WHITE EAGLES AND BULLI DRAW AHEAD OF FINALS

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ALBION PARK WHITE EAGLES v BULLI | IPL R11 | MATCH REPORT

Albion Park secured a spot in the Illawarra Premier League finals with a 1-1 draw at home to Bulli on Sunday. 

The result extended the White Eagles’ unbeaten run to eight matches with the side finishing a point above sixth-placed Wollongong Olympic, while the draw was enough for Bulli to hold onto third.

Albion Park led the match early through Cameron Morgan’s seventh goal of the campaign before Bulli co-captain Ben McDonald scrambled one in late in the first half to match his counterpart’s season tally.

Morgan’s goal came in the 15th minute after a sloppy bit of play gave Joel Beattie the opportunity to scurry into the box with his shot parried into the path of the White Eagles talisman who made no mistake from close range.

Bulli slowly worked their way into the match with McDonald having a great opportunity to level it on the half-hour mark when he was played through only for Nick Armand to pull off a strong one-on-one save. 

Sam Davies and Takumu Tsjimura both had efforts from distance in the closing stages of the first period before McDonald picked up the equaliser with virtually the last touch of the half. Luke Van Zyl played a corner to the far post for Davies to loft into the six-yard box where Armand lost control of the ball and allowed McDonald the chance to poke the ball home.

A combination of a bumpy pitch and early October heat took its toll on the match in the second half with neither side really looking likely to score a winner. 

The best chance of the second period fell for the White Eagles in the 85th minute when a corner was cleared to Cody Wehmeyer on the edge of the area with the young gun’s strike forcing Ben McGinnes into an acrobatic save.

Bulli coach Julio Miranda admitted it wasn’t a pretty match, however, he was satisfied with his side wrapping up a top-three finish. 

“It was a difficult pitch to play and it was a hot day too but you have got to do what you have got to do with the conditions you’re given,” Miranda said.

“We were not clinically enough to put the game away.

“[I am happy with third] considering where the club finished last year. We had a lot of new faces come in, it was about rebuilding this season which has been somewhat different but to finish third was a good accomplishment and making finals in all three grades shows there’s a good culture and a good spirit in the club.”

Bulli will take on rivals Wollongong United in a qualifying final at Memorial Park next Sunday with the side. 

United have beaten the Balls Paddock club twice this season, including the Bert Bampton Cup final, but Miranda is hoping his charges can catch them on the hop after they missed out on the league title.

“They’ll be a little bit concerned they didn’t win the league and they might put themselves under a little bit of pressure heading into next week,” he said.

“We’ve got a couple of blokes coming back in next week… so we are just going to roll the dice.”

Albion Park also managed to get all three grades into the finals with the first grade side taking on Tarrawanna in an elimination final at JJ Kelly Park next weekend.

White Eagles coach Goran Trajceski told the Illawarra Mercury making the top five was just rewards for a strong run home.

“The boys deserve it,” he said.

“Over the last five or six weeks they’ve been outstanding.

“And other results went our way as well. But we did it. Four weeks ago, people weren’t giving us a chance and the boys did the job.”

Albion Park White Eagles 1 (Cameron Morgan 15’)

Bulli 1 (Ben McDonald 45’)

Albion Park White Eagles: 1. ARMAND Nick, 13. NATHANIEL Chris, 3. SENIOR Kyle, 4. SUZAKI Kohei, 5. WILSON Zane, 6. WEHMEYER Cody, 7. MORGAN Cameron, 21. FORDHAM Brendan, 10. BEATTIE Joel, 8. NIKOLOVSKI Jordan, 17. RISTEVSKI Chris

Substitutes: 11. MARTIN Jacob (RISTEVSKI), 9. SEADON Riley, 16. VRANKOVIC Dane, 14. SCOTCHER Jack, 31. COAD Blake

Bulli: 1. MCGINNES Ben, 8. HEWSON Blake, 27. CLARINO Ian, 4. BAKER Aaron, 5. FOSTER Luke, 6. DAVIES Sam, 31. EMERTON Ryan, 26. TSUJIMURA Takumu, 30. KAMBAYASHI Seiya, 9. MCDONALD Ben, 7. VAN ZYL Luke

Substitutes: 14. LEWIS Dylan (KAMBAYASHI), 22. KLUDASS Braeden, 17. ASHTON Max (EMERTON), 23. DELLA VEDOVA Jordyn, FOSTER Brodie (LEWIS)

Date: 4 October 2020

Venue: Terry Reserve

Referee: Bobby Mazevski

Assistant Referees: Mick Agim and Gareth Jenkins

Report by Dylan Arvela, on Twitter @dylanarvela

Photo by Kiah Hufton

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