2019 NPL NSW MENS 1 ROUND 13
WOLLONGONG WOLVES v APIA LEICHHARDT
WOLVES COMPLETE DOUBLE OVER TIGERS
After accounting for the Tigers in Round 2 by three goals to nil the Wolves ran out impressive 4-0 winners in the second half of this return match after it was a 0-0 score line at half time break. Strikes by Takeru Okada, Lachlan Scott together with a brace to Thomas James (the identical achievers in the previous match a week before though with a Scott brace) allowed the Wolves to get a six point break at the top of competition standings. The team had produced all over the pitch in a tremendous performance.
Before kick off there was a one minute silence to remember the great defender and former Wolves player David Cervinski.
As this game was a 1stversus 2ndscenario and with a striker from both teams being 1stand 2ndin the goal scoring lists, namely James and Chris Payne, the stage was set for an intriguing match.
With the Wolves running towards the northern end, APIA began brightly. The Wolves’ Guy Knight headed away an early foray. Payne looked to increase his goal tally when a probing Tynan Diaz free kick was swept in. However, Taylor McDonald intervened before any damage could be done. A Sean Symons cross went across the face of goal a few minutes later. Payne rushed in and very nearly got a touch. He battled away with central defender Nick Littler in a short time later. The Wolves produced an assault at the other end when Okada conjured up a pass for James but a Themba Muata-Marlow tackle won out. Muata-Marlow throughout the encounter played a stern defensive role for his side and was effective with his endeavours.
A cry for handball rang out in the eight minute but the referee intimated that ball had hit the chest of a Tiger’s defender. Another Diaz ball looked to find Payne and on doing so, the striker shaped to shoot. Just as he hit the ball Nikola Djordjevic was on his case to thwart, just in the nick of time. With two subsequent corner kicks, the Tigers were applying pressure at this time around the tenth minute mark.
The Wolves in this match were looking to chalk up their ninth win of the season when James, on left, pushed the ball to Okada. He subsequently put his shot in but Tigers experienced custodian, Ivan Necevski was to the fore to deny. Later James met a Chris Price cross. His ensuing effort bulged the netting, the side netting no less, not what was intended.
Diaz cleaned up as Scott and the intrepid Harry Callahan mounted a foray before a chipped Franco Parisi pass went for Payne, but before he could reach the ball McDonald was there to intercept.
Callahan and James made inroads into the penalty area with slick passing between them but somehow APIA survived this onslaught.
APIA’s Josh Symons was another player trying to set up attacks for his team and had several attempts at goal in addition. With five minutes before the break, his shot flew in, with Littler getting in the way to frustrate.
The Wolves and APIA were cancelling each other out in the first half. The Tigers were rushing up to deny the Wolves space and it was a midfield battle with gilt-edged chances being in relative short supply. The experienced Franco Parisi was trying to weave some magic to get his team moving. Both James and Payne positioned themselves with good opportunities to score but neither had managed it in the first half. The Wolves defence of Littler, Djordjevic, Price and McDonald were holding their own with solid marking and interceptions and both Justin Pasfield and Necevski were guarding their domains with expertise. At the break it was so far a nil scoring tie.
The second half began with the Tiger’s Adrian Ucchino obligingly passing to Parisi in an attempt to jolt the proceedings. Scott and Okada attempted similar at the other end but no joy was to be had. As the Tigers had not much success with shots close to goal, Cory Biczo tried one from distance. It was delivered on target but straight to a grateful Pasfield. Another Josh Symons corner kick looked to produce some exultation. However, a Pasfield punch out halted any expectations. McDonald showed some adroit skill by flipping the ball over Payne’s head to regather and move forward.
On fifty-four minutes, Scott twisted his way into the box before James received the ball as a consequence. The ball was cleared by APIA but went to Tosi. His ensuing shot zoomed in but took a deflection for an ultimate corner kick.
Payne headed a Sean Symons cross into towards the Wolves’ domain. Pasfield kept out Payne’s attempt but conceded a corner kick. It was swung in and Scott cleared. Littler headed away as Payne went for the ball at the same time.
On fifty-eight minutes the goal drought in this encounter was broken. Okada who presented danger all throughout the match attained the initial goal. After Tosi had delivered a pass, Okada produced a clinical right footed shot that eluded Necevski. The Wolves had edged in front and APIA had nothing to show for their efforts.
Seven minutes later, the Wolves went further ahead and APIA’s resolve had been shattered to some extent. Scott weaved his way into the penalty area, shrugging off some attempted tackles before facing Necevski. Scott tucked the ball into the lower left corner of the goal. The experienced custodian could not prevent Scott from scoring, his fifth of the campaign.
From close range from the left side, Littler went close in notching up another for his team though it was cleared off the line. APIA went to the bench for some fresh legs with a double substitution with Michael Kouta and New Zealand international, Andre De Jong entering the field of play. Two corner kicks applied pressure again but APIA could not capitalize. The Wolves also brought on fresh players in James Stojcevski, Darcy Madden and Bul Juach at various times in the second half and they provided their skills to the contest.
