ILLAWARRA PREMIER LEAGUE
Port Kembla put an exclamation mark on a stellar 2013 with a 3-1 grand final triumph over Bulli at WIN Stadium on Sunday.
After claiming the League Championship crown on the back of sixteen straight wins, Port added the grand final trophy to their cabinet courtesy of a come-from-behind win in front of 2800 fans.
Two trademark finishes and a bizarre own goal was enough for the Stuart Beedie’s men to seal the title double.
The gaffer said it was the ideal way to round out a memorable season for the black and whites.
‘‘To win the competition by 12 points and then lose today would have been a bit disappointing, so it is a great feeling,’’ Port coach Stuart Beedie said.
‘‘They are just an outstanding group of boys.’’
Beedie’s men had to come from behind to earn their winning medals, after Matt Naylor opened the scoring in the 14th minute of the showpiece.
The defender had his initial penalty attempt saved brilliantly by David Poeira but made no mistake on the follow-up to hand Bulli a 1-0 advantage.
Their lead should have been double five minutes later when Vaughan Patterson combined with Ben McDonald to slide a shot past the post.
Matt Bailey was the next on the royal blue production line to waste a chance, firing into the side netting before Bulli paid the price for their wastefulness in front of goal.
The equaliser came in strange circumstances as Daniel Aliffi’s cross was parried into the goal by the fumbling fingers of keeper Bryce Daenell.
Scores were locked at 1-1 heading into the change of ends, but not before Jared Fish blazed his tight-angled attempt on goal over the bar.
Bulli only had themselves to blame again for the scoreline midway through the second stanza when Stuart Lowrie’s errant pass was picked up by Mitchell Scazzeriello, who coasted in to fire past Daenell.
Just five minutes later, David Polidoro sealed Port’s victory with a scintillating strike from 25 yards that found the top corner and wrapped up a 3-1 win.
‘‘They just really came through at the end there,’’ Beedie said.
‘‘Losing an early goal it just didn’t make a difference to them, they knew what that had to do and just wore Bulli down.
‘‘Bulli had there chances but that is the name of the game, we took our chances.’’
Bulli coach Ben Smith agreed and was left to rue his sides’ plethora of missed opportunities.
‘‘The weren’t just chances, they were red-hot chances,’’ Smith said.
‘‘If we took even half a chances it would of been hard for them (to come back) but we kept them in the game and we know how good they are and we paid the price.’’
‘‘If you don’t take them it is very hard to win football matches so that is just the way it was today.’’
He gave praise to his opponents for their clinical display.
‘‘I think it has been the story of their season, when they get chances they take them that is why they are League Champions and that is why they won the grand final,’’ Smith said.
‘‘Full credit to Port Kembla, we weren’t good enough to get over the top of them.’’