Cougars in the clear after top of the table clash

Shoalhaven District Football

Culburra 1

Shoalhaven Heads nil

CULBURRA gained some breathing space on the first grade ladder with a 1-nil win against Shoalhaven Heads at Vic Zealand Oval on Saturday. 

The two teams went into the game as first and second in the competition, but the win has now taken Culburra three points clear at the top of the table. 

While both coaches thought Culburra played their best football in the first half, ironically the only goal of the match came in the second half. 

The killer blow came around the one-hour mark when Kieran Witt managed to draw one of the defenders in and took a shot, which he slotted into the top of the net. 

Culburra coach Tony Gauci thought they played their best football in the first half, but once again struggled to find the back of the net.  

“I thought we created plenty of chances in the first half, but like last week, it was a bit frustrating that we couldn’t find the back of the net,” he said.

“We still played alright in the second half, but I thought we lost our way in patches with our defence. 

“It wasn’t the prettiest game we’ve played, but I think when you play the top sides on their home ground, you’ve got to be happy if you can get a win.” 

Rival coaches don’t always share the same views on games, but Ross Tasker from Shoalhaven Heads thought Culburra carved them up in the first half. 

“It’s a game of two halves and they killed us in the first,” he said. 

“I thought we had the better of it in the second and it was a bit disappointing to let in a soft goal against the run of play, when we’d held them out playing pretty poorly in the first half. 

“Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t; that’s football.”  

The win for Culburra also gives bragging rights to former Heads player Jack Miller, who came up against his younger brother Roy. 

A rather vocal Heads crowd was never short of a few words directed at Miller, but Tasker said it was actually not as fiery as he anticipated. 

“There’s a pretty intense rivalry between the two of them, but I think Roy is one of the best defenders in the competition, so if there’s one guy you would want marking Jack, it’d be him,” he said. 

“Our fans had a little bit to say, which I think is well warranted if you change clubs, but I’d say it was all in good fun… probably a good thing he didn’t score the winning goal though,” he added. 

Another point of interest for Culburra fans was the much-anticipated return of striker Corey Ryan, who came on as a late substitute. 

“They gave him about 20 minutes in reserve grade and then I got him out there for a bit as well,” Gauci said. 

“As far as I know he’s pulled up alright, so we’ll just see how he goes and hopefully I can get him in there again for the Manyana game next week,” he added. 

Manyana are the only team who are still undefeated, but Gauci wanted to encourage their fans to get out and support them at home next week and see if they can bring their run to an end. 

Heads have a trip to Sharman Park to take on Illaroo, who will also be looking to bounce back after going down to United.

HAMMER TIME: Culburra striker Corey Ryan takes a bit of a tumble after a challenge with Heads defender Jye Findlay during his return from injury on Saturday. Photo: PATRICK FAHY

HAMMER TIME: Culburra striker Corey Ryan takes a bit of a tumble after a challenge with Heads defender Jye Findlay during his return from injury on Saturday. Photo: PATRICK FAHY

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