Troubling times for Tarrawanna (Photo — illawarrapremierleague.com)

5 Things to Watch for in Round 3 of the IPL

The Easter weekend threw up a cracking round of football with a number of intriguing results. Looking ahead to Round 3 of the Illawarra Premier League, we have a local derby on the cards as well a meeting between two of the three teams with perfect two from two records. Here are the five things to I’ll be watching out for this weekend.

1 — Woonona up against it in the local derby

The defeat to Fernhill over the weekend is a real blow for the Sharks. After going behind early, Woonona fought back to lead 2–1 before basic errors saw them go 3–2 down. Even then new signing Nick Sullivan had a chance to earn a point in the 90th minute from the penalty mark but he couldn’t convert. Dan McGoldrick’s side now goes up against local rivals Bulli to start a month-long run where they also face Wollongong United and 2017 Grand Final winners Port Kembla.

Since the Sharks returned to the top division they have only managed one win from 10 matches against Bulli with an aggregate score of 30 to 9. Last season, they opened the season with a 7–0 defeat to Bulli at Ocean Park before going down 1–0 in a tight affair at Balls Paddock.

Woonona managed a nil all draw with Bulli in the Preseason Cup, but that also happened in last season’s competition so it probably doesn’t stand for much. I have had a few people tell me how this match is a different beast but I just don’t see it, Woonona are in for a tough Saturday afternoon.

The Woonona-Bulli Derby (Graphic — Woonona Sharks)

2 — Can Fernhill get a result against Olympic? Surely not…

The Foxes did it again and they’re now one of only three sides to sit on a perfect six points. While Woonona played a major role in their own downfall, Bruce Tilt’s side ticked off all the intangibles including energy, determination and attitude.

Shinsei Tanaka was on fire for Fernhill with the Japanese striker scoring a couple of class goals including a worldie to open the match. Bryce Daenell also pulled off a number of brilliant stops including a 90th-minute penalty to secure the three points.

Now they go head to head with title contenders Wollongong Olympic who have scored 40 goals in five competitive matches this season. This shows Olympic have pedigree going forward but without Brendan Fordham and Jack Keating they are a side that can be gotten at, unfortunately for the Foxes, my mail is they should return for this match.

Fernhill’s flurry will surely come to an end on Sunday but as the tapes will show, they have already proved me wrong a couple of times already this season.

Highlights from Woonona 2 Fernhill 3 (Video — Win News Illawarra)

3 — An early test of Corrimal’s top five credentials

Van Elia’s double was a bright spot in a bad start for the Rangers (Photo — Georgia Matts)

I understand there were a couple of mitigating circumstances behind Corrimal’s 5–2 defeat to Cringila. However, shipping five against a direct rival will never inspire confidence.

On Saturday they travel to another team they’ll be competing with for finals football in Port Kembla. A result against the reigning Grand Final winners will put the Cringila defeat in the history books and it would also be a feather in the caps of rookie coaching duo Jason Davkovski and Rob Jonovski.

On the FSC Weekly I tipped a Port Kembla, however, the horrible news that attacker Cameron Morgan has suffered a fractured ankle in training leads me to move towards backing a draw.

4 — Can Picton stem the tide?

Picton looking for signs of progression at Crehan Park (Photo — Pedro Garcia)

There was next to no chance of Picton going into round three with points on the table after being drawn against heavyweights Bulli and Wollongong United in the opening two rounds. However, conceding 13 goals will do little to boost morale.

They now face four teams back to back who most people would expect to beat the Rangers. If they don’t manage to get anything from these match, it’ll put immense pressure on them come round seven when they host South Coast United.

They start this four-game run with a Friday night clash against Cringila at Crehan Park. While the Lions are a couple of rungs below Bulli and Wollongong United in terms of quality, they still managed to put five goals past Corrimal. I expect Picton goalkeeper Cameron Camilleri will be in for a busy night, I am tipping a Lions win but a close result will be a step in the right direction for Brett Morley’s men.

Also, a mention that this is the only Friday night Premier League game scheduled in for the season, which from my perspective is a little disappointing. Watching local football under lights is one of the highlights of my job.

Correction — I have been informed that Cringila will host a second Friday night game in Round 12 when they play the Albion Park White Eagles.

5 — Who will step up for Tarrawanna?

Peter Willis (left) will need to change things up in Goodchild’s absence (Photo — illawarrapremierleague.com)

There’s no point beating around the bush, Tarrawanna have been awful in their opening two matches and had Bulli been at full strength on Good Friday, the result could have turned ugly. They now travel to Wollongong United starting an arduous run of five games where they also face Macarthur Rams, Cringila, Port Kembla and Albion Park.

What makes the defeat to Bulli even worse is captain Ricky Goodchild pulled up lame late in the second half, he is set to miss the next couple of weeks along with another key player in Darren Stone. The absence of these two senior figures will give an opportunity for someone else to step up, but who will it be? Perhaps one of the two new Japanese players in Kouryo Kubota (who came on for Goodchild) or Takumi Machida or maybe Bradley Acev returns to the fold after being relegated to the bench against Bulli.

While it may look like the Blueys are on the brink of collapse, it’s worth pointing out that even if Tarrawanna loses to Wollongong United, they’ll still only be, in most people’s eyes, three points off what was expected of them.

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