2020 NPL NSW MENS 1 ROUND 2
WOLLONGONG WOLVES v NORTH SHORE MARINERS
WOLVES SUCCUMBS TO NEW TEAM, NORTH SHORE
The Wolves, despite clawing back to 2-2 with ten minutes left on the clock, through a brace to striking Wolves talisman Thomas James, the new side in the competition, North Shore Mariners, scored their third goal on ninety minutes plus one to upset the applecart. With five minutes of time added on, the Wolves urgently threw everything at the North Shore goal but unfortunately could not change the 2-3 score line. A couple of Wolves’ corner kicks in succession in the five minutes of time added on applied pressure, but the away team soaked it all up and now venture back up the F6 motorway with the three points in the bag and bragging rights.
With North Shore drawing with APIA and the Wolves defeating Sydney Olympic in Round 1 the match was set for a curious contest. Both teams were looking for an improved showing though the Wolves were the logical favourites.
With a breeze blowing diagonally across the field, the away kicked off and ran towards the northern goal. North Shore pushed the ball and forward early and the Wolves’ left defender Chris Price, was to the fore with two early interceptions. It was six minutes in that Brendan Griffin, who played well throughout the clash, produced a shot that was deflected after sterling lead up work by Price. Thomas James intercepted and progressed forward in a run that was stopped by a defender. North Shore’s Panni Nikas, playing his first game in competition with the club, from the outset was instrumental in his team’s attacks and not long later his shot went high and wide. Nikas was restrained from causing damage when Guy Knight put him off his attempted pass.
The Wolves struck after twelve minutes when Knight set Takeru Okada alight in his own half. Okada motored forward straight down the middle of the park in a ground breaking run. He then moved the ball to Lachlan Scott, who went the field to left of centre before the squaring the ball across to James. Like some of his goals last season, this was a carbon copy. He veered in from the right and sent his shot inside the far side of the goal to open his 2020 account.
Scott looked to assist to the team’s tally when he played a short pass for Marcus Beattie but his scuffed shot on the turn, as the defence descended, lacked some power and brought no joy. Darcy Madden held the ball up with two defenders in attendance managed to get the ball away to defuse the situation and Nick Littler won a header over Mitchell Smith to keep the North Shore attack at bay. Emmanuel Peters was proving to be a threat with his purposeful running but it was Littler who took the wind out of his sail at this time. Prior Madden managed to subdue Nikas and nodded away to safely in a later play. Braden Cheng hit the side netting of the goal and Smith put his header over as from the north as the visitors looked for an equaliser.
North Shore restored parity through new player, the experienced Nikas. He showed his threat when in the twenty-seventh minute, after twisting and turning to set himself, his tremendous effort from outside the penalty area went close to getting the equaliser when the ball crashed into the cross bar. The Wolves sighed with relief for time until the forty-second minute. Nikas in the past had scored against the Wolves in every season from 2012 to 2018 and his threat from distance was widely known. A passing movement involving Daniel Dias, Zac Sfiligoi, Nikas and Peters finally saw the ball going to Hugo Forlico. He pushed the ball back inside for Nikas. He moved to his left before producing a step over. The Wolves’ defence hung back and afforded him too much space and he took advantage with his low left footed drive entering the goal inside the Wolves left goal post as Durose dived to thwart but was unsuccessful.
North Shore in the time had upped the ante after the Wolves had scored and had most of the territorial advantage and proved threatening.
Nearing half time, Beattie produced a shot that went wide. At the break, it was one goal apiece.
When play resumed after the interval, Nikola Djordjevic thwarted an attacking foray before a Littler shot went to Ryan Wood, the North Shore shot stopper. Durose at the other end grasped a Cheng effort and Price dispossessed Nikas before James endeavoured to assist Beattie but it was a no go.
The Wolves went looking for the game changer with Scott going close, though ultimately heading wide on sixty-eight minutes and a James’ corner kick went to the far post. Littler got his head to it but could not direct it on target.
However, it was North Shore who produced the next goal. It was in the seventy-second minute that the visitors went into the lead for the first time in the encounter. Nikas threaded a pass through a host of players for Emmanuel Peters to run onto from his position to the right of centre before veering in. The former Bankstown City Lions player placed his shot beyond Durose and in near the far post to score his second goal of the campaign. Later, seeing Durose off his line, Nikas tried an audacious lofted ball from a fair distance but it was all in vain.
