A solid performance was not enough for the Blacks Division 3 men to secure any points in a frustrating league season opener.
SAASL Division 3 Round 1
Adelaide University Black 2-3 Northern Pitbulls
Goals: Miro Vujica, Luke Urban
The Blacks suffered a heavy blow to their chances of victory before kick-off when starter Kevin Ugalde was injured in the warm-up and was rendered unable to play.
The first chance of the match fell to the Northern Pitbulls, who flicked through a 50/50 ball but Blacks ‘keeper Jacob Davey came out on top.
The Blacks responded with an attack as Vujica received the ball on the left wing and played it to Joe Henderson who tried the first-time shot but was inches away from the top right corner at 12 minutes.
Tragedy struck twice for the Blacks as Henderson was injured and replaced up top by Brendan Shanahan.
The Pitbulls threatened the Blacks goal as they won a freekick on the edge of the box and attempted to play a tricky short ball inside but couldn’t find their man.
At 18 minutes, an attempted Blacks through-ball took a deflection and ended up with Vujica who slotted it past the Pitbulls ‘keeper to make it 1-0 to the home team.
The Pitbulls responded quickly as they whipped a ball into the box but their striker’s header was saved by Davey from six yards out.
Tension was rising and Macura came late into the back of a Pitbulls defender, who retaliated by lashing out, but it was only Macura who received the yellow card at 20 minutes.
Seven minutes later, the Pitbulls swung in a corner and the ball was knocked back out to the top of the box before it was drilled back at the Blacks ‘keeper, who fumbled the ball into the net.
After they drew the game level, the Pitbulls didn’t look back as they continued to put pressure on the Blacks.
The half-time whistle was blown and the match was 1-1 at the break.
A Pitbulls play broke down at 56 minutes, the Blacks countered and the ball came to Luke Urban on the left who chipped it over the ‘keeper with his first touch to regain the Blacks lead.
The Pitbulls replied quickly from kick-off, attacking with a ball across the box that nearly crept in the goal.
Shanahan received a yellow card for a tactical foul on a Pitbulls midfielder as they countered dangerously.
At 79 minutes, the Pitbulls floated a freekick into the box and the ball found their player to draw the game level once more at 2-2.
Late in the game, the Pitbulls striker caught the Blacks off guard with a cheeky freekick but as the ball hit the back of the net, the referee blew the whistle for the kick to be retaken as he had not signalled yet.
The freekick was retaken and the Pitbulls player shot low around the wall to make it 3-2 for real this time at 85 minutes.
Once they took the lead, the Pitbulls began time-wasting in the corner, drew a foul and Davey was forced to make a save from the powerful freekick attempt.
The Pitbulls delivered the corner and Davey protected his goal again from a close-range shot.
In the 90th minute, Vujica intercepted a pass and rounded the Pitbulls ‘keeper but was taken down.
The Blacks had a strong case for a penalty in a match-defining controversial moment.
Shaken by the Blacks opportunity, the Pitbulls resorted to time-wasting which saw one of their players enter the referee’s book.
In the end the Pitbulls held off the Blacks pressure to win 3-2 on the final whistle.
‘The boys played well and dug in deep despite the loss’ Blacks coach Mohan Karthigeyan said, reflecting on the match.
Main photo: William Chau