It was a return to form from the Wollongong Wolves with a 3-1 victory against local rivals Sutherland Sharks in its PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s clash at WIN Stadium on Sunday evening.
A first half domination, including a brace from Nicolas Bernal and a goal from Darcy Madden, set the tone for the game.
Only a late Joshua Da Silva strike prevented the home side from a clean sheet victory.
Some trickery from winger Tomohiro Kajiyama created the first real chance of the game when he delivered a dangerous cross into the box but the Wolves were up to the task and cleared their lines.
In the 5th minute the home side got its first real chance of the game when Ben Zucco had a shot from long range but it could only trickle across the face of the goal for a goal kick.
A long range effort in the 8th minute from Lukas Stergiou almost broke the game wide open but it went just over the bar.
An error inside the visitors half by Danny Lazarevski allowed Kajiyama to break away but the eventual cut back was smashed over the bar by Joshua Da Silva.
The game was going from end to end and in the 13th minute the home side had the chance to break the deadlock.
A cross from Darcy Madden was met with a head by Chris Price but he could only put the header wide.
A minute later the Wolves had yet another chance but after some good work from the Sutherland defence and a save from goalkeeper, Nathan Denham, the score remained level.
Some neat play from Sutherland Sharks in the 19th minute, including two backheels, ended with another close call as Da Silva hit the ball low and hard across goal and wide.
It was the offside flag in the 21st minute which denied the opening goal as a neat chip over the defence found Madden but he was adjudged to have mistimed his run.
A switch of play in the 22nd minute from David Stojic led to a great cross. On the turn Nicolas Bernal got the ball and buried it home for the 1-0 lead.
Ten minutes later the home side almost extended its lead when Darcy Madden beat his man inside the box but he couldn’t find a team mate with his pass.
From the resulting corner, the ball found Chris Price who headed back into the box for Bernal to head home his second of the game and a 2-0 lead for the Wolves.
Bernal was in everything in the first half and almost had his hat-trick in the 36th minute but he mistimed his shot and the ball went for a goal kick.
A huge error from Sutherland in the 39th minute inside the box allowed Madden to beat his man and the goalkeeper to the ball and get the home sides’ third goal.
It was not until the 51st minute when the first real chance of the second half occurred. After some neat play eventually saw the ball go out for a corner, the ball was whipped in and some confusion almost led to a goal but it was eventually cleared.
The visitors looked to have scored in the 55th minute when the ball found the back of the net but it was ruled out after the ball had gone out in the lead up.
Sutherland were awarded a free kick just outside the area four minutes later but goalkeeper, Justin Pasfield, was up to the task and punched the ball out for a throw in.
A foul and subsequent yellow card for Nick Littler in the 64th minute gave Wollongong a chance to get another goal but the cross came to nothing as the Sharks were able to clear the ball.
After a lengthy delay for an injury the Wolves made the ball down the field and a cut back from Bernal led to a corner.
From the resulting corner, towering centre back James Baldacchiono put his header narrowly over the bar.
In the 75th minute, Sutherland Sharks had a free kick just outside the area but the shot from Littler was straight at Pasfield as they continued their search for their first goal.
A flurry in the box in the 79th minute ended with a thunderous shot from Joshua Da Silva which forced Justin Pasfield into an expert save.
Three minutes later however, Da Silva would not be denied when he did it all himself to pull one back for the visitors.
Sutherland just simply would not go away and from a corner in the 87th minute they should have had another goal but the Wolves showed desperation to clear the ball right before Sutherland pulled the trigger.
There would be one last chance for the visitors in stoppage time but from the corner they could only head wide meaning Wollongong Wolves would come away with the 3-1 victory.
Winning coach, Jacob Timpano, was happy with the overall performance but believed it could have been more convincing.
“I think the first half was probably the best 45 minutes we’ve strung together this season. We really blew them off the park I thought and that was the plan to go out there and not give them an inch of space,” he said.
“It probably could have been more than three at half time but the first 45 was outstanding and that set the tone for the match.”
Sutherland Sharks head coach, Carlos Villazon, was disappointed in the result but said he saw improvement across the 90 minutes.
“I think we played two different games in the first half and the second half. I think in the first half we defended really deep and the opposition put pressure on us and that created a big hole in the middle of the park and we lost possession straight away,” he said.
“In the second half, we created a couple of great chances and were much better than the first half but we are still very disappointed with the performance.”
During the week Wollongong Wolves have an Westfield FFA Cup fixture before they hit the road to face Sydney Olympic while Sutherland Sharks return home to meet Rockdale City Suns FC.
Wollongong Wolves: 3 (Bernal 22’, 32 Madden 39’)
Sutherland Sharks: 1 (Da Silva 72’)
Sunday 1st May, 2016.
WIN Stadium, Wollongong.
Referee: J Lewis
Assistant Referees: J Garcia and J Adabjou
Fourth Official: M McOrist
Wollongong Wolves: 1. Pasfield, 2. Kawase, 3. Madden (Griffin 49’) 5. Baldacchiono 6. Mackenzie 7. Price 10. Stojic (Wilson 83’) 15. Lazarevski 16. B Zucco 23. Matthews 18. Bernal (R. Zucco 73’)
Substitutions not used: 12. Collison
Yellow Cards: Pasfield (90+2’)
Red Card: Nil
Sutherland Sharks: 17. Andrew (Kayes 45’) 10. Da Silva 1. Denham 19. Fitzpatrick 23. Hayes (Gomez 63’) 35. Kajiyama 5. Littler 15. Moustakas 12. Stergiou
Substitutions Not Used: 13. Cox 7. Press 21. Loe
Yellow Cards: Littler 64’
Red Card: Nil
3 – Bernal (Wolves)
2 – Stojic (Wolves)
1 – Madden (Wolves)
-By Jake Bull, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Reporter, at WIN Stadium, Wollongong.