Sharks Find Their Bite
By Amateur Reporter via Sports Marketing Solutions
On a rare Friday night football clash, the Woonona Sharks travelled to Crehan Park to tackle the Cringila Lions in Round 12 of the Illawarra Premier League. After last weekend’s postponement of matches due to the inclement weather, both sides were keen to return to the pitch and get back to football. The Cringila outfit had conceded a large number of goals in their latest outings, so a clean sheet at home was definitely on their wish list. For the visiting Sharks, they had shown patches of returning to their best and a win was coming, it was just a matter of when.
A small crowd braved the chilly conditions on a pitch that was in perfect condition for football. The opening exchanges were an even affair as both teams were keen to dominate pieces of play in a to and fro arm wrestle down the pitch from both ends. The Sharks had the first real opening of the match when Valentino Merxhushi cut inside across the edge of the 18 yard box and threaded the needle to Trent Worthington who advanced towards goal but Cringila’s Calius Don was there to interrupt any Shark attack. As the game grew older, frustration was evident from both sides when consecutive fouls were traded to disrupt any forward movement.
The Sharks slowly began to wear down the Cringila back line and began to dominate large amounts of the play. In the 19th minute, Sharks Cameron Banks found himself in open space and his quick cheeky flick attempt struck the woodwork with an advancing Hayden Nicol swooping was deemed to be offside on the follow up. With the momentum well and truly with the visitors, Trent Worthington had two golden opportunities within a space of 3 minutes when he could have easily given his side the lead with two efforts missing the target by just centimetres with a right footed drive in the 25th minute and looping header in the 28th minute.
Rock defence was the key for the Sharks when Cringila forced their way up field against the run of play, however Aiden Breslin and Chris Gibson were constantly on hand to spoil any such threat. Cringila’s only real chance of the opening half fell when an Esala Ali looping pass was directed towards Daniel Vasilevski, who advanced and directed a nice header toward goal, finding the top of the bar, with Woonona’s Brad Jardine back peddling in a hurry just before the stroke of halftime. Both sides headed into the half time drinks break deadlocked at nil all.
Cringila entered the second period with some new found direction and pressed the Sharks early on. Vasilevski and Don directed the Cringila attack but last pass efforts or poor finishing cost them the opening goal of the match. Frustration got the better of the home side when the Sharks regained the momentum and this was shown when the match official cautioned a number of Cringila players after mistimed challenges crept into the tussle.
Woonona’s Scott Curran guided the Sharks around the pitch with Caleb Russell, Banks and Merxhushi threatening the Cringila goal on numerous occasions. In the 69th minute, substitute Brendan Pattman sent a ball across the box to a waiting Russell who made a diving header attempt that skipped past the left hand upright. Then a minute later, a brilliant piece of play from the Sharks saw Banks slide through the Cringila defence on the right hand edge and lay a ball square to Russell who guided home the ball into the back of the net, giving Cringila’s Brynley Richards no hope as the travelling faithful erupted in delight.
With the Sharks ahead on the score board, they were keen to extend the lead and constantly attacked the right hand side of the Cringila backline in going forward. The combination of Russell and Banks was evident again in the 79th minute when Russell offloaded to Banks who beat off his opposite and fired a left footed rocket from within range that dipped and served, then cannoned into the left hand upright with Cringila’s Richards beaten at full stretch.
Cringila desperately tried to level the match in the final 10 minutes but couldn’t find the target and the Woonona defence stood tall as a number of Cringila counter attacks fizzled to no result. Then as the clock ticked towards fulltime, Woonona’s Merxhushi beat off two Cringila defenders inside the box when he skipped loose only to be brought down by some desperate defending in a poorly timed challenge, giving the match official no option but to point straight to the penalty spot.
Sharks coach Brendan Anderson directed defender Josh Hutton to the spot kick and he calmly banged home the Sharks second of the match and gifting the travelling Sharks three vital points in the 90th minute, sealing the victory 2 goals to nil.
“We still have a long way to go, it’s nice to finally get the victory, the boys dug deep when it counted most.”
“There is still plenty of improvement to come and we will work on that during the week.” Woonona’s Anderson said after the match.
The Sharks must now focus on their home fixture next weekend against Tarrawanna, meanwhile for the home side, the task doesn’t get any easier when they face Kemblawarra Fury.
In the earlier fixture, Cringila recorded a four goal to two win over the Woonona Sharks in the Youth Grade fixture.
**** Woonona’s Caleb Russell receiving the ball under close attention of a Cringila defender.****