorb the opposition’s attacking raids.
Hawkesbury resorted to a lot of aerial raids but Flame had numbers in and around the box regularly as they repelled raid after raid.
The visitors did get a break through in the 72nd minute as Flame partially cleared a another aerial threat however Mattia Manolio’s header looped over Thomas Matthews and despite a desperate goal line clearance attempt by Zander Alston, Hawkesbury were back in it.
Flame keeper, Matthews, was dominant in the air and he also managed to make a couple of important saves off Marco Turpienen and Benin Mujumbu.
Flame held their composure for the rest of the match seeing out the 2-1 win. It was a battling performance that at times was not pretty but under the circumstances, Flame did what they needed to do.
Whilst coach George Kulcsar was relieved to get the final result, he was most complimentary to the youngters who stepped up on the night.
I am pleased with the teams performance and attitude tonight but to see a number young players all get their debuts including an U18 player, two U20 players and a new signing was particularly satisfying.
Captain Matt Mazevski scored his second goal of the season and was also delighted to see the team bounce back after a couple of disappointing losses.
I think this type of performance has the capacity to inspire the team and see us turn a corner. There is still more than half a season to go and we are not giving up hope of making a push for a finals spot.
Wednesday 5 May @ Ian McLennan Park | KO 7.30pm
South Coast Flame – 2 (Waller 15′, Mazevski 49′)
Hawkesbury City – 1 (Manolio 72′)
Photo: Pedro Garcia Photography