The Albion Park White Eagles and Port Kembla played out a thriller on Saturday afternoon, with the two-all draw providing the fans at Terry Reserve an entertaining spectacle hours before the region went into a Covid-enforced lockdown.

After dropping points in a draw with Woonona last week, Port Kembla were desperate to take all three points here in their push to make the top five.

A high press combined with relentless defending every time Albion Park won the ball enabled Port Kembla to create a plethora of chances in the opening 20 minutes of the match.

After impressing off the bench last week, Oli Carrasco earnt himself a spot in Port’s starting 11 up top and was gifted a chance to make an instant impact in the third minute when he found himself in front of an open goal.

Coming out to the edge of his box to contest a long ball, White Eagles goalkeeper Blake Horton miss-hit his attempted punch over his head and into the path of Carrasco.

However, despite appearing to have the time to control the ball and pass it into the open net, Carrasco hit the ball first time on the half volley and inexplicably missed the target from just right of the penalty spot. 

Horton was in the action again in the 10th minute when just inside halfway, Jordan Nikolovski spotted Horton off his line and attempted to chip the goalkeeper.

If Nikolovski had hit the ball with slightly more height, his audacious effort may well have ended up in the back of the net, but his shot was flat enough to allow Horton to dive to his right and make a save to avoid embarrassment.

Port Kembla had yet another great opportunity in the 21st minute when Elissio Chiodi’s low cross was parried by Horton straight to Jayden Nikolovski on the penalty spot, who met the ball with his head but directed it over the bar while Horton scrambled to get back to his feet.

At this point, the game started to become more even, and there was a sense that Port Kembla had let their chance to stamp their authority on the match slip.

This feeling would come to fruition in the 32nd minute when the competition’s top scorer, Cameron Morgan, got on the ball in the box for Albion Park.

With his first opportunity of the match, Morgan smashed the ball into the back of the net to give his side the lead going into half time. 

The second half began in swashbuckling fashion, with chances for both sides but it was Port Kembla who would score first to draw the scores level in the 62nd minute.

After a shot from a corner bounced off the ground and into the crossbar, Jayden Nikolovski was in the right place at the right time to place the rebound into the goal. 

Ten minutes later, it was a corner that would cause trouble again with Albion Park being the beneficiaries this time.

Whipped into the box, the ball evaded the heads of all the tall timber both sides assembled in the box, with the ball dropping to one of the shortest players on the pitch, Sam Munro, who at full stretch volleyed the ball into the goal before wheeling off in celebration with his arms outstretched like an aeroplane.

The 77th minute of the match may have been the most chaotic sixty seconds this season.

Out on the right wing, Jordan Nikolovski squared the ball to Vaughan Patterson, who thought he tapped in an equaliser only for the assistant referee to deem that Nikolovski had received the ball in an offside position.

Rather than hitting the resulting free-kick long, Albion Park attempted to play the ball out of the back which Nikolovski won back, this time on the left.

Dribbling the ball into the box, Nikolvski hit a shot straight at Horton covering his near post, however, the ball somehow crept under Horton and the ball dribbled over the line to draw the scores level again while some Port players were still complaining about the offside.

This set up a grandstand finish with both sides pushing for a winner.

With the ball ping-ponging from end to end, the ball fell to Port’s Daniel Carella in stoppage time who commenced a mazy run towards goal before playing Chiodi in behind Albion Park’s defence.

Chiodi though failed to clinch the last-gasp opportunity, flashing the ball across the face of goal seconds before the final whistle blew.

For the second week in a row, Port Kembla will be disappointed that they failed to capitalise on early chances to set themselves up to win three points.

Having to settle for a draw, Port Kembla sit one point outside the top five, however, Bulli in fifth have a game in hand as their match with Wollongong United was postponed. 

Meanwhile, Albion Park will also be disappointed having to settle for a draw, dropping points in the race for the league championship.

Albion Park White Eagles: 2 (Camron Morgan 32’, Sam Munro 72’)

Port Kembla: 2 (Jayden Nikolovski 62’, Jordan Nikolovski 77’)

Albion Park White Eagles: 1. HORTON Blake, 2. MCGINN Blake, 3. SENIOR Kyle, 5. ALLPORT Boden, 17. MARTIN Jacob, 21. FORDHAM Brendan, 10. MUNRO Sam, 12. LAMBERTON Hamish, 13. NATHANIEL Chris, 15. MINUTILLO Julian, 7. MORGAN Cameron.

Substitutes: 6. DELBANCO Robert, 9. HAYASHI Kodai, 11. KELLETT Brendan, 14. MACK James, 4. BOROVINA Daniel

Port Kembla: 1. DAENELL Bryce, 2. DI PIETRO Mitch, 3. MOBBS William, 4. RICHARDSON Peter, 5. PRANDALOS Peter, 6. NIKOLOVSKI Jayden, 16. MATIAS Keegan, 8. PATTERSON Vaughan, 9. CHIODI Elisseo, 10. NIKOLOVSKI Jordan, 11. CARRASCO Oli.

Substitutes: 12. POLIDORO David (Carrasco), 13. CARELLA Daniel (K. Matias), 14. GRAHAM Casey, 15. SAFFIOTI Christian 21. MATIAS Harrison. 

Date: 26th June 2021 

Venue: Terry Reserve

Referee: Caleb Blanch

Assistant Referees: Hayden Michlmayr and Casey Fleming

Report by Nic Wilson, on Twitter @_nicwilson

Photo by Kiah Hufton


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