Cringila Lions edged past Wollongong United 1-0 in a close encounter at Crehan Park on Sunday afternoon.
Cringila Captain Peter Simonoski proved the difference by dispatching a game-winning penalty early in the second half.
There was lots of start-stop football in the early exchanges as both teams struggled to put a consistent passage of passes together.
The Lions had a chance in the 13th minute with Simonoski’s strike from the edge of the box taking a spinning deflection that just bounced past the right post.
United then had two great opportunities to take the lead in the 26th minute. Kyah Jovanovski picked the ball up in the left of the box and fired a powerful shot off the left post before Jayden Makowski shovelled the follow-up just over.
The side then went close from a left-sided corner four minutes later when defender Ben Brooks rose high in the box but couldn’t direct his header on target.
They carved open another shooting chance with six first-half minutes to play. A determined Josh Correia run got the forward to the left byline; his cutback rolling all the way through to Jovanovski centrally who skied the ball over.
A shot-shy half ended with the teams still locked at 0-0.
The start of the second half couldn’t have been any different to the first, with the shots flying in within the first five minutes.
Two minutes into the half, a long ball was brought down well by Simonoski on the edge of the box but his left-footed effort only found the gloves of United keeper Jake Charlston.
The visitors went straight down the other end with Jovanovski lashing his effort from inside the box over the top before Thomas Darjani did the same with his header moments later.
In the 56th minute, the side would be left to rue their missed opportunities, with the Lions awarded a penalty. Cringila defender Jonah Kalmanidis being brought down in the box following a corner.
Simonoski stepped up and calmly rolled an effort into the right side of the net sending Charlston the wrong way.
The hosts almost scored again eight minutes later when Anthony Krsteski’s driven right-sided cross found Simonoski centrally, however, the striker was denied by a fantastic save from Charlston.
United let a glaring chance go begging with eight minutes to go when a left-sided ball fell to Jovanovski in the box who, at close quarters couldn’t get a meaningful shot off.
There were two big chances for the away side deep into stoppage time.
Jeremy Flanagan’s poked shot looked to be harmlessly rolling to Cringila goalkeeper Nikola Ristevski but the ball ended up bouncing off the right post before Ristevski got his hands on it.
Correia took aim from the left of the box not long after for United but it fell wide of the near post.
The Lions were able to hold on to their narrow lead and claim the points against Wollongong United.
Report by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_
Photos courtesy of Richie Wagner