The Wolves came back from behind after Griffin had lofted a high ball from near the goal line on the Wolves’ right side. It traversed to the far post where James was lurking. In his attempt to control the ball it was kicked upwards and brushed Sfiligoi with this act being adjudged to be a handball and was penalised. James took the resultant spot kick and despatched it powerfully to his left side of the goal to bring up his brace. The custodian Ryan Wood dived in the opposite direction.
Tensions arose once it was 2-2 as each team strived for a winner with no quarter being given.
Mitchell Smith then scored his team’s third goal late in the proceedings of normal time. A long ball out of defence was chested down by Nikas down to substitute Daniel Saric, who was close by on the right side (grandstand side). He moved forward and following dispatched a pass to Peters. He steamed forward determinedly in possession before shooting from an angle with Littler in attendance. The custodian Hayden Durose went down to repel the shot at his left post. However, he could hold the ball and it flew into the air. Smith met the ball and managed to nod it home from close vicinity for the winner for his jubilant team. His left footed effort, a low and hard drive sneaked in narrowly inside the Wolves left goalpost. Smith, a top scorer in the club in 2019 had scored his initial goal in Mens 1.
Five minutes of time was added with desperation gripping the Wolves. However, Griffin and Bul Juach tried without success and the Wolves had succumbed to defeat and were out enthused.
Each team was on top at different parts of the match and no team can rest on their laurels and as it is known, favourites can be undone, with this being the case in this Round 2 encounter. The Wolves went still not quite at their smooth best as a well-oiled machine and North Shore showed that they have ability and will be a force to be reckoned with against teams who take them lightly. However, this is only Round 2 with plenty more to come.
Coach Luke Wilkshire - ‘Naturally I am very disappointed. We did not defend as well as we can do and we conceded sloppy goals. They wanted it more and in the end we got what we deserved and that was nothing… As you look at goals it is a combination of errors leading up to it, but they wanted it more than us, their hunger, their desire was greater than ours and that is why they got what they got today…. We will get back onto the training pitch ready for next week.’
The Influential wing/back Darcy Madden - ‘It was disappointing to lose at home. We got ourselves back in the contest and I don’t know how we conceded the third goal, I will have to take a look later and see what happened… Yes, Nikas has been around a long time and is dangerous. It was frustrating and disappointing and they seemed to want it. We will bounce back next week.’
The in form midfielder, Brendan Griffin - ‘it was very disappointing but we were not good enough as a team in defence and we were a bit flat…. They are a good team and credit to them. But they did not dominate us but it was not our day today. It is early days and there is a long way to go. We will dust ourselves off and be ready for next week.’
WOLLONGONG WOLVES …………..2
Thomas James 12’, 80’
NORTH SHORE MARINERS…………3
Panni Nikas 42’ Emmanuel Peters 72’ Mitchell Smith 90+1’
@ ALBERT BUTLER MEMORIAL PARK, KEMBLAWARRA
SUNDAY 8th MARCH 2020
2.30 p.m. Kick Off
Coach: Luke Wilkshire
23.Hayden Durose 3.Darcy Madden 4.Nikola Djordjevic 7.Christopher Price 9. Thomas James 11.Takeru Okada (14.Harry Callahan 66’) 15.Nick Littler (Capt.) 16.Guy Knight 8.Brendan Griffin 24.Lachlan Scott 10.Marcus Beattie
Substitutes not used: RGK 1.Justin Pasfield 2.Taylor McDonald
Yellow Cards: Brendan Griffin 5’, Nick Littler 60’ Bul Juach 77’
Red Cards: Nil
NORTH SHORE MARINERS
Coach: Joe Haywood
1.Ryan Wood 3.Chris Lindsay (Capt.) (Daniel Olaniran 6.Brian Jamba 7.Hugo Forlico (19.Daniel Saric 62’) 9.Braden Cheng (14.Jesse Piriz 81’) 11.Emmanuel Peters 15.Daniel Dias 18.Mitchell Smith 22.Casper Edwards 27.Panni Nikas 30.Zac Sfiligoi.
Substitutes not used: 21.Joel Tinker 20.Eddie Lee
Yellow Cards: Zac Sfiligoi 70’
Red Cards: Nil
Referee: Hassan Jomaa
Assistant Referees: Nathan Wotton, Matthew McOrist
Fourth Official: J.Rose
By Malcolm Rowney