Illawarra Premier League: Season 2018

Wollongong Olympic will celebrate 40 years in the Illawarra Premier League this season and have built a formidable team as they seek to dominate the league after their disastrous self-inflicted exit in the semi-final 2017. They kick off with a home game against Woonona on Saturday 24 March at 2.30pm. This will match will be featured.

Details of the season’s draw can be found at South Coast Football  (Draw details).

Holiday Japan
Port Kembla v Sydney Olympic

Corrimal Rangers have made some new signings for this season and will look to improve on last year’s struggle at the wrong end of the table.

Midfield_CU
Survived 2017

Fernhill returned to the Illawarra Premier League after gaining promotion last year and the question immediately arises, will they go immediately back down?

ID

Fernhill contemplate their opening game against Tarrawanna.

Fernhill set up as a counter attacking team with a compact defence and this worked on Sunday. They harassed Tarrawanna’s midfield and broke down the play nullifying the Blueys attack.

ID

View from behind the net as Fernhill narrowly miss a chance.

Fernhill Mid-field struggle
Fernhill in a midfield struggle with Tarrawanna
Ferhill v Tarrawanna
Bradley Acev and Ryan Hunter in a 9 v 6 battle
Fernhill v Tarrawanna
Intense marking
Fernhill v Tarrawanna Rd 2
Tackles a-plenty
Ferhill v Tarrawanna Goalkeeper saves
Tarrawanna goalkeeper Adam Rodriguez minimizes the loss.

Despite midfield control for large parts of the game by the Blueys the chances fell to Fernhill who were unlucky not to win by more.

Ferhill v Tarrawanna goal celebration
That winning feeling

Tarrawanna contemplate the unexpected loss and the season ahead.

ID
Liam Unicomb

Wollongong Olympic are off to a flying start as expected in a 5-1 demolition of Woonona.

WO v Woonona Rd1
Wollongong Olympic off to a flying start
Wollongong Olympic v Woonona
And Number 5
Wollongong Olympis v Woonona
Tight marking and midfield press ensure easy Wollongong Olympic win
Wollongong Olypic v Woonona Rd
Woonona never gave up
Wollongong Olympic v Woonona Rd1
And get their goal

Woonona are left contemplating what is to come in the season ahead.

Wollongong Olympic v Woonona Rd1
Contemplating the season ahead
Wollongong Olympic v Woonona Rd1
Goals galore
Wollongong Olympic v Woonona Rd1
A tough road ahead

Tarrawanna take on competition favourites Bulli on Friday at the picturesque Tarrawanna Oval and will be the feature match for Round 2.

Round 2

Scoreboard
Thrashing at the hands of Bulli

Tarrawanna sit at the bottom of the league after losing in the first two rounds.

Tarrawanna v Bulli
Tarrawanna Pressure proved ineffectual
Tarrawanna v Bulli
Jacob Fryday battles it out down the flanks but is matched for pace by Bulli’s No.2 Kyle Jackson

Jacob Fryday attacks down the flanks was one of the few highlights of Tarrawanna Blueys disappointing game.

Tarrawanna v Bulli Rd2
Marcus Beattie scores.
Tarrawanna v Bulli
Marcus Beattie celebrates

It was all too easy in front of the Jim Clancy Bar

Tarrawanna v Bulli
Jim Clancy Bar look on as Bulli close down the Tarrawanna midfield
Tarrawann v Bulli Rd 2
Bulli surround Tarrawanna’s midfield
Tarrawanna v Bulli
Yuma Kuwata gives the thumbs up for the fourth goal.

Tarrawanna coaches discuss the first half performance but to no avail.

Tarrawanna v Bulli Rd2
Tarrawanna coaches discuss tactics

At the foot of the table after just two rounds but with a long season ahead the clouds descend over Tarrawanna Oval

Tarrawanna v Bulli
Clouds descend over Tarrawanna Oval
Woonona v Tarrawanna
Behind the coaches’ bench

The Woonona v Fernhill clash turned into an exciting action-packed game with a penalty save at both ends as Fernhill came from behind to snatch all three points. Fernhill, the newly promoted team join the leaders at the top of the pack.

Woonona v Fernhill
Celebrations after magnificient overhead strike giving Jacob Madden no chance

Shinsei Tanaka’s speed and clinical finishing caused the Woonona defence difficulties all match. Tanaka scored a brace and the important second goal that lifted Fernhill to see them as eventual winners, Woonona 2 Fernhill 3.

Anniversary

Woonona v Ferhill
Jarryd Mortimer sharing a joke before the start of the second half
Woonona v Fernhill
Trent Worthington equalizer
Woonona v Fernhill
Struggle for possession
Woonona v Fernhill
Tanaka goal
Woonona v Tarrawanna
Bryce Daenell penalty save that ensured the win
Woonona v Fernhill
But not until after an all out assault by Woonona

Jacob Madden nearly scores with just minutes to go.

Woonoa v Fernhill
Madden contemplates what could have been
Woonona v Tarrawanna
Handshakes all round after the impressive Fernhill victory

Early days yet but it is always important to get off to a good start.

Woonona v Fernhill
The Woonona shark will be hungry for points next week against Bulli
Woonona v Tarrawanna
Mitchell Turner

Fernhill face a difficult top of the table clash against Wollongong Olympic.

Round 3

The mid-table clash between Port Kembla and Corrimal was one of those games that can only happen in football with the referee awarding four penalties in the first half and waving away another three penalty shouts in the second half. After the first half, he seemed determined not to award another.

Penalty
Van Elia brought down in the box. Referee awards four penalties in the first half.
Port Kembla v Corrimal
Mashahiko Morita is brought down by Nathan Beisito in the box.

Brad Jardine lets in a goal

A tough day for goalkeepers. Brad Jardine given no chance as the ball is driven into the net.

Corrimal celebrate
Mashahiko Morita scores for Corrimal. Nathan Beisito is unimpressed with the marking.
Mashahiko Morita
There was no stopping Mashahiko Morita who scored a hat-trick
Midfield
Offensive approach taken by both sides
Carter Madden
Offensive drives through midfield. Both teams threw caution to the winds in search of all three points.
Tough day out
The heat was on throughout the game.

Final result: Port Kembla 4 Corrimal 5

Coachs- pleanty to work on
Coaches from both sides have plenty to work on, particularly in defence.

After Bulli’s win and move to the top of the table, the question was who would join them?

Fernhill v Wollongong Olympic
All were wondering if Fernhill could maintain the momentum against a heavyweight, Wollongong Olympic.
Fernhill v Wollongong Olympic
Ryan Hunter attempts to contain the speedy Yusuke Ueda.
Fernhill v Wollongong Olympic
Tight marking of Ueda is a clear tactic used by Fernhill in an attempt to get at a point at home against Wollongong Olympic.
Fernhill v Wollongong Olympic
John Martinoski returns under the watchful eye of the coach.
Fernhill v Wollongong Olympic
Martinoski takes on Aloegninou in a battle of the tall and the short.
Fernhill v Wollongong Olympic
Wollongong Olympic never allows Fernhill any time on the ball.
Fernhill v Wollongong Olympic
Fernhill set up defensively and work their socks off.
Fernhill v Wollongong Olympic
Aleogninou and Ueda in the battle for possession.

Fernhill v Wollongong Olympic

Fernhill v Wollongong Olympic
However the goals came. Ueda header seals the 0-2 victory away at Fernhill.
Fernhill v Wollongong Olympic
Ueda quality and a dominant attacking approach triumphs.
Fernhill v Wollongong Olympic
Fernhill 0 Wollongong Olympic 2
Fernhill v Wollongong Olympic
A powerful display of midfield dominance.

Then there were two on top of the table.  Bulli and Wollongong Olympic both have three wins from three. Wollongong Olympic and Bulli meet next week. Who will become outright leaders after Round 4?

Round 4

The Wollongong Olympic v Bulli FC was the early and late show.

Wollongong Olympic v Bulli Rd 4 2018
Bulli score a goal after just one minute

Wollongong Olympic then took control of midfield and went searching for the equalizer. Yuya Kuwata was rock solid in defence and Bulli triple marked Yusuke Ueda nullifying the final balls into the penalty area.

Wollongong Olympic v Bulli Rd 4 2018
Yuya Kuwata punches the ball off the head of Yusuke Ueda

The first half became a stop and start affair with whistle, whistle and more whistle from the referee as Bulli went into niggle mode breaking up the play and stopping the fluidity of the Olympic midfield.

Wollongong Olympic v Bulli Rd 4 2018
Tight marking made it difficult for Olympic to create meaningful chances

Eventually the Wollongong Olympic bench blew up with increasing criticism of the refereeing from the sidelines.

Wollongong Olympic v Bulli Rd 4 2018
The Olympic coaches become frustrated by the Bulli approach of breaking up attacking opportunities going unpunished with yellow.

Eventually a yellow is issued to the Wollongng Olympic bench.

Early dominance in the second half pays off with a well constructed goal from a series of interpasses as the referee allows the play greater fluidity with intelligent use of the advantage rules.

Wollongong Olympic v Bulli Rd 4 2018
Wollongong Olympic equalize
Wollongong Olympic v Bulli Rd 4 2018
Equalizer early in the second half through Vaughn Patterson
Wollongong Olympic v Bulli Rd 4 2018
Goal celebration
Wollongong Olympic v Bulli Rd 4 2018
Olympic chase the win as John Matinoski is introduced creating a number of half chances, all unconverted

Wollongong Olympic v Bulli Rd 4 2018

Marcus Beattie made incisive runs up both flanks and prevented Wollongong Olympic pushing too many players forward in their chase for a win.

