2019/2020 A-LEAGUE PRE-SEASON MATCH            






With the recently crowned 2019 NPL NSW Mens 1 Premiers, Wollongong Wolves up against the 2018/2019 A-League Champions, Sydney FC the stage was set for a stirring and exciting encounter to delight the bigger than usual crowd in attendance. Two goals by Sydney FC were scored in a three-minute period, with clinical strikes from Adam Le Fondre and one Luke Ivanovic, a player the Wolves had met before in Round 15.  The Wolves gave a game performance and it was a solid hit out before the NPL NSW Mens 1 Semi-final in a week’s time.   


The first goal was scored in the sixty-fifth minute when Anthony Caceres put through an incisive pass for Le Fondre. He chested the ball down and controlled it with his foot before projecting the curving shot into the goal via the cross bar from his position twenty-five metres out.  


Just minutes later, Sydney improved their advantage when Luke Brattan slotted the ball to Le Fondre. In turn, he pushed the ball on to Ivanovic. He, with composure, from his position on the left, side footed the ball with his right foot past the Wolves custodian Justin Pasfield inside the far post.  


With an even first half with no goals being scored and the goal frame aiding and denying scoring opportunities, the Wolves gave a spirited display challenging the A-League side, and matching them to emerge with credit. 


The home team kicked off the match and defended the southern end and it was very early in the match when Chris Price and Takeru Okada intercepted a couple of Sydney passes. Sydney’s new signing Kosta Barbarouses from Melbourne Victory ran onto the ball in between Nikola Djordjevic and Price looking to gain tract, only for the ball to be shielded out by Djordjevic. 


In the tenth minute, the Wolves went close to scoring. Thomas James, the competition Golden Boot winner, placed a great cross in from the left. Okada went up to head the ball. He got a touch but could not direct it where he wanted it to go. James’ usual effectiveness in front of goal was regulated by the defensive pairing of Alex Wilkinson and McGowan, with his opportunities being reduced.  


An initial corner kick of the match went to Sydney with Le Fondre producing a shot on the turn that traversed straight to Pasfield.  He had no trouble in grasping it. A minute after the quarter of an hour mark, an Alexander Baumjohann right-footed effort flew into the box. Barbarouses connected with the ball by back heeling it in order to direct the ball into the goal. However, Pasfield was ever alert and reacted quickly to deny with a low save.  


Down the sideline Michael Zullo and Darcy Madden had a battle for the ball with each player being persistent in equal measure. Not long afterwards, a Baumjohann corner kick was headed back by Ryan McGowan to Le Fondre and ever-dangerous English striker headed towards goal. Pasfield was there to thwart once again.  A minute later, the Wolves fashioned their own goal threat. James Stojcevski worked the ball before moving it on to Harry Callahan. Alas, his shot went wide.  Further on, a Taylor McDonald diagonal long pass from the right side was intended for Okada. However, Sydney custodian Andrew Redmayne was attuned to the threat and came off his line to take. Madden did enough to put Zullo off from taking a shot and Price tidied up as Rhyan Grant ran quickly onto a Baumjohann pass.


On the half hour, a Grant cross was whipped in. Caceres met the ball but his header smacked against the post and ran along the goal line. Pasfield was there to stifle it. A Stojcevski free kick after Grant’s tackle on Price was headed away by Le Fondre, back doing his defensive duties.


Sydney had the ball in the net two minutes before half time when Le Fondre was recipient of a lifted ball Caceres’ ball. He controlled with perfection before placing the ball over Pasfield’s head into the goal. However, the flag was raised for offside and the ‘goal’ was cancelled out. Okada put the ball in for James but Ryan McGowan won out in the tackle. Paolo Retre produced a final shot before half time, which went too high.


At half time it was all square with the Wolves defence holding firm, coping with what Sydney could conjure up. Both teams had periods of supremacy.   Okada was sharp with his play and direct running and his quick changes of direction tended to confuse his attendant markers. The team attempted to harass and move up quickly and this largely worked in the first half and with quick breaks.     


Sydney FC increased their intensity following the break with the early efforts of Retre and Le Fondre not on target. The team from the north started to gain the ascendancy with their quick and slick passing and intensity. However, an effective Wolves passing movement involving Okada and McDonald and others finally broke down with a handball derailing this attacking impetus. A minute later, the goal frame kept out Le Fondre’s deflected effort before the Wolves managed to clear the ball. A couple of corner kicks kept up the Sydney pressure. Littler headed away the first and O’Neill tried to get a shot off.      


Once Sydney had their goals in the kitty, they lifted a little more. Madden blocked a Caceres attempted shot and Guy Knight threaded passes in trying to set up attacks for the NPL Premiers. Ivanovic and O’Neill produced shots in order to increase the score but their efforts were in vain.    


A total of thirteen substitutes were utilized to change the personnel and this affected the flow of the match to some extent. 


