The Northern Spirit recorded an emphatic 3-0 victory over Wollongong Wolves at Pittwater Park last night. A hat-trick from Stewart Petrie was the difference between the two sides in what was a free flowing and entertaining match.
The former Dunfermline marksman treated the visitors to a lesson in finishing with three diligently taken goals. The first arrived in the 35th minute following a great cross from deep by fringe Young Socceroo Matthew Osman. Petrie was left unmarked at the back post and made no mistake with his diving header.
At 1-0, the Wolves heads dropped, as they had enjoyed the majority of chances in the opening half. Paul Henderson, the hero against Melbourne Knights last week, made two great close range stops from former Spirit youth player John Majourovski to maintain a clean sheet that has now been stretched to some 220 minutes. Former Spirit player Shane Lyons also came close, skewing his left foot poke over an open goal following a goalmouth scramble.
After the break, the Wolves continued to pressure the makeshift Spirit backline, but ultimately to no avail. Petrie added his second in the 67th minute in what was a similar scenario to his first. Vuko Tomasevic recieved the ball 25 metres out wide on the left and swung in a vicious cross that Petrie volleyed sublimely into the top corner.
15 minutes later and Petrie became only the second player in Spirit's history to score a hatrick with what was the pick of the bunch. After outpacing the Wollongong defence in chase of a clearance from midfield, Petrie powered home a 20 metre half volley that left Wolves custodian Andrew Crews stranded.
Late in the game, Stuart Young and Nahuel Arrarte had glorious chances to peg back the deficit but somehow managed to miss an open goal on both occassions.
The win was Spirit's second at their new home and made all the more special because of the depleted lineup. Importantly for the home side, the victory re-affirmed the intentions of the club for 2003-2004. After conceding four losses from their first five outings, the Spirit now sit just two points from third place coming into next weeks fixture, away to last placed Football Kingz.