With its all NPL NSW Mens 1 clash of clubs, Wollongong Wolves took on Mt. Druitt Town Rangers for the right to qualify for the FFA Cup Round Of 32 on artificial turf at McLennan Park. The Wolves unfortunately went down to Mt Druitt, a team that showed determination and resilience in their 1-0 victory, (courtesy a third minute own goal) keeping the much-vaunted Wolves’ attack from scoring. It was indeed a frustrating match for the home team as a myriad of chances failed to be converted as desperate defence and the goalkeeping exploits of captain Carlos Saliadarre kept the Wolves out, in a typical Cup clash.


The Wolves kicked off proceedings and sprayed a few passes around to settle before Mt. Druitt led a charge with Blake Thompson pushing the ball down the left into space but the Wolves mopped up with ease. It did not take long before the Wolves mounted an offensive thrust when attacking midfielder Harry Callahan stormed forth into the penalty area and ultimately Takeru Okada shot wide of the left post. 


Some of the Wolves passing movements came undone during the game as the Rangers intercepted quickly with some being errant and this did help matters over all.


It was very early in the match when the scoreboard turned over. Mt. Druitt’s recent signing from Marconi Stallions, Mirjan Pavlovic began the damage when he came in from the wide left in possession. He put the ball in and the Wolves could not clear the ball effectively. In the scramble to get the ball somehow it went in unfortunately off the central defender Nikola Djordjevic.


The Wolves were looking to hit back quickly. The well-credentialed striker Thomas James put a high pass for Okada in the seventh minute. He then chested the ball down but before he could fashion a shot the ball ran away from him. James did likewise for Lachlan Scott, with his ensuing header on target being saved by the custodian Carlos Saliadarre. 


The Rangers’ John Roberts showed quick speed and skill early on when he pulled the ball down, turned and shot. He became a thorn in the Wolves side during the match. 


A few minutes on, Scott won the ball decisively before moving it on for James, who immediately had three defenders on his case and this attack broke down.   A little later, Ben Tosi made a timely interception before getting the ball for Chris Price to move down the left wing in an attacking foray.


James played a pass in space intended for James Stojcevski but try as he might, he could get to it. Callahan slipped the ball for James. The ball flew towards the goal. The custodian kept it out to deny. A minute later, Callahan displayed deft skill and speed on his venture into the box. He looked to shoot only to be closed down before he could inflict any disappointment. Stojcevski chanced a shot that did not bring a positive outcome, Nick Littler tackled the quick Roberts who was providing mischief to see off this danger before a Taylor McDonald cross was collected by Callahan, who by being close to the line kept the ball in with delicate touch. Okada was within close range and instead of shooting, tried to set up a support. However, the defence intervened and this gilt-edged opportunity went begging.     


The Wolves were continuing with the pressure in the Town Rangers half in the hope for an equaliser and the opposition were keeping to their spoiling tactics, which were working and attacking on the break. Toufic Alameddine was immense for his team with his determined running, solid tackling and mounting and assisting in his team’s offensive moves. However, Price whipped in a cross and Scott got his head to ball but alas could not direct it on target. 


Striker Pavlovic caused more consternation throughout the game and in the thirty-sixth minute he got a pass to the impressive Fabriccio Fernandez, who returned the ball. Pavlovic then put an enticing cross in but no one was there to connect.  The striker a little later was one on one with Pasfield and he looked likely to put the Rangers further ahead. However, the custodian was having none of this by crouching low to prevent this sterling opportunity.  Immediately before this a Stojcevski free kick fell to James and this time his effort went over the cross bar.  A Pavlovic pass to Fernandez allowed him to shoot. However, it did not bring him any joy.


From close vicinity James seemed likely to pull the trigger and enjoy the spoils immediately before the half time break. However, Saliadarre pulled of a tremendous save to frustrate the Wolves even more.


The Wolves had most of the territorial advantage but little to show for this dominance but Mt. Druitt were clinging on with their fortuitous lead in place and were frustrating the Wolves with their defensive plan. Both teams had everything to play for in the second period.


The second half began when a ball up from defence looked to find Roberts. Stojcevski intervened before Littler put a long pass for Okada. Nothing eventuated and Alameddine burst down the right side before placing a cross in. It was intercepted and the Wolves had not been breached. 


