Palm Beach SC has kick-started its title defence with a hard-earned 2-1 win over Northern Fury at Mallawa Complex on Sunday.
Fury pulled one back late through Caleb Hobson but Sharks held on to retain their unbeaten start following last week’s draw with Olympic FC.
In over 30 degree heat, both midfields battled for the early ascendency which was snatched emphatically by Sharks in the 15th minute.
Attacker Josh Riis got on the end of a neat combination before spearing his left-footed shot into the top corner to make it 1-0.
The hosts almost extended the advantage around the half hour mark but, after beating defenders down the wing, Jarrod Kyle’s cross was deflected wide.
Kyle had a shot of his own saved before the break as the margin remained at a long goal heading into half time.
It was 2-0 shortly after the restart though when Sharks captain Justyn McKay converted from the spot after the referee adjudged a handball in the area.
Having struck the woodwork from a long-range free-kick earlier in the second half, Fury had a slice of luck on their side in the 75th minute as a defensive mixup allowed Caleb Hobson to keep his cool and reduce the deficit.
The visitors persisted in search of an equaliser but left their run too late as last year’s champions protected all three points.
Speaking post-match, Sharks coach Grae Piddick acknowledged it could have been easier for his team after conceding late.
“We made it a bit difficult for ourselves at the end conceding a goal that we shouldn’t have and not taking our chances before that,” Piddick said.
Fury coach Ian Ferguson felt his side reacted too late to going behind.
“It should have been done a long time ago, we waited for too long,” Ferguson said.
Palm Beach SC 2 (Josh RIIS 15’ Justyn McKAY p50’)
Northern Fury FC 1 (Caleb HOBSON 75’)