2021 FFA CUP ROUND OF 16

 

WOLLONGONG WOLVES v CENTRAL COAST MARINERS 

 

Wolves Gallant in FFA Cup Defeat

 

At WIN Stadium in the FFA Cup Round of 16 confrontation with the A-League club Central Coast Mariners, the Wollongong Wolves, in a game display, bowed out of the competition being defeated 2-1.  The Wolves led from the twenty-third minute for forty-one minutes against a ten man Mariners after the goalkeeper was red carded and a dared to dream of a positive outcome which seemed on the cards at half time. However, the Mariners with a ton of possession managed to claw back and win the game.  The encounter saw three goals, two melees, two red cards and a number of yellow cards as frustrations got the better of some players.

 

Two days prior to this game, a press conference was held at WIN Stadium that was arranged by the Wolves club to publicize the match with coach Luke Wilkshire, and players Lachlan Scott and Leroy Jennings in attendance.    Interviews were conducted and following are excerpts from the writer’s interviews. Coach Luke Wilkshire - ‘Yes, we are just about there and we have one more session on Tuesday night.  The boys are raring to go… it is a great achievement to be here to get this game. However, we are not satisfied where we are. We want to win and go beyond this and it is a great opportunity.’ Captain and striker Lachlan Scott - ‘we’ve had our eyes on the FFA Cup since the start of this pre-season (after the 2021 lockdown). And we looked at Druitt and we enjoyed the win. Everyone is looking forward for this… We have a lot of quality and drive in this team and will be pumped up… It is going to be such a big game not only for the Wolves but also for the Illawarra region and pursue where the club wants to go and how we go about that. With the A-League expansion the region has to get out and support us and we need to go out there and compete at this level.’  Leroy Jennings - ‘It has been a long time coming since the club qualified. When training began we have focussed on this cup run. We got through Mt Druitt and since then, we have been zoning in and focussing on the Mariners…. Anyone can beat anyone. They have a new coach and new players and trying to jell.  For us, we are hungry and we want to make more history by getting into the Round Of 8 for the first time….  We all want to cause damage and entertain the fans.’ 

 

Prior to the kick off, a minute of silence was held to remember to commemorate the passing of Nathan Simpson, a Wolves’ supporter and match day Program Editor and Walter Boscoscuro, a Wolves director for many years.    

 

In the team on this occasion, were three players who had played prior played for the Wolves in the Round of 32 in 2014 against the Central Coast Mariners and 2016 versus Sydney FC, with those being Darcy Madden in two, and Peter Simonoski and Josh Macdonald in one each.  

 

The Wolves kicked off proceedings and were running towards the northern end. In the early skirmishes the Wolves showed their intent not to be intimidated by their A-League opposition and ‘were ready to go’. Stringing a few passes together at the outset was a nerve settler. However, the Mariners from a corner kick in the fifth minute saw Damian Tsekenis at the far post to produce an targeted effort, only for the Wolves’ custodian, Hayden Durose to be called into action to pull off a good save. 

 

The Mariners’ Matthew Hatch had two early forays in the sixth and thirteenth minutes but neither of his efforts brought up the desired outcome. His second attempt arose from Joshua Nisbet’s corner kick. Hatch swooped onto the ball but Durose was equal to the task. In between Wolves central defender Nikola Djordjevic won the ball off Brazilian striker, Matheus Moresche before beating a rampaging Joshua Nisbet to the ball. The Wolves’ Joshua MacDonald made a well-intentioned foray down the left before minutes later a melee ensued in a crowded penalty area. Central defender Nick Littler was in the area with a host of players and he was fouled and Mariners goalkeeper Mark Birighitti, after receiving attention was summarily dismissed for violent conduct. The Mariners brought on substitute custodian Yaren Sozer for the sacrificed Tsekenis and a penalty kick was awarded. Captain Lachlan Scott was ‘pumped up’ for the penalty kick, dispatching the ball with a forceful right footed strike into the lower left corner of the goal. 

 

A Hatch cross in the twenty-third minute caused some consternation but the ten man Mariners were kept at bay. Brendan Griffin and Peter Simonoski played a well worked move in their attempt to keep the momentum rolling and Durose was out quickly to snuff out any potential danger. 

 

A second melee occurred near the right sideline just after the have hour and two yellow cards was the result. Two minutes later, Bilal Belkadi provided a pass to midfielder Leroy Jennings, who subsequently motors forward before unleashing a shot from outside the penalty area that was intended ‘to cause damage’.  However, he narrowly missed, much to his chagrin. 

 

The Mariners despite being one man down had a lot of possession and Nisbet fashioned a long range shot in an attempt to get the Mariners onto the scoreboard but failed to beat Durose.  

 

With four minutes to go in regulation time before the break, the Wolves went looking for a second goal to increase their one goal buffer. Scott, after gaining the ball from Simonoski fired in an attempt at the near post but Sozer saved, but conceded a corner kick. 

 

Moresche looked to inflict damage on forty-four minutes only for Djordjevic to effectively block.  Prior, Lewis Miller whipped in a cross from the right side, only for substitute Darcy Madden to intercept.

 

Simonoski with a left footed shot from outside the penalty narrowly went to the right of the goal frame after Griffin had played a pass.  Griffin was well in to get gain control of the ball from his opposite number, Oliver Bozanic in his second stint at the club. Five minutes of time was added on.

 

The first half concluded with the Wolves in front and everything to play for with a man advantage, while the Mariners would want to change things around to save a prospective upset loss.  

 

The Mariners produced the first attacking foray of the second period. Jacob Farrell shot from outside the box but his direction was off line. Bozanic set him forth.   

