Bulli FC edged out Wollongong United 1-0 at Balls Paddock on Saturday afternoon to earn their first three points of the 2023 Illawarra Premier League season.
Captain Ben McDonald scored the winning goal on the stroke of halftime.
It was a timid opening 10 minutes with both sides feeling their way into the game. The first chance came in the 11th minute through Bulli’s Deakin Brownlee. The winger shifting the ball inside from the right and firing a left-footed effort goalward that zipped just past the near post.
The hosts came very close to finding the opening goal nine minutes later. Jarvis Patterson’s original shot was parried by United keeper Dion Shaw into the path of McDonald. The striker playing the ball across goal where a stretching Ian Clarino failed to make meaningful contact.
United started to push up the field creating several promising opportunities, however, the Bulli backline held strong with goalkeeper Braeden Kludass called into action to keep the scores level.
In the 32nd minute, Mitsuo Yamada got on the end of a ball in from the left flicking at goal but seeing it deflect wide of the target. The side carried on their pressure seconds later, full-back Bailey Barbarovski’s shot from inside the box bouncing narrowly wide of the left post.
However, the visitors were left to rue missed opportunities as Bulli snatched the advantage going into halftime. McDonald’s scuffed effort from the edge of the box eventually rolling into the bottom left corner two minutes into added time.
The home side took their valuable lead into halftime with a chance to record their first victory of the 2023 season if they held onto it.
United made a bright start to the second period almost drawing level within the first three minutes. A set piece floated into the box was headed onto the crossbar before Jayden Makowski lashed a strike over. The side came close again moments later with Yamada’s close-range shot blocked.
Makowski had another chance just before the hour mark, looking to lob the ball over Kludass from the left of the box, but the goalkeeper retreated and held onto it.
Bulli nearly doubled their advantage midway through the half, with Alexander Rooke receiving the ball inside the box, but seeing his consequent shot blocked. The side pushed forward again in the 74th minute. Jarvis Paterson finding space for a shot from the right of the box, but a deflection took the sting out of it allowing Shaw to catch.
As the minutes ticked away, United stepped their attacking impetus pushing more numbers forward. However, they couldn’t find the equalising goal with Bulli taking the points in a 1-0 win.
It was an important victory for Bulli in response to last week’s 4-2 defeat against Port Kembla according to coach Julio Miranda. However, despite the three points, he felt his team could have performed better especially when in possession.
“It was very important to get the three points today,” Miranda said.
“We did it tough in the second half, anyone who has got a bit of a brain with regards to football would’ve seen they were much better than us. But defensively I thought we were terrific.”
Saturday’s match was the start of a tricky run for the side travelling to face Coniston in round three before hosting reigning champions Wollongong Olympic the following week.
Defeat means Wollongong United will continue their search for a first win in the competition next week against Tarrawanna which will be the first of three home games in a row for Billy Tsovolos’ men.
Bulli FC 1 (Ben McDonald 45+2’)
Wollongong United FC 0
Bulli FC: 1. KLUDASS Braeden, 2. JACKSON Kyle, 5. MATHIE Logan, 6. DAVIES Sam, 7. PATERSON Jarvis, 9. MCDONALD Ben, 10. GRIMSHAW Lewis, 11. BROWNLEE Deakin, 17. ROOKE Alexander, 22. BRYCE Lachlan, 19. CLARINO Ian
Substitutes: 8. ASHBURNER Cody, 14. PALERMO Luke, 15. MANSUETO Alexander, 25. ADNUM Samuel (BROWNLEE 81’), 27. HASHIMOTO Yuki (CLARINO 33’), 34. EMERTON Ryan (DAVIES 53’), 21. MCLEISH Alan
Yellow Cards: Alexander Rooke 25’, Kyle Jackson 29’, Jarvis Patterson 39’, Deakin Brownlee 42’
Red Cards: Nil
Wollongong United FC: 64. SHAW Dion, 4. VESCIO Rene, 5. LAZAREVSKI Danny, 7. CORREIA Joshua, 10. MAKOWSKI Jayden, 11. JOVANOVSKI Kyah, 32. STOJANOVSKI James, 19. BROOKS Ben, 23. YAMADA Mitsuo, 26. KAWAKAMI Seiji, 27. BARBAROVSKI Bailey
Substitutes: 9. DARJANI Thomas (BARBAROVSKI 78’), 15. NIKOLOVSKI Dylan, 14. FLANAGAN Jeremy (MAKOWKSI 60’), 46. MITROVSKI Brendan (STOJANOVSKI 38’), 31. HALES Aaron, 60. CHARLSTON Jake
Yellow Cards: James Stojanovski 19’, Joshua Correia 43’, Brendan Mitrovski 71’
Red Cards: Nil
Date: Saturday 11 March 2023
Venue: Balls Paddock, Woonona
Referee: Peter Ilcevski
Assistant Referees: Stuart Bell and Lorcan Edwards-Villalta
Report by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_
Photos courtesy of Richie Wagner