In a swinging match that saw three lead changes, Fernhill’s Daniel Djukic scored a hattrick including one deep into stoppage time as the Foxes took all three points with a 4-3 win over a spirited Warilla Wanderers.
Just two minutes into the match, a great run and cross by Jack Fowler saw Hayden Allen and youngster Mason Videla link up with the latter managing to put away the loose ball to give Warilla the perfect start.
Just five minutes later though, Fernhill drew level after a misdirected shot found Nelson McLeod lurking on the far post as he squeezed the ball between Frank Gaudiosi and the post.
On 19 minutes, McLeod found himself unmarked again on the far post however, this time, he sprayed his shot across the goal.
It was a see-sawing battle and moments later, Allen won the ball deep into the Foxes half and his 20 metre strike was well held by Fernhill’s new signing and goalkeeper Koju Maruyama.
Just a minute later, he was called into action again as Jack Pirie pulled down a pass and volleyed a shot from just outside the box that Maruyama held as he made it look easier than what it perhaps was.
On 27 minutes and at the other end, Mitchell Turner found himself one on one with Gaudiosi however the keeper spread himself well to smother the shot. This proved to be a warning shot.
Just two minutes later, Djukic headed home a cross from close range to put the Foxes 2-1 in front.
Foxes’ lead lasted just eight minutes with George Marentis found Jack Murray whose header bounced in off the post to draw the Wanderers level just before the break.
In hot, suppressing conditions, the players welcomed the break.
Just two minutes after the restart, Djukic had a good opportunity after he was played through however Gaudiosi was up to the task again denying him and the Foxes.
It was no surprise the game slowed down in the conditions as both coaches looked to their benches to throw on some fresh legs.
It was in fact one of the substitutes that swung the game back in Warilla’s favour. Dylan Di Cesare latched onto a long ball and came face to face with Maruyama. He had a lot of work to do however, he showed some silky ball skills to create just enough space to curl the ball beyond the keeper and into an unguarded goal. This saw Warilla 3-2 up on 76 minutes.
Just as it looked like Warilla were going to take all three points, Jordan Hughes found Djukic at the far post on 82 minutes and the striker made no mistake as he nodded it into the corner to draw the Foxes level.
We weren’t done yet and with the game into its third minute of injury time, Djukic secured his hat-trick as he slammed home yet another cross that saw him lurking at the far post to send the Warilla players to their knees.
Foxes coach Dale White was relieved after his side came away with a thrilling 4-3 win.
“Warilla brought a lot of energy today. They had a clear game plan, and were looking to counter on our mistakes. It wasn’t out best performance, but three points today was the objective. I’m happy that we managed to start the season off on the right note”.
Saturday 4 March @ Ray Robinson Oval
Fernhill Foxes 4 (Nelson McLeod 7’, Daniel Djukic 29’, 83’ 90+3’)
Warilla Wanderers 3 (Mason Videla 2’, Jack Murray 34’, Dylan Ci Cesare 76’)
FERNHILL FOXES: 1. Koju MARUYAMA, 2. Tom PLUMMER, Nathan THOMPSON, 4. Kurt FOULGER, David KOTRIC, 6. Mattias PASSLACK, 7. Jordan HUGHES, 8. Kyle DEL, 9. Daniel DJUKIC, 10. Mitchell TURNER, 11. Nelson McLEOD
Substitutes: 12. Luke DE FRIETAS (Del 70’), 13. Trent CARTER, 17. Jesse HOWARD, 21. Nicholas KYRIAKOUDES
Yellow Cards: Kurt FOULGER 24’
Red Cards: Nil
WARILLA WANDERERS: 1. Frank GAUDIOSI, 2. Jay MASON, 3. Jack FOWLER, 4. Brenton GERIBO, 5. George BAILEY, 6. Josh PETROVSKI, 7. Hayden ALLEN, 8. Jack PIRIE, 9. Jack MURRAY, 10. George MARENTIS, 11. Mason VIDELA
Substitutes: 12. Dylan DI CESARE (Murray 48’), 13. Jack O’BRIEN (Fowler 48’), 14. Adrian MONTALBANO (Petrovski 62’), 15. Chris WALKER (O’Brien 71), 20. Ethan DI CESARE, 16. Zayden SPINELLI
Yellow Cards: Brenton GERIBO 42’, Dylan DI CESARE 57’,
Red Cards: Nil
Referee: Sam Tooley
Assistant Referees: Jackson Giustiniani and Club
Report by Bobby Mazevski
Photos courtesy of Dana Walker