Thirroul have announced themselves as a dark-horse in the Illawarra District League, after an entertaining and well-deserved 2-1 win over the Helensburgh Thistle at King Mickey Park on Saturday afternoon. After scraping into the finals series by just one point over University FC, Thirroul have shown over the last two weeks that they can more than match it with the big teams in the competition, and their strong win over the Thistle has issued a stern warning to the remaining teams in the competition.
A double to Robert Gyngell ensured that the Thunder continued their fairytale run, but the Thistle have bowed out of the 2019 District League competition with two-straight losses in the finals. Helensburgh could only score through a penalty from Addison Grinham, and to rub salt into their wounds – a late red card to goalkeeper Josh Williams capped off what was a disappointing afternoon for the Thistle.
Thirroul exploded out of the blocks from the first whistle, and nearly had a goal in the first minute. Angus Nicol was able to feed the ball into the path of Gyngell, but Gyngell couldn’t connect well enough with the ball and his shot missed the target.
Gyngell and Nathan Mucci were causing havoc for the Thunder in the early stages, and looked dangerous moving forward.
Thirroul moved the ball a lot quicker than the Thistle in possession, which was causing headaches for the Helensburgh defence.
Helensburgh were becoming frustrated when they looked to counter-attack, as Thirroul were compact in defence and didn’t give the Thistle any chances on goal.
Thirroul’s bright start turned into a goal in the 22nd minute, after a wonder-goal from Gyngell. Gyngell was able to produce a bicycle kick which collided with the right-post and crossed the goal-line before the Thistle could clear the ball. It was a well deserved goal after a fantastic start.
Mucci looked to add to the Thunder’s goal-tally in the 31st minute, after he was able to cut inside from the right-wing and unleash a shot on goal with his left foot. The shot was wide and missed the left post.
Helensburgh were looking to utilise the pace of both Brad and Ben Watts in attack, however the Thistle couldn’t find a way past the Thirroul defence.
Brad Watts and Grinham combined together in the 41st minute, which lead to Watts unleashing a dangerous cross from the left wing, but Grinham couldn’t connect properly with the ball and his shot went wide.
Helensburgh needed to come out of the half-time break firing if they were going to salvage a win from this match, and they did just that in the early stages of the second half.
Helensburgh equalised in the 51st minute after Brad Watts was fouled by Alan Maddock in the penalty area, following a dangerous run from the Helensburgh attacker. Grinham made no mistake in converting the penalty, and the game was back in the balance.
The tension rose at King Mickey Park, with both sides looking to physically assert themselves over their opponents. At times, the tension nearly reached boiling point after some physical challenges from both sides.
In the 64th minute, Cody Cuthberson was able to flick the ball into the path of substitute Andy Garcia, who was making a dangerous run down the right wing. Garcia unleashed a venomous cross into the path of Grinham, but the striker was unable to meet the ball inside the box.
Gyngell scored his second goal of the afternoon in the 74th minute, after a fumble from Williams lead to Gyngell retrieving the ball and finishing his shot into an open net, sending the Thirroul faithful crazy as they retook the lead.
The game threatened to boil over in the 83rd minute, when Williams was shown a red-card for an off-the-ball altercation after the ball went out for a Helensburgh goal-kick. Helensburgh now had to fight with one less player.
Grinham very nearly sent the match into extra time after he struck a half-volley onto the Thirroul goal in the 92nd minute. The volley collided with the bar and saved Thirroul from yet another 120 minute match, after their extra-time victory over Unanderra last weekend.
Thirroul’s defence produced a heroic performance to keep the Thistle out of their goal and were rewarded for their efforts when the full-time whistle blew, keeping their premiership dreams alive with a hard-fought 2-1 victory.
Thirroul’s victory means that they have booked a date with the Oak Flats Falcons next weekend, after the Falcons suffered a 4-1 extra-time defeat to the Bellambi Rosellas in the preliminary final.
The Thunder have produced two heroic performances over the last two weeks, and have shown everybody why they are a force to be reckoned with in this finals series.
Thirroul vs Oak Flats clash next weekend @ Wetherall Park as the last chance to make the Grand Final against Bellambi.
Report by Jarrod Pollard
Saturday 7th September @ 2:30pm
King Mickey Park
Helensburgh Thistle – 1
Thirroul Thunder – 2
Helensburgh Thistle: Josh WILLIAMS, Ryan GRIMA, Aaron DARK, Ryan HOPE, Jason WELLINGS, Jarrod BENHAM, Ben WATTS, Yu ITO, Addison GRINHAM, Brad WATTS, Cody CUTHBERSON
Substitutes: Shota KIHARA, Andy GARCIA, Kade KINSELLA, Reggae ROWLEY, Matthew WARDLE, Braiden GILBERT
Thirroul Thunder: Liam HARRIS, Joel MUCCI, Joshua HUTTON, James HUTTON, Alan MADDOCK, Angus NICOL, Ryan LATINI, Todd DAVIDSON, Robert GYNGELL, Nathan MUCCI, Daniel ARTHUR
Substitutes: Joshua BOND, Oscar PRUKS, Jonathon DE LYALL, Lachlan DUNN, Marcus RUSBOURNE
Referees: Greg Reid, Steve Bozic, Caleb Blanch