University’s fairytale finals run continued on Saturday afternoon with a last-second winner in extra time against Shell Cove at Ian McLennan Park.
The Students burst into a two-goal lead inside half an hour with Ryan Sinclair and Nic Wilson both scoring. There was drama at the start of the second half with both sides reduced to 10 players before Michael Trajkovski and a stoppage-time equaliser from Tommy Markovski sent the game to extra time. Substitute Jordan Simms scored the winning goal in the 120th minute to give University a shot at the grand final next week.
It was a chance-shy start to the match as both teams looked to work their way into it. In the eighth minute, Students’ midfielder Joshua Martin fired a first-time shot from the edge of the box over the bar.
Shell Cove looked more assured over the next 10 minutes holding the ball higher up the field with several crosses skimming across the box. Alexander Josifovski also had a shot for the side 19 minutes in, but it cleared the bar as well.
However, it was University that found the opening goal. An astute advantage played by referee Caleb Blanch allowed the Students to keep the ball moving out of the back. Before it was scooped over the top for captain Sinclair, who chipped the ball over the onrushing Vasko Petkucevski and rolled a simple finish into the open net.
Buoyed by an early goal, the side grabbed another six minutes after their first. The ball causing chaos in the Shell Cove box bouncing off the crossbar with Wilson quickest to react bundling it home.
Shell Cove had a stronger finish to the first half – hoping to pick up a goal before the break. The side struck the woodwork in the 36th minute as University goalkeeper Jordan Kipps could only parry the original shot into the path of Daniel Krkovski who struck the right post with his follow-up.
Shell Cove had another opportunity with six minutes to play – Dylan Perlowski getting on the end of a right-sided corner and volleying over at the back post.
The Students got into the halftime break with their two-goal advantage intact. However, their second half got off to a tough start with Eamon Flint-Peterson given his marching orders only three minutes in. The defender bringing down Tommy Markovski on the edge of the University box as the last player. Elvir Catovic stepped up for the resulting freekick and saw his effort bounce back off the crossbar – the second time the side had hit the woodwork.
Tempers flared moments later as both sets of players crowded after an altercation inside the University box with Catovic was shown a second yellow card for his role in it. Both teams were now a player light early on in the second half. The action didn’t stop there with Michael Trajkovski sliding a smart finish from the left of the box into the right corner to pull a goal back for Shell Cove just before the hour mark.
Shell Cove looked to push on and restore parity in the match but seemed unable to find a killer pass to unlock the University defence once more. As the game progressed, Shell Cove started to push more numbers forward and already down to 10 men, the space started to open up. The Students had a great chance to seal the win with 10 minutes to play as a 3v1 developed breaking down the right. Substitute Liam Zamuner crossed the ball into Sinclair who took a touch before firing off the bar – the woodwork struck again.
The risks eventually paid the rewards for Shell Cove deep into stoppage time. A cross from the left found Markovski inside the box who prodded the ball beyond Kipps and into the net.
Markovski almost won it for Shell Cove right at the death as he attempted a long-range lob looking to catch out Kipps, but the ball dropped just past the right post. The game was destined for extra time.
Shell Cove carried on their late-game form from regular time with the side going close on two occasions inside the first seven minutes of extra time. They hit the crossbar once more at the end of the first period of extra time as David Trajkovski saw his effort parried onto the crossbar before Kipps held onto the ball.
The chances fell away in the second half of extra time as the match looked set for a penalty shootout. In the final seconds of the match, the Students launched a hopeful freekick into the box that was punched clear by Petkucevski. However, only as far as Jordan Simms who slid a first-time finish from the edge of the box into the net.
— Football South Coast (@FSC_Official) October 8, 2022
Moments later, after a scramble in the University box, the final whistle was blown as the side earned their place in the preliminary final next week.
It’s been a wild ride for University over the past few weeks. The side was eighth with just two games to play, but a run of wins including clinching finals on the final day has given them a chance at a place in the grand final. They’ll take on Unanderra next week with victory booking a date at WIN Stadium a week later against Helensburgh.
Shell Cove are now out of the running for the District League title after finishing second in the regular season.
Shell Cove 2 (Michael Trajkovski 59’, Tommy Markovski 90+2’)
University FC 3 (Ryan Sinclair 22’, Nic Wilson 28’, Jordan Simms 120’)
Shell Cove: 21. PETKUCEVSKI Vasko, 13. TOSKOVSKI Daniel, 4. JOSESKI Martin, 3. PERLOWSKI Dylan, 14. TRAJKOVSKI Hristijan, 15. KOLONJA Dusan, 8. JOSIFOVSKI Alexander, 10. CATOVIC Elvir, 7. KRKOVSKI Daniel, 11. MARKOVSKI Tommy, 9. TRAJKOVSKI Michael
Substitutes: 1. ZINNATO Rocco, 6. ELMOUBAYED Ali (Dean KRKOVSKI 71’), 12. KRKOVSKI Dean (KOLONJA 57’), 5. TRAJKOVSKI David (JOSESKI 82’), 16. CHUNG Daniel
Yellow Cards: Tommy Markovski 36’, Elvir Catovic 45+1’ 52’, Alexander Josifovski 117’
Red Cards: Elivir Catovic 52’
University FC: 1. KIPPS Jordan, 4. FLINT-PETERSON Eamon, 2. MORGAN Lachlan, 6. MARTIN Joshua, 19. COETZER Alex, 30. INGLIS Luke, 23. SINCLAIR Ryan, 3. HAWKES Ashley, 12. HANSON Cameron, 16. JOYCE Ben, 17. WILSON Nic
Substitutes: 66. ZAMUNER Liam (HANSON 69’), 11. TURNER Nathan (COETZER 84’), 8. SIMMS Jordan (INGLIS 90+1’), 47. STANDEN Craig (TURNER 121’), 99. THORNTON Blayke
Yellow Cards: Lachlan Morgan 64’
Red Cards: Eamon Flint-Peterson 48’
Date: Saturday, 8 October 2022
Venue: Ian McLennan Park, Kembla Grange
Referee: Caleb Blanch
Assistant Referees: John Ruscica and Stuart Bell
Fourth Official: Jay Walpole
Report by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_
Photos courtesy of Graham Brown