2019 NPL NSW MENS 1 ROUND 19
WOLLONGONG WOLVES v SUTHERLAND SHARKS
WOLVES KEEP SHARKS AT BAY WITH FOUR-GOAL HAUL
While coach Luke Wilkshire was away in Russia, the Wolves went on with the job with an impressive performance in disposing of the Sutherland Sharks threat 4-0, with goals by Lachlan Scott, Darcy Madden, Takeru Okada and Thomas James. This was also the fifth time that this score line was achieved this season. Despite these goals, and to give Sutherland their due, the opposition kept at it for the duration of the game but could not breach the defence of Chris Price, Nikola Djordjevic, Nick Littler and Taylor McDonald plus custodian and captain, Justin Pasfield.
The Wolves now are one step further on in their quest for their third Premiership after first annexing the 1987 NSW Premier League title. In 1988 the second title was in the bag in the final NSL game, winning on goal difference from Sydney Croatia, and chasing then subsequently losing the 2008 one closely on goal difference to Sutherland Sharks. For an unprecedented nineteen weeks in 2019, the team has been atop of the competition standings, with sport history being in the making.
With the Wolves running towards the northern end and kicking off the proceedings as well, the ball went from Scott to James and out to Price. The Wolves were looking for an early chink in Sutherland’s armour thorough James, Scott and Okada. However, nothing was forthcoming at this early stage and the Sharks then attacked with Jordan Morfitis riding two tackles and crossing with a corner kick being the result.
On three minutes, a James back heel fell into the path of Okada and he nearly sneaked the ball in at the near post. Morfitis later weaved his way through with close ball control and then Jeremy Cox, the Sharks top scorer, had a perfect opportunity to put his team ahead but unfortunately for his team, his header went wide of its target. Spanish player Raul Romero looked to cause damage only for Littler to intervene.
Sutherland was intent on attacking and for a time kept the Wolves on their toes. Pasfield came of his area to intercept the ball as Cox threw down the gauntlet before Sharks captain and former A-League defender Marc Warren put a teasing cross in from the left that caused some consternation.
James zigzagged into the box as he looked to make further inroads and custodian Anthony Bouzanis plucked a James Stojcevski corner kick out of the air. Bouzanis was at it again when he brought off a reflex save to deny James following a left side run by Okada who ultimately crossed in. James had brought off a quick shot.
The Sharks by now had not had any joy so Tarik Ercan tried one from distance, which Pasfield scooped up.
The Wolves went close in the eighteenth minute when two shots in quick succession nearly brought Sutherland undone. Prior a Stojcevski corner was swung in. Madden received the ball and turned with his attempted shot being blocked. Subsequently another of his efforts was cleared off the line and the cross bar thwarted his follow-up effort. Sutherland could breathe easy but only momentarily.
On the half hour mark, an advantage was taken. Scott put the ball into the net for his twelfth goal of the campaign and his team’s forty-sixth goal. Guy Knight played a pass to Price. He in turn floated the ball over the right side where a Sutherland defender headed backwards. With Madden in close attendance the ball fell to the ground off his chest. He subsequently moved inwards with the ball being pushed ahead. He unselfishly held back as Scott dashed in to hit his right-footed effort into the goal, his seventh strike in the last five succeeding games.
The Sharks looked to restore parity straight away, when a Romero free kick after Bai Antoniou was inconvenienced, to the left of centre traversed narrowly wide.
The Wolves went further ahead as Pasfield’s goal kick went up to James who had Tarik Ercan close by. James got a slight touch to Madden, who managed to get the ball as Warren also vied for it. Madden waltzed through rounding Bouzanis, tapping the ball home in to an empty net four minutes after the first one.
Djordjevic lunged to get ball back from Bai Antoniou as he moved quickly forward and McDonald headed away a Romero lifted pass.
One minute was played in additional time and at half the 2-0 score line stood.
The Sharks began the half brightly and the Wolves were on the back foot as Price shielded the ball well over the line as Morfitis sniped away.
Price subsequently pushed the ball up to Okada on the left. Venturing forward, he crossed the ball to the far post where Madden was lurking. He received the ball and his ensuing first time volley flashed ever so close to the post.
Not long after this Okada received a centimetre perfect pass from Scott before slotting the ball with his right foot into the net for his sixth goal of 2019, scored in the forty-eighth minute. Knight had pushed the ball up to Scott who subsequently made a good run before propping and sending the ball to the goal scorer.
Sutherland, despite being three goals down did not waiver from their mission. Warren, the source of many attacks, steamed forward into the Wolves’ penalty area. He produced a powerful shot with Pasfield having to go down to repel. Romero tried from close range but Pasfield was solid to intercept. Djordjevic blocked substitute Kevin Lopez as he looked to pull the trigger with power.
