2022 NPL NSW MENS 1 ROUND 3
WOLLONGONG WOLVES v SYDNEY FC
WOLVES AND SKY BLUES IN ENTERTAINING DRAW
With the ground open with free admission with a good turnout as a result, the Wollongong Wolves earned a late draw in the first home of the season in the Round 3 match-up, after Sydney FC had slipped out to a two goal margin in the first half. The Wolves had little answer to the slick, fast and furious play of the opposition youngsters but that all changed in the second stanza as the Wolves fought back. A red card just after the hour did not assist the Sky Blues but instead aided the Wolves. Sydney FC’s Jaiden Kucharski and Adrian Segicic scored goals, while Kuot Maliet and Nick Littler replied for the home team. Prior to the proceedings, Sydney FC was aiming for their third win in succession while the Wolves were after the second on the trot.
With the Wolves running towards the northern end, Sydney FC were quick off the blocks and it was seconds into the match for the first foray which was defused with Nikola Djordjevic heading away a long ball from Kealey Adamson. Sydney players were moving up quickly to harass and give the Wolves little time on the ball to settle. A little later Joshua Macdonald won the ball from Adamson and Leroy Jennings slid in the dispossess Jake Girdwood-Reich. A little later on Jennings near the left touchline back heeled to stop the ball going over the sideline and it fortuitously went to Macdonald. The Wolves’ first effort on goal fell to Maliet. He got his shot away but lost his footing as defenders moved in. Captain Guy Knight got the better of Adamson.
However, Sydney FC with the better of play scored from their third corner kick of the match after two in succession in the seventh minute failed to bring up pay dirt. Segicic swung these well-taken ones in. One was header by Aaron Gurd that traversed wide. It was his third that came in that was met by Kucharski with a free uncontested header to beat all and sundry in the thirteenth minute. A minute later the Wolves scrambled in defence as the opposition went close to scoring a second. Both Kucharski and Patrick Wood, a scorer of an A-League goal for the Sydney FC A-league team, both had opportunities blocked.
The Wolves’ custodian Hayden Durose caught a free kick from thirty metres before late colliding forcibly with Zac Sapsford. Both players went down for the count and unfortunately Durose came off the worse for wear and played no further part in the game. Tomas Butkovic came on the make his debut in the top grade. Unlucky for the custodian it was a baptism of fire as Segicic hit a shot that could not be kept out and Sydney FC had doubled their advantage. This eventuated on twenty-three minutes.
The Wolves needed to up the ante and Griffin floated a pass up field intended for Maliet only to be a little out of reach despite his attempt. It was in the twenty-seventh minute that the Wolves had their first corner kick and two more followed in succession to keep some pressure in order to redress the situation. It was the third that Peter Simonoski had a good strike, only for the Sydney FC custodian. Adam Pavlesic to deny. Wood worked his way into the box and was dangerous but Butkovic showed his mettle to parry the ball away to safety. Griffin shot from the centre of the field but a Sydney handball was enacted and a free kick awarded. Leroy Jennings who was always probing for an opening in the Sky Blues defence during the match had his subsequent free blocked and Joshua Macdonald had a grand shot only to go narrowly wide. The Wolves could not task a trick. A tantalizing low cross was produced by Jennings. It traversed across the face of goal but nary a touch. As the first wound down Wood kept possession for a long time as he progressed until the Wolves’ defence finally intervened. For a last throw of the dice, Maliet played Jennings through only for his effort to go skywards.
The first shot in anger of the second half was by Macdonald. He shot on the turn from close in with Pavlesic getting down to thwart. At the other end Sapsford, who was heavily involved in the Sydney attacks, put his shot narrowly wide. Wood dispossessed Griffin and set forth up field. Undaunted, Griffin to his credit chased Wood down determinedly and stole it back.
Jennings tried to thread the ball to Simonoski but had a little too much power and the striker could not reach it. It was a good enterprise. Scant time after the hour mark, Simonoski was inconvenienced just outside the box on the right side. The referee produced a red card and Nathan Grimaldi was marched despite the heated protest from Sky Blue players and the player involved. The resultant Macdonald free kick struck the defensive wall and it rebounded. Macdonald pushed the ball over. Maliet then struck the ball with his left foot to lodge into the
top corner of the goal. The Wolves were now on the scorecard and this was Maliet’s debut goal.
