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Dapto Dandaloo Fury claimed their second title in three years with a 2-0 win over Bulli in the Illawarra Mercury Premier League Grand Final on Sunday.
It was the first time the League Championship winning Bulli had been kept scoreless all season and a bit of revenge for the Fury after losing their last two meetings by a combined eight goals.
The victory was the perfect way to send off former A-League player Noel Spencer who is retiring from football to pursue coaching.
“I couldn’t have written a better script to end it here,” said Spencer, who was also give man of the match honours on the day.
“I’m just delighted to get a great result in front of my family and friends and finish on a good note.
“It was just really pleasing to see that what we’ve been working on has really come to the fore today.
“We spoke about character, commitment, energy, everything that goes into a Grand Final and it was a mental battle because we’ve struggled with Bulli in the past.
“We had to make sure we stopped leaking goals and that was crucial in the first 45 minutes and we knew the longer the game went on we’d come away with the chocolate.
“We executed our game plan today and everything I asked of the boys they did and it was tremendous way to go out.
“It’s just a great result and I’m ecstatic at the moment.”
The two clubs have been building an intense rivalry in recent seasons and the game saw some big challenges in the opening 45 minutes.
Both sides struggled to settle into the game early with no real chances falling either way.
The best chance of the half came when a long range Dean Heffernan free-kick was taken by the wind and forced Dapto Dandaloo keeper Mitch Blowes into a good save while moving backwards.
The Fury looked to have the better of the ball early in the second half and it paid off when Shaun McRae gave them the lead.
Brad Welch worked some room wide on the left and drilled in a perfect cross to find an unmarked McRae who scored with a superb header to give the Fury the edge.
Much of the remainder of the game saw the ball held up in the middle of the pitch as the two teams battled to find a way through the opposing defence.
With five minutes remaining Joe Crowley sealed the win for Dapto Dandaloo with a strike deserving of a Grand Final.
Crowley received a bouncing knock on from McRae wide left on the edge of the box where the winger hit a first time, half volley into the opposite side of the net to wrap up the game.
Near to the end, Bulli substitute, Jared Fish, rattled the post with a shot from the edge of the penalty area which then ran across the goal line and was scrambled clear and with it any chance of Bulli getting back into the match.
Bulli boss Ben Smith said that the Fury deserved the win on the day.
“They were deserving winners today,” said Smith.
“There wasn’t many chances in the game.
“You would think it would be a good game on this pitch but wasn’t really; there was a lot of long balls from both teams.
“It’s hard to pick at this time where it went wrong, but I’m the coach and it’s my responsibility so we will have to improve but I can’t ask any more from the players.
“They’ve given everything they’ve got all year and did the same again today so couldn’t be prouder of them.”
The loss was Bulli’s third in three Grand Finals but the club will be happy after breaking their 26 year wait for a League Championship earlier this season.
Dapto Dandaloo Fury
S. McRae (54’);
J. Crowley (84’).
W. Oostendorp (y);
S. Munro (y).
B. Fordham (y)
D. Heffernan (r)