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Cringila Lions battled to a 3-0 win over Port Kembla on Friday night at Crehan Park in the opening match of the 2024 Illawarra Premier League season.

In a game of few chances, Tyler Fuller marked his Lions’ debut with a goal on the stroke of halftime.

Midway through the second period, Anthony Krsteski made an important impact off the bench, doubling last season’s grand finalists’ advantage.

Captain Peter Simonoski also proved productive off the bench – the forward getting his season started with a goal in the final minutes.

The match began with great intensity; both teams were eager to get off to a flying start in the competition.

Three minutes in, Kyah Jovanovski almost snatched a debut goal for the home side, prodding a lofted ball into the box goalwards, but Port goalkeeper Adam Rodriguez got a hand to it.

Play settled down after this initial burst as Cringila started to take more initiative.

In the 20th minute, Jovanovski was involved again as he got on the end of a right-sided Ben Zucco corner but headed straight into Rodriguez’s hands.

The Lions threatened 10 minutes later with Zucco’s long range free-kick from the right finding Justin Ivanovic at the back post who could not direct his header on target.

The visitors responded to this pressure seconds later as Adrian Avello flashed an effort from the right of the box wide of the far post.

The side came forward again with four minutes to play through Sebastian Tomasiello who lined up from outside box and rolled it past the left post.

However, Cringila broke the deadlock just before halftime with Fuller pulling off an improvised volley inside the box to find the right side of the goal on debut.

It was a big goal for the Lions heading into the break after a tight first half on the opening night of the 2024 season.

Port Kembla started the second half strongly, with Nic Tomasiello slicing a powerful volley just over the bar six minutes in.

The game became chance-shy once more after this early opportunity until midway through the half. Lions’ substitute Krsteski chasing down a ball into the left channel before curling one wide of the far corner.

A few moments later, Krsteski found the net. Simonoski’s ball from the right into the box was cut out, but it eventually fell to the winger in the left of the area, who made no mistake, slotting it past Rodriguez.

The hosts kept pushing after doubling their advantage as Riki Koyanagi and Simonski both sent efforts wide over the next 10 minutes.

Chances continued to flow for the side, with Fuller steering past the right post with five minutes to play, seeing the chance of a debut brace slip away.

Simonoski grabbed himself a goal in the final minute of regular time, rolling a shot into the bottom right corner from inside the box.

Last season’s golden boot winner nearly scored again not long after that, this time directing a shot from the right of the box wide of the left post.

Cringila saw what remained to secure three vital points in their first outing of this year.

A win for Cringila sees them wipe out their points deduction after the first round. Jorge De Matos’ men will be away in round two, travelling to South Coast United on Thursday night.

Port Kembla will look to pick themselves up next Sunday when they host reigning league champions Albion Park White Eagles at Wetherall Park.

Match Stats

Report by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_

Photos courtesy of Edmund Esterbauer










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