I2019 NPL NSW MENS 1 ROUND 9
WOLLONGONG WOLVES v BLACKTOWN CITY
WOLVES ACCOUNT FOR BLACKTOWN
The Wolves 2019 team have created club history by going nine games undefeated from Round 1 by accounting for Blacktown City 4-0 in a comprehensive victory in the Round 9 fixture at WIN Stadium. The previous record was formerly a long standing one of being eight unbeaten achieved in the NSL season of 1981. With two goals by Thomas James to take his tally to twelve and one each to two members of the defensive line, Taylor McDonald and Nick Littler, with each scoring their second goal of the league campaign, the Wolves were on fire. Indeed, the victory was very sweet and as well as keeping in the top position on the points table, this was the first time since a 3-2 win in 2010 that the Wolves had accounted for Blacktown, a sixteen league match drought.
The top of the table home team (and the club having scored the most number of goals in 2019 competition) kicked off and ran towards the southern end. Littler quickly sent the ball up to James, signalling their attacking intent. With a couple of touches by James, the Blacktown defence of Grant Lynch, and Daniel Bragg finally interceded. Later, striker Bul Juach, fresh from scoring two cup goals five days prior and making his initial starting league appearance for the club, motored down the left side before cutting the ball back for James. This gun striker was quickly set upon with Blacktown winning this skirmish. However, the double marking eventuated many more times during the proceedings, as James seems to be targeted due to the danger that he orchestrates.
Early on, Blacktown’s Matt Lewis provided a pass to striker Joey Gibbs, who in the past had scored quite a number of goals against the Wolves, looked to keep that momentum going but James Stojcevski spoilt the outcome. Defensive midfielder Ben Tosi rode a tackle from Daniel Araujo to keep his team ticking over before Lewis worked the ball wide on the left. He lifted the ball into the Wolves are but the custodian was to the fore. A McDonald long throw in the area was headed away by Lynch before James or Juach could get to it. Guy Knight, the impressive left wingback, powered his effort into the area. Unfortunately, it struck a defender who got in the way. Striker Jordan Nikolovski managed to keep possession with deft skill with a cross field run before trying to set up James for a throw at the stumps that ultimately brought no joy. Nikola Djordjevic cleared with an overhead kick as he faced his own goal as Blacktown’s Adam Berry attempted to make inroads before a William Mutch cross was intercepted by McDonald with a header to see off the potential danger.
On the half hour mark, with Stojcevski doing a lot of work looking for openings, winning the ball, intercepting passes and providing penetration, provided the assist for James to increase his previous ten goal tally for the first score of the afternoon. His left footed shot flew across the goal face to lodge into the far lower corner.
Immediately prior to the goal, Knight had headed away defensively Blacktown custodian’s Tristan Prendergast long clearance kick, Pasfield took a Blacktown free kick with little trouble and McDonald’s attempted cross was charged down.
Four minutes from half time, the home team looked to double their advantage on the scoreboard. Harry Callahan, the skilful attacking midfielder moved decisively eluding a couple of players to position into a goal scoring attempted. His shot was directly on target. However, the ball whacked against the cross bar to deny him and his team.
Gibbs, attempted to thread to ball into the path of supports after Matthew Lewis had earlier been involved with effective lead-up play.
The Wolves had much of the play in the first forty-five minutes and looked more threatening with custodian and captain Justin Pasfield‘s domain only in danger of being breached by Blacktown on a few occasions with the goalkeeper Pasfield having the Blacktown strikers’ measure.
At half time the Wolves led 1-0.
The Wolves began the second stanza as they had in the first half, in an attacking mode. Callahan burst into the opposition penalty area and nearly lost his footing under a tackle. However, he regained his balance to then produce a powerful shot that looked home and hosed, only for the ball to thump into the goal frame for a second time. In the following play, Knight flighted the ball towards Juach. In between two defenders the striker attempted to get his head to the cross but was alas, unable to do so. Knight received attention and play was held up some time during the second half. After treatment he returned to the fray and got back to business.
Two minutes after the hour, James brought up his brace. With a spurt into the goal area from the left side, the striker escaped a marker and subsequently buried the ball inside the near post eluding the custodian.