However, the Wolves added a fourth goal when the League’s top scorer produced a terrific shot that bulged the back of the net for his twentieth strike. He had received a lifted pass from Stojcevski. James was wide on the left when he received the ball. He eluded a defender by cutting back with the defender losing his footing. James was at the outer juncture of the goal area before a step or two inward before rifling his effort that flew into top left corner of Bouzanis’ domain.
Sutherland throughout the match had periods where they had a reasonable share of possession but could not capitalize and break down the opposition. Morfitis, Romero, Antoniou and Warren best served them.
In the final ten minutes, Littler disposed of a Cox threat, a Lopez effort was headed away by Knight and substitute Harry Callahan obstructed a Warren attempt. Later Antoniou produced a snap shot that Pasfield had to go down to prevent. Substitute Brendan Griffin, on for his third match this season, played an incisive pass to Scott to put him through but alas nothing of any consequence eventuated. Mateo Poljak hit his effort straight to Pasfield. James unselfishly put the ball to Stefan Dimoski but his ensuing shot was charged down.
The Wolves went about their task in a confident and clinical manner and have gone somewhere where no other team from the club has trod. With three rounds to go the Premiership is within the team’s sight.
Stand in coach, Assistant Coach, Yuzo Tashiro - ‘the quality was very good. I was pleased with the performance and the result. We had a quick transition for the full ninety minutes. We were winning - goals and the ball and everything. A good performance, good goals and a good attitude!’
Central defender Nick Littler – ‘It was great and it is always nice. They gave us a tough match in the first round and it was good to come out and show what we have… In the first fifteen minutes they had us under the pump and they were playing some really good football as well...It was one of those games and we came out on top fortunately...Definitely (took our chances), that one from TJ was really good…They had a couple of chances and Justin made some good saves and it always nice to get a clean sheet … Hopefully we can keep it going and go the whole way. ‘
Goal scorer Darcy Madden - ‘great performance I think... We only scored four but I am happy with the result. … Maybe I could have two or three but I’m happy with what we did and how we went.‘
Defender Chris Price - ‘they (Sharks) were good tonight and they tried to keep the ball and played some nice football but we were clinical in attack and took our chances and we did what we needed to do tonight and get the three points’.. On keeping the pressure on APIA? - ‘That’s what we are trying to do. It’s not over until it’s over and we should keep going, the balls in their court now. ….. ‘That year (2008) was unreal, and we came from a long way back. It was exciting and to miss out by goal difference was disappointing at the time but we were proud of our efforts. This year is completely different as we have been on top the whole way. So it is nice to see both perspectives…. It is about momentum and if you have the winning mentality. If you have got that, it doesn’t matter what adverse things and circumstances are thrown your way. We have a strong change room, the boys are working hard for each other and we will keep working hard and keep going’.
Substitute Midfielder Brendan Griffin - ‘yes definitely good to be back. It has been a long process but it is all worth it, and to be back playing with the team that has played so well all season ….It is (unprecedented) but to me its no surprise as I have seen how hard all the boys have worked not only in preseason but throughout Even when we win games we go back to training and see how we can improve. It’s a credit to them and to the gaffer for his hard work and without him the expectations wouldn’t be really be there’.
WOLLONGONG WOLVES ………………….4
Lachlan Scott 30’ Darcy Madden 35’ Takeru Okada 49’ Thomas James 69’
SUTHERLAND SHARKS ……………………0
@ WIN STADIUM, WOLLONGONG
SATURDAY 20th JULY 2019
6.00 p.m. Kick Off
Coach: Luke Wilkshire (absent) Stand in Coach -Yuzo Tashiro
1.Justin Pasfield 2.Taylor McDonald 4.Nikola Djordjevic 7. Christopher Price 9. Thomas James 11.Takeru Okada 3.Darcy Madden (14.Harry Callahan 66’) 15.Nick Littler 16.Guy Knight 17.James Stojcevski (10.Brendan Griffin 74’) 24.Lachlan Scott (13.Stefan Dimoski 83’)
Substitutes not used: RGK 16. Luke Kairies 23.Jordan Nikolovski
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Coach: Terry Palapanis
1.Anthony Bouzanis2.Quentin Cheng (19.Harry Sutherland 59’)3.Marc Warren4.Patrick O’Shea 7.Bai Antoniou 8.Mateo Poljak9.Jeremy Cox 10.Raul Beneit Romero 11.Jordan Morfitis (32.Kevin Lopez 53’) 12.Blair Brown 21.Tarik Ercan (25.Brodie Clarkson 66’)
Substitutes not used:18.Mitchell Evans30.Thomas Aquilana
Yellow Cards: Tarik Ercan 57’
Red Cards: Nil
Referee: Craig Fisher
Assistant Referees: Nathan Wotton, J. Bell
Fourth Official: Sebastian Andrews
By Malcolm Rowney