A Wollongong Wolves victory was required for a Grand Final berth in this Preliminary Final match but unfortunately this did not eventuate against Sydney United 58. The home team looked the goods when they gained an advantage when Stefan Dimoski scored with a well-taken effort in the first half for his second goal at this League level. However, two second half goals from the team from Edensor Park won the match and propelled Sydney United 58 into the 2019 Grand Final. This indeed was a disappointing galling result and a bitter pill to swallow for the home team considering their season they have had.  However, Sydney United was the one and only team the Wolves had not defeated during the rounds and this team had done it again.


The last time that the Wolves had won the league, which was in 1988, they had also lost the Major Semi Final,  (Sydney United on penalties) and were defeated 2-0 in the Preliminary Final (by Marconi) without qualifying for the Grand Final. Is this a matter of history repeating?     


Sydney United 58 kicked off proceedings in this match, moving the ball down the field towards the southern end.  


As the game progressed the Wolves took time to get into the rhythm of the play with nerves may be playing a part as Sydney United 58 went looking for the game breaker. With former Wolves Peter Simonoski and Patrick Antelmi leading the line, the Wolves had to be on their mettle. Some turnovers of possession again hindered the Wolves like in the previous match but as the half progressed, got more into the flow and created some opportunities, enough to win the encounter.   


On thirty-four minutes, Sydney United should have gained the scoreboard advantage. Simonoski with space to spare was on his way towards Justin Pasfield’s domain. With only the custodian to beat, Simonoski’s effort bulged the net, from the outside, much to his chagrin.  A Matthew Sim corner kick from the right was whipped in. Pasfield somehow could not keep the ball in his grasp and another corner occurred to keep Sydney United’s momentum going.


Price had won a header over Simonoski to connect with a long Manos clearance. Guy Knight headed it on. Then Fragogiannis collected the ball and made an enterprising left field run eluding two players before sending the ball to his left for Liam Rose. He subsequently returned the ball to Fragogiannis as he continued down the line. He passed to another teammate and before the ball was returned to Fragogiannis. He decided to cross but Nick Littler interceded to thwart the well-intentioned foray. Brendan Griffin in midfield was doing a sterling job in his defensive duties for his team shutting down opposition forays and keeping the attackers at bay.   


The Wolves fashioned an increased amount of opportunities in their attempt to go ahead and played more to their form to earlier in the encounter. In the forty-first minute James brought the ball forward before passing to Takeru Okada. With two defenders in tow, the midfielder back heeled the ball into the path of James who had run around him. He tried to angle a pass out the left. However, Simonoski, who moved in the way, intercepted the ball.  The ball went to Liam Rose and he and Okada scrapped for the ball. Okada won out and rode an attempted tackle before he strode into the box. He tried to bend a shot that was intended to go in near the far post but went wide instead. This indeed was a chance that went begging.     


Okada was imposing himself on the game as it progressed. He intercepted before releasing James Stojcevski. James who was put through by Okada tackled the midfielder playmaker. As the striker burst into the box he tried to cross but Rose applied an effective tackle.   Okada regained the free ball and ran out the opposition. With four defensive players in the vicinity, he played a pass to James. As he was about to cross, a defender arrived in the nick of time to thwart James.    



The initial goal saw the Wolves taking the lead two minutes before half time. Knight took a free kick. He sent the ball out to the right for Nikola Djordjevic then onto Nick Littler. He subsequently moved it out wide to where wingback Taylor McDonald was positioned. He then brought the ball under control before directing a pinpoint lifted ball into the centre of the field where Dimoski was placed.  The striker headed the ball down under pressure of defender Tomislav Uskok.  The ball flew high to his right. As it hit the ground Dimoski connected with his right foot propelling the ball into the goal powerfully with custodian Tom Manos diving desperately in an attempt to repel.


At half time, the Wolves led 1-0 and had the momentum but they could not rest on their laurels with what was at stake.


Sydney looked to score early only for Simonoski’s shot from left being safely held by Pasfield. Dimoski, who was making a rare starting appearance made an enterprising run down the right side. He spied Okada to the left of goal. His cross found Okada with his first time effort going skyward. However, it was a good opportunity to extend the lead. James provided a cross for substitute Lachlan Scott with Yianni Perkatis intervening prior. Antelmi placed ball narrowly over with his chance. Another cross from James intended for Scott and was intercepted by Uskok. As Sydney attacked, Djordjevic headed out of defence, Littler cleared and Chris Price headed out as Sim challenged.


