2019 NPL NSW MENS 1 ROUND 18
WOLLONGONG WOLVES v HAKOAH SYDNEY CITY EAST
WOLVES’ WIN GAINS A SEVEN POINT BUFFER AT TOP OF THE STANDINGS
With the Wolves celebrating NAIDOC Week in a specially designed match kit, the team has kept their position at the top of the standings for the eighteenth week in succession by inflicting a narrow 1-0 defeat on the relegation threatened Hakoah Sydney City East. However, the Wolves, though achieving three points and a clean sheet, did not have it all their own way, as in the second half, Hakoah threw everything that they could muster in an attempt to get something out of this encounter and did not leave anything in the tank. However, despite all this, the visitors fell short and the home team had the spoils in the can.
It was in the thirty-fourth minute that the game breaker eventuated and in addition was the season’s thirteenth first half goal. Notable striker, Lachlan Scott, who conjured up opportunities for himself and other players, did much off and on the ball running, and did his effective share of defending, headed in from close vicinity following the lead-up of right wing/back Taylor McDonald and wide midfielder Takeru Okada to score his eleventh goal of the season. This also was Scott’s fifth goal in successive three matches, an imposing record of goal scoring.
The home team began the proceedings running towards the northern stand with Scott kicking off. He provided a short pass to Thomas James then out to Chris Price, who played impressively throughout the match together with his defensive cohorts in Nick Littler, Nicola Djordjevic and McDonald.
The Wolves striker Thomas James and league top scorer came into this match with nineteen goals to his credit, but despite some opportunities, he could not advance his tally. During this encounter he seemingly acquired a shadow, with Hakoah’s Connor Shaddock tracking him wherever he ventured in an effort to negate his offensive capabilities and upset his equilibrium.
In the first half the Wolves were more proactive with the away side being more reactive. Hakoah relied on quick breaks and long balls and the home side had the most of the possession and territorial advantage.
Midfielder Oliver Green was pivotal for his team’s attacking forays with his passing and winning of the ball. Adrian Vranic, the striker who had scored against the Wolves in the past for another club, made early inroads before Djordjevic arrived to thwart. At the opposite end, a clever back heel from Scott set up a Wolves’ foray that ended up with the Hakoah custodian grasping it. Scott later won the ball in a tackle on Harry Jones but a subsequent Wolves pass was intercepted by Joshua Swadling. Oliver Green made a ground breaking run up field leaving some players in his wake. However, McDonald haltered his progress with a timely win of possession. After Darcy Madden had moved the ball on for Okada, Guy Knight shot from outside the penalty area but his effort strayed wide of the intended target. Norval’s long clearances from his area caused the Wolves to be aware of the danger and Djordjevic stood his ground under one such effort to head away as Vranic also vied for the ball. Littler brought the ball forward from defence before shooting from distance. Alas his effort went somewhat high. Littler was strong in defence with his timely interceptions both with feet and head and brought the ball out of defence in order to wreak havoc to the opposite defence.
The Wolves went ever so close in taking the lead on twenty-nine minutes after having the lion’s share of possession. A clever and quick James Stojcevski pass put Okada through. His ensuing shot from close range unfortunately struck the near post but stayed out. This was indeed a close shave for Hakoah.
Two Hakoah free kicks in succession taken by Swadling travelled straight to the Wolves custodian, Justin Pasfield, as he made sure that these efforts would not breach his domain.
As the minutes ticked by on the way to half time, Djordjevic headed away with two Hakoah players also competing, but the Wolves defender won out in the duel and later Okada flashed his shot high. Vranic passed to Harry Jones but his ensuing endeavour went to Pasfield. James has shaken off his shadow momentarily to outmanoeuvre the defence but the ball bobbled and he could not make it count.
At the half time interval, the home side was narrowly ahead with a 1-0 score line and also a dangerous one at that.
In the second half, Hakoah came out to leave nothing to chance. They exerted pressure on the Wolves defence but they held firm. Left defender Chris Price acted quickly to dismantle an offensive foray and he played an inspiring performance. Walker intervened at the other end to end a Wolves attacking movement. Okada looked to increase his team’s lead following playmaker James Stojcevski’s incisive free kick. Okada projected the ball wide and Swadling turned rapidly to shoot in an attempt to get his team back in contention, only for his effort to be taken well by Pasfield.
As Hakoah attacked, Djordjevic headed away, before Dominic Cox was one on one with Pasfield as he moved inward from the left. Before he could pull the trigger however, a last ditched lunge by Djordjevic was enough to prevent the danger and Hakoah could rue how close they had come.
