In football, sometimes teams do not get what they deserve. That was the case on Saturday night at Valentine Sports Park when Flame took the match to league leaders Hawkesbury succumbing to a 93rd minute winner from the Hawks.
Flame started the game with great intent and Jack Balmforth worked some magic just outside the box before snapping a shot that Daniel Schwarzer got down and saved inside the opening minute.
It didn’t take ling though for the high flying Hawks to get themselves into the game as they started winning duels and pressuring the Flame midfield and backline.
Hawks’ Marco Turpeinen raced through the middle before sending Harry Drew through on goal and only a last ditch sliding tackle from Alex Gailbraith denied the hosts from perhaps taking the lead on 12 minutes.
On 21 minutes, former A-League star Predrag Bojic let loose a stinging shot that deflected straight to Turpeinen whose half volley from 12 yards sailed over the bar.
Just four minutes later, Hawkesbury perhaps took a deserved lead when Drew timed his run to perfection leaving himself a clear run on goal before neatly tucking it past Luke Morgan to put the hosts one-up.
Both teams had some half chances throughout the rest of the first half however the score remained 1-0 to Hawks at the break.
South Coast Flame come out in the second half with purpose and vigour. They set the tone for a strong second half performance right from the get go. Zander Alston and Balmforth were finding space out wide with Flame dominating the midfield. Cody Waller held the ball up well bringing his team mates into the game as all of a sudden, it was the Hawks on the back foot.
Flame’s second half dominance was rewarded on 59 minutes when Matthew Mazevski unleashed a dipping shot from 25 yards that went in off the left upright.
This seemed to inspire Flame as just a minute later, Lucas Ayala nearly caught Schwarzer off his line with a neat chip that was collected right under the cross bar.
Flame’s Logan Mathie and Dean Pender were solid at central defence and were regularly getting balls forward whilst repelling any occasional Hawks raids.
On 68 minutes, Alexander Murrell should have done better as he benefitted from a Taylan Skurtevski slip to go through one on one but his shot slid the wrong side of the goal.
The game opened up in the last 15 minutes with Flame pushing for a winner. Mathie, Balmforth and Waller all having shots blocked by a desperate Hawks defence which to be fair were scrambling well.
As the game ticked over to 90 minutes, the ball fell to Michael Streeter from a failed corner clearance however the Hawks defender couldn’t keep his shot down in a crowded box.
Just as the match looked destined for a draw, Drew got in behind the Flame backline and squared the ball to Daniel Morsillo who tapped in for the latest of winners. Despite Flame’s protests for offside, the goal stood and Hawks saw out the remaining seconds to take maximum points in game of two halves that perhaps deserved a draw.
Coach Darren Jones was lamented the start but was full of praise for his team’s second half performance.
“I thought we were poor the first half, we weren’t playing the style of football we know we can, the hunger and desire was also lacking. We had a few passengers out there to be honest. I challenged the boys at half time and their response in the second half was tremendous! I couldn’t be more proud of our second half efforts. We absolutely dominated the half. Scored a cracking goal and we were really unlucky not to take the lead.
Unfortunately, football is a cruel game when you concede in the 93min to a goal that appeared to be offside. The lads didn’t deserve to go home without a point! Whilst the whole teams response was brilliant in the second half. Have to give special mention to Matt Mazevski, I have been pushing him all season to produce his best & he had a outstanding performance in the second half. Pulled strings in midfield & scored a wonderful goal! Also, to have two young boys from our 18s Jay De Gouveia and Aiden Chard come on when they did, and have an immediate impact, was really impressive. We’ve set the standard now, we have a massive couple of weeks coming up & finals football is still within reach. That is our goal! It’s a mountain to climb, but if we can be more consistent for 90min of football, we can beat anyone in this competition.”
The Under 20’s have moved to second spot on the ladder following another great performance in which they claimed a 2-1 win over Hawkesbury City.
Jordan Wright continued his goal scoring form with a tap in goal after a clever cross from Jayden Nielson found him unmarked in front of goal on 20 minutes. Flame were dominant in the first half and despite a number of close calls, the Hawks would have been pleased to be just one down at the break.
The second half was a little more balanced however Flame doubled their lead on 55 minutes and Wright had a double after a well taken goal had the boys in the driving seat.
The Hawks were looking to fight back however Luke Hoefsloot and Damien Hurst were solid at the back for Flame whilst GK Riley Nicholl also looked quite composed.
The home side snuck a goal on 83 minutes through young substitute Brayden Waters. This set up a rather nervy finish to the game however Flame held on to claim back to back wins.