Wollongong Olympic maintained their unbeaten start to the campaign with a 3-1 victory over defending premiers Kemblawarra Fury at Macedonia Park on Sunday.
Olympic were always in control of the match after live-wire attacker Johnny Martinoski scored a double inside the opening six minutes of the match.
While Kemblawarra did get a goal back through through Anthony Proia, a quick response from Yusuke Ueda allowed the visitors to quickily restore their two goal advantage.
It was lead they wouldn’t give up as Olympic took their tally to three wins and a draw to start the 2017 campaign.
The convincing victory was made even by impressive by the fact that they were missing several key players, including centre back Jake Duczynski, Blake Coates and Nuno Pires.
“The guys that came in did a great job,” Olympic coach Rob Birkin said.
“The thing that most impressed me was the depth of the squad and their ability to step in at any time. [Brendan Fordham] stepped in at the back there [for Duczynski], but we were missing a few other guys. The two guys up top who have been influential for us all season Nuno [Pires] and Blake Coates.
“The guys that came in were tremendous.”
Birkin also gave credit to Martinoski, who caused countless problems for Fury defence playing without Brenton Rhodes. The former Wollongong United man was on hand to finish a Harrison Brown cutback in the fifth minute before popping up again to score a poacher’s goal just a minute late.
To cap off a hectic opening 10 minutes, the Fury had a chance to cut the deficit from the penalty spot but Shane Murray’s couldn’t put his effort past Olympic keeper Hayden Durose. Kemblawarra’s goal eventually came in 30th minute when Proia’s classy curling strike hit the post and went in.
However, the Fury fightback was short-lived.
When Lachlan O’Connor fouled Ueda in the box with a clumsy challenge, Olympic were gifted the chance to extend their lead once again.
The Japanese striker dusted himself off to do what Murray couldn’t at the opposite end of the pitch five minutes before the break.
The 3-1 advantage held throughout the second half as Kemblawarra prodded and probed for another opening. But they couldn’t find the telling blow as they fell to their first defeat of the campaign.
Kemblawarra coach Luke McGuire pinpointed where it all went wrong for his side.
“I think we didn’t start too well and maybe that is tactically down to me,” he said.
“I think, like I said before the game, if you give these guys an opportunity they will take it.
“Today unfortunately I lost it for them.”
Olympic are now level with Bulli at the top of the Illawarra Premier League with 10 competition points.
In Saturday’s matches, Wollongong United beat South Coast United 3-0 while Woonona got their first win of the campaign with a 2-1 triumph over Corrimal Rangers.