From FSC match centre

University have narrowly defeated a dominant Helensburgh outfit 1-0 in this round 16 clash of the WGC Cranes District League at Kooloobong Oval. The visitors controlled the game for most of the 90 minutes and were continuously frustrated with the chances they had missed but it was the students that pounced on their rare opportunities on goal, scoring in what turned out to be the winner through Luke Vandenbergh early in the second half. University were equal in defence to the onslaught of attacking play from the Thistle but held on for a hard-fought three points.

The students were looking to come off consecutive 5-1 defeats to Bellambi and Balgownie in the previous weeks. Whereas for Helensburgh, they were wanting to turn around a 4-1 loss to the Rosellas in round 15. The reverse fixture between the two sides saw Helensburgh come out comfortable 8-1 winners at Rex Jackson Oval in round 5.

Thistle had several chances within the opening 10 minutes but couldn’t capitalise as they set a high bar for what was to come. Firstly, a miss-guided header from University’s Josh Martin, sent the ball towards the student’s goal. Brad Boardman would come on the end of it but sent the ball over the crossbar. Just three minutes later, a Luke Van Zyl switch of play found an open Ben Watts on the right wing. His first touch was good to bring it onto his right but the shot flew over. In the 10th minute, Brad Watts surged through the University backline, weaving in and out of players, followed by a shot on his right foot, but would only be saved comfortably by goalkeeper, Sugaru Ieda.

After soaking up all the pressure, the students could finally have an attack of their own in the 18th and 21stminutes. Nice interplay passing between Alex Kearton and Abdullah Chhipa on the right wing gave space down the line for Kearton to cross. His cut back pass to Chhipa caused a mishit shot across the face of the goal that landed to midfielder, Luke Vandenbergh. His first time shot was blocked by Blake Charman. The students’ next chance came through Chhipa again, this time on the left wing. Using his pace and skill he found himself along the bi-line running towards goal. His cut back pass to Alex Sheargold saw his shot sail wide of the goal.

Having held back their attack to keep possession, Helensburgh would surge forward yet again. Brad Watts was on the end of a long ball from the Thistle backline up the left wing. He then delivered a looping cross straight to the back post to an unmarked L. Van Zyl who’s header back towards the far post was saved remarkably by Ieda on the stretch.

L. Van Zyl would continue to scare the University defence as he got more involved in the game. In the 36thminute his pass and move to Broadman on the edge of the box allowed him to get it back to shoot. His first time effort curling just wide of the post.

The home side would have one last chance of the half after Kearton was fouled 25 yards from goal. With Martin stepping up to take, his cross just missing any run from the student’s front-men. After the first 45 minutes, University were holding on to a 0-0 score-line against a Helensburgh side controlling the ball and the game.

The second half started quite like the first; Helensburgh creating several opportunities within the opening 10 minutes. The first chance came just three minutes in, when fresh substitute, Cody Cuthbertson caused chaos on the left sideline. Cutting in and running onwards to goal, his shot at the near post looked to catch Ieda off-guard but would only win a corner. Off the corner L. Van Zyl’s cross found Charman who’s header would blaze past the post.

Just after Helensburgh’s opportunity to pull ahead, University pushed for a counter-attack solely through Chhipa. The striker received the ball on halfway before turning his defender and surging towards goal. A cover challenge from Junya Okamoto saw suspicion for a penalty but the home-sides cries were only short lived as referee, Brodie Merchant waved play on.

Although the missed chance wouldn’t be too much disappointment for the home supporters as they grabbed a goal only four minutes later. A poor clearance from Helensburgh at the back saw the ball go straight up into the air. Chhipa, at the scene yet again, controlled it nicely and a delivered a delicate back heel towards goal for Vandenbuergh. The midfielder was aware of his team mates cheeky pass and pounced, finishing first time into the bottom left. A goal against the run of play for the students and would only boost their moral for the rest of the game.

Not letting a goal ruin their spirits, Thistle almost hit back immediately when they launched attack after attack. A couple of Cuthbertson low crosses almost found a Helensburgh foot only for Ieda to grasp the ball on both occasions. Then a run forward from left full-back by Okamoto was met with a shot on his right aiming for the bottom left. But it was Ieda again getting down to save.

With very few attacking opportunities, University would have to make the most of the chances they got. They were only centimetres away from doubling their lead in the 67th minute through Chhipa. A run down the left and cutting in onto his favoured right foot, Chhipa would fancy the shot from outside the box but thankfully for Thistle goalkeeper, Josh Williams, the ball bounced off the post and out for a goal kick.

Coming into the final 10 minutes it was all out attack for Thistle. Switching to three at the back, Charman was able to push forward looking for the goal. The centre-back almost came through for his side if it wasn’t for some scrambling defence from the students. Cuthbertson’s long ball saw Brad Watts run onto it towards goal. The strikers fake shot gave the space to cut it back to Charman who hit it first time from the penalty area. A small touch from University’s, Ben Joyce blocked the shot and put it out for a corner.

As the game went into stoppages, Helensburgh still pushed for their equaliser. It was long ball after long ball for the visitors and it nearly paid off when Eamon Van Zyl sent Brad Watts through on goal, but it was Joyce’s last man tackle denying Thistle with their equaliser.

The students finished desperately holding onto the attacking onslaught Helensburgh threw at them to come out as 1-0 winners, picking up an important three points in the process.

The win for University sees them stay above the bottom two after a Unanderra win and a Berkeley draw. The students now sit three points off Berkeley and are now level on points with Shell Cove. They travel to JJ Kelly Park next week to take on Coniston who are coming off a 6-0 win over Balgownie.

The loss for Helensburgh sees them remain in third place after a Thirroul loss. Thistle still just sit above the Thunder by two points as they look to snatch third place at seasons end. Next week they host Kiama who became the first team to take points off Bellambi this season aside from Coniston. Thistle must be focused on winning this one as the Quarriers secured an impressive 1-1 draw with the Rosellas.


Saturday 7th July at Kooloobong Oval.

University FC: 1 (VANDENBERGH 57’)

Helensburgh Thistle FC: 0




Subs: Jared COLES (SHEARGOLD 66’), Travis ANDERSON (CHHIPA 87’), Blake BARKLAY, Peter FAULKS


Helensburgh Thistle FC: Josh WILLIAMS, Jarrad BENHAM, Blake CHARMAN, Jaydn FALKINER, Junya OKAMOTO, Eamon VAN ZYL, Luke VAN ZYL, Kei MITANI, Brad BOARDMAN, Brad WATTS, Ben WATTS



Referee: Brodie MERCHANT

Assistant Referees: Joel NEES and Matt HARDY


Report by Nathan Turner, on Twitter @nathanturner23_

File Photo (Pedro Garcia)