ILLAWARRA PREMIER LEAGUE - FOOTBALL
Bulli ensured Wollongong United's slow start to 2014 continued with a 3-1 win at Macedonia Park on Saturday.
With an opportunity to move to the top of the table for 24 hours before Dapto Dandaloo played on Sunday on offer, Bulli made the most of their chances to claim the three points.
Ben McDonald gave them a dream start four minutes in to open the scoring after heading in a cross from Jared Fish.
But the Reds made a swift reply with a goal of their own from 2013 George Naylor Medallist Robbie Shields with 22 minutes past.
Both sides continued to create opportunities before the half, but neither could hand out the telling blow before the break was taken.
It took until the 72nd minute for Bulli to step up to the mark and claimed an advantage when Scott Curran bundled in from a corner.
With five minutes remaining, Jared Fish got a reward for his strong display with a goal to seal the three points for Bulli.
After hitting the post earlier in the match, Fish received the ball outside the box and fired a sizzling drive into the United net.
It rounded out the scoring and gave the Northern Suburbs club their second 3-1 win in as many weeks.
"It was a tough game, they are a pretty good team so I am very happy to get the win down there," Bulli coach Ben Smith said.
"I don't think we were at our best but we stuck to the task and we were able to score the goals that we needed.
"We know we can improve on the performance but we were able to get a win when we didn't play that well which was pleasing."
Smith said he was happy with the amount of work done in his sides' engine room throughout the clash and was pleased to see Ben McDonald continuing his goal-scoring touch.
"It is good for him to get a goal, he is getting better each week," Smith said.
"An interrupted preseason means it takes you a little bit longer to get going but he is getting better and better."
Elsewhere, South Coast United's 1-0 win over Tarrawanna was scarred by a nasty broken leg to Blueys player Todd Simpson.
Port Kembla defeated Fernhill 2-0, Albion Park smashed Bellambi 4-0 and a brace to Joel Mutti helped Woonona to a 4-0 win over Wollongong Olympic.
Dapto international duo combine in impressive victory over Cringila
In two short cameo appearances, Bradley Welch and Joe Crowley reminded Fury coach Norm Boardman why he wanted them at the club.
Brought on with less than half an hour remaining, the international duo played a role in both of Dapto Dandaloo’s second-half goals in the ladder leader’s 3-0 win over Cringila on Sunday.
Welch laid on the assist for both of the finishes, with the second slammed home by Crowley at the back post.
Their contribution helped seal the Fury’s fifth straight win after Shaun McRae had opened the scoring in the first half.
‘‘Very impressive. That is what we wanted,’’ Boardman said.
‘‘We knew the other team would tire and I didn’t want to put Joey on from the start because I knew it could get a bit [testy].
‘‘We saw the right moment to bring them in, knowing the players marking them would get a bit tired and we could take advantage of that.’’
Both players had been out with injury in recent weeks and Boardman has slowly been working them back to full fitness. Crowley (groin) came on first and Welch (hamstring) shortly after and it was the Trinidad international Welch who would have the first major involvement. After a smooth passing movement, he cut the ball back at the byline and had his cross smashed into their own net by the Cringila defence.
Shortly after, he was involved again when he was in the same position on the opposite side of the pitch but this time his cross found Crowley, who placed his shot to perfection.
The goals were a welcome relief after what was a frustrating match for the Fury, who were guilty of wasting numerous chances.
On another day, McRae could well have had a hat-trick but the young attacker was unable to make the most of a number of opportunities.
And while he wasn’t the only culprit, his coach was expecting an improvement from the entire squad in coming weeks.
‘‘To be fair we haven’t done a lot of work on that,’’ Boardman said.
‘‘Every one of them the keeper had to make a save, so at least they are on target and forcing them to make a save. But we will do some work on that.
‘‘And if you nail them, you have to nail them against the top quality sides.’’
Sunday’s result sees the Fury remain undefeated after six matches with five wins and a draw.
‘‘I said to the boys today, when we won the league a couple of years ago, we won it because we were consistent,’’ Boardman said.
‘‘This year the most consistent side will do it again. If you look around there are a lot of odd results, so we will be looking for consistency every week.’’