Torsi blocked a Robert’s shot after Thompson had crossed. James won a free kick just outside the box to the left of the penalty arc. Okada proceeded to take it but Saliadarre kept his effort out, adding to more frustration.


As the clock ticked on, the home team began to push the pass and rush things into their attempt to restore parity.


The Wolves thought they had got an equaliser in the seventy-first minute when Djordjevic looked to have scored to atone for his earlier misfortune. However, the assistant raised his flag to signify offside, an adverse consequence for the home side and the central defender.


Three yellow cards in a few minutes fell to the Rangers as they used whatever it took to stop the adventure of the home side. 


At the other end, as Mt Druitt were relying on the quick breaks, the ball flew of the head of McDonald and went close to the goal but luckily it did not go in. James whipped the ball across the face but with a touch too heavy. 

Two chances fell to both teams in a minute apart at the seventy-fifth minute mark.  Scott on the turn was on target but Saliadarre brought off another match saving effort. Roberts made forward progress with a long run but his end result was a wide shot.


 In the final ten minutes, the Wolves were getting more desperate as they searched for a way back into the tie. Nicholas Trimble was red carded (second yellow) for an indiscretion on the edge of the penalty area. With a man down, the away team defended more doggedly. Scant time later, second half substitute Darcy Madden got into the fray when he eluded a marker before crossing. Okada got his head to the ball. However, Saliadarre was there to thwart once again. 


The home side threw caution to the wind striving to stave off a defeat. James produced a high shot, substitute Jordan Nikolovski endeavoured with an attempted bicycle kick before Roberts got into the act at the opposite end to let one fly in on target in a quick breakout, with many of the Wolves in a forward position. Pasfield, though, with a one handed stop, foiled the attempt.


The profligacy of the home team did not assist and now they were out of the cup. The eleventh placed Mt.Druitt Town Rangers had jumped out of their skins to cause a cup boilover over the favourites and are now in the Round Of 32 for the first time. The Wolves, although disappointed, have to bounce back and continue to make every post a winner in the run into the play offs and guard against complacency.


Coach Luke Wilshire  - ‘they deserved it on the night and they wanted it more than us… People say you are unlucky and had a lot of shots on goal but a lot of things could have gone differently but they didn’t and in the end you get what you deserve. It is not acceptable when the other team has the desire and the hunger to win the game. It doesn’t sit too well.’

Left defender Chris Price - ‘it is a very, very disappointing night to be honest. The season had promised so much and we had done so well to this point. We were confident that we would get the job done but chances would not go into the back of the net. It was a sloppy goal early on and he (keeper) was good, he saved them many times with good saves.  We had the majority of the ball and like the old saying goes; if you don’t score you don’t win games. It is bitterly disappointing.’








Own Goal (Nikola Djordjevic) 3’







7.30 p.m. Kick Off 





Coach: Luke Wilkshire


1.Justin Pasfield (GK) (Capt.) 2.Taylor McDonald (Darcy Madden 75’) 4.Nikola Djordjevic 6.Ben Tosi 7.Chris Price (23.Jordan Nikolovski 79’) 9.Thomas James 14.Harry Callahan (20.Liam Wille 46’) 11.Takeru Okada 15.Nick Littler 17.James Stojcevski 24.Lachlan Scott   


Substitutes not used: 12.Luke Kairies 16.Guy Knight 


Yellow Cards: Nick Littler 50’

Red Cards: nil




Coach:Aiden Desmond 


1.Carlos Saliadarre 5.Jake Mammone 6.Blake Thompson, 4.Solomon-Johnn Monahan-Vaiika 10.Fabricio Fernandez 11.Toufic Alameddine12.Nick Trimble 13.Lord Darkoh 19.John Roberts, 20.Mirjan Pavlovic (18.Jake Esposito 79’)16.Joshua Gould. 


Substitutes not used: 9.Alex Boyadjian 7.Luke Clifford 21.Matthew Nilkolovski 6.Mathew Clowes,


Yellow Cards: 12.Nicholas Trimble 36’ 10.Fabriccio Fernandez 66’ 4.Solomon-Johnn Monahan-Vaiika 67’ 20.Mirjan Pavlovic 69’


Red Cards: 12. Nicholas Trimble 82’



Referee: Craig Fisher

Assistant Referees:  Nathan Wotton, Samuel Quinn

 4thOfficial: Brodie Merchant


By Malcolm Rowney