The Wollongong Wolves team has succumbed to Sydney United 58 for second successive season in the Grand Final Qualifier. As disappointing as this, the team played to their utmost in the 2020 edition. However, this defeat also denied a first Grand Final appearance since 2008, with Sydney United scoring three goals to the Wolves’ one to book their opportunity. The away team scored first through Patrick Antelmi with the Wolves restoring parity through a great strike from Marcus Beattie. The Wolves at this stage of the game were looking strong and positive and had more of the attacking options. However, chances were crucially not converted and two more goals in the second half, instigated by substitute Josh Macdonald, saw Glen Trifiro and Matt Sim ensuring a victory for their team. The game was an enthralling high energy game for supporters with thrills, spills and frustration. Further to the playing drama, a flashpoint, following a suspect tackle on Harrison Taranto, developed close to half time with many players milling around, resulting in the departure, with red cards, of a striker from each team. This did open up the game forthwith.   


With cloudy conditions, spitting rain at intervals and a stiff breeze blowing across the field from west to east, the Wolves at the first whistle ran towards the northern end. Sydney United 58 kicked off and before scant time a long Yianni Fragogiannis ball flew up field for the wide player Matthew Sim. His later cross was charged down and a first corner kick was awarded to the away team. Sim took it and curled the ball in. It went only as far as the near post as John Bingham defensively headed out. 


An early attack by the Wolves’ marauding Takeru Okada was cut out when Michael Tomelic intercepted. Sydney United began the match quickly and had much of the early territory as they attempted to exert pressure on the Wolves. 


However, a Thomas James cross found Taylor McDonald at the far post. His first time shot was dispatched with force, only to be a little wide. McDonald was also in attack mode a short time later, when he stormed in to meet an Okada corner kick.        


Nine minutes in, defender Nick Littler was to the fore as first he won the ball from Antelmi with a telling tackle before cutting out a left field emanating cross. A driving run from Yianni Perkatis saw Littler tangling with him for a few strides with a free kick ultimately awarded to United. Sim hit the ball with his left footed and it swung high over the goal frame and wide of the far post.   


It was in the fifteenth minute when Sydney United 58 crept to the lead. Glen Trifiro played the ball to Sim and his short lifted ball cannoned into Nikola Djordjevic at mid height, as he returned to his feet.  A handball infraction was unfortunately the result.   Antelmi struck his subsequent spot kick confidently, with the Wolves’ custodian Luke Kairies diving to his right, as the ball zoomed in on his opposite side.   


A long up field ball by Adrian Vlastelica saw Kairies off his line and he bounced off Djordjevic as they collided. The ball though was in safekeeping. The Wolves were getting more into the proceedings and midfielder, Taranto, with his constant harassing, showed his ball winning skill with one such ball and tackle down the right to assist his team.   


Four minutes later, the Wolves looked to bounce back. Okada motored into the penalty area chasing the ball and moved to close vicinity of the goal. However, this race to the ball was won by won by the Sydney United custodian, Daniel Nizic. Guy Knight, who was inside his own half when he played a pass down the left, put through Beattie.  Beattie scampered through before veering into the box. Close to the near post he crossed. James steamed in with a defender in tow but could not effect a touch. The ball went to the far post and MacDonald chimed in with shot that was then blocked by Michael Tomelich.  At the other end MacDonald returned the favour, by getting in the way to block Matthew Bilic’s effort on goal. The striker had another go at goal further on, but this effort too was unsuccessful. 


Four minutes after the half hour, a long Chris Price throw was headed onward by Josh Bingham’s flick of his head. The ball bounced with a Sydney United player chesting it as Beattie challenged. The ball bounced forward and Bingham nodded the ball beyond two chasing defenders Vlastelica and Fragogiannis.  Beattie shrugged off Fragogiannis before getting close the goal. His fine shot was projected high into the goal with the ball going in after striking the underside of the cross bar as Fragogiannis slid in, attempting to put scorer off, though was all in vain. This was Beattie’s fourth goal in two successive matches. The Wolves had restored the equilibrium and were beginning to show their wares in the best light. 


Taranto put Antelmi off by getting his foot in before James exploded down the right side. He put a cross in with Beattie stretching to meet it, but it was not to be. 


On thirty-eight minutes a melee evolved on the grandstand side of the ground with many players from both sides being involved. Play was held up for quite a few minutes as the referee and his assistants sorted things out. The upshot was two straight red cards were shown to the Wolves’ James and the Sydney’ United striker, Antelmi, who turned from hero to villain. 


Seven minutes of time was added on to the first half and in this time period as each team adjusted with one man down.  Price’s teasing cross was headed down by Bingham to Beattie. Alas, his ensuing effort traversed wide. Bilic whipped the ball with Djordjevic intervening. Bilic tried once again with a cross. It flew across the goal with no one there to direct it home.     


At half time it was 1-1, with much more in store. 


Following the break, Okada produced a shot from a wide angle on target, which Nizic parried. Beattie nearly picked up the crumbs in a crowded area to take advantage. 