Wollongong Olympic v Bulli Rd 4 2018
Marcus Beattie is brought down in the box late into the game during one of a few and far between counter attacks
Wollongong Olympic v Bulli Rd 4 2018
Shattered by the late call after all the effort chasing the win
Wollongong Olympic v Bulli Rd 4 2018
Dylan Lewis converts from the spot
Wollongong Olympic v Bulli Rd 4 2018
The late sucker punch seals the win for Bulli FC

Bulli FC as the only team yet to drop a point sit on top of the league and live up to the early favourites tag.

The mid-table clash between Corrimal Rangers and Albion Park White Eagles was important for both sides. Corrimal conceded too many goals in their first two games and were looking for another clean sheet after their win over the struggling Wollongong United.

Corrimal v Albion Park Rd4 2018
Dogged defence and never give up attitude from both teams
Corrimal v Albion Park Rd4 2018
Daniel Arcaba brilliance helped stabilize the Corrimal defence
Corrimal v Albion Park Rd4 2018
A powerful direct free kick as the ball skims the post. Corrimal survive, the scores locked at 0-0
Corrimal v Albion Park Rd4 2018
Tough tackling by both sides was a key feature of the game
Corrimal v Albion Park Rd4 2018
The game flared to red hot as both side looked to impose their superiority.
Corrimal v Albion Park Rd4 2018
Takeru Okada created havoc down the right-wing with his speed and agility
Corrimal v Albion Park Rd4 2018
Shane Ardle created numerous opportunities for the White Eagles with both teams  locked in a stalemate

Opportunities were created by both sides in an exciting game.

Corrimal v Albion Park Rd4 2018
Offside
Corrimal v Albion Park Rd4 2018
Shannon Fielding clears off the line in a last ditched effort to rescue the draw
Corrimal v Albion Park Rd4 2018
Luke Debot
Corrimal v Albion Park Rd4 2018
There was no way through for either side

Corrimal v Albion Park Rd4 2018

Corimal Rangers 0 Albion Park White Eagles 0

It was one of those highly entertaining and exciting 0-0 draws. A fair result for both sides seeking to consolidate their defences for the season ahead.

 Round 5

Demolition Day as Wollongong United are crushed at home by Wollongong Olympic who were stung by a defensive Bulli last weekend. Three early goals by Wollongong Olympic including two by John Martinoski ensured the win after only 25 minutes with Yusuke Ueda adding another in the second half.

WU v WO Rd5
Shun Tokuno goal after only 3 minutes

Corrimal v Albion Park Rd4 2018

This had the Wollongong United fans stunned who were expecting more resistance from their side.

Corrimal v Albion Park Rd4 2018

But it was all smiles for Wollongong Olympic fans.

WU v WO Rd5
All smiles from Wollongong Olympic fans and questions by Wollongong United fans
WU v WO Rd5
A stunned Zac McLaren
WU v WO Rd5
Matthew McNab struggled to contain the Wollongong Olympic midfield

Corrimal v Albion Park Rd4 2018

Matty Brennan couldn’t penetrate the rock solid Olympic defence

Corrimal v Albion Park Rd4 2018

Luke Foster distributes the ball in one of the attacking raids in the first half. Alvin Ceccoli is kept busy chasing shadows.

WU v WO Rd5
Despite tight marking Yusuke Ueda gets his goal
WU v WO Rd5
Hayden Durose has another good game and clean sheet

Wollongong United drop to equal 7th place as their scratchy form continues.

In the Sunday mid-table clash between Port Kembla and a resurgent Tarrawanna there is another early goal as Bradley Arcev drives home a Tarrawanna Blueys belter after 12 minutes. A fit and hungry Tarrwanna Blueys outfit dominated the first half with Port Kembla struggling to gain or maintain possession.

Port Kembla v Tarrawanna Rd 5
Kyle Senior ready to do battle in an important game for both sides
PK v TB
Bradley Acev belter after 12 minutes
PK v TB Rd5
Tarrawanna’s high paced pressing games nullifies Port Kembla attack
PK v TB Rd5
Senior with a desperate clearance helps restricts Tarrawanna Blueys opportunities
PK v TB Rd 5
Battle royal between Samuel Chapple and Ben Zucco
Port Kembla v Tarrawanna
Keenly contested midfield

The midfield was disputed with Tarrawanna emerging on top early in the first half .

PK v TB Rd5
Tarrawanna Blueys prevail.
PK v TB Rd5
Corey Horner takes on Naru Kato
PK v TB Rd5
It wasn’t all one traffic though with Adam Rodriguez ensuring that the few shots on goal at his end were stopped.
Port Kembla v Tarrawanna Rd 5
Rodriguez adds confidence to the defence

In the second half Port Kembla were unable to crack the Tarrawanna defence.

Port Kembla 0 Tarrawanna Blueys 2

Tarrawanna join Port Kembla and Wollongong United in equal 7th position in what looks to be an intense mid-table struggle. Has the Fernhill bubble burst going down 8-0 to Bulli at Balls Park? They now will need points from a stung Wollongong United who will also be desperate for points. This game will see whether Fernhill are the real deal with finals aspirations or will be drawn into the relegation zone. Early in the season but things are sorting. Can’t make next week’s rounds, but get to a game if you can. It is a great competition with excellent and exciting games. Viva La Football.

With ANZAC Day weekend approaching it is appropriate to acknowledge the service of soccer players and fans around the nation. Bulli 1901 home ground is still in use today.

ANZAC
“Peace Procession” at Balls Park the home of Bulli FC in 1919 with soccer goals in the background. (Illustration from “Greeting from Woonona Bulli images of the black diamond district ” Mick Roberts  Wyewurry Publications 1995

The notes say that football (soccer ) was played at Balls Park since the 1880s.

Round 7

Wollongong United needed to show that they are a chance in this year’s competition when they took on Bulli FC flying high in the table and apparently unbeatable.

After conceding early goals against Wollongong Olympic they needed to ensure an early grip on the midfield if they were to have any chance of winning. The tactics employed were to close down the ball distributors and limit the space for the mobile Bulli FC outfit.

Local
“Danger Mouse” Dylan Lewis is marked out of the game by a pressing Wollongong United

Wollongong United soon dominated midfield and Bulli FC found it difficult to gain possession.

Local
Sam Davies struggles to control Matty Brennan’s skilful play down the flank
Local
Kazuto Kushida slots home the Wollongong United goal

After losing last minute in the FAA Cup and going behind to Wollongong United has the wheel of fortune turned for Bulli FC?

Wollongong United v Bulli FC
Bulli coaching staff become increasingly agitated as the team struggles to make headway with Lewis being marked out of the game

Chances continued to fall to Wollongong United

Wollongong United v Bulli FC Rd7
Kuwata makes some great saves to keep Bulli FC in the game

Bulli bring on Marcus Beattie to add thrust late in the game as they chased an equalizer

WU v Bulli Rd7
Marcus Beattie is well-marshalled by Luke Leighton
Local
A frustrated Bulli FC and tough Wollongong United defence flared into outright aggression towards the end of the match
WO v BUlli Rd7
Kuwata runs 50 meters to have a sortie with Zac McLaren and is lucky to avoid sanction
Local
In the end, Bulli FC are left wondering how they will breakdown the Wollongong United midfield when they next meet.
WU v Bulli Rd7
Guy Knight takes a tumble

The question now arises will this be a stumble or fall for Bulli FC in the quest for the League Championship. Wollongong Olympic defeated Port Kembla and join Bulli on top of the table.

Wollongong United 1 Bulli FC 0

Meanwhile, Fernhill FC who were off to a flying start were brought down to earth with two straight losses and needed to lift against Cringila Lions at home in the late match. Fernhill set up defensively a tactic which had brought them their early wins.

Fernhill v Cringila Lions
Fernhill pace troubles Cringila the whole match
Fernhill FC
Fernhill pace, grit and determination pays dividends

Fernhill FC score first and close down the Cringila attack. They play the offside trap and set up a compact pacy defensive pressing game as they looked for the quick Tanaka counter sucker punch.

Fernhill FC v Cringila
Shinsei Tanaka scores to give Fernhill FC the lead

In the second half Cringila dominated possession and eventually were awarded a penalty.

Fernhill FC v Cringila Lions
Cringila blast the penalty wide

It proved a frustrating night for Cringila but an effective one for Fernhill FC who remain difficult to beat at home.

Fernhill FC v Cringila
A frustrated Cringila
Fernhill v Cringila
In the end pace and fitness won the game. Ferhill FC only needed substitutes to take up time in the last few minutes.

Fernhill FC 1 Cringila Lions 0

Tarrawanna needed a win or they’d fall too far behind the chasing pack for a finals spot even this early in the season. The hot and cold performances are no doubt a source of frustration for the coaching staff because when the Blueys are good, they are very good, but when they are bad they are horrid!

Corrimal v Tarrawanna Rd7
Tarrawanna Blueys inconsistent form

The game against Corrimal Rangers was therefore very important to build confidence and consistency. Corrimal were already six points ahead of Tarrawanna so going for an away win for the Blueys was tactically essential.

Corrimal v Tarrawanna Rd7
The importance of the game wasn’t lost on the players

Tarrawanna were immediately on the front foot looking to attack Corrimal Rangers.

Corrimal v Tarrawanna Rd3

Samuel Chapples looks to inject an attacking tempo early

Corrimal v Tarrawanna Rd7
Jared ‘thighs” Fish makes aggressive runs through the middle of the Corrimal Rangers defence
Corrimal v Tarrawanna Rd7
Tight making eventually resulted in Tarrawanna gaining control of the midfield

Eventually the intense pressure translated into a goal with a Liam Unicomb piledriver ripping into the top right hand corner of the net bringing Acaba and Corrimal down to their knees.