A couple of extra Hakoah corner kicks kept the Wolves on their toes. Swadling was the instigator with his first of this series being hit with too much force and his second suffering the same fate which was an obvious disappointment for the player and his team. Scott provided a short pass to James with his subsequent powerful shot looked to be homing in on the goal, only for Norval to bring out a top save with a one handed push out. A further sweeping Wolves passing movement with Madden and James involved, saw Scott shooting, but could not hit the target and emulate his braces of the past two weeks.
Second half substitute Harry Callahan was injected onto the field and he quickly made his presence felt. He earned a free kick by bursting though with quick acceleration only to go down by weight of numbers. Stojcevski’s free kick went a trifle high. Madden following moved the ball to James. As he juggled the ball with the intention of controlling before shooting, Norval reacted quickly to grasp. Oliver Green hit his shot wide as Pasfield flung himself at the direction of the Green’s effort and later Vranic missed the target with a wide shot and again with another five minutes later. Madden provided a pass for Callahan and his strong shot may have stung the hands of Norval who prevented his effort from entering the goal. Callahan spurted into the box late in the game before laying the ball off to Scott, who disappointingly, could not achieve the goal.
Hakoah were getting into shooting positions but could not convert. This has been a malaise of their season in 2019 as they have found it difficult to improve on their low haul of ten goals. In the last couple of minutes as Hakoah kept foraging, Madden twice in a row blocked the attempts of substitute Shohei Okuna with absolute commitment to deny the opposition player from gaining a prospective equaliser.
A number of shots by Swadling, Scott, Stojcevski and Jordan Nikolovski failed to change the score line with the Wolves emerging the victors for the thirteenth time this season.
As a result of this victory and other results being fortuitous, the Wolves now head the standings with a seven-point break heading into the final four rounds with the Premiership in sight. With a week’s break, the next opponent is Sutherland Sharks in a fortnight at home. Hakoah Sydney City East remains in twelfth position with relegation staring them in the face.
Luke Wilkshire - ‘We got the three points which is most important…We won today but did not perform the way we can… They were desperate and there is no such thing as an easy game but credit to the boys, we dug in and kept a clean sheet, which is great and another victory…. We have a level of expectation in how we play and we did not reach that and for us that is disappointing. We will work at that and get better.’
Playmaker James Stojcevski - ‘In the first half we created maybe two or three good chances and if we could have put them away earlier, it would made it a lot easier for ourselves, especially in the second half. 1-0 is a bit of an awkward score especially against a team like Hakoah who are at the bottom of the table and have nothing to lose. They were a difficult opposition to play against and we were lucky to hold it out. We could not create too many chances in the second half unfortunately but with a 1-0 lead and 1-0 win that’s all that matters… I tried to play my normal game. We could have moved the ball quicker in the first half. We tried to force it and we could have been more patience and play the passes more into the pockets instead of playing longer balls over the top… it was another clean sheet and three points.’
Central defender Nikola Djordjevic - ‘It was tight at the end and everyone was under the pump and Hakoah came out strong in the second half, but we held in there, fought our way through and held out for the full ninety .. They are fighting against relegation and it was always going to be a tough one… Lets hope we can win all four.’
WOLLONGONG WOLVES ………………….1
Lachlan Scott 34’
HAKOAH SYDNEY CITY EAST …………….0
@ WIN STADIUM, WOLLONGONG
SUNDAY 7th JULY 2018
3.00 p.m. Kick Off
Coach: Jacob Timpano
1. Justin Pasfield 2.Taylor McDonald (14.Harry Callahan 62’) 4.Nikola Djordjevic 7.Christopher Price 9.Thomas James (23.Jordan Nikolovski 78’) 11.Takeru Okada 3.Darcy Madden 15.Nick Littler 16.Guy Knight 17.James Stojcevski 24. Lachlan Scott (8.Bul Juach 88’)
Substitutes not used: RGK 16. Luke Kairies 6.Ben Tosi
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
HAKOAH SYDNEY CITY EAST
Coach: Gavin Rae
1.Ryan Norval 2.Connor Shaddock 4.Bradley Walker (Capt.) 5.Steve Katsionis 6.Dominic Cox (24.Amaury Gauthier 73’) 8.Oliver Green 11.Jack Green 12.Joshua Swadling 13.Robert Ezekiel (14.Jordan Koton 61’) 17.Harry Jones 23.Adrian Vranic (9.Shohei Okuna 87’).
Substitutes not used:10.Nathan Roberts 25.Max Ephraim
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Referee: Hassan Jomaa
Assistant Referees: Matthew McOrist, Joon Park
Fourth Official: Samuel Quinn
By Malcolm Rowney