Shoalhaven Association have continued their perfect start to their season following an end-to-end battle with Berkeley Sports where they rallied with ten to snatch a 2-1 win away from home.

It was a crazy start to the game with Shoalhaven almost grabbing a goal inside two minutes with Brendan Kellett going close before the ball was cleared up field before finding it’s way in the net only to be ruled offside.

It was not long before we saw the opening goal. Kellett was put through on goal on eight minutes and Damien Bedwell did well to smoother the attacking raid however, the ball rolled outside the box to Jaxon Scholtz who placed in through a crowd of defenders who retreated to defend their goal. It was a neat finish that saw the visitors take an early lead.

On 17 minutes, Berkeley nearly responded. A free kick as floated to the back post which saw Jamie Holland’s header cleared off the line as Shoalhaven scrambled to safety.

Just a minute later, Christopher Hollingshead let fly with a ling range effort that was not too far away.

It was end to end stuff with both teams looking to attack at every opportunity.

Halfway through the half, Logan Connell found a yard of space to turn his opponent before firing a shot straight at Bedwell.

Just before half time, a long ball over the top was not dealt with by the Berkeley defence and Connell’s chip went just wide.

The game settled a little bit as we went into the break with both sides taking a well-earned rest.

Berkeley started the second half on the front foot and on 55 minutes, a failed clearance saw David Chicharo take a snap at goal from just inside the penalty area that was well collected by Samuel Parkinson.

With Berkeley throwing players forward, Shoalhaven squandered a golden opportunity just minutes later. Connell broke clear using his pace before squaring a ball to Kellett however he somehow shanked his shot wide with the goal at his mercy.

It was a huge let off for Berkeley and one could be forgiven for thinking it was a turning point because on 65 minutes, the home side equalised. An attacking raid from the left saw Kane Dorrian round the keeper and with a narrow angle push his shot across goal. With the ball looking like it would cross the goal-line, Hollingshead nipped in to square it back across the goal and nestle it into the corner from the tightest of angles. With that, Berkeley were level.

In the aftermath, players were cautioned when a small scuffle broke out as Berkeley looked to retrieve the ball for a quick restart. Before the restart could be taken, Samuel Baxter saw red after having received a second caution in the match and Shoalhaven were reduced to 10 players.

Berkeley had their tails up and on 73 minutes, Hollingshead was played through. He blasted a powerful shot across goal only to see Parkinson get fingers to the ball and deflect it onto the post and away. It was a great strike and an even better save.

Heading into the last 10 minutes, the game started to open up and a wonderful cross found Kellett on the far post however he couldn’t find the target from close range.

Just a minute later, a neat combination between Connell and substitute Brodie Chapman saw the latter hook his shot just wide.

Kellett’s pace was causing Berkeley some concern and he whizzed past his opponent only have his shot blocked. The ball rebounded to Chapman on the edge of the box and his left foot strike found the bottom left corner to put Shoalhaven 2-1 up.

Berkeley threw everything at the visitors in the dying minutes. Firstly, Luke Inglis’ curling effort from the left narrowly went wide and then Luke Paull headed wide from close range off a corner kick.

Shoalhaven hanging on for a memorable win and their first this season away from home. They are proving to be the real deal, and even at this early stage of the season, a promotion contender.

Shoalhaven host Warilla Wanderers next week as they look to maintain their perfect start whilst Berkeley will be looking to bounce back quickly against Gerringong.

Match Stats

17 March 2024 @ Berkeley Sportsground

Berkeley Sports – 1 (Hollingshead 65’)
Shoalhaven – 2 (Scholtz 8’, Chapman 84’)


Report by Bobby Mazevski
Photos courtesy of Graham Brown (@gragrapix)

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