Franc Pierro has his first victory as an Illawarra Premier League top-grade coach, after Coniston brushed past Corrimal 3-1 on Saturday afternoon.
Pierro was previously the club's second-grade mentor, but stepped into the head coaching role just under a month ago following the sudden departure of Rob Jonovski,
"Cono" had played out a draw and suffered two losses since Pierro took the reins on May 9. However they were able to collect the three points at Memorial Park on Saturday, with forward Toby Norval proving the architect.
Norval finished with a brace, with his two goals coming early in both stanzas, while Sam Matthews also scored for Coniston, and the Rangers' sole goal came via co-captain Keegan Matias.
The win keeps the JJ Kelly club side's finals aspirations alive after 13 rounds, while Corrimal now faces an uphill battle to make the top five.
"It's lovely to win, it's been a long time coming. We'd had some good performances but not got the results, so it was nice to get the win," Norval told the Mercury post-match.
"With the new coaching staff, we've really been working on stuff at training and it looks like it's finally starting to pay off, so it's just good to get the result. We didn't really stick to a game plan in the first half, but we really stuck to what the coaches in the second half, which was just to play football.
"But Franc will be loving it, the boys will be loving it, so it's time to celebrate tonight. He's been around a while but since taking over, he's been doing really well and the results are starting to show."
Conversely, Rangers co-captain Cody Wehmeyer was left frustrated by Saturday's performance.
"We started off quite slow and let the early goal in with a free kick. But then we started building our way into the game with a few chances, especially with 'Shun' (Shunjiro Shibuya) exploiting them out on the left," he said.
"Because we were down (at halftime), we did a little bit of a formation change and thought we might need to attack the game considering it was a must win - and same for them. And they came out and we just didn't adjust quickly enough, and they got that first one. And then we were unlucky to concede a pen, it was a 50/50 call, but you win some, you lose some. They slotted that and then it was an uphill battle from there.
"But I was happy with the fightback. We started so slowly against a quality side, but were able to turn things around and really get ourselves into the game. I think that's a positive for us but, overall, it was a disappointing result."
Coniston had the first opportunity early, with a lovely ball from Norval finding space for Matthews, whose low shot hit the woodwork and bounced away.
However, it didn't take long for the visitors to get on the board. From a free kick outside the box, Norval curled it past the Rangers' defence and into the back of the net to give Coniston a 1-0 lead after six minutes.
Coniston continued to pile on the pressure inside the opening 15 minutes, with Norval and Matt Tschentscher both having shots on goal. Chris Arditti also found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but was denied by Harrison Matias from short range.
However, the hosts slowly started to gain ascendancy around the 20-minute mark, and were nearly rewarded when co-captain Keegan Matias curled the ball into long range, forcing gloveman Kaydin Harrison to make a diving save. About 10 minutes later, Shibuya made a superb run through his opponent's defence, but his shot was blocked by Harrison.
Corrimal continued to look more threatening in their front third, with a nice low attempt from Tim Chapman forcing Harrison to make a diving save. At the other end, Arditti put in a great run to apply pressure to gloveman Harrison Matias, who proved up to the task.
The home side continued to apply some late pressure, however, the score remained 1-0 at halftime.
Coniston looked the more dominant side early in the second stanza, with the pressure proving too much for Corrimal's defence.
A nice team play set up Matthews to score and give his team a 2-0 lead, and they added to that score just a few minutes later.
The referee controversially awarded a free kick to Coniston after ruling that Arditti had been dragged down inside the box by Zane Wilson, despite the ball appearing to have already gone out of play. From the spot, Norval made no mistake and the visitors led 3-0.
Coniston continued to play aggressively in the next 15 minutes, however, they were unable to add to their advantage as the Rangers defence hung on.
The game then settled into an end-to-end pattern, and Corrimal finally got their first reward around the 78-minute when Keegan Matias found the back of the net to cut the deficit to 3-1.
The Rangers continued to push forward in the next 10 minutes, but couldn't find a way to get past the Coniston defence. In the dying minutes, Norval had a golden chance to muster a hat-trick when he chipped the goalkeeper, however, the ball hit the post and bounced away.
It would prove to be the last crucial moment of Saturday's game as Coniston prevailed 3-1.
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