Corrimal v Tarrawanna Rd7
Unicomb pile drive breaks the deadlock
Corrimal v Tarrawanna Rd7
Arcaba after the Unicomb net ripper
Corrimal v Tarrawanna Rd7
There was a sense of relief in the celebrations after a concerted team effort to get in front paid dividends.
Corrimal v Tarrawanna Rd7
Unicomb nearly gets a second shortly after.

Tarrawanna continue to attack and are awarded a penalty in the 2nd half that is duly converted.

Corrimal v Tarrawanna Rd7
Rick Goodchild scores from the spot

Corrimal Rangers then threw players forward in attempt to make up the deficit.

Corrimal v Tarrawanna Rd7
Tight defence ensures no way through for Corrimal Rangers
Corrimal v Tarrawanna Rd7
Rodriguez keeps a clean sheet
Corrimal v Tarrawanna Rd7
A tough and important win for Tarrawanna Blueys
Corrimal v Tarrawanna Rd7
Collective effort under pressure
Corrimal v Tarrawanna Rd7
Corrimal now need to regroup for next week
Corrimal v Tarrawanna Rd3
The Corrimal eye now turns on Woonona and the still to be fed shark . They will be seeking to bounce back after their loss to the Blueys.

Corrimal 0 Tarrawanna 2

All in all, it was another great week of exciting matches.

Round 8

The big game will be Wollongong Olympic against Albion Park White Eagles on Saturday. The White Eagles have flown under the radar and are only one point behind leaders Bulli FC and Wollongong Olympic. Expect an eagerly contested and possibly heated encounter as both team seek to keep Bulli FC in their sights.

Corrimal v Albion Park Rd4 2018
Shane Ardle

The mid-table scap is heating up. Fernhill Foxes play Port Kembla who are just two points behind. This game will be another important indicator if the Hill are the real deal and a potential candidate for the championship.

Nobi MochizukiPort Kembla need points to stay in touch with the leading pack to have an opportunity to repeat their remarkable feats in last year’s finals. The speed and agility of Fernhill contrast to the gritty no-nonsense approach of Port. This game promises to be a tussle and an important confidence booster for the winner.  A draw could see Tarrawanna, who play Picton, leapfrog the Hill and Port.

Corrimal v Tarrawanna Rd3
Fernhill to face Port Kembla

Round 8

The big game was between Wollongong Olympic and Albion Park White Eagles with Olympic in equal top spot followed by the White Eagles just one point behind.

The big question was whether the White Eagles could match it with Olympic.

Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8

As expected, Olympic were immediately on the attack and dominating possession. Shun Tokuno was marshalled by a narrow defence that aimed to intercept his passes into the box.

Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8
Tokuno on a flank attack down the left looking to cross into the box and give Ueda a heading opportunity

The key target man for Olympic was Ueda who was closely marked and given no room. The White Eagles also intercepted passes starving him of possession.

Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8
Double marking of Ueda a tactical ploy

Early pressing of the Olympic central midfield and tackles on Martinoski disrupted the flowing Olympic midfield.

Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8 Martinoski is brought down

Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8
Challenges early in game as White Eagles contested possession
Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8
White Eagles desperately tried to shut down the David Hartas mobility and trickery
Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8
Kojiro Hori drives with his left foot from 25m in an attempt to break down the compact and deep White Eagles defence
Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8
The ball flashes past the post with the keeper beaten

Unable to get an early goal, the inevitable White Eagles counter punch catches the Olympic defence as Hayden Durose is beaten at the near post.

Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8
Hikaru Kawasakiya goal
Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8
Celebration as White Eagles go in front against the run of play

Olympic continued to chase the game and rearranged midfield with Martinoski making more flank runs in an attempt to drag the White Eagles defence wide and out of position.

Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8
Midfield rearrangement confused the White Eagles defence

Olympic began putting in a sterner defensive effort.

Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8
Jake Duczynski halts Shayne Ardle

The Olympic pressure finally paid off late in the Ist half with a Tokuno goal

Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8
Olympic get their goal to level the scores late in the first half with a Tokuno goal

The referee ignores White Eagles pleas for offside. The goal stands.

Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8
No offside

The second half became a game where both teams nullified each other. Olympic continued to attack but threw fewer players forward. Controversy erupted near full-time.

Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8
Chris Fuentes skirmish with John Martinoski is about to have consequences
Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8
White Eagles coaching staff look away as chaos erupts.
Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8
The referee consults his AR before Chris Fuentes is red carded

White Eagles goalkeeper Chris Fuentes was red carded for violent conduct after an altercation with John Martinoski.

Wollongong Olympic 1  White Eagles 1

After an impressive win against Cringila Lions, the Fernhill Foxes faced a desperate Port Kembla needing points to keep up with the running pack. It was one of those wintry days with a Southerly Buster impacting on the game. Both teams needed to decide how to deal with the windy conditions as Fernhill ran with the wind in the first half.

As Henry Lawson puts it,

“Old Southerly Buster! your forces you muster
Where seldom a wind bloweth twice,
And your ‘white-caps’ have hint of the snow caps, and glint of
The far-away barriers of ice.”

Ferhill v Port Kembla Rd8
Dale White is fully aware of the importance of the game.
Ferhill v Port Kembla Rd8
Fernhill target man Shinsei “the Road Runner” Tanaka is immediately under pressure
Ferhill v Port Kembla Rd8
Tackle on Tanaka- no way through

Ferhill v Port Kembla Rd8

Port adopts a tight making regime all over the field

Ferhill v Port Kembla Rd8
As do The Hill
Ferhill v Port Kembla Rd8
Determined pressing and good use of the counter along the wing allowed Sandy Lowcock to score on the break as the through ball held up in a swirling strong burst.
Ferhill v Port Kembla Rd8
Goal celebration
Ferhill v Port Kembla Rd8
Lowcock never let Tanaka out of his sights and completely nullified the main Hill tactic of relying on long balls and the speed of Tanaka to crack open the defence.

Port Kembla got a second through Marko Ishihara

Ferhill v Port Kembla Rd8
Marko Ishihara gets the second

Fernhill Foxes go into the break 0-2 and looking for new ways to get passed the Port Kembla defence.

Ferhill v Port Kembla Rd8
Port Kembla in control early and going with the wind in increasingly gusty conditions
Ferhill v Port Kembla Rd8
In the second half Port kept pressing for more goals.

Fernhill keep attacking and are awarded a lifeline with a penalty.

Ferhill v Port Kembla Rd8
Brad Jardine makes a brilliant fingertip save from the spot
Ferhill v Port Kembla Rd8
The Fernhill coach looks on despondently realizing that his team missed their opportunity to get back into the game.

As Fernhill throw players forward then the killer blow arrives from a rapid counter attack.

Ferhill v Port Kembla Rd8
The third into the top left hand corner
Ferhill v Port Kembla Rd8
Fernhill fans looking at a loss and their team falling to the bottom of the finals spot chasing pack.
Ferhill v Port Kembla Rd8
The Port defence remains resolute
Ferhill v Port Kembla Rd8
And so ends an entertaining game on a blustery Southern Buster of a day.

Fernhill 0 Port Kembla 3

Fernhill next play Albion Park White Eagles then Corrimal Rangers, matches that may determine their chances of 5th spot at the end of the season.

It’s safe to get into the surf again as the Woonona Shark had its first feed. Woonona move above South Coast United on the table.

Woonona 2 Corrimal 0

South Coast United are now all alone in the relegation stop.

Round 9

The big question surrounded Bulli FC. Have they succumbed to the jitters after losing recent games and will they continue to struggle? They faced Port Kembla who were coming off an impressive win over the rapidly sinking Ferhill Foxes.

Port Kembla were off to a good start with a number of attacking raids pinning Bulli FC back who were looking jittery.

Yuma Kuwata save
Yuya Kuwata makes an excellent save
Ben Zucco raids
Ben Zucco tracked by Tobin Zoomers

Port caused problems for the Bulli defence early in the first half with Bulli struggling to get hold of the ball. Bulli set up defensively and relied on the quick counter to make inroads into Port territory.

The deep lying Bulli FC defence and quick wing-backs ensured that Port were unable to get the ball behind the lines. The pacy Kyle Jackson linked well with Marcus Beattie and they were causing trouble for the Port defence on the counter with their rapid movement and quick passing of the ball.

pace of Kyle Jackson
The speed of Kyle Jackson ensured that the Bulli flanks were well protected.

Port had numerous opportunities early on none of which were converted.

Kyle Senior header
Kyle Senior header skims off the bar

Against the run of play a quick attack down the right-wing by Dylan Lewis and Mitchell Del Turco slots in the first giving Brad Jardine no chance. Bulli FC take the lead. Port’s defensive frailty reappears and the players begin to lose confidence as Bulli start to surge forward.

Goal_1
Goal
goal celebration
Port players already sense that it will be difficult to contain the speed of the passing around the box from Bulli’s attackers.

Port rearranged the system to a more defensive approach. Bulli took full advantage of the extra space and soon had a second by Dylan Lewis in a great response from the berating he received from his coach the previous week.

goal 2
The second goal is driven into the net by Dylan Lewis

Just before half-time Port are down to 10 men.

second yellow
2nd Yellow for Kyle Senior and he’s off after an unnecessary sliding tackle from behind.
coach pk
Realization that getting back in the game would be difficult is felt throughout the team as they go to the break.

The writing was on the wall and Port went into loss limitation mode.

Bulli FC put on the accelerator as confidence was sky-high and Port struggled to deal with the pace of Bulli’s attacks and  the quick ball movement around the box.

