ILLAWARRA PREMIER LEAGUE
Dapto Dandaloo's campaign to reignite their status as a Illawarra Premier League powerhouse continued with a 3-2 win over Tarrawanna on Saturday.
After a disappointing 2013 season when they failed to make the finals, the Fury have moved quickly to rectify their standing among Illawarra's elite with an undefeated start to the new campaign after three league matches.
Saturday's win saw Norm Boardman's men move to third on the ladder, two points adrift of league-leaders Bulli, with a game in hand.
The experienced coach said he was thrilled to get a result against a side he considered a finals contender.
"They will be in the top four if not the top three, so they are the teams you have to do well against," Boardman said.
"If you don't do well against them you can't profess to be up there when the whips are cracking."
It wasn't all smooth sailing for the Fury after they were made to come from behind early in the match when Ilija Prenzoski chipped over Mitchell Blowes into an open net in the 18th minute.
But the 2012 champions hit back just two minutes later thanks to a Fabian Iacovelli strike.
Less than 10 minutes later they went 2-1 up when Noel Spencer converted from the penalty spot.
Blueys' shot-stopper Christian Pretto was adjudged to have clipped Trinidad international Bradley Welch and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
The Fury earned a two-goal buffer shortly after half-time when Shaun McRae finished well following some smooth lead-up work from Welch.
But the three points never truly looked wrapped up and Vaughan Patterson ensured Boardman would remain on edge for the final 15 minutes as he scored from a long-range free kick to make it 3-2.
After some nervous moments in the closing stages, the Fury held on for a valuable away win.
"I think it was a pretty good ding-dong battle and it probably could have gone either way," Boardman said.
"We got to 3-1 and it was one of those games where you get to 3-1 and they score and get a bit of a sniff.
"From a coach's point of view I don't think it will go down as one of the greatest games in the terms of passing and possession, but the people I spoke to said they enjoyed that.
"It was always tense and always a dogfight."
In other matches on Saturday, Wollongong United beat Bellambi 3-1 at Macedonia Park while Mark Picciolini bagged a brace in Wollongong Olympic's 3-2 win over Albion Park White Eagles.
On Friday night, Woonona defeated Cringila Lions 4-2.
Bulli coach: you ain’t seen nothing yet
BULLI coach Ben Smith believes his table-topping troops are still far from their ceiling in the Illawarra Premier League.
The Northern Suburbs team have won three of their opening four matches to start the regular season after claiming the Fraternity Cup earlier this year.
Fernhill became their latest scalp in a 3-1 victory on Saturday following wins against finals contenders Wollongong Olympic and Port Kembla in previous weeks.
But Smith is certain the competition is yet to see his squad at its best.
‘‘We are definitely happy with how the boys are going but there is still room for plenty of improvement all over the park,’’ Smith said.
Bulli led in the 34th minute against the Foxes when Hayden Mowbray finished off a sublime pass from Guy Knight.
But the hosts only held an advantage for the briefest of moments when Andy Keep pounced on some loose passing in the Bulli back four.
Bulli’s lead was restored in the 69th minute when Mowbray turned provider for Jared Fish.
It took until the 90th minute for Bulli to finally wrap up the points when Guy Knight was rewarded for a solid outing with a goal of his own.
In Sunday’s match, Port Kembla and South Coast United shared the points in a 0-0 draw at Ian McLennan Park.