Nathan Morris last gasp spot kick seals three points in 300th game

PROUD BEAR: Nathan Morris (right) celebrates after slotting home the winner from the penalty spot in his 300th game for the Weston Bears.
PROUD BEAR: Nathan Morris (right) celebrates after slotting home the winner from the penalty spot in his 300th game for the Weston Bears.

Weston Bears skipper Nathan Morris celebrated his 300th game with the club in style by sealing a 2-1 victory against Valentine Phoenix with a last-gasp spot kick.

In a frenetic final two minutes the Bears had a free kick on the edge of the box and two corners. All were successfully defended until a third cross from Cooper Buswell drew a penalty in the area for Morris in a contest with Phoenix's Joseph Cacic.

Cometh the man, cometh the hour - 300-gamer Morris stroked a none-too-convincing attempt to Otis Millard Jorda's right, and the visiting keeper got virtually his entire body behind the strike but could only watch on in despair as it deflected away from him and trickled gently into the back of the net.

It was one of the uglier successful spot kicks one would see, but they all count - in this case, a 93rd minute winner.

A cruel twist as well for Millard Jorda who was excellent in goal to deny repeated attacking moves by the Bears who led the corner count 15-1 and 8-1 shots on target by the final whistle.

The Bears wasted little time trying their luck in front of goal; Nathan Lozada's powerful attempt just under 70 seconds in finished up well off target, but the intent was clear.

It was the Phoenix attack, who had produced just four goals thus far in the campaign, who ultimately drew first blood, though.

In virtually the only Valentine incursion into the attacking third throughout the evenings, Matthew Dobson's 7th minute cross sailed just over the head of Joseph Cacic at the near post, but the additional presence of the lurking Adam Mlinaric in the middle created enough pressure on the Bears defence for Marcus Duncan to lucklessly head the ball into his own net.

Despite the early setback, the hosts continued to control the tempo and enjoyed comfortably the better of the possession during the game's early stages.

The visitors did threaten to cause some havoc in the 16th minute from a clever set play off a corner, but Weston keeper Stuart Plant, between the sticks this week after Scott Carter's afternoon in Lambton came to an ignominious end with judicial consequences, did well to diffuse the awkward looping attempt.

A superb piece of play in the 19th minute saw Aaron Niyonkuru release a perfectly weighted long ball for Tommy Duggan, who timed his run to perfection to beat the offside trap and produced a delicate first touch at full stretch, then advanced toward the Valentine goal, but his strike ended agonisingly wide of the left post.

A minute later, Niyonkuru got himself into a great position on the edge of the box, but blazed his attempt well over the bar and failed to trouble Millard Jorda.

A 26th minute corner to the Bears was swung in well by Sutherland and Duncan came ever so close to atoning for his earlier misfortune, heading goalwards only to be denied by Millard Jorda who produced a low fingertip save to push the ball around the outside of the left post.

Millard Jorda, comfortably the visitors' best performer on the night, was having a fine evening with the gloves, and was called into action once again in the 32nd minute, leaping to his left to deny a curling 25 yard effort from Niyonkuru that was on its way in.

There was very little he could do three minutes later though, as a tidy passing exchange between Niyonkuru and Lozada scythed through the Phoenix defence for the latter to execute a simple one on one finish from 12 yards.

Scoreboard parity was no less than the hosts deserved, having largely dominated proceedings to this point and created by far the bulk of the scoring opportunities.

Liam Wilson attempted the spectacular in the 37th minute, leaping for an audacious bicycle kick when a loose ball spooned up kindly in his vicinity, but the defensive attentions of the visitors were sound and the ball was blocked well before it had a chance to sting Millard Jorda's palms.

Some incredibly silky footwork in the 40th minute saw Niyonkuru weave through a crowd of Valentine defenders in what looked an improbable proposition, but after doing the hard work, his finish lacked precision and failed to trouble Millard Jorda.

Musa Kamara suffered heavy contact in the 41st minute when contesting a header and stayed down for two minutes, but was eventually able to regain his feet and re-enter the field of play.

There would be one final opportunity before half time, a Morris free kick from out wide making its way to Duncan at the back post, but his left footed strike collected the underside of the ball and ended up over the back fence.

The players would go to the sheds deadlocked, and Weston coach Leo Bertos would doubtless have considered his side a trifle unlucky not to find themselves ahead on the scoreboard on the balance of play.

The home side returned with the same intent they had shown in the opening stanza, Niyonkuru went close in the 49th minute, an acute angled chip attempt being slapped away at the front post.

A short corner in the 58th saw Duggan whip a cross on to the head of Morris, whose glance in turn found Mitch Dobson lurking at the back post, but the fullback could only turn his effort on to the woodwork from a narrow angle.

The 66th minute saw Bertos make a triple change, Sutherland, Lozada and Duggan making way respectively for Connor Heydon, Jackson Eckford and the enigmatic Cooper Buswell, returning to top grade football after a lengthy absence.

A 72nd minute free kick from distance was struck by Morris but his effort was relatively innocuous.

The home side could have easily been forgiven for growing at least somewhat frustrated at the almost total one-way traffic - a 15-1 corner count and 8-1 shots on target count by the final whistle would tell the story - not being reflected on the scoreboard, but they remained diligent in their pursuit of a winner.

A deft short cross from Heydon in the 75th minute found Wilson in space, so perfectly that the latter did not even have to break stride, but his flicked header, though on target, was dealt with comfortably by Millard Jorda. Eckford would float a delightful ball to the back post in the 79th, which was met powerfully by the head of Heydon; the latter produced an impressive leap to angle his header downwards but once again it was directed straight at the Valentine gloveman.

Phoenix's Harry Lane went down with cramp in the 82nd minute and had to be replaced, the ensuing stoppage threatening to break up the momentum of the contest as Morris made an uncharacteristic slip in possession upon the resumption.

Wilson showed great composure to scurry back in transition and break up the attack before anything too dangerous could materialise.

Time was running out for the Bears as it threatened to be yet another outing where they would be left to rue a host of missed opportunities.

An 88th minute Buswell through ball found Heydon in a dangerous position, but Millard Jorda was proactive in rushing off his line to nip the attack in the bud.

The Bears needed a hero and who better to answer the call than their skipper in his 300th game.

Weston have an away trip to Adamstown on Saturday afternoon.

Bears win in FFA Cup

Meanwhile, the Bears have kept their FFA Cup campaign alive with a 1-0 victory over a plucky Belmont-Swansea United.

Jarryd Sutherland's early strike proved the difference.

The Bears will take on Broadmeadow Magic on Wednesday night at Magic Park as they look to secure a round of 32 berth for the first time.