By Dylan Arvela, Football South Coast match reporter
Photo by Pedro Garcia
The Good Friday round of fixtures was headlined by a clash between two teams with serious finals ambitions. For Thirroul, this match was the second of three consecutive matches against the expected top three, with a 3-2 defeat to Warilla last weekend and Coniston next up. As for Fernhill, they saw off Oak Flats 2-0 maintaining their perfect record
Within seconds of the kickoff, Fernhill broke forward with Andy Keep putting Ilija Prenzoski through on goal, he rounded Joshua Williams but the striker was unable to put in a decent shot with a Thunder defender able to clear the ball.
The Foxes took an early lead in the next phase of play. With the ball loose in the box, Fernhill midfielder Scott Muilwyk was able to knock the ball back to Andy Keep who managed to tuck the ball into the bottom right corner from near the penalty mark. The worst possible start for the home side who were yet to get out of their own half.
The next half an hour was relatively uneventful with both sides enjoying spells of possession without threatening their opponents goals. It wasn’t until the 37th minute that the Thunder had a proper chance on goal, which came through Daniel Bond who flicked a header over the bar from a deep cross into the box.
In the 40th minute, some of the Thirroul faithful were calling for a red card, after Julian Cesta-Incani blocked of Matthew Kellond’s run to the ball from just outside the box. This earned the Foxes defender a yellow card rather than a red as referee Nathan Wotton correctly judged the goalkeeper had already collected the ball, therefore, Kellond would not have had a goal scoring opportunity.
The half came to a close with the Foxes still up by a goal to nil. Thirroul would have considered themselves unlucky because apart from the goal, the two sides were evenly matched.
Thirroul came close to an equaliser early into the second period when Corey Haines-Grose lofted the ball into the box. Fernhill keeper Brad Hunter failed to catch the ball before it fell to Adam Ward who wasn’t able to touch it goalbound. Hunter was able to gratefully regather the loose ball, a real chance in a game of few.
From the 60th to the 70th minute, Fernhill had a couple of good opportunities through the experienced Prenzoski. First was a header from 10 metres out that Williams was able to get a hand to before collecting along the ground. The second was a half volley from the penalty box arch that lofted over the bar. Prenzoski would have hoped to have put the game to bed with one of these opportunities.
Thirroul’s best chance of the match came in the 77th minute. The Thunder rushed the Fernhill midfield forcing a counter attack, number 10 Nathan Mucci played Haines-Grose down the left channel who cut the ball back along the Foxes 6-yard box finding Kellond who was unable to get proper contact on the ball pushing it into the right post with Hunter somehow able to gather the free ball.
Fernhill had come close three minutes later when Andy Keep made a mazing run down the right wing before finding Ryan Hunter who crossed the ball into Luke McDonald. The substitute was able to get in front of his marker before hooking the ball a metre over the bar.
The closing stages were filled with niggling fouls but little opportunity for another goal. The Thunder valiantly tried to force bodies forward but the game drifted to the full-time whistle and two straight defeats for the home side.
After the match, Thirroul boss Garth Bowley lamented his side's start, “In the first five minutes we really let ourselves down in defence… but after that, I thought we managed to get on top and did pretty well.” The loss sees Thirroul drop to 4th after Warilla’s 3-2 win over Bellambi and next up for the Thunder is another tough match against top of the table Coniston. This match is next Saturday at Thomas Gibson Park, 3 pm kickoff.
As for Fernhill, this win keeps them hot on the tail of Coniston who dropped points against Oak Flats. Coach Dan McGoldrick spoke in glowing terms of his team’s defence which is yet to concede in the league, “I’m really happy to get away with three points and a clean sheet. I’m very happy with the defence.” The Foxes next league match is at home to Bellambi but before that, they meet Coniston in the Fraternity Cup final, a chance not only for silverware but crucial momentum over their major rival in the league.
Thirroul Thunder - 0
Fernhill Foxes - 1 (Keep 1’)
Friday April 14th at Thomas Gibson Park, Thirroul
Thirroul Thunder - Joshua Williams, Daniel Bond, Corey Haines-Grose, James Hutton, Shayne Mulholland, Tyler Snelgrove, Adam Ward, Todd Davidson, Matthew Kellond, Nathan Mucci and Daniel Arthur
Subs - James Townson (on for Mulholland), Bradley Strudwick (on for Davidson), Ryan Latini (on for Arthur), Jesse Bragg and Robert Gyngell
Coach - Garth Bowley
Fernhill Foxes - Brad Hunter, Julian Cesta-Incani, Ryan Hunter, Anthony Oliver, Sean Poulton, Kolan Hmda, Andy Keep, Marc Sergi, Ilija Prenzoski, Scott Muilwyk and Dean Morosin
Subs - Dale White (on for Morosin), Andrew Breslin, Luke McDonald (on for Sergi) and James McClelland
Coach - Dan McGoldrick
Referee - Nathan Wotton
Assistant referees - Darcy Jordan and Annaliese Phipps
Post match interviews with the coaches - https://soundcloud.com/dylaneloiarvela/post-match-interviews-after-fernhill-defeated-thirroul-1-0
Report by Dylan Arvela on Twitter @dylaneloiarvela
Photos by Pedro Garcia