Beattie goal attempt
Marcus Beattie shoots for goal.
Mitchel Del T^urco challenges for the ball
Mitchell Del Turco use of body to challenge for the ball

Dylan Lewis get his second with a smashing drive into the left-hand corner.

Dylan Lewis hat-trick
Dylan Lewis scores a hat-trick

It was too easy for Bulli after the third and fourth. Ben Zucco is subbed after non stop running. The defence tell Jardine to slow down on goal kicks and let them catch their breath.

Zucco subbed
Ben Zucco is subbed and the game is lost

Bulli FC take the foot off the pedal and cruise to victory.

Port Kembla FC 0  Bulli FC 4

Wollongong Olympic played the next day knowing they need a win to remain level with Bulli at the top of the table. The coach urged the players to win the ball, first, second and third balls.  Meanwhile Corrimal Rangers needed to sort out the defence again after losing to bottom placed Woonona the previous weekend.

Olympic were immediately on the front foot and dominated possession as Corrimal built a brick wall in the defensive 3rd.

Hori raids
Kojiro Hori with one of his runs down the right-wing.

DSC_7440

The Corrimal defence used all means to defend.

tackle
Brendan Forham is tackled
Caocng bench
Olympic coaching staff become frustrated by the lack of yellows issued for some blatant fouls early in the first-half

Olympic created a number of half-chances and tended to rely on high balls into Yusuke Ueda.

Chances-half
Yusuke Ueda heads towards goal

Daniel Arcaba 2

The brilliance of Daniel Arcaba and super-human effort by the Corrimal defence kept Olympic scoreless in the first half.

Arcaba save Daniel Arcaba 2

olympic player

Khushaba v Patterson
Khushaba Khusaba v Vaughan Patterson was a key individual battle during the game.
Defence hold on
Exhausted Corrimal defence hold solid in the first half

Corrimal relied on quick flank attacks by Mashahiko Morita and Takeru Okada. They often switched sides but the zonal approach taken by the Olympic defence ensured chances were far and few between for Corrimal.

quick breaks
A Masahiko Morita quick counter looking to release Takeru Okada behind the defensive line

In the 2nd half Olympic continued to attack while Corrimal adopted a ‘thou shalt not pass’ approach.

No passing

Acaba to the rescue
Daniel Arcaba to the rescue!
sets up the wall
Daniel Acaba sets up the wall
and saves
And saves
Brilliant goalkeeping
Arcaba made some important and brave saves to keep a clean sheet

ueda tackle

DSC_7638
Late in the game Yusuke Ueda is tackled from behind by Timothy Wylie in the box but stays on his feet resulting in a no penalty call by the referee.

The question arises, had Ueda gone down when tackled from behind in the box, would the referee have awarded a penalty?

Great individual battles occurred across the field. David Hartas and Masahiko Morita engaged in an enthralling contest of speed and will.

Morita v Olympic player

Shun Tokuno

Khushaba

The game ends in a thoroughly entertaining draw.

Corrimal Rangers 0 Wollongong Olympic 0

Round 10

Woonona Sharks with 6 points from their last two games faced Tarrawanna Blueys who have come off a mid-week FFA Cup tie and who will play Hakoah Sydney City the following Wednesday. The key question was could the Blueys maintain the rage and over-run Woonona at home. With so many mid-week games, squad rotation is a must which has its advantages and disadvantages. It gives the manager the opportunity to see all the squad players under competitive conditions and creates incentives for the fringe players to improve their games. A lack of depth in the squad, coupled with a conservative approach by the manager by using the same players runs into the problems of fatigue. Even A-League clubs struggle with mid-week games, largely the result of the lack of depth due to the salary cap as has been seen in recent Asian Champions League games. So the stage was set for an interesting struggle.

The Sharks started off well, were sharper to the ball and dominated territory early until the Blueys got going and started imposing their superior organization and technique.

Midfield battle
The Blueys struggle to get into the game.
DSC_7932
The early pace of the Sharks was met with high balls from Tarrawanna relying on the longball through the centre.

This style of response didn’t really suit Kwang Woo Kim who is a ball player and the Ocean Park surface was bumpy added to his difficulty getting into the game.

high balls
The high balls didn’t suit Kwang Kim

Nevertheless these balls were easy meat for Christopher Gibson who rose to the challenge and nullified this approach.

Christopher Gibson
Christopher Gibson

It was 0-0 at halftime with the Blueys scratching their heads about how to break down the Woonona defence, a defence that has conceded plenty until their last two games.

There was no way through and Jarrad Fish struggled to get onto the ball and create problems for the Woonona Sharks defence.

Jared Fish

In fact, all the players despite their effort looked exhausted from their midweek effort.

Liam Unicomb

Liam Unicomb played well but lack that final edge need to crack open the Sharks defence.

Tarra player
Blueys players despite a solid effort appeared exhausted and lacked the final thrust needed to get over the line.

The Blueys were first out of the shed, whether keen to get on with the game and take three points or just keen to get the match finished is anyone’s guess.

First out of the sheds
First out of the sheds.

The second half saw few chances and good goalkeeping,  A collective defensive Woonona effort motivated by the desire to move away from the relegation zone had the Blueys struggling to make headway.

Woonona Keeper Jacob Madden
A safe performance by Jacob Madden ensured a clean sheet.

The approach by the Sharks was defensive, and it worked. They now move out of the relegation zone.

Woonona coaches
Woonona Sharks coaches in defensive mode.

The game ended in a scoreless draw and Woonona earned another valuable point making is seven points in the last three games.

Woonona Sharks 0 Tarrawanna Blueys 0

A sign of resilience is the ability to lift after adversity. Fernhill Foxes came into the game against Corrimal Rangers after undergoing a long slide in the table after an excellent start to the season. Confidence was no doubt petering to the edge of a cliff after the drubbing they received the previous week. Albion Park White Eagles breached the Hill defence as if it were butter, winning by a resounding  6-0 at home. The White Eagles are now gearing up for League Champions race. The question was how would the Foxes react at home, coming up against Corrimal who held out title-chaser Wollongong Olympic last week. A Corrimal win would move them level with the Blueys in the Top 5.

Woonona v Tarrawanna R10
Save by Bryce Daenel

Corrimal Rangers were immediately on the front foot and the first chance was on target with Bryce Daenell saving at the near post. Undeterred, the Foxes counter attacks with Shinsei Tanaka and Yusuke Maruyama combining down the flanks created difficulties for the Rangers. The Foxes took advantage of the attacking Corrimal formation which left gaps at the back open for exploitation. The next clear chance went the way of the Foxes and a low drive narrowly missed.

Woonona v Tarrawanna R10

The early counter attack resulted in an early goal and the Hill immediately readjusted with Tanaka and Maruyama dropping deeper into a more defensive formation as Corrimal searched for an equalizer.

Woonona v Tarrawanna R10
Shinei Tanaka, the little maestro, celebrates the goal with his team
Woonona v Tarrawanna R10
Arcaba saves

Chances flowed at both ends with both goalkeepers in action.

Tackles began to flow as Rangers struggled to contain the Fernhill momentum created by the goal.

Woonona v Tarrawanna R10

Woonona v Tarrawanna R10
Calum Fleming brings down Mitchell Turner

Corrimal began to take control in the latter part of the 1st half and narrowly missed on a couple of occasions.

Woonona v Tarrawanna R10
Dale White stops a certain goal to ensure the Hill went into the break one up.

The 2nd half was a one-sided affair with the Rangers pressing for an equalizer while the Foxes sought to break-up play.

Woonona v Tarrawanna R10
Corrimal kept a high line in second half as they pressed for an equalizer

Corrimal employed a high defensive line and focused on attack but to no avail.

Woonona v Tarrawanna R10

The Hill began to put in their fair share of tackles to disrupt the Rangers surge.

Woonona v Tarrawanna R10
Neither side flinched as the foul count began to mount.
Woonona v Tarrawanna R10
Nice save by Bryce Daenell

Tight marking was a feature of the Hill play and in particular containing Morita.

Woonona v Tarrawanna R10
Morita given no room by the Hill.  Dale White and Maurice Aloegninou ensure no progress is made by the Corrimal attack.
Woonona v Tarrawanna R10
Fernhill Foxes displayed steely determination to stop that sinking feeling. The Sergio Ramos tackle didn’t work!

It was an important victory for Fernhill desperate to atone for the trouncing the previous week. The Foxes play Picton next week and will go into the tie with renewed confidence.

Fernhill Foxes 1  Corrimal Rangers 0

A diversion to the FFA Cup

Tarrawanna Blueys were the last IPL team to represent the region in the FFA Cup. Tarrawanna was unable to score against Woonona Sharks on the weekend and were looking jaded in that game, now had to come up against Hakoah. They were required to move grounds by the FFA because of the inadequate lighting at their home ground. Imagine, soccer has been played in the Illawarra since at least 1883 (Balgownie is the oldest still existing club in the region) and yet there is only one dedicated soccer ground in the whole region deemed fit for night matches.

The inevitable occurred: a light failure before the match plunged the ground into darkness except for the moonshine. Eventually the lights were restored and the game started.

Woonona v Tarrawanna R10
A jaded Blueys were slow out of the block and down 0-2 before the crowd had even properly settled.

It was 0-3 by half-time. Early into the 2nd half, a red card and the Blueys were down to 10 men.

FFA Cup
Red card

Admirably, they attacked and tried to make a game of it, but to no avail.

Woonona v Tarrawanna R10

The game ended 0-4. And so ended the last IPL team challenging for the FFA Cup.

FFA Cup
A disappointing end to the FFA Cup challenge
FFA Cup
So ended the challenge by the last remaining IPL team in the FFA Cup.

