Bulli lifted the Fraternity Club Cup on Sunday night with a 7-1 victory against District League contenders Shell Cove at a rain-drenched Ian McLennan Park.

Sam Davies put in a player of the match performance which included two stunning first-half goals to set up the win which saw the Balls Paddock club claim the preseason tournament for the first time since 2014.

The Premier League outfit had the first opportunity of the match two minutes in when a corner found Ian Clarino who chested the ball goalbound forcing Tom Matthews into a smart save.

There was little between the two sides for the following 20 minutes with the only effort on goal being a stray shot by Shell Cove forward Dean Krkovski.

In the 27th minute, Nick Littler played a ball into Davies who controlled it before brilliantly picking out the bottom-left corner from 20 metres out. 

Four minutes later Davies produced nearly a carbon copy of his first effort, except this time it was from slightly further out – Matthews left with no chance on either strike.

In the 35th minute, Shell Cove nearly pulled a goal back through Tommy Markovski with the seasoned striker turning Littler inside out before aiming for the bottom-right corner only for Ben McGinnes to palm the ball wide.

Markovski would make his mark a minute into the second half when he worked the ball just inside the box before his strike deflected off Littler and beat the Bulli number one. 

Any chances of a comeback were quashed when Jake Levy restored Bulli’s two-goal advantage in the 52nd minute with a perfect 25-metre strike into the right of Matthew’s goal.

Bulli took complete control of the match in the following five minutes with Ben McDonald scoring two quickfire goals with the second requiring a superb first touch before a trademark finish.

Sam Adnum got in on the action with 10 minutes remaining with his shot ricocheting in before Guy Knight completed the rout with another long-range goal which banged off the right post on the way in.

After the match, Bulli coach Julio Miranda said his side had to grind it out before the match opened up and credited his players’ application for the duration of the match.

“[Shell Cove] were up for it and defensively they had a pretty good structure which made it difficult for us,” Miranda said.

“I thought we were a bit sloppy in the first half, we don’t train or play on the [synthetic] surface we were on tonight, I’ve always said it can take half a game before you get into it.

“I have to give them credits, the boys responded to the half-time chat, so I can’t complain.”

Bulli have a busy week with an FFA Cup tie away to Holroyd Rangers before opening their Illawarra Premier League campaign away to Wollongong Olympic on Sunday. 

Miranda believes his side are ready for the week ahead, adding he doesn’t mind starting the season against a title rival.

“We have some big games coming up with the FFA Cup on Wednesday night and then weather permitting Wollongong Olympic, who I think are probably the strongest side in the Premier League,” he said.

“Eventually you’re going to have to play them at some stage. We played them a few weeks ago and I thought we did okay for 40 minutes, but I just put that down to match fitness. We have had a few games since then so it’s a totally different ball game. 

“I’m sure the boys will be up for it and whatever team I put out there, I am pretty confident they will do a decent job.”

Shell Cove coach Spase Najdovski didn’t have any qualms with the result and feels his side are still in a good position to challenge for the District League title.

“It’s the first time we have played against a top [Premier League] side [in the preseason],” Najdovski said.

“What we have done is a big achievement for us, plus we had five players injured so we did well today with some young players but all credit has to go to Bulli, for me they’re going to be the top team in the Premier League.

“We are going for first. In the next couple of days we are going to bring in a couple of players and we have got a good side, we have got to be careful with Helensburgh who are a top side and another two clubs in our competition, but our target is to finish first and get promotion to the Premier League.”

Shell Cove take on Oak Flats at Barrack Heights Sportsground in round one on Saturday.

Shell Cove 1 (Tommy Markovski 46’)

Bulli 7 (Sam Davies 27’ 31’, Jake Levy 52’, Ben McDonald 54’ 58’, Sam Adnum 80’, Guy Knight 84’)

Player of the match: Sam Davies (Bulli)

Shell Cove: 1. MATTHEWS Tom, 2. TOSKOVSKI Daniel, 3. RUSIC Nikola, 4. JOSESKI Martin, 5. DENNELLY Damien, 6. ANGELKOSKI Aleksandar, 7. KRKOVSKI Dean, 8. TRAJKOSKI Hristijan, 9. MARTIN Kyle, 10. SOPER Hayden, 11. MARKOVSKI Tommy, 12. LONG Isack, 13. WAGMANS Harry, 14. ARDLE Shayne, 21. HADAYA Yacoub, 23. CARRASCO Lochlan

Bulli: 1. MCGINNES Ben, 2. JACKSON Kyle, 4. BAKER Aaron, 5. FOSTER Luke, 6. DAVIES Sam, 7. VAN ZYL Luke, 8. LEVY Jake, 9. MCDONALD Ben, 10. EMERTON Ryan, 11. BEATTIE Joel, 12. LLOYD Harry, 15. LITTLER Nick, 16. KNIGHT Guy, 18. ADNUM Sam, 19. CLARINO Ian

* Unlimited interchange *

Date: 21 March 2021

Venue: Ian McLennan Park

Referee: Bobby Mazevski

Assistant Referees: Caleb Blanch and Harry Fisher

Fourth Official: Brendan Fotheringham

Report by Dylan Arvela, on Twitter @dylanarvela

Photo by Dana Walker

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