Warilla Wanderers came from behind to topple Picton Rangers 2-1 at King Mickey Park on Saturday afternoon in the opening round of the Illawarra District League.

Dayne Morley opened the scoring for the visitors early on from the penalty spot before halfway through the first period when Stewart Robertson restored parity.

Substitute Chad Keating scored the winner for the home side just after the hour mark.

It was a strong start from the Bush Pigs who created two chances in the opening 10 minutes.

Four minutes in Dayne Morley played a square ball across the top of the box to Aurin Jones on the left-hand side who prompted a smart save from new signing Brad Jardine in the Wanderers goal.

Six minutes later, fullback Brandon Lee took aim from outside the box on the left-hand side seeing his effort trickle into the gloves of Jardine.

Warilla created their first real opening of the match 15 minutes in when Shannon Hoad was played in behind the Picton defence in the right-hand channel producing a stinging shot that was forced behind for a corner by Rangers’ shot-stopper Alexander Josipovic.

However, three minutes later, Picton opened the scoring. The visitors were awarded a penalty which Dayne Morley stepped up for powering an effort into the left-hand roof of the net.

It only took seven minutes for the hosts to get even as Stewart Robertson was played in behind one-on-one with Josipovic after a turnover in transition from the Rangers.

Robertson confidently passed the ball into the right-hand side of the net which was the final major action of the half seeing the sides level heading into the sheds.

It was a reserved start to the second period but in the 60th minute, the visitors had a fantastic opportunity to take the lead when Hoad delivered an inch-perfect cross from the right-hand side meeting the head of Lachlan Newman.

However, Newman was unable to muster anything on target from close range as he headed wide.

Picton would be made to pay for this miss when four minutes later super-sub Chad Keating put the hosts into the lead with a simple finish from inside the box.

Warilla created three more chances over the next 10 minutes which could’ve settled the game.

In the 70th minute, Josh Young went through face-to-face with Josipovic but a vital save from the latter saw the ball diverted for a corner.

A minute later the Wanderers struck the woodwork when Ben Lucas curled a first time shot from the right-hand edge of the box onto the crossbar.

A couple of minutes after this, Robertson nearly had a brace as a cross from the left-hand side from Martin Castelli found its way to Robertson.

Robertson’s strike nearly squirmed into the net after Josipovic didn’t do enough to stop the momentum of the ball but the keeper got back and prevented it from crossing the line.

Picton started to mount pressure on Warilla towards the end of the game pushing more bodies forward which left opportunities for the home side counter.

In the 78th minute, Ryan Sutcliffe went through on goal, but his first touch took away a lot of the distance he had on the defenders which resulted in a weaker shot that was saved by the keeper.

Adrian Montalbano was on the follow-up but saw his effort cleared off the line.

Warilla went on to secure a win on the opening day of the season.

The Wanderers will now travel to face Balgownie Rangers in the Bert Bampton Cup on Tuesday before facing up to Kiama Quarriers that coming Friday who were just defeated by Balgownie on Friday night in the Illawarra District League.

Picton will host Fernhill next week after the Foxes gave up a two-goal advantage to draw against University in Round 1.

Warilla Wanderers 2 (Stewart Robertson 24’, Chad Keating 65’)

Picton Rangers 1 (Dayne Morley PEN 17’)

Warilla Wanderers: 1. JARDINE Brad, 2. GERIBO Brenton, 3. BAULCH Alexander, 4. NOLAN Jordan, 5. FOWLER Jack, 6. CASTELLI Martin, 7. ROBERTSON Stewart, 8. LUCAS Benjamin, 9. YOUNG Joshua, 10. OVANDO Javier, 11. PERRY Joel

Substitutes: 12. KEATING Chad (PERRY), 13. MONTALBANO Adrian (OVANDO), 14. SUTCLIFFE Ryan (YOUNG), 15. DONNELLY Jack, 16. PUSELL Blake

Picton Rangers:  1. JOSIPOVIC Alexander, 3. HEYHORN Michael, 13. MIRANDA Scott, 2. LEE Brandon, 5. DURRANT Bradley, 14. NELSON Daniel, 12. JONES Aurin, 9. TESORIERO Matthew, 10. NEWMAN Lachlan, 8. HOAD Shannon, 11. MORLEY Dayne

Substitutes: 7. TASESKI Jack (MORLEY), 6. MAIOLO Joshua (NELSON), 4. STIFFLE Shane (LEE), 15. O’NEIL Connor, 16. STORKEY Liam

Date: 27 March 2021

Venue: King Mickey Park

Referee: Caleb Blanch

Assistant Referees: Casey Flemming and Christina Baraza

Report by Timothy Gibson

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