Parramatta FC came back from the dead to snatch a 4-3 victory over Wollongong Wolves in a lively PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s clash at WIN Stadium on Sunday.
Wollongong dominated the first half through the class of striker Peter Simonovski and right fullback Darcy Madden. Indeed, the classy number nine opened the scoring in the sixth minute and in the 19th hit the post, before Nicholas Bernal tucked away the rebound for a 2-0 Wollongong lead.
Wollongong played with accuracy and aplomb, creating opportunities and opening holes in a leaky Parramatta defence. But despite creating several chances, the home side was unable to capitalise, a fact that would in the end proved costly.
Just as the Wolves were preparing to go to the sheds with a handy 2-0 lead, Parramatta struck against the run of play.
Fullback Tomislav Mijic glanced a header onto the underside of the bar and into the back of net to reduce the deficit to 2-1.
It was a telling moment. Parramatta refused to drop their head and fired up to mount a comeback.
Parramatta returned to the pitch with an extra spring in their step and within minutes of the restart, equalised through Luke Grima, who struck home from close range.
At 2-2 the visitors were in the driver’s seat and three minutes later they were hot on the attack again.
Gosue Sama played the perfect through ball to Ante Tomic only to be denied by brave Wolves goalkeeper Justin Pasfield.
The visitor’s struck again to lead 3-2 when Grima drove a half-volley past a despairing Pasfield just shy of the hour mark. Somehow Parramatta had come back from the dead.
But just when the Wolves began to look down and out, fullback James Baldacchino rose above the Parramatta defence to head home the equalizer.
The first half may have been ordinary and unremarkable, but the second period certainly made up for it as both sides threw caution to the wind, attacking at will.
Unfortunately for the Wolves, Simonovski took a heavy fall and had to be replaced in the 71st minute. Simonovski’s injury didn’t stop them from launching a wave of attacking raids at the southern end, including a tantalising free kick that was well saved by Parramatta keeper Luke Turnbull.
In the 75th minute, Parramatta’s Ante Tomic all but sealed the match, slotting home a left-footer from inside the box to give his side a 4-3 lead.
Stunned, the crowd fell silent, but the local boys came back hard.
Zachary Mackenzie tried an audacious overhead kick and on the stroke of fulltime James Baldacchino scored from close range after a melee inside the six-yard box.
The celebrations were short-lived as the linesman’s upraised flag denied the equaliser.
With his first touch of the ball and the clock winding down, Parramatta sub Frank Martey sent a perfect long through ball for Marco Sama, who was unable to capitalise on a golden opportunity to put the game beyond reach of the Wolves.
Again Wollongong came back and in injury time, Pasfield joined the attack at a free kick, glancing a header just millimeters over the bar. Brave as it was, the Wolves’ comeback just wasn’t to be.
In the afterglow of victory, Parramatta coach Frank Cosentino said he was proud of his team and felt that they didn’t deserve to be down by two goals early in the first half.
“We gifted them the two goals and I don’t believe we should have been 2-0 down, and I suppose it was a bit of justice to get back to 2-1 just before halftime,” Cosentino said.
“It just kept the boys in the game. This side’s got a lot of heart and I knew that if we did the right thing in the second half, we could get back into it.”
A disappointed Wollongong coach Jacob Timpano said he didn’t think his side showed Parramatta enough respect.
“We were comfortable in the first half at 2-0 and then we conceded a sloppy goal just before halftime and they came out a totally different team in the second half,” Timpano said.
“In the context of the game I don’t think we deserved to lose but I think our players will learn a good lesson from the performance tonight and regarding attitude and mentality.
“I can’t really take too many positives from tonight, because when you’re 2-0 up you shouldn’t really lose a game.”
Wollongong Wolves 3 (Peter Simonovski 6’, Nicholas Bernal 19’, James Baldacchino 60’)
Parramatta FC 4 (Tomislav Mijic 45+1’, Luke Grima 47’, 58’, Ante Tomic 76’)
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Referee: S Lukas
Assistant referees: L Greenshields, N Wotton
Fourth official: M Riedy
Wollongong Wolves: 1. Justin Pasfield, 2. Kota Kawase, 3. Darcy Madden, 5. James Baldacchino, 6. Zachary Mackenzie, 7. Chris Price (C), 9. Peter Simonovski (11. Brett Wilson 72’), 10. David Stojic (8. Brendan Griffin 63’), 16. Ben Zucco, 18. Nicholas Bernal, 23. Samuel Matthews (17. Ricky Zucco)
Unused Subs: 12. Daniel Collison, 15. Danny Lazarevski
Coach: Jacob Timpano
Yellow cards: 5. James Baldacchino 31’, 16. Ben Zucco 65’, 23. Samuel Matthews 54’, Zachary Mackenzie 80’
Parramatta FC: 1. Luke Turnbull, 5. Tomislav Mijic, 6. Daniel Gullo, 8. Daniel Rezo, 9. Gosue Sama, 10. Marco Sama, 11. Ante Tomic, 14. Luke Grima, 18. Tom Mallett, 15. Ibrahim Haydar, 23. Aram Tayebi-Derazkala
Subs: 3. Mitchell Davidson, 7. Frank Martey, 13. Andreas Vais, 20. Joshua Gersbach, 33. Corey Finch
Coach: Frank Cosentino
Yellow Cards: 11. Ante Tomic 52’, 9. Gosue Sama 67’, 6. Daniel Gullo 78’,
3 – Luke Grima (PFC)
2 – Darcy Madden (Wolves)
1 – Peter Simonovski (Wolves)
-By PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Derek Royal