Tarrawanna Blueys now need to regroup and prepare for a difficult assignment against Wollongong Olympic which will be the featured match next round.

Round 11

We’ve reached the halfway stage of the season. The Blueys have had a hard slog over recent weeks with midweek FFA Cup games taking the edge and sharpness off they play. They now face Wollongong Olympic with Yusuke Ueda back in goals scoring form after a few lean weeks. The question was whether the Blueys, an inconsistent team at the best of times would be able to lift and consolidate their position in the Top Five. The chasing pack of Port Kembla, Fernhill and Corrimal meant a loss would open opportunities for them in the 2nd half of the season with the closing of the gap.

Tarrawanna started off on the front foot and they created the first couple of opportunities. They seemsed to have learned that a slow start can be disasterous, as was the case in their game against Hakoah.

Tarrawanna v Wollongong Olympic Rd11
Hayden Durose makes an excellent early save
Tarrawanna v Wollongong Olympic Rd11
The ball flashes past the post
Tarrawann v Wollongong Olympic Rd11
Olympic’s positive attacking approach soon saw the tide change with David Hartas containing Tarrawanna’s right flank and always looking to pass the ball forward out of defence giving momentum to the attack..
Tarrawanna v Wollongong Olympic
Yusuke Udea strikes and Olympic are in the lead.

That made it 14 goals for the season so far for Ueda. The exertions over recent weeks were beginning to show on Tarrawanna. Olympic continued to dominate possession and the Blueys struggled to contain the momentum shift.

Tarrawanna v Wollongong Olympic Rd11
Wollongong Olympic celebrate and Tarrawanna heads drop. Rodriguez looks in hope to the AR  even though it was clearly onside.
Tarrawanna v Wollongong Olympic
Momentum shift was now complete as Shun Tokuna trickery propels Olympic forward

Wollongong Olympic go in at halftime leading 0-1 with all the signs auguring well for the 2nd half to come.

Tarrawanna v Olympic
Vaughan Patterson

Woonona v Tarrawanna R10

Tarrawanna v Wollongong Olympic R11
A crested pigeon looks on as the winter has definitely settled in.

Olympic were out of the blocks early and immediately on the attack going for the jugular.

Tarrawanna v Olympic Rd11
Ueda continued to cause problems for Tarrawanna in the 2nd half
Tarrawanna v Olympic Rd11
Tarrawanna suddenly find themselves second to the ball.

The gusty winds made it difficult even to place the ball for a corner.

Tarrawanna v Olympic Rd11
Kojiro Hori finds it difficult to place the ball in the gusty southerly buster.
Woonona v Tarrawanna R10
David Hartas scores from the Kojiro Hori corner kick.
Tarrawanna v Olympic
It was worth the effort to get the ball to still properly
Woonona v Tarrawanna R10
Olympic celebrate Hartas goal

However, Tarrawanna didn’t give up and get the goal that puts them back into the game.

Woonona v Tarrawanna R10

Tarrawanna v Olympic Rd11
Hayden Durose unable to keep to make the save.

Woonona v Tarrawanna R10

Soon after Olympic get their 3rd and the game looks safe.

Tarrawanna v Olympic
Fans behind the goal celebrate.
Tarrawanna v Olympic Rd 11
Luke Foster celebrates his cannonball strike.

Followed by the coup de grace.

Woonona v Tarrawanna R10
Jack Balmforth with the 4th

A well-earned and deserved win by Wollongong Olympic but there is concern about an injury cloud over Yusuke Ueda who was substituted late in the 2nd half with what appears to be a hamstring issue. For a day at least Olympic move to top spot.

Uead injury.jpg

Tarrawanna Blueys 1 Wollongong Olympic 4

Bulli FC needed a win if they were to return to the table top. Their opponent Corrimal Rangers could join Tarrawanna in 5th spot with a win; a loss would see them fall precipitously and be clinging onto the chasing pack. The loss to Fernhill the previous week robbed them of the opportunity to create a gap with the chasing pack. Bulli would be a difficult opponent so Corrimal needed to carefully consider the approach they’d take to this encounter.

Corrimal were immediately on the front foot and pressed Bulli across the park.

Corrimal v Bulli Rd11

Masahiko Morita created problems down the flanks as Bulli struggled to get into the game.Corrimal v Bulli Rd11

Corrimal v Bulli Rd11
Marcus Beattie v Masahiko Morita was one of the key battles throughout the game.

Masahiko Morita was able to contain Marcus Beattie and to cause problems for the Bulli defence especially in the opening stages of the game.

Yuya Kuwada watches the ball as it flashes past his right upright and Bulli narrowly escape from going one down early into the match.

Corrimal v Bulli Rd11

And soon after another.

Corrimal v Bulli Rd11

The midfield was fiercely contested and Bulli slowly managed to rein in the Corrimal Rangers attacks.

Corrimal v Bulli Rd11
Kyle Jackson struggles to keep control as Corrimal surges forward

Kyle Jackson.jpg

The Corrimal pressure paid off with David Abel bringing down Timothy Wylie in the box.

Corrimal v Bulli Rd11

Corrimal v Bulli Rd11
Morita makes no mistake from the spot.

Corrimal were now in the lead with halftime rapidly approaching. There were then two crucial, what looked like dead-set penalty shouts waved away by the referee.

Corrimal v Bulli Rd11
Scott Best appears to bring down Masahiko Morita in the box

Corrimal go into the break one up and looking good to take the points.

Corrimal v Bulli Rd11
The backdrop to a great game on a blustery day.

Bulli are a side that plays for the full ninety. Any team that seeks to defeat them need to do so in both halves. Bulli started the second half with the foot on the accelerator and were immediately into attack mode. Ben McDonald was brought on for Sam Davies and this paid immediate dividends.

Corrimal v Bulli Rd11
Daniel Arcaba makes some excellent saves

Corrimal v Bulli Rd11

Goal to Bulli

Corrimal v Bulli Rd11
Ben McDonald scores soon after entering the game.

From that point on Corrimal had no answer for the superior fitness, determination and technical ability of the Bulli team.

Corrimal v Bulli Rd11

Bulli go on to score another two. There was a hint of offside in the last breakaway goal that McDonald slotted home with aplomb.

Corrimal v Bulli Rd11

It was a disappointing end for Corrimal who now drop to the bottom of the chasing pack seeking 5th spot. Bulli are back on their perch. Any team that takes on Bulli will have to play the full ninety plus, if they are any chance to take points off this quality side.

Corrimal Rangers 1  Bulli FC 3

Round 12

There are four likely contenders for the converted 5th place and the opportunity to participate in the finals series and be Premiers. These are: Tarrawanna (17 pts), Port Kembla (16pts), Fernhill (16pts) and Corrimal  (14pts). Of course  there may be other scenarios with a full 11 rounds to go in the second half of the competition, but this would require a major reshuffling of the current positions, which is unlikely but possible. The race for the League Championship appears to be a four-horse race: Bulli (28pts), Wollongong Olympic(26pts), Wollongong United(23pts) and Albion Park White Eagles(22pts). The relegation battle is between South Coast United(1pt) and Picton Rangers (4pts). Of course many things can can still happen. Woonona and Cringila appear safe and their results with other clubs will be important in determining finals spots and relegation. They still need to look over their shoulders in case there is a surge from the bottom two clubs.

Tarrawanna v Fernhill
The return leg will be an important test for both teams

This weekend Tarrawanna are at home against Fernhill after losing to them in the opening round. Tarrawanna have had a very congested few weeks with the FFA Cup but have had time this week to rest. The question is, will they be battle-hardened or will they be off the pace again? They need to stop the rot before they end well outside the reckoning for any honours this season. Fernhill have regrouped after they were thoroughly thrashed by the White Eagles. This promises to be an important encounter for both teams; a loss for Fernhill will make it difficult for them to challenge for a finals series spot; a loss for Tarrawanna would have disastrous consequences for their confidence going into the latter half of the competition.

Round 12

I will be heading off to the World Cup in Russia so this will be the last report on the Illawarra Premier League until after the tournament. The next report will be mid-July, Round 18. I will continue to follow the Illawarra Premier League from abroad.

Tarrawanna proved to be a battle-hardens side when they took on Fernhill Foxes  desperately needing a confidence boost. In characteristic fashion, the Hill started off well and caused trouble immediately for the Blueys defence. The Blueys were however very determined. They shut down the attack and matched the Foxes physical early style. The Foxes altered their approach slightly and used Alexander Rooke as the go-to man for the breaks down the flanks rather than relying on Shinsei Tanaka and Yusuke Maruyama to do all the legwork. It appeared something they had worked on in training during the week.

Blueys v  Fernhill Rd13
Liam Unicomb did an enormous amount of defensive work early in the match as Fernhill went after the first goal.

The Blueys tightly marked both Tanaka and Maruyama allow them little room. They were clearly identified as the key dangermen in the Fernhill lineup.

Rd13
Daniel Goodhew keeps a close eye on dangerman Maruyama
Rd13
Maruyama caused Tarrawanna problems early on in the match

As the game progressed, Tarrawanna slowly got on top and began threatening the Fernhill goal.

Rd13
Bryce Daenell saves under pressure from Takumi Machida

The pressure on Fernhill intensified.

Rd13
Bryce Daenell punches the ball off the head of Jared Fish

Eventually the Blueys get their goal as Jared Fish slots the ball into the net from a Machida cross.

Rd13
Daenell is beat by a hard drive from close range by Jared Fish

Fernhill began to chase the game and this opened more opportunities for the Blueys who scored another before the break.

Rd13
Machida scores the first of his brace making it 2-0 at the break.

The heads dropped and the coach knew that a difficult second half was about to brew.

Rd13
The realization sets in that the 2nd half of the season will be difficult for the Hill.

