2019 NPL NSW MENS 1 ROUND 6
WOLLONGONG WOLVES v MT DRUITT TOWN RANGERS
WOLVES MAINTAIN THEIR POSITION AT THE SUMMIT
The Wolves came from behind for the first time in the 2019 campaign to gain a point in their encounter with the new team of the Mens 1 competition in Mount Druitt Town Rangers at WIN Stadium. The home team had made it difficult for themselves with the their profligacy in front of goal not assisting their cause, despite having many opportunities to win the match unequivocally. The Town Rangers surprisingly goaled in the second half to take the lead, nine minutes after the resumption of play and further enjoying their advantage for some twenty-two minutes. The opposition played with confidence and looked increasingly likely to be the upset winners until a penalty kick was awarded in the seventy-seventh minute. The league’s top scorer Thomas James duly stepped up and converted. The Wolves are still unbeaten after six matches and this is a best start in regard to having the most wins and most points in the competition in the club’s history of thirty-nine seasons. However, in 1981 the team was unbeaten for the first eight matches but had only three wins and five draws. In addition, so far in 2019 the Wolves are the only team in the competition to have scored in every match.
The first half of this encounter ended in a stalemate with the home side having had more of the play and began the match in a positive way. The Wolves ran towards the northern goal and kicked off proceedings. Versatile midfielder Ben Tosi produced a pass intended early on for striker Lachlan Scott, but the Mt Druitt defence coped. Immediately after, Harry Callahan was put through and he was within range. Alas, he could not get his effort on target and this first attempt failed to bring up pay dirt. The Wolves’ attacking momentum showed no respite for the visitors’ defence as impressive midfielder James Stojcevski put the ball forward for Scott who then got to the bye-line to cut back a pass. The Mt. Druitt defence was there to intercede and Fabricio Fernandez began to be pivotal for setting up the Town Rangers attack. Blake Thompson headed out to defuse a Wolves attack.
Mt Druitt went close to opening their account in the fourteenth minute when an Alex Boyadjian’s strong effort eluded the Wolves custodian Justin Pasfield. Central defender Nikola Djordjevic being positioned on the goal line, managed to clear and save the Wolves’ blushes. Two minutes prior, James took a free kick a few metres outside the penalty arc. He directed to ball in on target with the Mt. Druitt custodian Carlos Saliadarre diving to his right to thwart the prolific goal scorer from increasing his tally.
Seventeen minutes in, James was in a handy position to score as he quickly ran into space before shooting wide with two defenders giving close attention.
The Wolves had the ball into an empty net just after the half hour as Scott waltzed around Saliadarre though the goal was negated as the flag went up for offside. A few minutes earlier sterling defender Djordjevic blocked a shot to thwart a Town Rangers raid. On thirty-three minutes, Takeru Okada the playmaker, steamed down the left in a groundbreaking run. He finally passed inward to James. His ensuing effort bulged the side netting unfortunately. Notable left wingback, Guy Knight who defended and attacked with equal fervour, put a high cross in nineteen minutes with Saliadarre coping with a one handed save.
In the one last vestige of the first half, Taylor McDonald won the ball in a tussle with Lord Darkoh.
The second half began with Mt Druitt’s Matthew Clowes lifting the ball in for Fernandez with nothing of any consequence emanating as the Wolves defence interceded. At the other end, McDonald placed a short pass to James but nothing ultimately came of his effort. Saliadarre could not hold James’ shot. With no quick reactions for the loose ball, it was finally cleared and the visitors could breathe easily or so they thought. James fired in another effort that looked to get his team on the score sheet only for the ball to cannon off the cross bar.
End to end forays eventuated with both teams looking for the game breaker.
The Wolves were lining up as two players endeavoured to head in at the far post as a cross flew in from the left. Knight was the one who managed to connect to send his header narrowly wide and a quick break up field was worked from the defensive line and against all odds Mt Druitt, who had not looked like breaching the Wolves domain in the previous fifty-two minutes, did just that through Boyadjian on fifty-four minutes. He ran with the ball with only Pasfield to beat and he pushed the ball past the custodian into the lower reaches of the goal inside the right corner. This provided a boost in belief for the opposition and as time wore on and as the Wolves were spurning opportunities, Mt. Druitt seemed intent on getting something out of the match.
