Wetherall Park was treated to an entertaining match on Sunday afternoon with Port Kembla and Bulli unable to be separated in a 2-2 draw.
The hosts hit the front early through Oli Carrasco before Joel Starr scored a spectacular goal late in the first half to see the teams go into halftime level.
Jordan Nikolovski snuck in a penalty just after the hour mark to put Port back in front; however, Ian Clarino equalised for Bulli not long after.
The away side made a promising start to the match, looking dangerous from a couple of set pieces in the first two minutes.
Three minutes in, Lewis Grimshaw took on a volley from the edge of the box that bounced high allowing Ben Mcdonald to get his head to the ball, but it looped over the bar.
Despite Bulli’s purposeful opening, it was Port Kembla who picked up the opening goal six minutes in.
A goal-mouth scramble following a right-sided corner dropped to Carrasco who smashed the ball into the goal from close range.
Bulli responded six minutes later with Starr driving into the right of the box and finding Alex Rooke at the penalty spot, where a combination of goalkeeper and defender prevented the goal.
Nikolovski looked to double the home side’s advantage in the 18th minute receiving the ball in the left channel of the box and dragging a shot across the face of the goal.
Bulli stepped up their equalising efforts in the final 15 minutes of the half with Baker’s long-range shot rolling past the left post with half an hour played.
Jarvis Patterson’s volley from the edge of the box seven minutes later was held onto Port goalkeeper Bryce Daenell.
With just a minute of first-half regular time to play, the away side finally levelled the scores.
Some intricate play between Mcdonald and Starr on the edge of the box resulted in the latter firing an over-head kick into the left side of the goal.
The sides went into the break a goal apiece after Bulli’s late half surge.
The break also saw Bulli starting goalkeeper Seiya Miyamoto replaced by Braeden Kludass.
The visitors carried on from the first half seeking an early go-ahead goal, with Starr and Clarino both sending shots over the bar in the first 10 minutes of the second period.
However, the side would be left to rue missed chances once more as Port Kembla were awarded a penalty in the 63rd minute.
Nikolovski took responsibility for the spot kick with his effort creeping into the bottom-left corner despite a touch from Kludass on the way in.
The forward had another shot just four minutes later, with his scooped effort from the edge of the box bouncing agonisingly past the right post.
Only seconds after this chance Bulli restored parity once more, Clarino bundling home Rooke’s right-sided freekick from the middle of the box.
The match adopted a frantic pace in the final 20 minutes as both sides looked to jag a winning goal.
In the 73rd minute, both substitute Deakin Brownlee and Paterson saw shots saved in quick succession for Bulli.
Harrison Anagnostopoulos wound up a right-footed shot for Port from the edge of the box a couple of minutes later, with Kludass getting down to his right to make the save.
Bulli stepped their assault for the rest of the match, creating numerous opportunities.
Mcdonald had two chances to put the side in front with a couple of volleys in the 77th minute from inside the box that both cleared the crossbar.
The away side went close again with 10 minutes to go, as Sam Davies’ original shot from the edge of the box drew a save from Daenell before Rooke’s tight-angled follow-up missed.
Another chance when begging for Bulli three minutes later with Brownlee able to get a shot off from the left of the box before Mcdonald’s rebound was cleared off the line.
Brownlee was involved again seconds later, turning well in the box before dragging an effort wide of the right post.
The visitors did not let up as the game moved into second-half additional time with the side looking to close the gap on Wollongong United at the top of the table.
Starr almost had his second goal of the game in the 91st minute getting on the end of a cross from the right, but Daenell was equal to the shot.
Deep into injury time, Mcdonald got his head onto a left-sided cross at the back post, but it went over.
However, Bulli were unable to find a winner having to settle for a point against Port Kembla.
The result sees Julio Miranda’s team remain in third with a trip to Tarrawanna this weekend.
Port Kembla will also be on the road this week, travelling to Crehan Park to face Cringila.
Port Kembla 2 (Oli Carrasco 8’, Jordan Nikolovski PENALTY 63’)
Bulli FC 2 (Joel Starr 44’, Ian Clarino 67’)
Port Kembla: 1. DAENELL Bryce, 2. GEORGES Sam, 3. DONNELLY Lachlan, 4. PAPPALIA Luca, 5. PRANDALOS Peter, 6. ANAGNOSTOPOULOS James, 7. ANAGNOSTOPOULOS Harrison, 8. CHICHARO Daniel, 9. CARRASCO Oli, 10. NIKOLOVSKI Jordan, 11. LAVALLE Rocky
Substitutes: 12. CARELLA Daniel (J.ANAGNOSTOPOULOS 79′), 13. SAFFIOTI Christian, 14. DEDIS Athan, 15. AVOURIS Dion (LAVALLE 86′), 21. GENUA Luke
Yellow Cards: Oli Carrasco 44’, Paul Michlmayr 52’
Red Cards: Nil
Bulli FC: 21. MIYAMOTO Seiya, 5. ISHII Tomohiro, 4. BAKER Aaron, 19. CLARINO Ian, 16. ROOKE Alex, DAVIES Sam, 27. STARR Joel, 7. PATERSON Jarvis, 33. EMERTON Ryan, 9. MCDONALD Ben, 10. GRIMSHAW Lewis
Substitutes: 2. JACKSON Kyle, 1. KLUDASS Braeden (MIYAMOTO 46′), 25. ADNUM Sam (GRIMSHAW 77′), 11. BROWNLEE Deakin (PATERSON 69′), 3. BAULCH Alex
Yellow Cards: Deakin Brownlee 71’, Aaron Baker 82’
Red Cards: Nil
Date: Sunday 21 August 2022
Venue: Wetherall Park, Primbee
Referee: Caleb Blanch
Assistant Referees: Steve Bozic and Demi Goddard
Report by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_
Photos courtesy of Dana Guthrie