TWO moments of Sydney United 58 brilliance was all the difference as Mark Rudan’s side edged Wollongong Wolves 2-1 in its PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s clash at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday.
The Round 2 match was not for the feint of heart with eight yellow cards handed out in a game of hard tackles and end to end action.
It was a high octane start the match with Sydney United 58 and Wollongong displaying plenty of attacking intent from the opening whistle.
Tempers ran high in the cold and wet conditions with neither side willing to give an inch.
With everything thrown forward in attack, both sides were susceptible on the counter.
Wollongong had the first real chance of the game in the 8th minute when striker Nicholas Bernal broke away on a stinging counter attack only to be denied by United 58 shot stopper Thomas Manos.
Wollongong missed another great opportunity in the 25th minute when Brendan Griffin sailed his free kick over the bar from only 19 yards out.
It became a half of missed opportunities when Sydney United 58 also failed to capitalise on a guilt edge chance in the 35th minute.
Panni Nikas scuffed his shot when he only had Justin Pasfield in the Wollongong net to beat.
Wollongong were unlucky not to have taken a lead into halftime when Brett Wilson broke free on the counter after a Sydney United 58 corner after 45 minutes.
Wilson beat the keeper but sprayed his shot narrowly wide after being chased down by Sydney United 58 midfielder Peter Triantis just as the whistle for half time sounded.
Sydney United 58 returned from the break with added intent and it took only three minutes for the home side to make their mark on the scoreboard
Triantis collected the ball on the edge of the 18 yard box after a clearing punch from Pasfield before volleying into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
The goal gave the home side all the momentum and Sydney United 58 were quick to take advantage.
Panni Nikas doubled the scoreline to 2-0 in the 61st minute when he swept in to tap home a fumbled catch from Pasfield.
Wollongong refused to say die and a Nicholas Bernal goal in the 68th minute brought the visitors back into the match.
Bernal turned United 58 fullback Matthew Bilic before powering his shot past the outstretched arms of Manos.
Determined to return home with at least a point, Wollongong pushed hard for an equaliser.
Tempers once again flared with each side putting in a little extra bite to their challenges.
In the dying moments of the match, the Wolves had one last opportunity when Brendan Griffin surged forward but his pass across the face of foal was intercepted by Bilic.
Mark Rudan was pleased with the result but admitted his side still had plenty of work to do.
“It is always nice to win your first home game of the season,” he said.
“I was impressed with a number of passages of play but in the same breath there were moments where i think we need to improve.
“We have set out to play a high intensity brand of football and I felt the boys did that today.”
It was a sombre mood in the Wollongong locker rooms after the match.
“We paid the price for not capitalising on our chances,” Wollongong coach Jacob Timpano said.
“After spending all week looking at what Sydney United can do from set pieces it was tough to concede from two corner kicks.
“It is disappointing to lose but there is still plenty of football to be played this season.”
Sydney United 58: 2 (Triantis 48’, Nikas 61’)
Wollongong Wolves: 1 (Bernal 68’)
Sunday, March 20
Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park.
Referee: S Lucas
Assistant Referees: K Robinson and J Park
Fourth Official: A Mansour
Sydney United 58: 21. MANOS Thomas, 2.VISMAS Kristopher, 6.CRISTOPHER Payne (11. TANESKI Nikola 71’),7.YUTARO Shin, 8.Traintis Peter, 10.MILESKI Robert (18. DONATIELLO Marcus 88’), 14.STAVROULAKIS Nicholas, 17. KOFINAS Theo, 19. BILIC Matthew 22. FRAGOGIANNIS Yianni, 23. NIKAS Panagioltis.
Substitutes Not Used: 1.DEPTA Andrew, 3.BRISKOSKI Josh, 12. VRILIC Ante
Yellow Cards: Triantis 5’, Mileski 10, Kofinas 49’, Stavroulakis 58’
Wollongong Wolves: 1. PASFIELD Justin, 2. KAWASE Kota, 5. BALDACCHIONO James, 6. MCKENZIE Zac, 7. PRICE Chris, 8. GRIFFIN Brendan, 9. SIMONOSKI Peter, 11. WILSON Brett (10. STOJIC David 63’), 18. BERNAL Nicholas, 19. MCGINN Blake 23 MATTHEWS Sam (17. ZUCCO Ricky 80’)
Substitutes not used: 15. LAZAREVSKI Danny, 16. ZUCCO Ben, 12. COLLISON Daniel
Yellow Cards: McGinn 30’, McKenzie 40’, Bernal 56’, Zucco 81’
3 – Panni Nikas (SU)
2 – Peter Triantis (SU)
1 – Nick Stavroulakis (SU)