A seven-goal thriller was to behold at Butler Park in the final round of the rebooted 2020 NPL NSW Mens 1 competition against Manly United. The Wolves went to the lead on three occasions during the proceedings and by the final whistle the home team had scored five, with the opposition achieving two, having thus restored parity twice. The Wolves’ Marcus Beattie took the scoring honours with a hat trick with Josh Bingham close behind adding a brace. Scott Balderson and Dejan Pandurevic attained the two-goal tally for Manly United. 


The Wolves went into this match in second place on goal difference and desperately required a particular result in the other game on at the same time and to score a bucket load of goals for themselves.  However, the latter was achieved but not enough in the final upshot, with the other game’s result not what was needed. The Wolves were unsuccessful by one solitary goal difference. In history, this scenario eventuated on two other occasions. In 1998, the Wolves ended up with the Premiership, and in 2008, lost the Premiership on goal difference, as in 2020.        


 A re-shuffle had to occur prior to this match when central defender Nikola Djordjevic was injured in the warm-up, with Darcy Madden taking his place. 


With Manly kicking off, the Wolves were running towards the southern end. The home team were quick off the blocks, playing at speed and were not giving the opposition any time to settle. Thomas James had a stab at the ball at knee high, putting it over the cross bar to telegraph the attacking intent.   


In the fourth minute, these tactics came fruition. Takeru Okada provided the assist when he provided the pass for Beattie following link up play by Nick Littler with a long ball switch of play and Thomas James.   From close vicinity, Beattie lobbed the ball over the Manly custodian Sam Benton as he advanced.


Three minutes later, Balderson received the ball wide on the left near the touchline from Lucas Rainbird. Balderson moved purposely down the left showing the danger he possessed as a wide player to get in behind the defence, something the previous round opposition did to perfection in Round 10. 


Manly’s Richard Cardozo plied a shot from the centre of the Wolves’ half but alas it did not hit the target and Madden had to position himself judiciously to cut a pass intended for Balderson with a header. Later, Balderson exploded into space wide out and progressed onward, with his final ball hitting the top of the net roof.


Madden received a long Taylor McDonald ball before getting into position to cross. He then sent the ball in and Bingham got up for a header, which unfortunately flew wide.  Central defender Nick Littler intercepted an offensive manouvre before Manly’s Keiran Paull could take advantage. Following a few minutes with possession Manly was finally thwarted when Guy Knight intervened. At the opposite end, Okada twisted and turned to elude the markers, only for his ensuing shot to fly narrowly wide.


It was in the twenty-second minute when Manly achieved their first goal. Balderson was the recipient of a pass. He moved forward and eluded McDonald. When close to the goal he met the ball perfectly with his left foot to squeeze the ball into the goal between custodian Luke Kairies and the post to bring his team back to even Stevens. This gave the away team a much-needed fillip.


The Wolves somewhat lost their way in the second time period of the first half and Manly were exerting their influence. The Wolves defensive mettle came to the fore and this was in evidence when Harrison Taranto, the midfield dynamo, chased and closed down Rainbird as he attacked. 


James again put in a cross that deserved better, but Beattie try as he might, flew in, but nary a touch could be apportioned.


Beattie looked to add to his haul when Benton narrowly was first to ball off his line as Beattie steamed in. Prior to this at the other end of the field, A Manly free kick went high to the far post with custodian Luke Kairies rising high to successfully take.


At the half time break it was one apiece with the Adam Griffiths coached team having a fair amount of possession from the midway point.


It did not take too long after the break when the Wolves restored their lead.  It was four minutes after the resumption in fact when Okada’s corner kick from the right was swung in. Littler jumped high and his ensuing header went to the direction of the far post.  Beattie was to his left and pushed the ball home from close in to bring up his brace. 


The Wolves looked to respond quickly when James swivelled and turned but his effort took a deflection for a corner kick. At this time, nothing of any consequence emanated. 


An unfortunate stumble in space, as Littler lost his footing, allowed Richard Cardozo to take advantage. He motored forward before delivering a pass out to his left to Dejan Pandurevic. He made no mistake to goal with a facile goal, this being his third for the season. This Wolves’ mishap was one, which proved costly, but these things surely happen in football.


The Wolves kept searching for more goals. Knight rushed into the box and he went high for a header, only for Benton to take the ball virtually off his head. Manly also with some vital players missing from their line-up were looking to finish the season on a high note. James Georgaklis produced a shot, which ended up wide. Cardozo near the hour mark let fly with his left foot. It was on target and an acrobatic leap from Kairies held sway. 


Guy Knight won the ball in a tackle before the ball found its way to substitute Harry Callahan who was having his second cameo since being injured. He and Okada exchanged passes before the latter subsequently scooted around the defence before laying off a pass to Bingham, who was to his left. Bingham had the easy task, tapping home from close vicinity. This eventuated four minutes after the hour mark.