Early in the 2nd half another goal.

Rd13
The Blueys celebrate their third goal in the 48th minute

Liam Unicorn gets the third and Fernhill are unable to contain a rampant Tarrawanna attack. From then on Fernhill went into loss minimization mode.

Rd13
It was a tough game for Daenell despite making some excellent saves.

Rd13

Tarrawanna Blueys 5  Fernhill Foxes 0

Crigilia Lions are languishing in the outer limits. They are well away from the  relegation zone but quite far away from a potential finals series spot. They took on League Champion chasing Albion Park White Eagles on a cold drizzling night. Cringila were looking to consolidate and move far enough away from the relegation zone to not have to look over their shoulder. Soccer is an uncertain world and a few wins on the trot from the relegation threatened South Coast United and Picton could have them in trouble yet again this season. Unlikley but possible.

Cringila v Albion Park Rd12
Cold night despite the warm glow from the fire .

Cringila v Albion Park Rd12

The White Eagles essentially controlled the ball throughout the match. They had the greater incentive and needed to lodge a challenge for the League Champions race. Shane Ardle put in a lot of kms during the night and kept the pressure on Cringila.

Cringila v Albion Park Rd12

Cringila v Albion Park Rd12
Delbanco gets the first goal as White Eagles take the lead in the first half.
Cringila v Albion Park Rd12
Cringila coaching staff become increasingly concerned as the team struggles to find a equalizer. They are wondering, “Where to now?”

In the second half, Cringila began to chase the game and managed to get hold of their fair share of possession. This translated into an equalizer from Ibrahim Sesay. Cringila now believed they had turned the corner.

Cringila v Albion Park Rd12
Celebrations as Sesay scores

Finally, some of the Cringila fans had something to smile about- a least for a while.

Cringila v Albion Park Rd12
Fans have something to smile about.

But the cruel game that is soccer had a sting in the tail. Albion Park score in added time to make it 1-2 to the massive disappointment of Cringila supporters but joy for the White Eagles fans.

Cringila v Albion Park Rd12
Despair.  After all the effort, White Eagles score the winner.
Cringila v Albion Park Rd12
Celebration after the Blake McGinn last-minute winner.

Cringila Lions 1 Albion Park White Eagles 2

The Saturday night game was Corrimal Rangers who are still in a good position to make a challenge for a finals sport were up against League Champions chasing Wollongong United. This game turned into an exciting high tempo game with quality action.

Rd13

Corrimal were immediately into defensive mode with Hajittofi pressuring the Wollongong United attack.

Rd13
Takeru Okada with his speed created early problems for Wollongong United, who despite starting strongly were gradually, almost imperceptibly, being pegged back.

However, it was Kushida who scored in the 18th minute, a gaol that could have sunk Corrimal’s season had they let their heads drop.

Rd13
Kazuto Kushida gets an early goal for Wollongong United

It was tense from then on and soon players were in each faces as a melee broke out.

Rd13
Referee separates the players

There were a number of strong tackles in the game as both teams tried to dominate the game.

Rd13

Rd13
Morita brings down McNab

Dean Pender gets the equalizer for Corrimal and all is square 1-1 at the break.

Rd13
Celebration after Pender left Sam Nastic stranded.

In the second half,  Wollongong United came out of their shell, attacked Corrimal and eventually scored. After a quality save by Arcaba, McNab is onto the rebound and thumps the ball into the net giving Wollongong United the lead.

Rd13
Arcaba is unimpressed at the defending after the McNab goal.

This spurred the Rangers into action. They mounted a series of all out raids. The battles became increasingly physical all across the park.

Rd13
Physical battles and tight marking all across the park.

A brilliant solo dribble down the left flank by Takeru Okada and a missile from his boot gave Corrimal the lead in the 80th minute. The attacking approach paid off in spades.

Rd13
Magnificent dribble and strike give Corrimal the lead.
Rd13
Wollongong United coaching staff can’t believe what they are seeing.

Masahiko Morita then finishes the job with a last-minute goal. The Corrimal revival and comeback is complete.

Rd13
Morita goal in the last-minute ensures the points.

It was an important win for Corrimal which has them as a big chance to cause an upset this season and make the finals playoffs. They are riding high and are difficult to beat at home. A very resilient side.

Rd13
A big win!

Corrimal Rangers 4  Wollongong United 2

The reshuffling has begun in this exciting competition. Get to the games if you can and support your local side.

The next update will be Round 18 after the World Cup in Russia. Go the Socceroos!

Round 18

There has been a resurgence of Port Kembla who have moved to 5th spot and are all but assured of a Finals Series berth with both Tarrawanna and Corrimal falling by the wayside. This was a remarkable turnaround given their defensive problems in the first half of the season.

The question this round is whether Tarrawanna Blueys could at least put some pressure on Port. They need to win against Corrimal. They are at home and this is their last opportunity.

Tarrawanna Blueys v Corrimal Rangers

Both teams start aggressively, Corrimal with nothing to lose and the Blueys desperately needing a win.

Tarrawanna v Corrimal 18
Crunch game: Blueys enter the field.

An early goal! But Corrimal have time to respond.

Tarrawanna v Corrimal R18
Bradley Acev slides in to open the scoring

A confident start to the game.

Tarrawanna v Corrimal r18
Samule Chapple celebrates with Daniel Arcev

However, Corrimal lift in a torrid beginning to the match.

Takeru Okada storms down the wing from a central position and is brought down just inside the box. Penalty.

Tarrawanna v Corrimal Rd18
Bradley Durrant brings down Takeru Okada
Tarrawanna v Corrimal
Takeru doesn’t miss from the spot. All even.
Tarrawanna v Corrimal
Arcev gets a 2nd

The Blueys are in the lead! Hope springs eternal.

Tarrawanna v Corrimal r18
Not to be. Timothy Wylie scores the equalizer. All square at halftime.

The second half soon becomes bogged down as both teams have half chances but no more goals. The Blueys and Corrimal are left mid-table without any real hope of making the Finals Series.

Tarrawanna v Corrimal R18
End of the road

The Blueys need to regroup for the remaining matches and look back on what could have been.

Tarrawanna v Corrimal R18
The season slips away.

Tarrwanna Blueys 2  Corrimal 2

The next match was Wollongong Olympic v Port Kembla. Wollongong Olympic were needing the win to keep in touch with Bulli FC who have pulled ahead in the Champions race. For Port, the pressure was off and are virtually assured a Finals series spot. This was an oppoprtunity to show their credentials as grand final aspirants looking to make it back-to-back.

The Olympic tactics were clear- play the ball in the air where they had height advantage over Port.

Wollongong Olympic v Port Kembla R18
Vaughan Patterson out-jumps Port’s defence

But it is Port who scored first.

Rd18

Joey Lavalle deflects the ball into the net off a direct free kick

Wollongong Olympic v Port Kembla
Goal celebration; confidence and determination surge through the players
Rd18
Concentration

Deja Vu; the Achille’s Heel of conceding early goals and then chasing the game continues to plague Olympic.

Lack of Port runners off the ball allows Olympic to regain possession easily and dominate the midfield.

Wollongong Olympic v Port Kembla R18
Where’s the support?
Wollongong Olympic
You’re not going anywhere!

Olympic not to be deterred immediately raises the tempo, takes control of the midfield and begin a series of forward runs turning the Port defence this way and that.

Wollongong Olympic v Port Kembla
John Martinoski shoots and can taste the Olympic domination
Wollongong Olympic v Port Kembla
Vaughan Patterson precision drive beats the lunging Port defence to level the scores at 1-1

From then on Olympic turned on the style.

Rd18

Vaughan Patterson scores Number 2 and Olympic take the lead

Wollongong Olympic v Port Kembla R18
Olympic celebrate the come back
Wollongong Olympic v Port Kembla
Yusuke Ueda gets Number 3

Martinoski gets Number 4 but also soon after a 2nd yellow. Martinovski continues to attract the ire of referees. He is sent off again in a match against Port. At least this time it was not for dissent.

Wollongong Olympic v Port Kembla
Olympic down to 10 men after Martinoski is sent off
Wollongong Olympic v Port kembla r18
Port had no answer to the defence splitting long balls

It makes no difference, Olympic still control midfield as Port struggle to get into the match in the 2nd half.

Wollongong Olympc v Port Kembla
A decisive win

Port’s defence had no answer to Olympic’s domination in the air and across midfield. They will need to improve if they are to achieve last season’s grand final success.

Wollongong Olympic 4  Port Kembla 1

Olympic now have the chance to lift silverware when they take on Corrimal in the Bert Bampton Cup on the weekend.

The Bert Bampton Cup Final 2018

Olympic are after silverware in the Bert Bampton Cup Final.  Olympic open the scoring.

Bert Bampton Cup 2018
Vaughan Patterson puts Olympic in front.

Goal

Goal 2
Heavy lifting is done by Olympic as Corrimal chased shadows. Olympic 2-0 as Patterson scores his brace.
Morita scores from the spot
Morita scores from the spot late into the game to give Corrimal a glimmer of hope.

From that point on it is Olympic dominance and Corrimal hanging in there.

key battle
Olympic win all the key battles across the ground. Jack Keating in a battle to win the ball off Takeru Okada
Angelo Hajittofi
Angelo Hajittofi puts in a big game but it wasn’t enough to turn the tide
midfield struggle
The midfield struggle
tackle from behind
Tackle from behind
agro
A bit of agro emerges but Olympic win easily

Corrimal put in a few niggly tackles causing simmering tension for Olympic players but it is not enough to put Olympic off their game.

Champions

Olympic take silverware
Olympic take the silverware.