The score blew out to three on seventy-eight minutes. On receipt of a incisive pass from Scott, James ran towards goal from front on to produce a deft flick over Necevski as he charged out. The ball lodged into the goal and the match was well and truly lost for the away team.
The icing on the cake eventuated when James brought up his brace. When in possession, he burst into the box and with Necevski advancing, the striker managed to out manoeuvre him. A defender came to James who subsequently produced a clever feign to confuse before ploughing the ball into the unoccupied goal with little time left on the clock for his fifteen goal in the Mens 1 arena.
The Wolves had beaten the strong APIA side once again and in doing so had displayed panache and style. It is no surprise that the goals were achieved when they were as 68% of all goals this season have been scored in the second half. APIA remains in second place but are now six points behind. They surely bounce back to keep the pressure on the Wolves in the race for the Premiership in the eight remaining rounds. They must keep a lid on expectations and continue as they have done.
Coach Luke Wilkshire - ‘the boys were fantastic and we played great football in the first half as well but we were not quite getting the breaks in front of goal. We kept at it and in the end they could not keep up… It opened up and we have players that can score… These boys are very fit and it will take a very fit team to out run us that’s for sure. We go week by week but I’m delighted.
Influential central defender Nick Littler -‘ definitely, it was close to one of our best of the year, especially in the second half and to score four goals against the team that was coming second. And it’s up to us now to keep going. /we are six points in front now it is up to us to keep on going…. If we take the same mindset into each game we will come out on top…. They came out pretty strong in the first half and we knew that was going to happen like it did the last time we first played them…All the boys from TJ up front all the way back to Jus… I think our combination (with Djordjevic) is getting stronger. It kind of shows that he when he was missing with the same back four we lost.’
Goal scorer Lachlan Scott - ‘It was a great performance by the whole team. We really weathered the storm in the first twenty minutes and after that we just played our game, we were just too good…. We wore them down in the first half and in the second half they couldn’t keep up with us pretty much, we had a bit more space, had the chances and finished off the game…. I’m doing the best I can and helping the team to win is most important…I had a bit of time off but I’m back now and that’s in the past now. (His injury)’
APIA defender Tynan Diaz (a former Championship winner with the Wolves and a scorer in the 2008 Grand Final) - ‘ the first half was very tight and I felt that we were certainly in the game when we came in at half time. But football is a game of two halves and they had a bit of luck with the first goal. The boy got a bit of a deflection and a very good finish and from there we had a lapse of concentration five minutes later and punished with the second goal…. Jus pulled off some good saves… Across the park in the second half they were better than us. At the back they were very solid, really calm and distributed well and they wanted it a little bit in the second half and that really cost us’…. You have been playing well. ‘Yeah, maybe up until today…. Things have been going well at Apia. I was at Bonnyrigg for six years. Had a good time there and decided to come over to APIA when Bonnyrigg went down. We are second in the table and chasing silverware and now we have to rely on the Wolves to slip up which is never good. Today was really in our hands and we could have equalled them on points…. We play every game to win. We came down here to win, nothing less, and whilst we have to lick our wounds and feel the pain of tonight we have to move on for next week and a big game. We now have to rely on the Wolves slipping up and we have to keep up the pressure.’
WOLLONGONG WOLVES …………………………4
Takeru Okada 58’ Lachlan Scott 65’ Thomas James 78’, 90’
@ WIN STADIUM, WOLLONGONG
SATURDAY 1st June 2019
6.00 p.m. Kick Off
Coach: Luke Wilkshire
1.Justin Pasfield (GK) (Capt.) 2.Taylor McDonald 6.Ben Tosi (17.James Stojcevski 62’) 7.Chris Price 9.Thomas James 14.Harry Callahan (3.Darcy Madden 73’) 15.Nick Littler 16.Guy Knight 11.Takeru Okada 24.Lachlan Scott (25.Bul Juach 79’)
Substitutes not used: 12.Luke Kairies 20.Liam Wille
Yellow Cards: Lachlan Scott 49’
Red Cards: Nil
Coach: John Calleja
1.Ivan Necevski 3.Paul Galimi, 4.Joshua Symons, 6.Christopher Payne, 7.Tynan Diaz (21.Michael Kouta 72’), 8.Corey Biczo, 10.Franco Parisi (13.Andre De Jong 72’), 12.Sam McIllhatton, 15.Themba Muata-Marlow, 16.Sean Symons 18.Adrian Ucchino.
Substitutes not used: RGK 22. Blake Tuxford 14.Lachlan Hughes 17.Samuel Gulisano
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Assistant Referees: B.Wright, Janush Adabjou
Fourth Official: L.Cole
By Malcolm Rowney