Sydney United looked close to scoring their second goal when Jordan Roberts' shot thumped into the cross bar three after the resumption of play. Roberts was playing an important role for his team with his forward offensive manoeuvres.  



The Wolves were leaving nothing to chance as Beattie, Bingham and Okada looked to increase the Wolves’ tally. Substitute Brendan Griffin well worked some angled passing to set up some attacking forays when he entered the field. The Wolves kept up an onslaught but could not change the digits on the scorecard.  


However, in the seventy-fourth minute Sydney United regained the lead. Substitute Devante Clut pushed his pass to Bilic on the left before he moved it up to Macdonald. He then took McDonald on, before moving backwards and across field with Okada in tandem. He passed to Trifiro who shook off Littler’s attention before gaining some space to shoot. He took this opportunity from a few metres or so outside the penalty area.  His right-footed shot zoomed into the net past a despairing diving Kairies, much to the Wolves and their supporter’s chagrin.  Previously, Trifiro had also scored against the Wolves in the FFA Cup Round Of 32 in 2013, when he was in CCM colours.    


This second goal increased the away team’s confidence and this was exemplified when United substitute Tariq Maia tried an audacious kick, spying Kairies off his line. However, backtracking, Kairies managed to take over his head to prevent any blushes.   


The Wolves were still chasing a goal when Beattie went down in the box and appeals went up for a penalty, which despite seemingly being a close call was subsequently denied. Nizic later spilled Price’s high ball in from the left, on the edge of the box, but no Wolves players were close by to capitalize. 


Ten minutes later after scoring their second, Sydney United hit their third goal. Josh Macdonald, who before the match was limping, showed that he had shrugged off what had ailed him. He took the ball from his own half up field before releasing Sim with an angled pass that split the defence. Sim went around a diving Kairies outside the goal area before slotting the ball into an empty goal.    


With six minutes left on the clock, Roberts produced a shot following Macdonalds’ instigation and Griffin was back to put Maia off his stride. Okada passed to Beattie and his effort prodded the side netting before Roberts again whacked his shot against the cross bar. Substitute Liam Wille gained some more valuable experience with a cameo in the final minutes and came on with determination. He and Taranto, as young players, have made huge strides this season and will be better for their experience. 


Sydney United 58 has emerged victorious in this Semi-final and lives to fight another day in 2020.  The Wolves gave all and bow out of the race for the Championship. The team was certainly a threat to all and sundry in the 2020 Rebooted competition and will emerge stronger and wiser in 2021.  


Luke Wilkshire -  ‘I think before their second goal we were dominating. We were in control of the game and then you cop a goal, it was a great finish and it changes things….   I can’t fault the boys. I am proud of them. They are a special group on and off the pitch…. It is disappointing and it is like a morgue in there…. It has been a tough year and we have to pick ourselves up.  We will have a well-earned break and will go again next year.    


Midfielder Brendan Griffin -‘for myself, a stop start season with injuries has not helped. I have tried to keep myself fit and help the team out in some way. We gave it a good go. It is a disappointing result but what can you do.’ 


Young player Liam Wille - ‘to be able to play with these guys week in week out is a great opportunity. I enjoy it…   We have to keep our heads up, we had a great season but today was disappointing.  They have been consistent (Sydney United)…. The boys will be hungry for next year that’s for sure…. It has been an up and down year and we were unlucky at the end…  I am happy with the games and the more I can play adds to my experience.  I am learning off these guys, TJ and the big players here, and by my mistakes.’  







Marcus Beattie 34’ 


SYDNEY UNITED 58 ………………3 


Patrick Antelmi 15’ pen Glen Trifiro 74’ Matt Sim 84’  




18th October 2020 


3.00 p.m. Kick Off  




Coach: Luke Wilkshire  


1.Luke Kairies 2.Taylor McDonald 4.Nikola Djordjevic 7.Christopher Price 9.Thomas James 10.Marcus Beattie 11.Takeru Okada 12.Harrison Taranto (8.Brendan Griffin 65’) 15.Nick Littler 16.Guy Knight Capt. (20.Liam Wille 85’) 9.Thomas James  


Substitutes not used: RGK Tomas Butkovic 6.Ethan Kambisios 18.Tatsuki Nagatsuka  


Yellow Cards: Guy Knight 62’ 


Red Cards: Thomas James 44’ 





Coach: Anthony Crea 


1.Daniel Nizic 2.Cristian Gonzalez (99.Joshua Macdonald 62’) 3.Jordan Roberts 4.Adrian Vlastelica (Capt.) 5.Michael Tomelic (10.Devante Clut 64’)  8.Matthew Sim 9.Patrick Antelmi 11.Yianni Perkatis 17.Matthew Bilic 18.Glen Trifiro 22.Yianni Fragogiannis (15.Tariq Maia76’) 


Substitutes not used: 21.RGK Thomas Manos 20.Adrian Vranic  



Yellow Card:  


Red Card: Patrick Antelmi 44’ 



Referee: Michael Weiner 


Assistant Referees: Brad Wright, Janush Adabjou 


4th Official: John Parker  



By Malcolm Rowney