Bulli move four points clear on top of Illawarra Premier League

Rising up: Bulli's Marcus Beattie heads the ball in win over Fernhill on Sunday. Picture: Adam McLean
Rising up: Bulli's Marcus Beattie heads the ball in win over Fernhill on Sunday. Picture: Adam McLean

The shockwaves could be felt everywhere.

And while there will be plenty of time for reflection and recovery, this was a weekend for significant change in the landscape.

Defending premiers Bulli are now out to a four-point lead, plus a handy six-goal differential, after outclassing Fernhill 2-nil on Sunday, in the knowledge their closest title rivals Wollongong Olympic were forced to settle for a point against finals contenders Wollongong United 24 hours before. 

But perhaps the most significant result was at the other end of the IPL standings, with South Coast United claiming their first victory for the campaign and moving a point ahead of Picton in the relegation battle. 

South Coast had managed just three draws in 15 rounds, before beating Corrimal 2-nil on Sunday.

They suddenly find themselves above the Rangers – who went down 2-nil to Albion Park on Saturday – and with renewed confidence, given they have a differential advantage in the battle to avoid the trap door. 

There was more drama still in the middle of the pack, as Port Kembla boosted their hopes of another fairytale finals run, with a vital 1-nil win over Tarrawanna on Saturday. 

Port’s win makes their advantage five points over the Blueys, who must now feel like their FFA Cup run to within 90 minutes of the main draw is a distant memory.

In landing a blow on Olympic’s title hopes, Wollongong United coach Jeff Allport admitted he was satisfied to take a point away from North Wollongong PCYC.

“In the end we were happy,” he said.

“We played really well, we’ve shown we can match it with them, especially in the first half. 

“But they had their chances in the second half, so we can be happy to come away with a point.”

United controlled most of the possession in the first-half, but were forced to contain Olympic in the second half, with a shot from Yusuke Ueda rattling the woodwork. 

The stalemate came after strike weapon Nathan Elasi withdrew in the warm-up with a leg problem. 

Allport’s men are now four points adrift of third-placed Albion Park, but he is hoping to regain Matthew McNab back in the run into finals. 

Bulli have now conceded just five goals in 16 league games, while Olympic have only allowed in six.

“It shows just how hard they are to beat,” Allport said. 

“But we took a lot of confidence out of (Saturday’s draw), hopefully we’ll be full strength going into finals.

“We’re still targeting a third spot, hopefully we can push Albion Park all the way.”

ILLAWARRA PREMIER LEAGUE

Round 16

WOLLONGONG OLYMPIC 0 drew with WOLLONGONG UNITED 0, PORT KEMBLA 1 d TARRAWANNA 0, CRINGILA 1 d WOONONA 0, ALBION PARK 2 d PICTON 0, SOUTH COAST UNITED 2 d CORRIMAL 0, BULLI 2 d FERNHILL 0.

Ladder: BULLI 41 (+44), WOLLONGONG OLYMPIC 37 (+38), ALBION PARK 35 (+25), WOLLONGONG UNITED 31 (+18), PORT KEMBLA 28 (+4), Tarrawanna 23 (+5), Corrimal 20 (-3), Fernhill 18 (-27), Cringila 17 (-4), Woonona 11 (-24), South Coast United 6 (-31), Picton 5 (-45).

Harry Callahan

Harry Callahan

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