THE South Coast Flame, featuring Shoalhaven Heads-Berry’s Matt White and Culburra’s Martin Thompson, ended a two-match losing run with a 4-2 victory over bottom of the table battlers Wagga City Wanderers.
Louis Connell notched up a first-half brace as the sides exchanged goals to be 2-all at the break on a bitter afternoon at Gissing Oval.
South Coast pulled ahead early in the second half through Julio Mushaba before Matt Mazevski signed off the win with a goal deep into added on time.
The hosts had a spritely opening couple of minutes, however, Flame countered by taking the lead four minutes in.
Connell picked up the ball just inside the box before calmly slotting it into the bottom left corner.
A few loose turnovers were allowing Wagga to launch a number of quick counter attacks and they were able to capitalise on one in the 28th minute.
The ball was worked out to Damion Patterson on the left wing who played in a low cross for a lunging Tyler Allen who bundled the ball past Matt White.
The goal was Allen’s second for the season - his other also coming against Flame.
South Coast came agonisingly close of retaking the lead less than two minutes later when Mazevski sprung the offside trap before running through on goal.
The number 10 had only Wanderers goalkeeper Robert Fry to beat but the skipper pulled off a solid save and hold.
Flame didn’t let off and they were able to net their second shortly after.
Some neat movement saw the ball worked out to Mushaba on the right who cut it back for Connell in the box, he took a touch before curling it into the top right corner.
The goal was Connell’s fourth for the club in only seven matches.
Undeterred, Wagga were able to once again hit back in the 41st minute.
White managed to produce a decent one on one legs save - only a couple of minutes after pulling off a similar stop.
This time, however, the ball ricocheted out for Stuart Smeeth 25 metres from goal and he was able to compose himself before floating the ball into the far right of the net.
This would see the side’s go into the sheds with two goals apiece.
Three minutes into the second half, Flame were able to find the back of the net for the third time.
Mushaba picked up the ball 30 metres out from goal before charging around a Wanderers defender, into the box and finishing into the bottom left corner.
Bojan Caric had three decent chances in the middle period of the second half to extend Flame’s advantage.
In the 58th minute, he outmuscled his marker to get into a one on one situation but Fry managed a solid fingertip save.
In the 62nd minute, Caric found a pocket of space 25 metres from goal and blazed a shot just over the bar and a minute later he got on the end of a Connell cross but his initial shot was saved on the line before Fry smothered the follow-up.
The Wanderers were able to pin South Coast back in the final 15 minutes of the match and they came extremely close to equalising for the third time of the afternoon.
With seven minutes remaining, Wagga’s Nathan Preston was through on goal and the mid season signing looked to find the bottom left corner but the Flame captain pulled off an inspired save to force the ball out for a corner.
As the match ticked over into added on time, Wagga won a freekick on the edge of the D.
Frederick Gardner - in his first game for the Wanderers - stepped up for the shot but his effort fade fractionally to the left of goal.
Flame put the match beyond doubt in the second minute of added on time when Mazevski tucked the ball past Fry for his sixth goal of the season.
Within seconds of the restart, the full-time whistle was blown with South Coast able to put the three points in the boot as they travelled back up the Hume Highway.
Pending results on Sunday, the win pushes South Coast into 8th and six points off the top five.
After the match, White acknowledged it wasn’t the side’s best display, however, they got what they were after.
“It just goes to show that football is not always pretty, the boys fought hard and we deservedly got the win we needed,” White said.
Next up for Flame is a trip to William Lawson Park to take on Prospect United in the final match in four-match run away from home.
United edged out Flame at Crehan Park earlier in the season so Paul Robaard will be looking to even the ledger against the side currently in fourth.
This story first appeared on: Football South Coast