Immediately before a Stojcevski cross from the left came in and Juach and Djordjevic endeavour to get a touch but neither was successful.
On sixty-five minutes the Wolves increased their lead once again. McDonald projected the ball into the goal with a good turn on the ball and rifling it in with his left foot.
Prendergast then saved a Juach effort and Bragg brought James to a halt by dispossessing the ball in a tackle.
Littler caused Blacktown further consternation when the central defender turned in a Stojcevski cross with a clinical finish to sure up the victory and improve the team’s goal difference.
The Wolves were in control and Blacktown could do little to arrest their situation. However, the team from Lily Homes Stadium did not give up the ghost and kept trying to get on the score sheet. Late in the match, from a free kick Jennings headed over, Prendergast came off his line and out of the box to beat a flying James and Mutch tried to tuck in a pass for Emmanuel Gonzalez but he couldn’t take advantage, pushing his effort wide. Blacktown now as a result of this match have remained scoreless for the second time in two matches, a little concerning for the team and the coach, Mark Crittenden.
The Wolves continue on their unbeaten run and are making every post a winner as the competition nears its halfway point.
Wolves’ coach Luke Wilshire - ‘I was delighted. I thought it was a great performance at home. The questions were asked of the boys and they did a good job today.’…. On James’ brace - ‘that’s what he does. That his quality.’ You look at the depth at the place with Liam Willie coming on and Brendon Low, a young kid, is knocking at the door. You have a squad at and at some point during the season injuries will occur and you need players to step up. And they have done that and it’s fantastic… we go day by day and week by week and we want to win every game. We were disappointed with the draw at Sutherland and the boys trained great during this week. We want the same approach every week.’
Wolves left wingback/defender Guy Knight - ‘we played pretty well and dominated in both halves… My shoulder is alright, it popped out and backed in again’… On his previous meeting with Blacktown in the 2018 FFA Cup when he played for Bulli ‘Yes it was tough game although they were a better side then…. With the Wolves - ‘It is a high level and is a lot quicker and I’m enjoying it. The boys are quality and it is easy to slot into a team with good quality…. Every one wants to be beats us.’
Wolves’ Central defender Nikola Djordjevic – ‘yeah definitely it was a good result in the end. Luke gave me opportunity so I took with it open hands and I try to prove myself every week. On his combination with Nick Littler – ‘he has a lot experience and I try to learn off him.’… It was a battle and we got through it…. We have to keep performing every week.’
WOLLONGONG WOLVES ……………4
Thomas James 30’, 62’, Taylor McDonald 65’ Nick Littler 72’
@ WIN STADIUM, WOLLONGONG
SUNDAY 5th MAY 2019
3.00 p.m. Kick Off
Coach: Luke Wilkshire
1.Justin Pasfield (GK) (Capt.) 2.Taylor McDonald 4.Nicola Djordjevic 6.Ben Tosi 9.Thomas James 14.Harry Callahan 15.Nick Littler 16.Guy Knight (Brendon Low 85’) 17.James Stojcevski 23.Jordan Nikolovski (Liam Willie 65’) 25.Bul Juach (13.Stefan Dimoski 81’)
Substitutes not used:12.Luke Kairies 8.James Markovac
Yellow Cards: Thomas James 37’ James Stojcevski 52’
Red Cards: Nil
1.Tristan Prendergast, 3.Daniel Collins 5.Grant Lynch, 6.Matt Lewis, 8.Daniel Araujo (7.Devant Clut 77’) 9.Joey Gibbs, 12. Lachlan Campbell (22.Leroy Jennings 45’) 15.Mason Versi 19.Adam Berry 21.William Mutch 23.Daniel Bragg (11.Emmanuel Gonzalez 68’)
Substitutes not used: 20.Dylan Niski,
Yellow Cards: Greg Lynch 34’ Mason Versi 46’, Daniel Bragg 54’ Daniel Collins 71’
Red Cards: Nil
Referee: B. Abraham
Assistant Referees: Matthew McOrist, Nathan Wotton
Fourth Official: N. Ryan
By Malcolm Rowney