Report from our very own Nathan Turner….
University took the hard road when narrowly defeating a determined Berkeley 2-1 as the home-side were reduced to 10-men just before the break. Berkeley started the game on top and took the lead courtesy of a Jon Adams chip in the 11th minute. The students were then eager to turn their poor start around by scoring in both the 21st and 35th minutes. A gutsy performance from both teams saw University take home an important three points in this WGC Cranes District League Clash at Berkeley Sports and Social Club.
Both sides were looking to bounce back after defeats in round 10, and it was Berkeley who started strongest out of the two, setting the scene for what would be an intense fair on the day.
With literally the first chance of the game, Berkeley would pounce on an error in the University backline. Poor communication between Curtis Iverson and Jonathan Van Der Stok gifted Berkeley midfielder, Jake Gates a chance to run forward on a depleted defensive line. Sending a ball over top to an on-running, Jon Adams, University goalkeeper, Sugaru Ieda would completely misjudge the bounce and hesitate as the ball fell nicely for Adams. The striker only needed one touch as he sent a delicate chip over Ieda, bouncing into the back of the net. A much-needed goal for the home side as they took the lead early on.
It didn’t seem as though University were there from the whistle as a second defensive error almost gave Berkeley a chance on goal. Another long ball sent over the top for Adams forced a rush clearance by Ieda. Berkeley couldn’t capitalise with the ball adrift as University cleared.
Just minutes later, Berkeley again, almost doubled their lead. A corner to the home side gave Corey Butcher the chance to whip it in with pace. His curled cross bouncing past the mix almost sneaking into the back post, but thankfully for University, it was cleared off the line by Abdullah Chippha.
The game would then take a wicked turn in the 20th mark. A poor goal-kick by Berkeley goalkeeper, Tye White, fell nicely at the feet of Chippha. The winger still had some work to do but his surging run forward saw him beat a couple of defenders and side-foot it into the roof of the net. The goal shattering all momentum for the home side as University lifted after equalising.
Just five minutes later, Chippha would be in the midst of the attack yet again for the students. Beating several players up the right wing and running along the bi-line, his shot would only catch the side netting.
However, players and spectators were then left in awe as University midfielder, Joshua Martin, stepped up to take a free-kick, only 20-yards from goal. Martin’s shot would rocket hard and low to the left of the wall, getting the better of White as the ball smashed into the back of the net. White would get a small touch on it but wouldn’t be enough as University powered into the lead.
A fiery finish to the half did spark some controversy as Berkeley’s, Ryan Crouch, saw red for pulling back Luke Vandenbergh after being put through on goal. The half ended with the home-side trailing 2-1.
The second half intensity from either team would be opposite from the first. University dominated with the opening 20 minutes which almost saw the students extend their lead on numerous occasions.
Vandenbergh would be on the end of cleverly worked plays from his teammates but the striker couldn’t convert. Firstly, Martin sent Vandenbergh through on goal, only to see his low shot saved by White. Just two minutes later, he found himself open on the penalty spot as Benjamin Joyce whipped in a ball from the right wing. His first-time shot, slicing over the bar.
The striker had another chance to put the game beyond doubt in the 68th minute. Getting the ball direct to his feet, he would turn and push forward on-goal. Not seeing any support with him, he decided to go himself, but a last-ditch save by White kept the home-side in the game.
After soaking up all the pressure to start the second half, 10-man Berkeley suddenly lifted and it was their turn to attack. Another deadly Butcher corner curled into the box looking for the head of Ross Prandolos. The centre-back would out-jump everyone but couldn’t angle his header downwards as it sailed over the bar.
Gates almost gave Berkeley their equaliser when his shot almost crept in at the far post as the midfielder drilled a shot across the face. Fortunately for students, the ball would bounce only inches away from the post. Only two minutes had passed before Berkeley created yet another threatening opportunity on goal. Dylan Evans’ threaded through ball saw Adams control the ball on the bi-line. His cross lacked a finish as it landed safely in the hands of Ieda.
With five minutes remaining, Berkeley gave away another free-kick in Martin-territory. This time, however, White was expecting the power shot and saved his low shot comfortably.
Although playing with a man down for the second half, Berkeley wouldn’t give up until that final whistle. One last attack in stoppage-time allowed space to open up for Butcher just inside the box. Putting everything behind the shot, Butcher could only watch as Ieda saved.
University holding on to the 2-1 lead towards the end of the game taking an important three points away from a persistent Berkeley outfit.
The loss for Berkeley sees them drop to the bottom of the table, due to a rare Unanderra win. Sitting just two points behind they side who they beat in round 1, Berkeley will host the Hearts next week looking to push back above them.
University now rise further clear of Berkeley and Unanderra at the lower end of the table. They now sit seven points from the relegation spot and are currently equal in points with Shell Cove, who they host at Kooloobong Oval next week.
Saturday 2nd June at Berkeley Sports and Social Club.
Berkeley Sports FC: 1 (ADAMS 11’)
University FC: 2 (CHIPPHA 21’, MARTIN 35’)
Berkeley Sports FC: Tye WHITE, Hayden TILL, Ross PRANDALOS, Justin MEARS, Ryan CROUCH, Mathew MEARS, Dylan EVANS, Jake GATES, Trent THOMPSON, Corey BUTCHER, Jon ADAMS.
Subs: Jeremy FLANAGAN (THOMPSON 80’), Steve CAROCCI, Brad FISHER.
University FC: Sugaru IEDA, Jonathan VAN DER STOK, Eamon FLINT-PETERSON, James GALEA, Tyler WHITTON, Curtis IVERSON, Benjamin JOYCE, Joshua MARTIN, Luke VANDENBERGH, Matthew CAIN, Abdulla CHIPPHA.
Subs: Alex KEARTON (JOYCE 67’), Dusan KOLONJA (CAIN 83’), Travis ANDERSON (CHIPPHA 91’), Peter FAULKS.
Referee: Caleb BLANCH.
Assistant Referees: Dean MORIERA and Warwick DAVIDSON.
Report by Nathan Turner, on Twitter @nathanturner23_
Photo: Conor O’Brien