Kiama fought back from 2-0 down late in the second-half to grab a draw with University, making the students miss out on the 2020 Illawarra District League finals series on goal-difference.
The students went into the game with a clear target. Win the game and play finals football, anything else would depend on other results in the competition. Kiama came into the game looking to spoil the party as they were out of finals contention.
The visitors started the stronger between the two sides and threatened Kiama’s goal early on as Adam Bassuni’s cross deflected onto the post in the 5th minute.
Just two minutes later, the Quarriers had the chance to go ahead but a poor attempt in a one-on-one situation allowed Caleb Biondo to save Kyle Jelliffe’s shot comfortably.
In the 13th minute, a mis-guided back pass was intercepted by University’s Abdullah Anwer deep into Kiama’s defensive third. A cut-back to Bassuni on the edge of the area forced a hurried shot that was blocked by the retrieving defence.
It was another Kiama error almost leading to a goal again when Quarriers shot-stopper Callum Crapp scuffed his clearance and fell straight to Anwer. An ambitious effort with the outside of his foot from 25 yards saw the ball curl and strike the left-hand post and out for a goal kick, easing the home-sides worries.
Bassuni continued his efforts onto goal and nearly set up Doug Woodiwiss in the 28th minute but again, University failed to find the target as Woodiwiss blasted his shot over the crossbar.
However, the determined students weren’t to be denied too many times as Bassuni opened the scoring in the 32nd minute. Some nice interplay up the left wing saw Woodiwiss tee it into the path of Bassuni, who made no mistake from 18-yards, placing his effort into the bottom left corner, giving the visitors the lead.
Kiama did look to pull one back right on the stroke of half-time as Brenton Burke’s cross evaded everyone and found its way to the back-post where Chase Allchin couldn’t angle his effort goalwards.
University headed into the break with one foot inside the top five with a 1-0 advantage.
As the second half started, Bassuni looked for his brace. A laced attempt aiming towards the near post forced a strong, reflex save out of Crapp.
In the 62nd minute, the students doubled their lead through Anwer. After picking up a loose ball on the edge of the box following a corner, the striker weaved his way through a busy-box and past several Kiama defenders before rifling a powerful shot into the roof of the net, giving the visitors breathing space.
The two-goal cushion seemed to be enough for University but Kiama weren’t bowing out there. The home side pulled one back in the 72nd minute when Matt Hiriart poked home off an in-swinging corner from the left, setting up a frantic finish.
It was another chance gone begging for University, being denied by the woodwork yet again after Bassuni’s driven shot was saved onto the post by Crapp.
Jonathon Liddle provided some spark off the bench and almost set-up Woodiwiss with a deadly assist after beating his player up the right. The cut-back to his captain was just beyond his reach with his first-time attempt was blocked by Tom Cuncliffe at the back.
But it was an absolute pearler of an equaliser that broke University hearts with just five minutes remaining as Chris Christodoulou found the ball at his feet 30 yards from goal. To everyone’s surprise, the midfielder would try the spectacular, curling his effort into the far top corner to complete the Quarriers fight-back and send the home fans into a frenzy.
Matters then got worse for the visitors when centre-half Eamon Flint-Peterson was sent from the field after an altercation, making the students play the final minutes with 10-men.
A panicked finish to the game saw University send men forward for a winner and Kiama looking dangerous picking them apart on the counter-attack.
Despite their worried efforts, the students fell short and the sides ended both their seasons with a draw.
The result saw no change to Kiama’s position on the table. They end their campaign with four wins, one draw and six losses on 13 points in eighth spot.
As for University, they fall out of finals contention on goal difference. Fernhill’s win over Unanderra was enough to see the Foxes advance in fifth spot. The students end their season with five wins, two draws and four losses on 17 points in sixth position.
Kiama Quarriers FC: 2 (Hiriart 72, Christodoulou 85’)
University FC: 2 (Bassuni 32’, Anwer 62’)
Kiama: 1. CRAPP Callum, 2. HIRIART Matt, 3. BUSSOLETTI Simon, 4. HILL Chris, 5. CUNCLIFFE Tom, 6. SHELTON Jarrod, 7. SNOW Tom, 8. CHRISTODOULOU Chris, 9. JELLIFFE Kyle, 10. ALLCHIN Chase, 11. BURKE Brenton.
Substitutes: 12. STOCKDALE Tim (SHELTON), 13. O’NIELL Mitch (BURKE).
University: 31. BIONDO Caleb, 2. GALEA James, 4. FLINT-PETERSON Eamon, 5. PRESSLABER Christian, 7. MARTIN Josh, 8. IVERSON Curtis, 10. SINCLAIR Ryan, 13. O’BRIEN Conor, 14. ANWER Abdullah, 21. BASSUNI Adam, 25. WOODIWISS Doug.
Substitutes: 1. MAXWELL James, 9. LIDDLE Jonathon (O’BRIEN), 12. SIMMS Jordan (MARTIN), 16. HANSON Cameron (WOODIWISS).
Date: 3 October 2020
Venue: Kiama Sporting Complex
Referee: Greg Reid
Assistant Referees: Damien Dennelly and Clay Ismay
Report by Nathan Turner, on Twitter @nathanturner23_