WOLLONGONG WOLVES V SYDNEY FC
With a breeze blowing across the field, the Wolves in their first hit out following the 2021 Covid lockdown gave a solid display following a few weeks of training, against the might and skill of Sydney FC. With the opposition having two 5-0 victories over fellow A-League teams Macarthur Bulls and Newcastle Jets after ninety minutes, Sydney won 2-0 and with the extra forty-five minutes played it was 4-1 with the scorers being Elvis Kambosa and Kosta Barbarousis, Oscar Priestman and Luka Smyth for Sydney with Ben Giason scoring a spectacular hit for the Wolves to beat the number one custodian, Andrew Redmayne after an earlier shot had rattled the crossbar. This match was a genuine opportunity to get minutes into the legs of players for both team with especially for the Wolves’ assignment next week in the FFA Cup match versus Mt.Druitt Town Rangers.
The home side kicked off proceedings running towards the northern end and before scant time debut player Banri Kanaizuma ploughed the ball forward and a short time later Sydney earned their first free kick as the speedy Elvis Kambosa was inconvenienced. Connor O’Toole went close when his effort rebounded off the post and was subsequently cleared. Harry Van Dr Saag and Milos Ninkovic were involved in the preliminary manoeuvres before Adam Le Fondre set up Anthony Caceres for a shot, only for it to go over the goal frame. As Sydney kept up this early pressure, Kanaizuma made a timely interception to achieve some respite. The Japanese defender was impressive with his calm presence, vision and defensive skills. Six minutes in Hayden Durose got a clearance kick away as Kosta Barbarousis bared down. At the other end Durose’s opposite Tim Heward-Belle ventured out of the box to head away and defray the offense. The Wolves were in the box seat to score an early goal when new player from Mt.Druitt Town Rangers, Takumu Tsujimura had a gilt-edged opportunity. Lachlan Scott had thrown off the James Donachie shackles to pass to Tsujimura but he could manage to convert in the heat of the moment.
Durose took a high ball following Le Fondre’s cross being headed in by Calem Nieuwenhof. This midfielder was having an influential game with his incisive passing and his winning of the ball and his skill to control. Defenders Nikola Djordjevic tidied up and Bilal Belkadi enacted a tackle on Le Fondre as the English striker moved close to goal with Durose going low to clutch the errant ball. Unfortunately the Wolves Japanese playmaker succumbed to injury with stalwart Brendan Griffin coming on as a replacement.
From an O’Toole cross, Ninkovic brought the ball down superbly and he was about to pull the trigger Kanaizuma was there to block.
It twenty-five minutes in and still no score as Sydney had plenty of territorial advantage. Caceres had the motivation the change things after bringing the ball forward, he let fly with a powerful shot, only for it go narrowly over the target. The Wolves achieved a first corner kick on twenty-seven minutes with Leroy Jennings taking. However, no joy was to be had. A flashpoint erupted just after Caceres was tackled. Players rushed to the vicinity in with the referee demanding calm. The upshot was that Caceres and Belkadi were yellow carded. Le Fondre hit a forceful shot from close in but was thwarted by Durose who saved and conceded a corner kick.
The Wolves had another clear cut chance to go to the lead just after the half hour. Scott progressed up field to then square the ball to Marcus Beattie who had the custodian to beat. His ensuing effort was kept out by Heward-Belle but he could not hold. The ball rebounded straight back to Beattie, and with the goal at his mercy, his second opportunity flew over.
Ninkovic had made a jinking run into the penalty area. He then turned with his subsequent shot being a trifle high. Two corners in a row for Sydney maintained the pressure before Kambosa enacted a tricky raid in the thirty-sixth minute following a perceptive Nieuwenhof pass to score by pushing the ball into the goal.
Griffin tried to redress the balance when he produced a shot that Heward-Belle went low to take. Sydney were ready to press home their advantage when Nieuwenhof swept the ball into the middle from the right for Le Fondre to head but alas, he could not get a touch.
At half time Sydney had the advantage.
The commencement of the second stanza saw Ninkovic playing Kambosa in to effect a shot but it did not bring up the desired outcome. Jennings put in a targeted shot but no joy was to be had, before Griffin hooked the ball to safety as Kamsoba looked to inflict more damage. Le Fondre went close when his effort cannoned off the cross bar and Harrison Taranto, who was having a first class match, cleared off the line to save the Wolves’ bacon.
Cameron Fong blocked an attempt by Kanaizuma and later Scott placed a powerful shot that zoomed narrowly past the right post. Ben Warland blocked the striker’s further shot.
With a host of replacements being added in the second half changing the perplexion of the match with a few stops here and there. However, Sydney FC assured their victory when Barbarousis scored from an O’Toole left field cross in with seven minutes remaining. The striker was able to push the ball home to beat Durose. Unfortunately Connor O’Toole was injured in a tackle minutes later, which necessitated being assisted off the field with his leg placed in brace.
When opportunities present, the Wolves need to more clinical and even though they were up against probably the best team in Australia, chances were there for the taking. The Wolves defence all showed their diligence and the team were far from disgraced.