Ismail Hares fired over and James pushed his shot into the side netting once again and Djordjevic determinedly pushed the ball into touch as he tackled a rampaging Cooper Coskerie, the equal top scorer for his team.
Mt. Druitt was on the defensive for some minutes before a James’ cross from the left flew in. Nick Littler, who was a composed and assured central defender, had moved into the penalty area as the ball rocketed in. As he went for the ball he was impeded and after some deliberation, the referee signalled a penalty kick. James took the spot kick, powering the ball into the lower left hand corner in decisive fashion eluding a diving Saliadarre for his eighth goal in six matches, a strike rate to date of 1.3 per game.
A winning goal eluded both teams in the final twenty-three minutes and very late in proceedings substitute Jordan Nikolovski provided a cross, which substitute Darcy Madden tried valiantly to head in and nary did his head, attach to the ball.
The Wolves, in top position had displayed steel and resilience to come back from one goal down and share the points with the tenth placed Mt. Druitt. It was a point gained for the visitors but on balance, the Wolves had dropped two points and were left somewhat frustrated.
Wolves coach Luke Wilkshire - ‘frustrating is an understatement. Mt Druitt came for their point and I’m sure they are delighted that they got it but it was very frustrating afternoon for us…. When you don’t take your chances in football one long ball and you concede a terrible goal like that. We have lost two points today and didn’t take our chances…there was one team trying to win the game and that was us. They sat in and wanted a point.…. There is quality and character in the team no doubt about that but we have to be more ruthless.’
Wolves Midfielder Ben Tosi - ‘we always knew it was going to be tough but on the balance of it we should have taken a bit more out of it at home… Coming back from a goal down shows good character and we had our chances in the game. The reaction was good but it was more frustrating….. We focus on starting games fast, creating chances and being aggressive and that at this point we are still undefeated and we are happy that we have shown this…we have played some big teams and our attitude was good and the performance was good…Our reaction when conceding goals and when things get tough is positive…. It is a long season and we will see some tough times especially if we want to achieve things which is what we set out to do.….Teams will come down here and come at us and try to be hard to beat…. Loving back here and hopefully will stay fit and get plenty of games.’
Wolves right wingback Taylor McDonald - ‘we copped it and unfortunately we could not take the three points that we came here but credit to them they scrapped well. We did not take our opportunities and then we are put under pressure and every second counts… That’s a positive (being unbeaten).’
WOLLONGONG WOLVES …………………………1
Thomas James 77’
MT DRUITT TOWN RANGERS.………………..….1
Alex Boyadjian 53’
@ WIN STADIUM, WOLLONGONG
SUNDAY 14th APRIL 2019
3.00 p.m. Kick Off
Coach: Luke Wilkshire
1.Justin Pasfield (GK) (Capt.) 2.Taylor McDonald 4.Nikola Djordjevic 6.Ben Tosi 16.Guy Knight 9.Thomas James 14.Harry Callahan (19.Darcy Madden 65’) 11.Takeru Okada (Tory Musumeci 88’) 15.Nick Littler 17.James Stojcevski 24.Lachlan Scott (23.Jordan Nikolovski 78’)
Substitutes not used: 12.Luke Kairies 7.Chris Price
Yellow Cards: Thomas James 56’ Taylor McDonald 60’
Red Cards: Nil
MT DRUITT TOWN RANGERS
1.Carlos Saliadarre 2.Hiten Satoh 6.Blake Thompson, 7.Luke Clifford (15.Cooper Coskerie 67’) 8.Mathew Clowes, 9.Alex Boyadjian (4.Joshua Gould 90+) 10.Fabricio Fernandez (17.Matthew Crossley 88’) 11.Ismail Hares 12.Nick Trimble 13.Lord Darkoh 23. Lachlan Roberts.
Substitutes not used: 21. Matthew Nilkolovski 19.Giuliano Airoldi
Yellow Cards: Ismail Hares 38’ Nick Trimble 52’
Red Cards: Nil
Referee: D. Stack
Assistant Referees: N.Backo, M.McOrist
Fourth Official: S.Quinn
By Malcolm Rowney