South Coast Flame broke a 5 year hoodoo by claiming their first win over the Tigers at Camden. Ron Dine Oval has not been a happy hunting ground for Flame over the years however Flame secured a 2-1 win on Saturday night.
Both sides started the game at a fast pace and were determined to get the edge on each other.
Alexander Pappas secured his first start in Flame colours this season and wasted no time in getting himself into a good scoring position on 10 minutes when got in behind the Tigers defence. His shot from just inside the box was well saved by Camden custodian Michael O’Rourke.
Just moments later, Camden’s Dean Mugridge just couldn’t get on the end of a cross with the goal at his mercy.
The game was end to end early and on 19 minutes, Zander Alston nearly capitalised on a neat pass that saw him through on goal. His left foot effort was sliced across goal.
It seems like both sides were just trading chances in the first half when Mugridge danced his way past two defenders before unleashing a powerful which Riley Nicholl did incredibly well to get something on it deflecting it wide.
Fabian Iacovelli’s pace up front was causing the Tigers some concern however his brut strength earned him a wonderful opportunity on 26 minutes as he shrugged off a defender and got himself wide open inside the penalty area however his shot was also sliced wide.
A goal was coming, and it was South Coast Flame who got themselves in front. A cross from Sam Alston was not dealt with well by the Camden defence as the ball made its way to the far post to the waiting Pappas. He controlled the ball well and shot across keeper O’Rourke and into the side of the net to give Flame the lead on 32 minutes.
Just 8 minutes later, Flame were awarded a free kick about 30 yards out over near the touchline. Zander Alston floated in a dangerous ball that eluded half a dozen players who threw themselves at it. The bounce and lack of deflection confused and deceived O’Rourke as it bounced beyond his grasp and into the net.
Just as the game was winding down to half-time and into first half injury time, the Tigers hit back. A wonderful cross across goal saw Jarred Morley on hand at the far post to bundle it over the line and halve the deficit right on half time.
Just two minutes after the break, Iacovelli nipped in to steal a stray pass and go through on goal. He managed to round O’Rourke however his touch just took him a couple of yards too far and by the time he managed to recompose himself for a shot on goal, Jack Harris scrambled back to clear the ball off the line.
Dean Pender was immense at the back whilst youngster Aidan Chard also produced a strong game to repel the home side who looked to bomb on.
Goalkeeper Nicholl was once again forced into a strong save on 61 minutes when Owen Roberts ran across the edge of the box before sending a shot to the bottom corner that had Nicholl at full stretch to deny him.
Both sides were looking to penetrate the defensive lines however the closest anyone got from that point was Matt Mazevski’s 25 yards effort that dipped and forced O’Rourke into an awkward save as the ball trickled inches wide.
Flame defended well and bounced back from their midweek defeat to secure an important victory that keeps their slim hopes of finals football alive.
In the earlier match, Flame were left to rue some defensive mistakes as they went down 4-3 in a topsy turvey match.
Jordan Cracknall put the Tigers ahead on 14 minutes before Matthew Lane doubled their lead just five minutes later.
With their backs to the wall, Flame launched their comeback and Tom Saxby deflected one into his own net to give Flame a lifeline just a minute later.
On 27 minutes, Jayden Nielson neatly finished past Evan Martin to complete the comeback and tie the ball game.
However, in what was a crazy first half, Brendan Lane capitalised on a defensive error to put Camden back in front.
Flame were clearly rattled as Jacob Jeffrey took advantage of their minds being elsewhere when just two minutes after the break, Camden went 4-2 up.
Flame battled hard and threw bodies forward. They were rewarded when Alex Gailbraith danced his way past a couple of defenders and slid the ball past Martin to reduce the deficit once again.
Despite giving it their all, Flame just couldn’t find another goal and were left to rue the away that got away.
Both sides now need to recover quickly as they have another catch up game on Tuesday night at Melita Stadium against Parramatta Eagles.