Kairies punched out a Cardozo threat before a clearance with power by McDonald inadvertently cannoned into Knight, with the full impact hitting him in the head. He went down for the count and seemed a little worse for wear. He soldiered on for the rest of the game but probably would have a giant headache later. The captain showed courage.


Left sided wingback Chris Price made many overlapping runs down the left and he put in a number of enticing crosses into the penalty area that unfortunately were not seized upon.


On seventy-seven minutes, Knight got the ball to James who produced a powerful shot, which Benton parried out.  Beattie was on hand to tuck the ball home to achieve his hat trick in an important match and hit his fourth goal of the campaign.


With a host of substitutes being enabled in the second stanza, one, Callahan, had one of his customary bursts into the penalty area with verve and speed to serve it to defence. On eighty-four minutes, his sojourn into the box saw him being inconvenienced. A penalty kick was signalled. Bingham took the spot kick and dispatched the ball with power and precision past the Manly custodian.  


The Wolves’ Brendan Griffin made a substitute appearance since being injured in Round 1 and he immediately shut down an attacking foray after entering the field in the eighty-second minute. 

As time clicked quickly by, coach Luke Wilkshire was exulting his troops to go for more goals. Men were thrown forward at every opportunity in the final minutes, as a sixth goal was desperately needed. Even Kairies went up for a corner kick, but had to scurry back as Manly acquired possession. 



However, scoring five goals was a good feat in itself but in the final analysis, conceding a couple of simple goals in the final two matches proved costly. 


This 5-2 winning score line was the sixth time that this result has occasioned in the Wolves’ history with the previous ones being posted in 1996/97 with two, and one each in seasons 1999/00, 2000/01 and 2001/02.  


Next week the finals series begins. After falling at the hurdle in the 2019 Mens 1 finals, the team will be looking to be on song in 2020. 


The Wolves finished the season with equal points to the winners, twenty-four and Manly United concluded on twelve points in eighth position.    


Coach Luke Wilkshire -  ‘Disappointed. (About the Premiership).  In the second half we were much better. I spoke about it at half time that the first half was not good enough…the second half was much better and more like us. .     We started the game well and after we scored we went into our shells a little bit. Our body language was not great and the reactions when we lost the ball were not great. 

We are motivated every week to win every game and when we don’t we are disappointed…   Having given them two goals. …Every week things happen and you have seen that before.  Little moments can be crucial and they are and we have lost the premiership by one goal.’ 


Luke Kairies - ‘we did make it hard for ourselves but with our spirit, we came back to win the match… I was able to keep a few out… The boys did well and we’ll look to the next match.’  


Hat trick scorer Marcus Beattie - ‘obviously I had a fair few chances this year and it was good to put them away today…  all year we have made for it hard for ourselves but our attack got more than we conceded today, so happy days. 


Harry Callahan - ‘we definitely made it hard for ourselves. A couple of sloppy errors  …. I don’t know what the score was in the other game…we will see what happens in the last few minutes… It was good to come back after a month away…. Got fifteen minutes last week. Hopefully I will get some more time in the finals and make more of a difference to the team.’  






Marcus Beattie 4’, 48’, 77’ Josh Bingham 64’ 86’ 



Scott Balderson 22’   Dejan Pandurevic  52’




11th October 2020


3.00 p.m. Kick Off 




Coach: Luke Wilkshire 


1.Luke Kairies 2.Taylor McDonald 3.Darcy Madden 7.Christopher Price 9.Thomas James 10.Marcus Beattie 11.Takeru Okada 12.Harrison Taranto (14.Harry Callahan 55’) 15.Nick Littler 16.Guy Knight Capt. (8.Brendan Griffin 82’) 9.Thomas James 


Substitutes not used: RGK Tomas Butkovic 20.Liam Wille 6.Tatsuki Nagatsuka 


Yellow Cards: Takeru Okada 24’ Taylor McDonald 35’ Chris Price 67’ Thomas James 80’ Luke Kairies 89’


Red Cards: Nil





Coach: Adam Griffiths


19.Samuel Benton (GK) 2.Kieren Paull 3.James Georgaklis 5.Sam Gallagher (35.Matthew O’Donaghue 79’) 6.Joe Fox (16.Dean Bereveskos 79’) 9.Richie Cardozo 13.Scott Balderson (29.Jordan Devries 61’) 14.Dejan Pandurevic 18. Lucas Rainbird 26.Lachlan McGrath (8.Dom Ferguson 55’) 28.Ronan Connolly




Substitutes not used: 20.Mackenzie Syron (RGK) 37. Jordan Segretto 

Yellow Cards: Scott Balderson 5’ James Georgaklis 33’ Richard Cardozo 89’

Red Cards: Nil



Referee: Adrian Arndt


Assistant Referees: Brad Wright, Brodie Merchant



By Malcolm Rowney