On sixty-six minutes the Wolves had to clear the ball a number of times with headers out by Stojcevski and McDonald and clearances from Knight and Littler with it all being started by a Gonzalez free kick and with Sim, Rose and Gonzalez combining.  A Sydney United throw in by Gonzalez found Simonoski.  The striker was near the goal line and with Littler in tandem. Simonoski with the ball at his feet had his back to the goal. He turned the ball on the goal line and suddenly Littler gained possession. However, It was not for long. Simonoski somehow robbed him and cut it back for Rose. He projected the ball into the goal narrowly inside the near post and Pasfield could not prevent. Now United had regained parity and the match hung in the balance.   


James had a further chance coming straight at the goal. Guy played the ball to Stojcevski. Being inside the box he slotted the ball back to James. He hit it first time. However, Manos got down to save. Now long later, Uskok tackled Scott to thwart his header from a James cross. Sim at the other end went down in the box and appealed for a penalty kick. However, nothing emanated. Sim played a long free kick into the centre only for Pasfield to keep it out. 


On seventy-three minutes, a Stojcevski cross was headed narrowly wide by McDonald and a little later James working on the edge of the box passed to Stojcevski. His looping cross went towards the far post. Okada beat Fragogiannis to the ball and propelled his header directly at the goal. It looked likely to go in, only for a reflex save from Manos to palm it out.  Substitute Darcy Madden tried to push the rebound in but could not play it with much force due to those defenders in his presence. 


However, despite the Wolves creating opportunities, Sydney United went into the lead after Perkatis passed in between Madden and Okada to Sim, who in turn squeezed the ball in between Okada and Stojcevski to Antelmi. He had his back to goal and Djordjevic in attendance. He turned and got his shot away. It took a slight deflection off Littler that totally wrong footed Pasfield and entered the goal at the near post. 


This match was played with intensity and with tensions bubbling under the surface at times and erupting on occasions as each tried to gain the upper hand and as frustration increased.


With ten minutes remaining desperation was mounting with the Wolves. Stojcevski played the ball in for Scott. He took a touch but before he could pull the trigger, Manos reacted quickly to stop the attempt.  


Despite what was conjured up in the last minutes of the match, the victory went to the visitors and Sydney United had qualified for the big dance with APIA Leichhardt. The Wolves have to come to terms with their defeat and the disappointment and that takes time. However, the team still has the NPL Championships to play with something else to win.


Coach Luke Wilkshire –‘it was not the way we wanted to go out. We had enough moments to score and win the game and in these types of games, those defining moments are crucial. That doesn’t define us.. These play-offs, buts that how it goes sometimes. The boys don’t deserve it, but as in life, football can be cruel sometimes.’


Midfielder Brendan Griffin – ‘it did not help us at all (Deflection). That’s football sometimes. Considering the season we have had we deserved a little bit more, but that’s the way it goes. 


Wolves’ scorer Stefan Dimoski – ‘I thought so (coming to take it out).   We came out strongly in the second half and they had two lucky goals. It is very hard to take. We have worked vey hard and we deserved to be in the Grand Final but some days you win and some days you lose. Yes it was my second goal.


Sydney United Goalkeeper Tom Manos – ‘we have been getting better towards the latter part of the season and we came here to get the win. Wollongong is a good team and we had to work hard to beat them.’ 






Stefan Dimoski 43’


SYDNEY UNITED 58.………………..……2


Liam Rose 66’, Patrick Antelmi 80’






4.00 p.m. Kick Off 




Coach: Luke Wilkshire


1.Justin Pasfield (GK) (Capt.) 2.Taylor McDonald 4.Nikola Djordjevic 7.Chris Price 16.Guy Knight 9.Thomas James 10.Brendan Griffin (3.Darcy Madden 73’) 11.Takeru Okada 13.Stephan Dimoski (24.Lachlan Scott 51’) 15.NickLittler 17.James Stojcevski  


Substitutes not used: 12.Luke Kairies 6.Ben Tosi 20.Brandon Stojcevski 


Yellow Cards: Brendan Griffin 64’ Nick Littler 82’


Red Cards: Nil




Coach:Miro Vlastelica 


21.Thomas Manos 4.Adrian Vlastelica 7.Peter Simonoski (19.Joshua Macdonald 86’) 5.Anthony Tomelic 8. Matthew Sim 11.Yianni Perkatis  9.Patrick Antelmi 12. Liam Rose 14.Tomislav Uskok, 15.Tariq Maia (3.Jordan Roberts 77’) 17.Matthew Bilic 20. Cristian Gonzalez 22. Yianni Fragogiannis.


Substitutes not used: 1.Daniel Sadaka, 6.Petar Markovic


Yellow Cards: Cristian Gonzalez 71’ Tom Uskok 84’


Red Cards: Nil


Referee: Stephen Lucas

Assistant Referees: Nick Backo, Raymond Osborne 

Fourth Official: Tim Danaskos 


By Malcolm Rowney