 

A Scott header was directed over from the centre of the box following a MacDonald cross. Jennings on receipt of a Marcus Beattie pass, attempted a shot from the vicinity outside of the box only to be blocked. Madden chanced a shot from distance but was wide and a couple of minutes later Miller heads wide from a Hatch corner kick before a Nisbet shot is also blocked. On fifty-seven minutes coach Nick Montgomery brought on two substitutes and this proved to be a perfect act. Before long one of these subs, Costa Rican striker, Marco Urena was quick off the blocks to attempt a left footed shot from long range on the right side. Unfortunately for him, the ball traversed to the left of the target.  The other substitute was Cy Goddard, an English born Japanese player, and this double certainly brought renewed vigour to the team.  

 

With the Mariners on top for much of the time, in the sixty-fourth minute after their industrious play, their reward was forthcoming.  Striker Moresche produced a right-footed shot from the centre of the penalty area after receiving a headed Nisbet ball. He rifled it in. Two minutes earlier, Urena and Moresche looked likely to score from close vicinity only for the Wolves to scramble and save on this occasion. 

 

Beattie, who was playing a right wingback role apart from his usual position, provided a right field cross. Scott met the ball with his effort ultimately going left of the goal. Durose prevented an Urena shot and later a Nisbet offering.  

 

A gilt-edged opportunity for the Wolves to regain the lead occurred in the seventy-sixth minute.  After being assisted by a Griffin cross, substitute Nicholas Duarte had it all before him. However, he put his right-footed shot skyward and judging by his reaction, he was none too pleased. Two minute later Littler cleared off the line an Urena effort. Goddard following Nisbet’s pass tried a shot from beyond the box but Durose thwarted it at the top right corner of the goal with a flying save.   

 

Following a corner kick, Goddard crossed in for substitute Harry McCarthy to project his header in at the top left corner from close range in a crowded area. The Mariners had skipped out to the lead against all odds. 

 

Four minutes after the McCarthy goal, a second straight red card was displayed. Madden’s tackle on McCarthy was deemed dangerous and he sent off.  

 

Bozanic looked to sure up the victory as he sent his free kick over the defensive wall but he was unsuccessful. Three minutes was added on and in this time frame Urena shot, but he dragged the ball across the face of goal to the left. Beattie sent the ball into the box but Sozer was there to take Scott’s header. 

 

The match concluded with the Wolves being disappointing by the result after looking likely but football is an intriguing contest and it is not over until the final whistle.  The Mariners had more shots on goal twenty-one to eleven with ten to three attempts on target with twice as much of possession despite being a man down. The Wolves could not take advantage of this personnel advantage and produced some passing profligacy at times. However, the club had qualified for the FFA Cup Round Of 16, a huge accomplishment in the club’s history     

 

Nick Littler - ‘I thought getting the penalty and them going down to ten men we were in with a shot. We created some good chances.  We were not good enough to take them tonight unfortunately…. We tried to exert some dominance and keep the ball a bit but it did not turn out that way. We let them play and it was kind of our undoing…   He (Goddard) made some good runs band and caught us out a few times. And the other scored a goal. You can’t ask better than that (from substitutes).   It is a grand achievement for the club to make this history. It would have been nice to go on with it tonight.’ 

 

Brendan Griffin - ‘definitely a disappointment.  After going up and against ten men we needed to take advantage but we did not. They seemed to have the legs in the second half, but we had a crack.  We tried our hardest…. Monty (a former team mate) has a good set-up at the Mariners.’

 

MATCH STATISTICS

 

WOLLONGONG WOLVES ……...………1

 

Lachlan Scott 23’ pen.

 

CENTRAL COAST MARINERS…………

 

Matheus Moresche 64’ Harry McCarthy  81’   

 

@ WIN STADIUM, WOLLONGONG.

 

WEDNESDAY 1st December 2021

 

7.30 p.m. Kick Off

 

WOLLONGONG WOLVES

 

Coach: Luke Wilkshire  

 

23.Hayden Durose (GK) 4.Nikola Djordjevic 5.Banri Kanaizumi 7.Marcus Beattie 9.Leroy Jennings 8.Brendan Griffin 13.Nick Littler 24.Lachlan Scott (Capt.) 16.Bilal Belkadi (3.Darcy Madden 38’) 19.Peter Simonoski (Nicholas Duarte 71’) 11.Josh Macdonald (13.Stefan Dimoski 86’) 

 

Substitutes not used: 17.Jake Lavalle 20.Keanu Ismic RGK Tomas Butkovic 12. Harrison Taranto  

 

Yellow Cards: Bilal Berkadi 34’

 

Red Cards: Darcy Madden 83’

 

CENTRAL COAST MARINERS

 

Coach: Nick Montgomery

 

1.Mark Birighitti 3.Lewis Miller (12.Marco Urena 57’) 4.Joshua Nisbet 5.Noah Smith 8.Oliver Bozanic 10.Matheus Moresche (33.Harry McCarthy 79’) 14.Kye Rowles 17.Damien Tsekenis (24.Yaren Sozer 22’)18.Jacob Farrell 25.Matthew Hatch (7.Cy Goddard 57’) 34.Harrison Steele 

 

Substitutes not used: RGK 40.Ricardo Trejo RGK 16.Maximilien Ballard 28.James Bayliss 

 

Yellow Cards: Lewis Miller 34’ Marco Urena 63”

 

Red Cards: Mark Birighitti 20’

 

Referee –Tim Danaskos

Assistant Referees – Lance Greenshields, Hugh Fenton-White

Fourth Official – Sam Kelly 

 

By Malcolm Rowney