Match Reports

In an action-packed game, Flame Senior Men suffered their first defeat of the season to Inner West Hawks going down 3-1 to a side who themselves were on a five-game unbeaten streak. Three first half goals to the Hawks proved too much to overcome despite Flame fighting hard right to the end.

It was clear the Hawks meant business right from the opening whistle. Their pressure and intensity right across the park had Flame out of rhythm.

The first real opportunity fell to the Hawks on 13 minutes. Matthew Cuda driving a firm shot right at Jordan Bruce after finding a yard of space just outside the box.

A minute later, some good work from Peter Phillips had Flame scrambling and his pass across goal needed a timely touch by James Baldacchino who helped diffuse the opportunity.

Flame’s first opportunity fell to Mitch Turner who nearly capalised on some wonderful combinations through the midfield. He was played through however he placed the ball across goal.

It proved pivotal as the Hawks found their way upfield from the goal kick and switched the ball to Nathan Chakanesta on the right side. He was perhaps given a little too much room and he set sail towards goal and beat Bruce from ten yards out to give the Hawks the lead.

On 24 minutes, Michael Trajkovski was quickest to react to a ball over the top and with Harrison Myers well off his line, he chipped the ball over the keeper but the ball bounced the wrong side of the goal post.

On 34 minutes, Hawks doubled the lead when the leagues top scorer Takuma Hirano was put through on goal. He made no mistake burying the opportunity.

Despite a couple of opportunities from Flame, the Hawks were well on top in the first half and half time couldn’t quite come quick enough for the visitors.

On 43 minutes, a failed clearance saw Peter Phillips control the ball in the box, turn and shoot across the goal finding the bottom corner to make it three before half time.

To Flame’s credit, the didn’t panic and gave themselves a cold, hard reset at the break. They came out firing in the second.

Just a minute into the second half, Jyden Harb snapped a shot narrowly over the bar from just inside the box.

And a few minutes later, again, some good combinations through the middle saw Genki Iwata thread the ball through to Trajkovski who slipped it past Myers to give Flame some early hope.

That hope seemed short-lived when Yanni Fragogiannis was controversially sent off for an off the ball incident on 53 minutes reducing Flame to ten players.

The visitors kept playing and almost immediately, through Iwata found a second. A neat ball through saw Iwata through one on one and he perhaps should have done better as Myers smothered his chip. A goal there would have made things interesting.

This action sparked a fenzy of opportunities to both sides.

Firstly, Hirano latched onto a loose ball in the box and cracked a shot that bounced off the post and back into Bruce’s hands.

On 63 minutes, Iwata rocked the cross bar after he just couldn’t keep his freekick down enough.

Despite Flame playing with 10 players, Flame had their tails up and were fighting hard to get themselves out of the mess they found themselves in.

On 66 minutes, Baldacchino snapped a half volley from about 12 yards out that was destined for the roof of the net however he was denied by a flying save Myers.

Heading into the last ten minutes, Flame threw bodies forward and the Hawks were looking to catch them on the counter.

The last few chances falling to the Hawks with Peter Yannopoulos combining well with Hirano with the latter unable to beat the goalkeeper from 12 yards.

Hirano had one last chance deep into the game where his thumped a shot again against the post from a goal mouth scramble.

Neither side able to find another goal with the match ending 3-1 in favour of the Hawks.

Flame were left to rue their slow start and now must regroup ahead of their Australia Cup fixture midweek against local side Wollongong United which is followed by their next round fixture against Central Coast United.

Coach Andrew Paine managed to see the positive side of the match.

Overall, I wasn’t overly disappointed with our general play. It was just one of those games. On the balance of chances, I felt it was pretty even, but we didn’t convert and the Hawks front three were very clinical. To go a man down, still find a goal and then be the aggressor for most of the second half is a good sign and something we will look to build on for next week.

The Hawks on the other hand are flying high at the moment as they edge a little closer to the top teams.

Match Stats | 23 March 2024 | Round 7 @ Arlington Oval

Inner West Hawks – 3 (Chakanesta 16’, Hirano 34’, Phillips 42’)

South Coast Flame – 1 (Trajkovski 49’)

The U20 game was also full of drama with the home side going ahead on 13 minutes courtesy of Stavros Palapanis. Midway through the half, a defensive mix up in the Hawks defence saw Flame gifted a goal as a stray backpass from Matthew Lo Surdo found it’s way into an unguarded net.

It was more toing and froing in the second half and the Hawks go the go ahead goal on 51 minutes through Gabriel Tseros after he nicked the ball off Flame in the box and burying it into the far corner.

Antonio Sansone showed some individual class before having his shot that was destined for top bins incredibly saved by the goalkeeper as Flame bombed forward.

They were rewarded when with just a couple of minutes left, Ryan Plumridge popped up on the back post to bundle the ball over the line after a goal mouth scramble.

It finished all square.


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