FLAME AND HURSTVILLE FIGHT OUT SIX GOAL THRILLER
With both South Coast Flame and Hurstville fought out an entertaining and thrilling 3-3 draw at Penshurst Park on Saturday night.
The home side shot to a 2-0 lead before Flame stormed back to hit the lead late only for Hurstville to find a late equaliser.
It was clear right from the outset that both sides were intent on playing attacking football.
Cody Waller came on as a very early replacement for the injured Zander Alston and on 13 minutes almost made an immediate impact. A cross from Fabian Iacovelli skidded across goal and Waller pounced on it from the far post. From ten yards out, his left foot shot was well saved by Michael Rutherford.
Just a couple of minutes later, Iacovelli found himself through on goal however Rutherford again pulled off a fine save to deny Flame.
After enduring an early barrage from Flame, Hurstville started to come into the game after 20 minutes and they were using their aerial strengths to their advantage.
On 21 minutes, Frank Puric leapt highest from a corner however he saw his header from 6 yards sail over the bar.
Just a couple of minutes later, a wonderful cross found Tomas Medimurac however he too headed over from range.
On 35 minutes, Hurstville opened the scoring when a free kick from 40 yards out found Jacob Botic whose header was a little too hot to handle for goalkeeper Riley Nicholl.
Hurstville led 1-0 at the break and it was all to play for as Flame were looking for three points or bust in the second half.
Things didn’t quite go to plan for Flame early in the second half as on 55 minutes, yet another long range free kick was whipped in and Botic helped it along to nestle it inside the far post and give the hosts a 2-0 lead.
Midway through the second half, Flame coach Darren Jones made several substitutions in a last ditch attempt to get something from the game. It proved to be a bit of a master-stroke as all of a sudden Flame dominated possession and were starting to make some further inroads.
On 65 minutes, the first warning shot was fired when Iacovelli saw his header cleared off the line.
Just six minutes later, Waller received the ball on the right hand side and he weaved his way past two defenders before unleashing a stinging left foot drive that beat Rutherford inside the near post. Flame all of a sudden had a spring in their step.
On 78 minutes, a Flame corner found Matt Mazevski lurking on the far post. He headed the ball back across goal and Iacovelli was on hand to bundle it over the line from close range and in the snap of the fingers, Flame were level.
Flame nearly hit the lead just three minutes later when some nice ball movement found Jack Balmforth in open space down the right. He crossed to Lucas Ayala who was free just 8 yards out however Ayala appeared to slip at the worst possible time as the ball slipped past him.
On 85 minutes, Flame incredibly found what they thought was a late winner. A wonderful cross from Naomichi Araki found Waller directly in from of goal and he half volleyed the ball into the back of the net to put Flame in front for the first time in the match.
Hurstville were left scratching their heads however as good team do, they never gave up. The home bombed on putting Flame on the back foot as they looked to defend their lead.
Several half opportunities went begging for the home side however into stoppage time, yet another long ball from a free kick found Jacob Richie on the far post. He directed his header back to the other side and it fell nicely into the corner to cap off an amazing night of football.
Both sides were forced to settle for a draw in the end in what was perhaps a fair result. Flame perhaps felt the pain more as the result now sees the club needing a minor miracle to feature in the Playoffs.
Flame face Prospect United on Monday night at the Furnace in a catch up game and a win could see them leap over them into sixth spot.
Ironically, in the under 20’s, it was exactly the same result in another entertaining match that had swings.
Ryan Chard put Flame ahead on 19 minutes after he applied some good pressure on the Hurstville central defenders as they were attempting to play the ball out. He managed to intercept it and got off a low shot which beat the keeper into the bottom right hand side corner.
On the half hour mark, Flame doubled their lead after Taylan Skurtevski beat a Hurstville defender to the goal line and as he cut the goal back across goal, it was deflected back into the net by Joshua Covic.
Flame went into the break 2-0 up and seemingly cruising however just a minute after restart Yianni Nioplias cut through the Flame defense to be left with an easy low shot past Matt Gazivoda in goals.
You wouldn’t believe it but immediately from the kick off, Flame played the ball wide on the left to Hasan Ayoub and he crossed into the Penalty area. The ball fell to Jayden Nielson who with his back to goal managed to turn sharply to his right and shoot hard into the right hand corner past the keeper. Flame restoring their two-goal buffer.
Hurstville put themselves back in the match on 67 minutes after they managed to pass their way through the Flame midfield who missed several challenges before the ball was passed to Nicholas Leontsinis who from inside the Flame penalty area managed to shoot low past Gavivoda.
Just seven minutes from time, Hurstville managed to draw level after a defensive mix-up provided an opportunity for Marko Maricic to simply pass the ball into an open net.
A point is a point but for both teams this weekend, the draws will feel like losses.
The First Grade back up again on Monday night (18 July) for a catch up match against Prospect United.