Gerringong and Oak Flats got the Illawarra District League grand finals on Saturday off to a flyer, playing out a thrilling 3-3 draw before the Falcons prevailed on penalties at WIN Stadium. 

Oliver Dale opened the scoring for Gerringong before Vince Cappetta and Jack Becker gave the Falcons a halftime lead.

Dale snagged the equaliser right at the death of regular time, but Oak Flats went in front again early in extra time through Minh Nguyen.

Blackmore scored a screamer in the second half of extra time, and then Oak Flats went on to win on penalties.

The match got off to a competitive start with chances few and far between.

Eight minutes in, Rhys Blanch took on a left-footed shot for Oak Flats from the edge of the area that flew over the top.

Gerringong had a great opportunity 12 minutes in when a left-sided free-kick found Dale at the back post; his volley bouncing agonisingly wide of the left post.

Four minutes later, Cappetta returned fire for the Falcons, but Dylan McDonald held onto his shot in the Breakers’ goal.

Gerringong broke the deadlock midway through the half when Joel Grimes played a ball across from the left of the box to Dale in the middle, who slid it home from close in.

Oak Flats restored parity in the 38th minute when Joshua Eagleton capitalised on an error to race down the left wing and find Cappetta who fired the ball low into the left corner.

The Falcons found themselves in front four minutes later when Becker bundled in a set piece at the far post to complete a swift turnaround ahead of halftime.

Oak Flats made a fast start to the second period with Finn Spaleta lining up from range but McDonald caught it.

The Breakers sought to put pressure on Oak Flats after this with a couple of shots flying wide before the hour mark.

In the 60th minute, a right-sided corner curled to the back post for Oak Flats’ Eagleton, the winger heading McDonald’s gloves.

Eagleton had another opportunity in the 77th minute, mazing into the box and forcing McDonald into a save, before rifling the follow-up off the crossbar.

The latter stages of the second half were frantic as chances were falling for both teams, looking for the fourth crucial goal.

Gerringong snatched the equaliser in the 90th minute when Dan Layson’s flick fell to Dale, who didn’t give up on the ball, clipping it over Chris Jarman sending the match to extra time.

Didn’t take long for the Falcons to get themselves back in front as six minutes into extra time, substitutes combined when Justin Beregshasy found Nguyen from the right.

Nguyen nodded onto the crossbar before the ball bounced back up onto the bar and then, eventually, over the line.

Gerringong came back into the contest once more in the 102nd minute when Blackmore unleashed a vicious volley that struck the underside of the bar before going in.

The match was destined for a penalty shootout after a dramatic open-play encounter.

Oak Flats got off to the worst possible start, as Cappetta and Jackson Anthony missed the first two penalties.

The Breakers scored their first, but not their second.

A second miss from Gerringong’s Layson made it level heading into the final two spot kicks.

Joshua Eagleton scored for the Falcons, but Dale saw the decisive fifth saved by Jarman to win the match for Oak Flats.

Gerringong Breakers FC 3 (2) (Oliver Dale 22′ 90′, Angus Blackmore 102′)

Oak Flats Falcons FC 3 (3) (Vince Cappetta 38′, Jack Becker 42′, Minh Nguyen 96′)

Player of the Match: Jack Becker

Gerringong Breakers FC: 23. Dylan McDonald (GK), 7. Joel Grimes, 16. Nick Astin, 17. Doug Davison, 18. Oliver Dale, 20. Dan Layson, 21. Joshua Maranesi (C), 22. Jye Marks, 25. Jack Ray, 28. Alex Gonzalez, 29. Charles Barnett

Substitutes: 48. James Simpson (Davison 67′), 31. Matthew Jones (Marks 91′), 32. Isaac Hogan (Barnett 80′), 55. Angus Blackmore (Ray 61′)

Yellow Cards: Gonzalez 53′, Astin 82′

Red Cards: Nil

Oak Flats Falcons FC: 20. Chris Jarman (GK), 2. Blake Crandell (C), 3. Matthew van den Berg, 4. Dominic Giustiniani, 5. Mathew Grasa, 6. Jack Becker, 7. Joshua Eagleton, 8. Rhys Blanch, 9. Vince Cappetta, 10. Finn Spaleta, 11. Chase Allchin

Substitutes: 12. Justin Beregshasy (Spaleta 62′), 13. John Tilden (Allchin 87′), 14. Minh Nguyen (Blanch 87′), 15. Tate Anderson (Crandell 54′), 16. Jackson Anthony, 30. Zane Assen

Yellow Cards: Crandell 50′, Anderson 76′

Red Cards: Nil

Date: Saturday, 16th October 2023

Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong

Referee: Hayden Michlmayr

Assistant Referees: John Ruscica and Steven Payne

4th Official: Mick Agim

Report by Tim Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_

Photos by Graham Brown

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