SOUTH Coast Flame FC secured their first win as a club in competitive football with a 4-2 win over West Pennant Hills Cherrybrook FC in the FFA Cup third round.
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The absorbing affair was played in stuffy conditions at Pennant Hills Park though that didn't stop starlet Julio Mushaba from bagging a debut hattrick.
The Flame had to ward off early pressure from West Pennant Hills and goalkeeper Matt White, a Shoalhaven Heads/Berry product, was forced into a strong save after seven minutes to keep us from going behind.
The nerves began to settle and we started to control where the match was being played.
Matt Mazevski came close to opening the scoring on the 20-minute mark when his strike thumped off the base of the left upright before being cleared.
Bojan Caric tested their keeper Josh Milevski from distance a couple of minutes later.
On 32 minutes, West Pennant Hills were awarded a free kick 35 metres from goal.
Midfielder Andrew Zalunardo lined up the dead ball and his knuckleball strike whizzed just over the bar.
The half was beginning to fade away when South Coast set it alight with two goals in three minutes.
The first coming in the 39th minute through winger Julio Mushaba who found a pocket of space outside the box before guiding the ball into the top right corner – a stunning goal befitting of the milestone.
Caric was the scorer of our second with the imposing number nine tapping home Dion Sterjovski's cut back from the byline.
Before the halftime whistle, White had to produce another clutch save, this time a one on one stop denying Kane Glanicar.
These heroics meant the Flame maintained their two-goal advantage heading into the interval.
The Gladesville Hornsby Association club caught South Coast on the hop at the beginning of the second period and with 51 minutes gone they pulled a goal back.
Glanicar with another one on one chance but this time he was able to find the bottom right corner.
They came close to levelling the score only minutes later when Zalunardo attempted to lob White but he was up to the task, tipping the ball onto the crossbar before catching the rebound.
West Pennant Hills continued to toil and their counter-attacking paid dividends in the 78th minute with substitute Anthony Manassa scoring from a move reminiscent of Caric's goal.
Despite losing their lead, the Flame produced a swashbuckling final ten minutes to take out the match.
Starting in the 80th minute when Mazevski picked out Mushaba in the six-yard box who tucked the ball into the net.
The Mazevski to Mushaba combination was on show again in the 87th minute when the former whipped in a cross for the latter to nod past Milevski to complete his hat-trick.
The full-time whistle confirmed South Coast Flame's maiden victory which sees the club through to the fourth round of the FFA Cup.
After the match, coach Paul Robaard was beaming with pride and he made a special mention of the hat-trick hero.
“He’s got all the talent in the world and I’ve told him to let us see it, and he really showed it in this match,” Robaard said.
The draw for the next round of the FFA Cup will be later in the month with round four set to be played in early April.
For now, the club turns its attention to round one of the NSW State League where we will face FC Gazy Auburn at Progress Park on Sunday at 5pm.
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