Wollongong Olympic have been crowned Bert Bampton Cup champions after a tense 1-0 victory over Port Kembla in the final at JJ Kelly Park on Sunday.
A goal by silky striker Harry Callahan early in the second was enough for Olympic to win the first piece of silverware up for grabs in Illawarra football this season.
Port had their chances but the class and experience of Olympic told in the end, to hand coach Matt Bailey his second trophy since taking over the reigns.
Bailey, who guided Olympic to Illawarra Premier League grand final victory last year, said his team played well and showed again they liked to perform in the big games.
"It's another good achievement for the club," he said.
"I thought we played well. We like the big games. We seem to be able to compose and execute in the big occasions.
"Credit to the boys in the team, we are still missing a few players but to get the job done today means a lot to the club."
The teams went to the halftime break scoreless, with Olympic looking the more likely to score in the opening 45-minutes.
Their class, particularly captain Chris Price and forward Rick Goodchild looked dangerous every time they touched the ball.
But it was just as talented attacker and man-of-the match Callahan who provided the key moment in the game when he held his composure to fire past goalkeeper Mathew Nikolovski, after the shot-stopper parried Callahan's initial strike at goal.
Olympic captain Chris Price praised his team's resilience against their valiant opponents Port, who tried till the end and almost snatched a dramatic late equaliser, bar for a tremendous save from Olympic keeper Cristofer Fuentes.
"We are super excited. Any opportunity to play a grand final, they don't come around very often and you have to make those opportunities count. Once again today we were able to get the job done and perform well," he said.
"The difference today was probably a little bit of experience. We took our opportunities. It was a pretty even game.
"Congratulations to Port Kembla, they played really really well, and had a few chances as well but we got some good experience in our team across the park and in the big occasions I guess we know what we have to do and we proved that again today.
"We are super excited for this year and after the success of last year, we've faced a lot of adversity this year, as have a lot of teams, but come the pointy end of the season we feel like we are in a pretty good place. We just need to get a few more boys back on deck, which will help.
"We are really excited what the next month or so has in store for us as a group. What we have achieved today and probably the past six weeks gives us confidence and we're excited to meet the challenge."
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