SOUTH Coast Wolves continued their renaissance with a gritty 1-0 win against Sutherland Sharks.
Ricky Zucco, as ever, was the star of the show, constantly menacing the Sutherland defence and scoring the only goal of the match early in the second half.
Wolves were bright and energetic throughout and they were a side moulded in the image of their coach Nahuel Arrarte; hardworking and cunning.
The first half was a lesson in graft as neither side managed to settle into their rhythm on a typically windy day at WIN Stadium.
The first chance, if you could call it that, came in the eighth minute when Matthew Bailey dragged a shot wide from the edge of the area.
Wolves weren’t shy to have a dig but weren’t able to test Sutherland keeper Nathan Denham, as was evident when Lachlan Reus shot over with the outside of his boot on the half hour.
Sutherland’s first shot in anger came in the 38′ minute when Panny Nikas’ effort from the edge of the area was stopped by Thomas Hamilton.
Zucco was using his muscle to harass Nicholas Littler and Perry Moustakas at the back, but his radar was initially well off with a handful of free kicks whizzing wide and a shot over the bar in the 39′ minute.
The best chance of the first half fell to Sutherland’s Ethan Galbraith. The ball was pinging around the area when it fell to the feet of the big Sutherland forward, but he rushed his shot, eventually stabbing over the bar.
Sutherland coach Robbie Stanton can’t have been impressed by Sutherland’s fairly insipid first half performance and he made a change at the break, bringing on Jayden Koulizakis for the wasteful Lukas Stergiou.
It had little effect though as barely minutes after the restart, Zucco scored the only goal of the game.
A cross from the left by Bailey found Zucco sliding in to beat Denham with a good finish.
It was the start of a period of concerted pressure from Wolves, as a few minutes later Zucco shot wide of Denham’s right hand post, before Jordan Murray’s shot hit the post.
Sutherland looked like they’d levelled the scores when Jamie McMaster headed goalward, only to be denied by a quite brilliant save by Hamilton.
Just after the hour mark, Nicholas Olsen worked space to shoot, but he too was denied by Hamilton.
There was a scare for the Wolves ‘keeper when he spilled a shot from Nikas in the 69’ minute, but the gloveman was quick to plunge on the loose ball before anyone in blue could toe it home.
Sutherland had to commit bodies forward and Jordan Figon, on for an unimpressed Galbraith, threw himself around but with little effect.
They left themselves vulnerable on the break and Wolves had a number of chances to put the game away, with even late substitute Peter Simonoski finding the time to spurn a few decent openings.
Samuel Matthews had the best of the late chances, taking advantage of a slip by Littler to advance on goal, only to scuff his finish wide.
It mattered not though, as Wolves recorded another morale boosting win, while a week of introspection is ahead of Sutherland after back-to-back defeats.
South Coast Wolves 1 (Ricky Zucco 48′)
Sutherland Sharks 0
Sunday June 8, 2014
WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones
Assistant Referee: Nicholas Backo and Brett Lorimer
Fourth Official: Benjamin Abraham
South Coast Wolves: 1.Thomas Hamilton; 2.Jack Keating, 4.Michael Robinson, 5.James Baldacchino, 6.Zachary Mackenzie, 8.Matthew Bailey (C), 10.Ricky Zucco (20.Joseph Lavalle 76′), 15.Darcy Madden, 16.Lachlan Reus, 22.Samuel Matthews, 25.Jordan Murray (9.Peter Simonoski 85′)
Substitutes not used: 30.David Hamilton, 3.Christopher Nathaniel, 7.Christopher Price
Yellow cards: James Baldacchino 90+3′
Red cards: Nil
Sutherland Sharks: 1.Nathan Denham; 2.Jacob Tratt, 5.Nicholas Littler, 6.Matthew Gordon, 8.Lukas Stergiou (18.Jayden Koulizakis 46′), 10.Jamie McMaster, 14.Nick Stavroulakis (C), 15.Perry Moustakas, 16.Ethan Galbraith (12.Jordan Figon 59′), 19.Nicholas Olsen, 23.Panny Nikas
Substitutes not used: 22.Andrew Depta, 29.Mitchell Farmer, 17.Jordan Roberts
Yellow cards: Perry Moustakas 19′, Ethan Galbraith 28′, Nick Littler 46′, Nick Stavroulakis 58′
Red cards: Nil
– By Matthew Lopez, National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 Editor, at WIN Stadium