Western Pride are confirmed contenders after ousting champions Palm Beach SC 2-1 at Briggs Road Complex on Saturday night.
Jason Pillay scored a second half winner to maintain Pride’s unbeaten start to the season and record the club’s most important result under new coach Karl Dodd.
The hosts made a dream start to the hotly-anticipated affair when Gab Hawash drilled the opener inside five minutes, capitalising on good lead-up play from Peter Drager and Harrison Sawyer.
Sharks had a point to prove however and equalised almost instantly as a left-sided cross was only cleared as far as Eoghan Murphy, who converted from close-range to make it 1-1 after seven minutes.
Sawyer had a header cleared off the line as the rain began to take its toll on the number of chances created as the two teams entered the break level.
Drager came close to putting Pride ahead after the restart while Pride ‘keeper Bon Scott was called upon to keep out Josh Riis’ effort as Sharks began to assume the upper hand.
The visitors strung four consecutive corners together just prior to the hour but their desperation was only heightened when Dodd’s side snatched the lead against the run of play.
Joe Duckworth led a counter-attack and laid off a pass for youth team product Pillay to cut inside a defender and finish into the bottom left corner.
Grae Piddick’s Sharks came close to an equaliser when Daniel Grzic’s lofted finish clipped the outside of the post, but their chances diminished in the 85th minute as Kristian Rees was dismissed for a second yellow after a tackle in midfield.
Pride saw out the 2-1 win to keep pace with league leaders Moreton Bay United.
Speaking after the match, Pride coach Karl Dodd praised his team’s improved ability to close out the match.
“We’ve been working a lot harder on retaining the ball which was evident tonight and that was very pleasing,” Dodd said.
Sharks coach Grae Piddick lamented the reigning double winners’ lapses at both ends.
“We had a number of genuine clear cut chances we didn’t take and we gifted them two extremely soft goals,” Piddick said.
Western Pride FC (Gab HAWASH 4’ Jason PILLAY 58’)
Palm Beach SC (Eoghan MURPHY 7’)