Kucharski made a great run eluding players as he moved forward. He went from left to right, sizing up for a shot. However, nothing of any note resulted. He was a troublesome player for the Wolves. Sydney FC kept mounting attacking forays but Takumi Tsujimura blocked one such.
From a corner kick, Darcy Madden headed over on seventy-nine minutes as the Wolves kept seeking more goals. Nav Darjani, a midfielder who came on from the bench, whipped in a couple of enterprising corner kicks before five minutes of added time was enacted. Two minutes in Littler bobbed up to score with a right footed effort to save the Wolves’ bacon. Darjani was initially pushed and he appealed for a free kick or penalty considering his position. Play was waved on and Littler set forth before lodging his shot in the inside netting of the far post goal.
Sydney FC still went looking for the winner as Clayton Taylor struck the side netting. The Wolves also went oh so close in winning the encounter as a Jennings powerful header shot cannoned off the crossbar from a Nicholas Duarte cross.
Alas, it was not a win in the first home game of the season but a point never the less. It could have been worse going by the first half performance. Sydney FC would rue how they let a two goal lead slipped out of their grasp. The send off change the dynamics.
An update on Hayden Durose at half time stated that he was okay.
Coach Luke Wilkshire - ‘We did not play at all, especially in the first twenty-seven minutes of the first half. And it’s an issue because it is not the first time that this has happened. Obviously In the second half we were a different team. … You can’t at any level, set up for that amount of time, because you get punished. ..It’s not acceptable and it is something we need to address… It was poor, the first goal was a set piece, we switched off, and it was a free header. From the twenty-seventh minute we got a bit of energy and purpose. We need to come out of the blocks a lot better than that.’
Captain Guy Knight - ‘I wouldn’t say we exactly got out of gaol because it was pretty bad and our first half was not up to our standard. The second half was a good fight back for sure and the boys put in a good effort there….. On another day his (Jennings) header may have gone in….. And Tom coming on did well and was one of our better players tonight … It is good to be back.’
Debut custodian Tomas Butkovic - ‘it was beautiful (his debut) you know. It was tough coming on and conceding an early goal…. It was good to bounce back We showed spark, leadership and power and everybody showed up in the second half …You have to show everyone that you are confident I guess. You have to play high when you are down as you try to get back up.’
WOLLONGONG WOLVES ……...2
Kuot Maliet 62’ Nick Littler 90+2’
Jaiden Kucharski 13’ Adrian Segicic 23’
@ WIN STADIUM, WOLLONGONG.
FRIDAY 18th March 2022
7.30 p.m. Kick Off
Coach: Luke Wilkshire
1.Hayden Durose (GK) (13.Thomas Butkovic 23’) 3.Darcy Madden 4.Nikola Djordjevic 8.Brendan Griffin 9.Peter Simonoski (Nick Duarte 73’) 10.Takumu Tsujimura 11.Josh Macdonald (6.Nav Darjani 69’) 15.Nick Littler 16.Guy Knight (Capt.) 22.Leroy Jennings 24.Kuot Maliet
Substitutes not used: 5.Banri Kanaizumi 17.Jake Lavalle
Yellow Cards: Joshua Macdonald 37’ Guy Knight 45’ Peter Simonoski 56’ Nav Darjani 90+4’
Red Cards: Nil
Coach: Jimmy Van Weeren
30.Adam Pavlesic (GK) 3.Aaron Gurd, 4.Nathan Grimaldi, 8.Kealey Adamson (5.Kai Kamikura 76’) 10.Jaiden Kucharski 11.Adrian Segecic 12.Jake Girdwood-Reich (Aleksandar Duricic 64’) 14.Zac Sapsford (6.Corey Hollman 65’) 17.Jayden Trenkoski (Clayton Taylor 76’) 18.Oscar Priestman 22.Patrick Wood (9.Ben Gibson 83’)
Substitutes Not Used: 20.Max Vatuli
Yellow Cards: nil
Red Cards: Nathan Grimaldi 62’
Referee: Adrian Arndt
Assistant Referees: Joon Park, Harrison Fisher
Fourth Official: Jake Rose
By Malcolm Rowney