This was Sydney FC’s third pre-season match as the team works their way towards for the first A-League match in November and the prior FFA Cup game versus Sydney Olympic at Belmore Sportsground. The Wolves were defeated but certainly displayed their mettle and will be primed for their next assignment in the FFA Cup against a team who actually put the Wolves out of the cup in 2019. All concerned hope that lightening does not strike twice.
Wolves coach Luke Wilkshire - ‘we were playing against one of the greatest teams in the country and they have been training for two months and were training for three weeks. It was our first hit out with a new group. We had some good moments and I was pleased how we got through the game…. We have a good balance with youth, experience and quality. It doesn’t matter who we play we will be well prepared week. It is an opportunity for us.’
Wolves’ custodian Hayden Durose - ‘‘it was a good performance and our first hit out that we have had together. New squad as well and everything was very positive. We only started training a few weeks ago. In terms of fitness we are slowly getting there and there is a bit to come. … It was a bit of a shame that Tsujimura got injured early in the first half and had to come off. Hope he will be right. He is quality…. Defensively and structurally we were pretty good but we need more work to do with new players coming in. We were on the back foot for a lot of the game but we soaked up the pressure and we held ourselves…. Everything is looking positive for next week (FFA Cup)
Sydney F.C. midfielder Calem Nieuwenhof - ‘it was good for our team and myself. It was a physical game and it was tough and it has helped to prepare us well for the FFA Cup and A-League…. It was a very close game for a lot of it and the Wolves did very well to keep it that way for a long time but we did manage to keep the ball and then play right through them to get the two goals.…. I was out for six months and I think this is my third game back and I am happy to be playing and getting back into it. . …Thanks very much. I appreciate this.
Sydney F.C. striker Adam Le Fondre - ‘It was an interesting game. They obviously were very aggressive in the way they tackled and made it very competitive, after we controlled a lot of the ball. They did not create too many openings and they defended well…. We got a lot of minutes out of it and that is the main thing… We obviously lost Connor and Donca (Donachie), hopefully not bad injuries and that they will have a quick turnaround and be back with the squad. . … They did not fall for me today but there was one good one in the first half but it was one of those days and I’m not too fussed about it. I’ve a shortened preseason compared to the boys. I am still building up minutes after coming back from England… It’s about getting into the groove again of playing…. Hopefully I can score twenty goals again (in the A-League) I’ll do my best to do that. I am happy with how I went today and I am going in the right direction. Thanks’
WOLLONGONG WOLVES ……...……….0
Elvis Kambosa 36’ Kosta Barbarousis 83’
After 3rd 45’
Oscar Priestman Luka Smyth
@ ALBERT BUTLER MEMORIAL PARK, KEMBLAWARRA.
SATURDAY 30th October 2021
3.00 p.m. Kick Off
Coach: Luke Wilkshire
23.Hayden Durose (GK) 4.Nikola Djordjevic 5.Banri Kanaizumi (17.Jake Lavalle 67’) 7.Marcus Beattie (6.Nav Darjani 67’) 9.Leroy Jennings (18.Evan Ball 57‘) 10.Takumu Tsujimura (8.Brendan Griffin 12’) 12.Harrison Taranto (13.Nick Littler 57’) 24.Lachlan Scott (Capt.) (15.Emilio Martinez 67’) 16.Bilal Belkadi 19.Peter Simonoski (14.Stefan Dimoski 67’) 20. Keanu Ismic (11.Josh Macdonald 57’)
Substitutes not used: nil
Third 45 minute players -Tomas Butkovic (GK), Ryan Mirvic, Alex Casella, Ben Giason, Senna Stevenson, Nicholas Duarte, Denim Nou, Jarvis Patterson, Joshua Fields, Cooper Kerridge , Kalani Vella. Sam Starcic 11.Jake Almond 15. Sebastian Tomasiello
Yellow Cards: Bilal Belkadi 28’
Red Cards: Nil
Coach: Steve Corica
20. Tom Heward-Bell (GK) 3. Ben Warland (34.Aaron Gurd 82’) 4.Alex Wilkinson 75’) 2.James Donachie (32.Cameron Fong 26’) 14.Adam Le Fondre ((25.Corey Hollman 65’) 11.Kosta Barbarousis 5.Connor O’Toole (51.Oscar Priestman 87’) 21.Harry Van Der Saag 10.Milos Ninkovic (Capt.) (16. Joel King 60’) 28.Calem Nieuwenhof (26.Luke Brattan 62’) 27.Elvis Kambosa (18.Luka Smyth 87’) 17.Anthony Caceres (8.Paulo Retre 65’)
Substitutes not used: 1.Andrew Redmayne
Third 45 minute Players
1. Andrew Redmayne (GK) 4.Alex Wilkinson, 6.Jake Goodwood-Reich 8.Paulo Retre 12.Trent Buhugiar 13.Corey Hollman 16.Joel King 26.Luke Brattan 32. Cameron Fong 34.Aaron Gurd18.Luka Smyth 51.Oscar Priestman
Yellow Cards: Adrian Caceres 28’
Red Cards: Nil
By Malcolm Rowney