Albion Park White Eagles ended Cringila Lions’ unbeaten run in the 2023 Illawarra Premier League with a 2-1 win at Terry Reserve on Good Friday.
A Cameron Morgan brace did the damage for the home side as they extended their lead at the top of the table.
Both teams approached the first half with great intensity and had plenty of chances to score.
The Lions got off to a bright start, firing off a couple of close attempts within 10 minutes. Stefan Dimoski sliced wide from the right of the box in the third minute before Ryan Akhurst’s long-range strike flew just past the left post five minutes later.
Akhurst was involved again in the 14th minute. The midfielder driving through the middle of the pitch before finding Michael Mendes on the left whose consequent shot rolled to Albion Park goalkeeper Hayden Durose.
Albion Park started to work their way into the match midway through the half with Liam Wille’s pace from the left proving an asset. The winger burst in behind the left channel on two occasions as Ethan Kambisios’ shot from the edge of the box was blocked. Before Joe Lavalle saw his effort from close in saved by Nikola Ristevski in the Cringila goal.
The persistence paid off for the hosts 24 minutes in, being awarded a penalty. Morgan stepped up and confidently found the right side of the net as Ristevski dived in the opposite direction.
Albion Park looked set to take their lead into halftime; however, with six minutes to play, the Lions were given a chance to score from the spot themselves. Captain Peter Simonoski took responsibility, slotting in straight down the middle to set the scores level.
That late goal saw the teams go into the sheds level.
It was a quieter start to the second period as neither team took the initiative in the opening minutes.
However, Cringila threatened soon after. Fifty-five minutes in, Akhurst took aim from the edge of the box, but it was straight at Durose. Then three minutes later, Dimoski hit the right post from closer in.
The White Eagles had a great opportunity to take the lead again in the 62nd minute. Brendan Fordham intercepting a pass on the halfway line, running forward, and playing the ball to Morgan in the left of the box who rolled it just past the right post.
It didn’t take Morgan long to find his second after this, though. Five minutes later, substitute Taiga Kitajima’s original shot was parried into the path of the pacey attacker who fired home to give Albion Park the lead.
The home side continued to threaten with Tory Musumeci’s shot from the edge of the box acrobatically tipped onto the crossbar by Ristevski 77 minutes in.
However, Albion Park nearly suffered a late equaliser in the 90th minute when Andre Dias’ curling effort from the right corner of the box needed to be palmed over by Durose.
The White Eagles held on in the end to claim all three points.
Coach George Antoniou was happy with the win but equated no extra value to it despite the calibre of the opposition.
“Both teams fought very hard,” he said.
“Whatever team you play, you’re just after the three points, and we were happy to do that today.
“The boys are up to the challenge so far, and we’ve just got to try and continue that.”
The side remain the only team with a perfect record in the competition. They face two difficult fixtures next week taking on National Premier Leagues NSW league-leaders Rockdale Ilinden in the Australia Cup before hosting Bulli.
Cringila, too have a tricky set of games coming up and face Wollongong United next Saturday.
Albion Park White Eagles FC 2 (Cameron Morgan 24’ penalty 67’)
Cringila Lions FC 1 (Peter Simonoski 39’ penalty)
Albion Park White Eagles FC: 1. DUROSE Hayden (GK), 2. MCGINN Blake, 6. KAMBISIOS Ethan, 8. LAVALLE Joe, 7. MORGAN Cameron, 14. MUSUMECI Tory, 15. SHIMIZU Renji, 11. WILLE Liam, 21. FORDHAM Brendan (C), 14. FULLER Tyler
Substitutes: 50. SOUTHERN Deakin (GK), 12. STRONG Reagan, 13. KYRIAKOUDES Michael (MCGINN 46’), 5. MAVRIDIS Mason (MUSUMECI 80’), 19. MINUTILLO Julian (WILLE 75’), 9. KITAJIMA Taiga
Yellow Cards: Ethan Kambisios 17’, Blake McGinn 38’, Renji Shimizu 45’, Joe Lavalle 70’, Liam Wille 74’, Mason Mavridis 88’, Cameron Morgan 90+2’
Red Cards: Nil
Cringila Lions FC: 1. RISTEVSKI Nikola (GK), 2. CARLI James, 3. DIAS Andre, 4. KOTEVSKI Kayne, 6. TARANTO Harrison, 7. MENDES Michael, 24. AKHURST Ryan, 47. KRSTESKI Anthony, 17. DIMOSKI Stefan, 99. SIMONOSKI Peter (C), 34. D’ALMEIDA Ekoue
Substitutes: 64. DOBRE Sebastian (GK), 39. DIMOSKI Dean (TARANTO 77’), 28. GRUJEVSKI Cassander (MENDES 77’), 33. HONDROUDAKIS Emanuel (KOTEVSKI 46’), 45. KRSTESKI Gabriel, 77. SEKULOSKI James (DIMOSKI 89’)
Yellow Cards: Stefan Dimoski 38’, Michael Mendes 59’, James Carli 61’
Red Cards: Nil
Date: Friday 7 April 2022
Venue: Terry Reserve, Albion Park
Report by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_
Photos courtesy of Edmund Esterbauer