Tarrawanna secured a place in the preliminary final of the Illawarra Premier League with a 2-1 win over Albion Park in the Elimination Final at Tarrawanna Oval on Sunday afternoon.
The Blueys went behind midway through the first half when Joel Beattie found himself free at the back post from a freekick on the right-hand side – nodding a bouncing header into the near side of the goal. Tarrawanna restored parity just before the break when Rick Goodchild converted from the spot. The White Eagle’s fate was sealed at the hour mark when substitute Nicolas Tomasiello finished from close range.
It was an unappealing opening ten minutes with both sides starting the game conservatively. The White Eagles created the first opening 12 minutes in when Cody Wehmeyer switched the ball to the right-hand side for Valentino Merxhushi who found himself in a threatening position. The winger from there attempted to put a ball into the box, however, poor contact with the ball saw the cross sail over the bar. A couple of minutes later, Albion Park moved forwards again winning a freekick centrally on the edge of the box. Cameron Morgan took responsibility from the freekick with his effort clipping the wall on its way out for a corner.
Spurred on by this positive spell in the game, Albion Park began to assert their dominance looking threatening on multiple occasions but failing to find the meaningful ball to open up their opponents. The side were awarded a freekick on the left-hand side in the 22nd minute. Cody Waller put in an inswinging delivery which found Cameron Morgan unmarked in the box. The number 7 headed the ball on-target but the effort lacked power allowing the Tarrwanna defence to clear their lines. The White Eagles pressure finally paid off five minutes later when the side opened the scoring. A freekick this time on the right-hand side was again swung in from Cody Waller. Joel Beattie made an untracked run to back post allowing him to power his bouncing header into the near side of the goal.
The opening goal sparked a reaction from the Blueys with the side putting in several testing balls for the Albion Park defence but were still unable to create anything of substance. However, in the 43rd minute, another cross into the box this time caused problems for White Eagles keeper Brad Jardine. The cross in from the right-hand side was spilt by Jardine with the consequential shot cannoning into Kyle Senior’s arm and a penalty being awarded. Rick Goodchild stepped up and placed his effort into the bottom left-hand corner restoring parity for his side.
Goodchild’s late penalty meant the sides went into the break level. Both teams had had good spells in the match creating numerous opportunities. It was still all to play for heading into the second period.
The second half saw both teams come out in search of an early goal. In the 51st minute, Beattie thought he had found his second of the game. Merxhushi did well to open up space on the right-hand side delivering an inviting ball in which narrowly missed the out-stretched leg of Beattie who was unmarked in the box.
In the 63rd minute, Tarrawanna hit the front for the first time in the match. The Blueys pressured Albion Park all the way back to Brad Jardine, meaning the White Eagles’ custodian had to rush his clearance seeing the ball drop the feet of Rick Goodchild. Taking the ball into the box, Goodchild calmly slid a ball into the path of substitute Nicolas Tomasiello who bundled the ball over the line. The Blueys were in the ascendency, and seven minutes later, they nearly doubled their advantage. Keisuke Hayashi picked the ball up on the right-hand side and ran towards goal before picking out Rick Goodchild in the box who fired goalwards but saw his effort batted away. The ball eventually then fell to Tomasiello on the left-hand side inside the box who lashed a strike just wide of the far post.
With Albion Park in need of a goal to avoid crashing out of the competition, the side began to push numbers forward. Despite this, the Blueys held strong repelling several waves of pressure from the White Eagles. However, in the 82nd minute, the side’s defence was almost breached. An intelligent switch of play saw the ball find the path of Joel Beattie on the right-hand side. Beattie opened up an angle and crossed the ball into the box. The ball looked destined to find a White Eagles head but a crucial defensive header from Matthew Naylor allowed the Blueys to clear their lines.
With just seconds to play in the game, Albion Park won a freekick on the left-hand side. Cameron Morgan curled in a cross finding the head of Yuki Uno but he was unable to generate enough power on the ball with Blueys’ gloveman Adam Rodriguez able to hold on to shot and with that, secure a birth in the preliminary final for his side.
Tarrawanna will now face Corrimal for a place in the Grand Final of the Illawarra Premier League. The Blueys have an excellent record against the Rangers – winning both of their encounters this season. The Rangers will also be without midfielder Ben Zucco who was sent off in Corrimal’s Qualifying Final defeat to Wollongong Olympic.
As for Albion Park, the side will be disappointed with the way they were eliminated from the competition. The side conceded four goals across the two games played in the finals series and scored just one. The White Eagles will need to begin preparations for next season and look as to how to improve on their overall performance this campaign.
Sunday 8th September @ Tarrawanna Oval, Tarrawanna
Albion Park White Eagles – 1 (Beattie 27’)
Tarrawanna Blueys – 2 (Goodchild 43’, Tomasiello 63’)
Albion Park White Eagles: Bradley JARDINE, Blake MCGINN, Luke DEBROT, Kyle SENIOR, Chris NATHANIEL, Araki NAOMICHI, Cody WEHMEYER, Joel BEATTIE, Cody WALLER, Valentino MERXHUSHI, Cameron MORGAN
Substitutes: Hristijan TANOSKI (MERXHUSHI), Oliver CARRASCO (WALLER), Yuki UNO (MCGINN), Eiki FUKUSHIGE, Jacob HUFTON
Tarrawanna Blueys: Adam RODRIGUEZ, Matthew NAYLOR, Haydn LLOYD, Michael ROBINSON, Daniel CHAPMAN, Mitchell FERRARO, Keisuke HAYASHI, Benjamin LEARMONTH, Stephan LLOYD, Rick GOODCHILD, Jake MORLANDO
Substitutes: Nicolas TOMASIELLO (FERRARO), Christian CABO, Caleb GRACE, Brody PAGE (HAYASHI), Kaydin HARRISON
Referee: Peter ILCEVSKI
Assistant Referees: Blake HERBERT and Greg REID
Fourth Official: Steven BOZIC
Report by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_
Photo by courtesy of Kiah Hufton