Substitute Ryan Teague played the game’s most standout performer Le Fondre in with a scoring chance with eight minutes remaining but his subsequent effort was tipped away masterfully by Pasfield.


A head clash between Ben Tosi and Jordan Swibel caused play to be halted late before both players resumed without any apparent serious consequences. 


Sydney FC showed their class at this early stage of their preparation and the difference between the two competitions was evident with the degree of quickness. The Wolves showed determination and fortitude and this was a perfect lead up to later matches.  

Coach Luke Wilkshire – On keeping the opposition honest? ‘Yes, that’s for sure, we were playing the best team in Australia and I thought we were held our own up until the goal and we had a bit of a wobble after that. Up until then we had a few moments, we played some good football and tried to play the right way and overall it was a good game.. …. They are a different class, at a different level.  Le Fondre’s goal was world class and we started to lose balls in bad areas, but the boys can be proud. It was a great night and I hope we can be playing them in the A-League one day. It was a great night of football, fantastic… it was a great workout. We will not meet a team like that in the NPL one…. It was great to see.  It was my old team and I like to keep in touch with quite a few of the boys like Bimbi.’


Wolves’ midfielder Darcy Madden -  ‘it was a very good fight…  The first half was very even after their first goal and early in the second half, I felt we dominated possession and had the majority of the ball and controlled the tempo. Their first goal shows the difference between us and them and the second goal from a quick break….  Yeah definitely, whoever we play in the semis obviously will not be up to the speed of Sydney. It was good for preparation and we got the minutes into the legs.  We Train over the weekend and be ready for the semi-final.’   


Wolves’ striker Jordan Nikolovski -  ‘wow, very different, the ball speed out there after coming off the bench and you can see they are A-League.    It was a screamer of a first goal... Their movement off the ball was very quick…   The first half was very good for us and the second was a little bit slow to begin with… It was the last little bit to come on. It was a great experience with a lot of the crowd coming to see us, with some Sydney FC supporters out there. It was great to get out there.’ 


Sydney FC Goal scorer Luke Ivanovic – ‘the first half was even and the boys stepped it up in the second half and we got a clean sheet… The boys were tested in the first half with Wollongong being well into their season and we are in pre-season.’   


Sydney FC and Socceroo Midfielder Brandon O’Neill (following his post match training) - ‘It was. (A good performance). Alfie scored a bomb and Luke (Ivanovic) has been working on his finishing in the preseason and it paid off tonight. Fair play to Wollongong they are a top side, and they have won the NPL for a reason, and it was great to see all the supporters out here and it is great place to play football and we are really thankful to have a game down here.’  On the evenness in the first half and the tough tackles? ‘ it was actually. It was great. That’s the way it should be in a pre-season game.  They are coming out to perform and we have got to muster…    they have a lot to play for and we are still working for a big year and a win in Round 1…. In the first half we were good in patches and it is always difficult time playing against quality sides in preseason but I thought in the second half we controlled things and dictated the tempo and Alfie scored that wonderful goal and Luke took his chance very well. All in all a very good night…and you are more than welcome.’ 









SYDNEY FC.………………..………….…..2


Adam Le Fondre 65’ Luke Ivanovic 67’






7.00 p.m. Kick Off 




Coach: Luke Wilkshire


1.Justin Pasfield (GK) (Capt.) 2.Taylor McDonald 3.Darcy Madden (6.Ben Tosi 70’) 4.Nicola Djordjevic (Brandon Stojcevski 79’) 7.Chris Price (Brendan Low 85’) 10.Brendan Griffin 14.Harry Callahan (8.Bul Juach 65’) 16.Guy Knight 9.Thomas James (Jordan Nikolovski 77’) 11 Takeru Okada 15.Nick Littler 17.James Stojcevski (13.Stephan Dimoski 82’) 


Substitutes not used: 12.Luke Kairies 10. Brendon Griffin 


Yellow Cards: Nil 

Red Cards: Nil




Coach:Steve Corica 


1.Andrew Redmayne (GK), 4.Alex Wilkinson, 5.Alexander Baumjohann (13.Brandon O’Neill 45’) 6.Ryan McGowan (Patrick Flottman 74’) 9.Adam Le Fondre (Jordan Swibel 83’) 8.Paulo Retre (Ryan Teague 79’) 11.Kosta Barbarouses (18.Luke Ivanovic 60’) 7.Michael Zullo (Joel King 71’) 17. Anthony Caceres (3.Harry Van Der Saag 85’) 23. Rhyan Grant 26.Luke Brattan (Harry Sawyer 70’) 


Substitutes not used: 20.Thomas Heward-Belle 12.Patrick Scibio 28.Ben Van Meurs 




Yellow Cards: Nil


Red Cards: Nil


Referee: Tim Danoskos

Assistant Referees: Matthew McOrist, Lance Greenshields 


By Malcolm Rowney