Bert Bampton Cup: Corrimal 1 Wollongong Olympic 2

Olympic now have to do it again against Corrimal if they are to keep up with Bulli who are on a roll. Will there be some scores to settle?

agroo2.jpg

Bulli take on Port at Balls Park- they too need to win. Port could still theoretically miss out on a finals series spot so they really don’t want to be looking over their shoulders. This will be the game covered this Saturday.

Round 19

Wollongong Olympic v Corrimal Rangers 

Olympic are hoping Bulli FC will stumble in the last few rounds and that they can snatch the League Champions crown from under them. This means they need to win against Corrimal Rangers. Having just beaten Corrimal in the Bert Bampton Cup the simmering tensions between the teams could resurface in this game.

It is a frenetic opening with Corrimal seeking to expose Olympic early on. Both teams press but neither side gain control as raw energy is expelled within the first few  opening minutes. Olympic avoids its Achilles Heel. The defence though looking vulnerable is able to hold out, the all out, early Corrimal attack. Olympic look to score early but excellent goalkeeping by Arcaba keeps Olympic out.

Wollongong Olympic v Corrimal Rd19
Tight marking and frenetic opening minutes

Hayden Durose makes some brave interceptions and holds out the early Corrimal pressure.

Wollongong Olympic v Corrimal Rd19
Hayden Durose with a brave intercept

Also there is brave goalkeeping at the other end as Ueda runs onto a through ball.

Wollongong Olympic v Corrimal Rd19
Angelo Hajittofi outstanding work-rate kept the pressure on Olympic

Corrimal matched it with Olympic through the first half.

Wollongong Olympic v Corrimal Rd19
Yusuke Ueda is tightly marked by Karouna Michael

The effort pays off for Corrimal who open the scoring.

Wollongong Olympic v Corrimal Rd19

Wollongong Olympic v Corrimal Rd19
Mashahiko Morita opens the scoring and Corrimal lead 0-1 at half time.

In the second half the loudspeaker tells Olympic that Port have taken the lead over Bulli. Will this be an opportunity spurned? They are one down and need to win.

Wollongong Olympic v Corrimal Rd19
Belief sets in. Is there an upset in the cards.

Tackles begin to fly in as Corrimal sniff an upset.

Wollongong Olympic v Corrimal Rd19

An early second half equalizer has Olympic tails up again as they chase the lead with Bulli still one down against Port.

Wollongong Olympic v Corrimal Rd19
Brendan Fordham equalizes with a power header across the box
Wollongong Olympic v Corrimal Rd19
Fordham celebrates as some Corrimal fans look the other way

Takeru Okada continues to cause Olympic problems but they are slowly getting control of the match.

Wollongong Olympic v Corrimal Rd19

Corrimal are still in it as Hayden Durose makes a fingertip save to keep the scores level

Wollongong Olympic v Corrimal Rd19
And another great Hayden Durose save

Then a goalkeeping blunder gifts Olympic a second as the ball floats over Daniel Arcaba’s head and drops into the right hand corner.

Wollongong Olympic v Corrimal Rd19
Ueda looping header drops into the corner
Wollongong Olympic v Corrimal Rd19
Olympic celebrate Yusuke Ueda goal

After a few hefty challenges from both sides Karouna Michael is show a second yellow and sees red.

Wollongong Olympic v Corrimal Rd19
The eventual red card is shown

The inevitable third goal. It’s status quo at the top of the table.

Wollongong Olympic v Corrimal Rd19

Wollongong Olympic 3  Corrimal 1

Sunday’s game will be the relegation scrap between Woonona and Picton. If Picton lose they are most likely relegated.

Woonona Sharks v Picton Rangers Round 19

Woonona have a long and glorious history since 1889. Today would be a matter of survival. A win is enough to ensure survival, a draw and they’ll still be looking over their shoulders but an unthinkable loss could place the club into the second tier. This is an important game for both clubs. Picton are one point adrift of South Coast United at the bottom of the table. South Coast have been on a recent run of form, taking seven points from their last four games. They meet the Blueys who are going through another bout of hot and cold form that has dogged them all season.

Woonona v Picton Rd19
Woonona fans are anxious and well aware of the importance of this game
Woonona v Picton Rd19
The players are feeling the pressure
Woonona v Picton Rd19
Dust bowl conditions on a bobbly surface make it difficult to keep possession.
Woonona v Picton Rd19
Picton players are looking down the barrel of relegation
Woonona v Picton Rd19
Picton is straight into the attack knowing they need something from the game.
Woonona v Picton Rd19
The referee issues a yellow.
Woonona v Picton Rd19
The game is looking like a stalemate as the coach ponders how to break down the Woonona defence
Woonona v Picton Rd19
In the last few seconds Kuang Kim receives the ball and is in a one to one with the keeper.  The ball flashes past the far upright. The opportunity to make the Sharks safe from relegation is spurned.
Woonona v Picton Rd19
Kwang Kim from hero to zero!

Woonona Sharks 0  Picton Rangers 0

South Coast United defeat the Blueys and Picton are all but down and out, three points adrift at the bottom, with three rounds to go. Still, there are nine points on offer and if they win all three they are almost guaranteed survival because South Coast United and Woonona meet in the last round.

Woonona Sharks are away to Corrimal Rangers still needing points to ensure survival on Sunday. Another dog fight in dusty conditions is likely at Memorial Park.

Woonona v Picton Rd19
Woonona need points in their last three game to ensure survival

Round 20

Picton Rangers need to win to avoid falling over the relegation precipice. Tarrawanna Blueys come to the game after losing to South Coast United and will be looking to lift their form.

Right from the beginning when things didn’t fall the way of the Rangers the pressure showed on the faces of the players.

Picton v Tarrawanna r20
The pressure shows early on in the game

And Tarrawanna Blueys are in no mood for losing another game to a team below them in the competition.

Picton v Tarrawanna r20
Determined Blueys are in no mood to lose another game

Picton v Tarrawanna r20

Picton v Tarrawanna r20
Connor Dymond causes some early problems for the Blueys
Picton v Tarrawanna r20
Blueys score the first goal. Samuel Chappel takes advantage of the goalkeeper spilling the ball.

The Blueys lift a gear and Picton are left chasing shadows all over the field.

Picton v Tarrawanna r20
Rangers are unable to win the ball
Picton v Tarrawanna r20
No way through for Ryuki Hirata

Blueys have their noses in front and determined defence quickly nullifies any Rangers threats.

The Blueys continue to dominate in the second half scoring twice.

Picton v Tarrawanna r20
Number 3 nail into the coffin
Picton v Tarrawanna r20
One step closer to the relegation precipice

South Coast United win against Wollongong United and are now safe from relegation. On Sunday, Woonona can do the same. Picton’s goal difference has blown to -48 and makes it impossible to survive the drop if the Sharks win.

Corrimal Rangers v Woonona Sharks

A tight, enthralling and nail-biting tussle.

Corrimal v Woonona  r20
A tight, enthralling and nail-biting tussle

Woonona Sharks put in a big effort to contain the mobile and speedy Corrimal Rangers midfield.

Corrimal v Woonona  r20
Takeru Okada causes problems for Woonona with his trickery, speed and agility down the flanks.
Corrimal v Woonona  r20
Woonona contain William Tsovolos in a strong defensive effort and look to score on the counter
Corrimal v Woonona  r20
The Sharks looking to feed Valentino Merxhushi when they break out of defensive mode
Corrimal v Woonona  r20
The traditional rivalry between Woonona Sharks and Corrimal Rangers is evident throughout the game. Dejan Djukic exchanges pleasantries.
Corrimal v Woonona  r20
Neither side prepared to give an inch. Kyle Mitchell contains Angelo Hajittofi
Corrimal v Woonona  r20
Takeru Okada zips past Khalid Alali
Corrimal v Woonona  r20
Goalmouth scramble and Rangers score: 1-0
Corrimal v Woonona  r20
Rangers 1 Sharks 0
Corrimal v Woonona  r20
And Merxhushi get another!
Corrimal v Woonona  r20
Survival looks on the cards as the Sharks take the lead (1-2)

Early in the second half Rangers begin to dominate.

Corrimal v Woonona  r20
A rocket nearly rips the net off as Corrimal equalize
Corrimal v Woonona  r20
Corrimal with nothing to lose go after the victory
Corrimal v Woonona  r20
Last ditch effort prevents another Corrimal goal
Corrimal v Woonona  r20
Sharks get a third and take the lead. Survival is imminent if they can hold on.
Corrimal v Woonona  r20
Joy after taking the lead
Corrimal v Woonona  r20
In the twilight zone of added time Corrimal equalize. Final score 3-3. Enough in all probability to ensure survival for the Sharks

However, the Sharks are left looking over the shoulder hoping the highly improbable doesn’t happen and they survive for another season.

Looking over the shoulder.jpg

Corrimal v Woonona  r20

Corrimal Rangers 3   Woonona Sharks 3

Round 21

Round 21 begins with the tragic news of the death of Port Kembla player Justin Cario. Woonona needs points or rely on Wollongong Olympic defeating Picton Rangers if they are to avoid regulation .

Tarrawanna v Woonona R21
This week could determine whether Woonona Sharks avoid relegation.

The match begins with a minute’s silence after the death of IPL player, Justin Cario.

Tarrawanna v Woonona R21
Teams remember Justin Cario

Tarrawanna Blueys are immediately off the blocks and pressing Woonona into defensive mode.

Tarrawanna v Woonona R21
Woonona Sharks struggle to contain the swift Blueys passing.

Tarrawanna pressure is immediate leaving no time on the ball for Woonona.

