Coniston will contest Illawarra football’s showpiece match for the first time since 2001 after the narrowest of victories over league champions Albion Park on Sunday. 

Franc Pierro’s side edged the play throughout the match at Crehan Park, but it took until the 87th minute for the White Eagle’s goal to be breached with Daniel Loe heading in the winner. 

Chances were few and far between in the first half with Coniston duo Matthew Floro and Toby Norval both having shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes. 

Coniston thought they had a golden opportunity in the 30th minute when Albion Park fullback Blake McGinn slipped, but the play was shut down when Floro was called offside. 

Albion Park came closest through a free kick in the 42nd minute from goal ace Cameron Morgan, however, the curling effort from 20 metres out went just over the crossbar. 

Coniston overran the White Eagles midfield in the second half with the dominance leading to a string of half chances for the likes of Floro, Norval and Zufic, however, Hayden Durose in the Albion Park goal wasn’t truly tested. 

In the 76th minute, Albion Park worked a couple of crosses into the Coniston box which weren’t dealt with. 

The ball eventually landed with Brendan Griffen in the middle of the area, however, his shot was saved by goalkeeper Kaydin Harrison. 

Durose was forced into a fingertip save in the 86th minute from Norval whose curling freekick from just beyond the arc nearly ducked into under the crossbar. 

The match’s defining moment came from the resulting corner which was whipped into the near post by captain Lukas Stergiou before Loe nodded it across Durose and inside the far post. 

Albion Park where unable to rally in the seven minutes of added-on time with Coniston nearly doubling their tally through Chris Arditti who was denied by a one-on-one save from Durose. 

Coniston will meet local rivals Cringila in the grand final at Win Stadium next Sunday in the first meeting between to two clubs in a Premier League decider. 

Cringila beat Coniston 4-2 on the opening night of the season before a 1-1 stalemate in round 12. 

The gut-wrenching defeat means the White Eagles stumble out of the final series in straight sets in a season where they claimed their second league premiership.


Report by Dylan Arvela, on Twitter @dylanarvela

Photos by Graham Brown

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