Tarrawanna v Woonona R21
The Blueys close down midfield space
Tarrawanna v Woonona R21
It is not all one way traffic as the Sharks get into the game. Adam Rodriguez takes command in the penalty area.

Can Woonona Sharks rely on Wollongong Olympic defeating Picton Rangers? The head says “Yes” but butterflies remain in the stomach.

Tarrawanna v Woonona R21
Pressure is on

The Blueys strike early and take the lead.

Tarrawanna v Woonona R21
Blueys take the lead.
Tarrawanna v Woonona R21
Blueys return to early season form
Tarrawanna v Woonona R21
Sharks frustration as decisions begin to go against them

If the score remains as is Woonona will have to wait it out and hope Olympic win in a game that is just kicking off.

Tarrawanna v Woonona R21
Need to wait it out and hope Woonona get a goal

Woonona keep up the struggle and put pressure on a determined and resilient Blueys defence.

Tarrawanna v Woonona R21
Valentino Merxhushi sets the example for the team

Woonona go after the equalizer and cause the Blueys some defensive problems

Tarrawanna v Woonona R21
Dejan Djukic looking to get the ball
Tarrawanna v Woonona R21
Neither side is giving an inch in the blustery conditions

A tight and competitive game ends with the early goal deciding the outcome.

Tarrawanna v Woonona R21
Woonona Sharks now await the final result knowing Wollongong Olympic are romping home against Picton Rangers. Survival is guaranteed.

Tarrawanna Blueys get the win in their final home game and Woonona Sharks avoid the drop.

Tarrawanna Blueys 1 Woonona Sharks 0

The Sunday game is Port Kembla v Wollongong United, a 4th v 5th game with little bearing, other than psychological, as both sides have qualified for the finals series. Port Kembla players were shocked at the death of their Number 8, Justin Cario (he is in the Featured Image of the 2017 Grand Final)  which greatly disrupted preparation for the game. The game is to go ahead nevertheless.

Port v Wollongong United R21
Port Kembla FC mourns for Justin Cario

Port Kembla FC honours the contribution made by young star Justin Cario.

Port v Wollongong United R21
Players enter the field

After the opening whistle, Wollongong United dominate all aspects of the game.

Port v Wollongong United R21
United make good use of their height advantage stopping any aerial threats.

It wasn’t long before this translated into an early goal.

Port v Wollongong United R21
Kenta Azechi scores the opener

Port persists and creates a few half-chances but United continues to dominate.

Port v Wollongong United R21
United’s coach is getting hot under the collar
Port v Wollongong United R21
Port struggle to maintain the momentum
Port v Wollongong United R21
The game is proving difficult for Port to manage
Port v Wollongong United R21
Ben Brookes hits the post
Port v Wollongong United R21
Nathan Elazi scores: 0-2
Port v Wollongong United R21
Elasi celebrates with Kenta Azechi
Port v Wollongong United R21
Brad Jardine fingertip save as United run rampant
Port v Wollongong United R21
Matthew McNab only on for a few minutes scores another: 0-3
Port v Wollongong United R21
A gloomy day all round for Port FC

Port Kembla 0  Wollongong United 3

Round 22

Wollongong Olympic v Bulli Rd 4 2018
Can Bulli FC do the business?

Next week all games occur at the same time as it is the last round. The League Champions will be determined. Bulli FC sit on 54 points with a goal difference 57. Wollongong Olympic are still in the race with 52 points and a goal difference 54. If Bulli FC lose or draw and Olympic win by more than 3 goals, they can snatch the championship from under Bulli.  Bulli play Corrimal Rangers at home while Olympic are away to the Tarrawanna who have regained form late in the season. Anything is possible. Corrimal Rangers are not a team to be underestimated. Bulli should win and become League Champions. This game will be covered next week.

Bulli FC v Corrimal Rangers Round 22

The equation is simple for Bulli FC:  a win guarantees they become League Champions. Corrimal Rangers have different thoughts, “There is nothing to lose and this is the last game of the season.” Corrimal immediately press looking for an early goal.

Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Dylan Lewis struggles to contain Takeru Okada
Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Kyle Jackson wins the ball with a tackle from behind
Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Jason Zufic brings down Mitchell Del Turco as Bulli break on the counter
Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Battle royale as Kenji Takawashi closes down Takeru Okada
Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Bulli escape as the ball flashes outside the upright.
Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Mitchell Del Turco with a fantastic strike lobs the ball over Daniel Arcaba and into the net.
Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Perfect execution

Bulli FC take the lead and after a shaky start their confidence grows.

Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Bulli lead 1-0 against the run of play.

Things are looking up for Bulli

Bulli v Corrimal Rd21

Bulli v Corrimal Rd21

Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Intercept by Daniel Arcaba
Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
No way through for Mashahiko Morita
Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Del Turco is cut down
Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Another Corrimal shot flashes past the post.

Second half and Corrimal are in all out attack. Duels intensify across the park.

Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Van Elia and Marcus Beattie in a one-on-one battle
Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Yuma Kuwata can only look on as the ball flashes into the net

A draw is not enough for Bulli. They must lift if they are to win the title.

Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Players celebrate Del Turco’s goal

Marcus Beattie steps through the gears with the League Championship on the line.

Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
All out attack as Marcus Beattie steps through the gears
Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
The pressure mounts, a draw is not enough
Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
It is a tight struggle and could go either way.
Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Marcus Beattie scores
Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Bulli can taste the title but more work needs to be done
Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Corrimal surge forward
Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
Yuma Kuwata saves!
Bulli v Corrimal Rd21
League Champions

Bulli FC 2  Corrimal Rangers 1

The Finals Series

The finals series begin this week. In the Elimination Final, Wollongong United take on Port Kembla. At their last meeting, United were able to outplay Port relatively easily. There were mitigating factors affecting Port’s performance. The disrupted preparation and the mental focus of the players after the sudden and tragic loss of their No.8 Justin Cario affected the team morale. If Port are to win, they will need to refocus and rekindle their excellent mid-season form. United have a formidable backline, plus Alvin Ceccoli is sitting of the bench. United will be difficult to break down and must be considered favourites to progress.

Port v Wollongong United R21

Port v Wollongong United R21
Alvin Ceccoli sitting on the bench

In the Qualifying Final, Wollongong Olympic take on Albion Park White Eagles. In the season proper, Olympic have had the wood over the White Eagles and are clear favourites to win this one.

Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles Rd 8

The Qualifying Final: Wollongong Olympic v Albion Park White Eagles

Olympic begin the game with a no compromise approach as Brendan Fordham stops Shannon Fielding in his tracks in the opening tussle for midfield superiority.

Qualifying Final
Olympic immediately off the blocks
Preliminary Qualifying Final
Yusuke Ueda shot results in appeals for handball.
Preliminary Final
Referee waves away appeals for handball
Qualifying Final
Hayden Durose dominates his box
Preliminary Final
The game is locked into an early tussle as both teams take an attacking approach.
Qualifying Final
The referee points to the spot. White Eagles claim they won the ball fairly.
Qualifying Final
Ueda scores from the spot. Olympic 1 White Eagles 0.
Qualifying Final
White Eagles put in the hard yards
Qualifying Final
White Eagles cause Olympic problems on the break as they use the left flank to penetrate the defence.
Qualifying Final
Yusuke Ueda scores his second. White Eagles claim offside. Olympic 2 White Eagles 0
Qualifying Final
Ueda unleashes a thunderbolt.
Qualifying Final
Thunderbolt
Qualifying Final
Olympic 3 White Eagles 0
Qualifying Final
Olympic dominate all aspects of the game
Qualifying Final
White Eagles continue to battle.
Qualifying Final
Ueda continues to be tightly marked
Qualifying Semi
The effort pays off and the White Eagles get one back through Hikaru Kawasakiya. Olympic 3 White Eagles 1
Qualifying Semi
It ends 3-1. White Eagles are still alive and will meet Wollongong United.
Qualifying Final
Wollongong Olympic will meet Bulli FC and the chance to move straight into the Grand Final.
Qualifying Final
A thoroughly entertaining game.

Qualifying Final : Wollongong Olympic 3  Albion Park White Eagles 1

Bulli FC take on Wollongong  Olympic will be the match covered this week. The winner goes straight into the Grand Final and this game will provide a stern test for Olympic against their arch rival Bulli. Rather disappointingly, the Grand Final will be played at WIN Stadium. The ground is costly, cold, lacks atmosphere, there is no unrestricted and free parking, it is difficult to access, has an expensive canteen, the ground surface is average to poor, and it has anti-soccer security intent on ruining spectator enjoyment. The money could have gone to a local club and helped to build their facilities, instead it goes to WIN Stadium. Last year’s final in Cringila was a great success. Why South Coast Football chosen the WIN Stadium is anyone’s guess. But one thing is for sure, it is a very disappointing decision.

Semi Final 2
Kyle Jackson in the face of Yusuki Ueda in Round 4

Bulli FC need to contain Yusuke Ueda and have been successful so far this season. Ueda is in fine form and will be difficult to contain. The Bulli formula has been to use unrelenting pressure whenever Ueda is near the ball or likely to receive it. Both sides are quick, good on the ball and have physicality. This should be an exciting encounter. A loss to Bulli will inflict psychological doubt in the minds of Olympic players and staff, leaving the them wondering if they are capable of ever defeating the League Champions this season. It should be a close game and may well go into extra time. Instead Bulli FC easily defeat Wollongong Olympic 3-0.

Semi Final:  Albion Park White Eagle v Wollongong United

The loser of this one will be eliminated.

The games open with high intensity and physical challenges flying in early.

Semi Final 1
Sam Munro appeals for the foul as Kazuto Kushida is brought down by a tackle from behind.
Semi Final 1
White Eagles struggle to contain McNab as he surges down the left flank.