A late Thomas James penalty has helped Wollongong Wolves keep their unbeaten start to the season alive after they fought back to claim a 1-1 draw with Mount Druitt Town Rangers at WIN Stadium on Sunday.
The home side looked like their impressive start to the campaign was set to come to an end at the hands of a inspired Rangers team but James’ 77th minute finish from the spot saved the day in front of the Wolves faithful.
Wollongong had more of the chances in the first half but it was the visiting side who took the lead when a quick Alex Boyadjian counter-attack gave Mt Druitt a 1-0 advantage after 53 minutes.
However, Wollongong’s fighting spirit came through late with Mt Druitt sure to rue what could’ve been.
It was the hosts who dominated the opening half, with Wollongong fans being excused for thinking they had opened the scoring in the 31st minute.
Lachlan Scott managed to round Mount Druitt gloveman Carlos Saliadarre and find the back of the net only for the play to be called offside.
The remainder of the first half could be best described as a dour battle with neither side truly creating any further chances.
Wollongong had a great start to the second half with James coming agonizingly close to opening the scoring in the 46th minute .
The front man’s strike from the edge of the box rocketed into the Mount Druitt crossbar and rebounded off the goal-line before bouncing back into play.
The Wolves had another chance to break through seven minutes later when a Takeru Okada free-kick found the head of Guy Knight in the Rangers box, only for the Wolves player to nod his effort just wide of the right-hand post.
But immediately after Knight’s attempt, Mount Druitt’s Alex Boyadjian broke the deadlock after receiving a quick ball from the Rangers backline.
The Mount Druitt forward raced into a one-on-one chance with Wollongong Justin Pasfield before rolling the ball into the bottom right corner.
Now a goal behind and with their unbeaten start to the season on the line, Wollongong threw everything they had into finding an equaliser.
It was an effective strategy with Nick Littler wining his side a penalty after he was brought down in the Mount Druitt box going after a deep Takeru Okada free-kick.
Current National Premier League NSW Men’s top scorer James lashed his shot just past the fully outstretched hands of Rangers keeper Carlos Saliadarre and into the bottom left corner.
Wollongong pushed for a late winner but it wasn’t to be as they settled for a 1-1 draw.
Wollongong coach Luke Wilkshire was disappointed by the result but opted to take positives from the match.
“It was a very frustrating day in the office, when you are not ruthless enough and take your chances, that happens in football,” he said.
“I had no doubt with the penalty that he [Thomas James] was going to score it, but like I said it was very frustrating that we were in that position in the first place.
“We will recap and have a look over it and prepare for Hakoah and we will go from there. We will take the positives with that we are still undefeated, but we dropped two points today.”
Meanwhile Mount Druitt coach Aidan Desmond felt the game was an opportunity lost for his side.
“To come down here and get a point against them, though we should be going home with three, but to pick up the 18’s and pick up the 20’s, it’s a good day for the club,” he said.
“They [Wollongong] had lots of the ball, but not in dangerous positions.
“It’s a direct game that they play, and I thought we did really well to win the first ball and the second ball.”
The Wolves are back on the road next round, travelling up to Hensley Athletic Field to take on Hakoah Sydney City East next Sunday while Mount Druitt will be travelling to face Sydney United 58 at Sydney United Sports Centre on Easter Monday.
Wollongong Wolves 1 (Thomas James 77’)
Mount Druitt Town Rangers 1 (Alex Boyadjian 53’)
Sunday 14th April, 2019
WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Referee: D. Stack
Assistant Referees: N. Backo and M. McOrist
Fourth Official: S. Quinn
Wollongong Wolves: 1. Justin Pasfield, 2. Taylor McDonald, 4. Nikola Djordjevic, 6. Benjamin Tosi, 9. Thomas James, 11. Takeru Okada (19. Tory Musumeci 88’), 14. Harry Callahan (3. Darcy Madden 65’), 15. Nick Littler, 16. Guy Knight, 17. James Stojcevski, 24. Lachlan Scott (23. Jordan Nikolovski 78’)
Substitutes Not Used: 7. Christopher Price, 12. Luke Kairies (GK)
Yellow Cards: Thomas James 56’, Taylor McDonald 60’,
Red Cards: Nil
Mount Druitt Town Rangers: 1. Carlos Saliadarre, 2. Hiten Satoh, 6. Blake Thompson, 7. Luke Clifford (15. Cooper Coskerie 67’), 8. Mathew Clowes, 9. Alex Boyadjian (4. Joshua Gould 93’), 10. Fabricio Fernandez (17. Christian Long 82’), 11. Ismail Hares, 12. Nicholas Trimble, 13. Lord Darkoh, 23. Lachlan Roberts
Substitutes Not Used: 19. Guilano Airoloi, 25. Mathew Nikolovski, 27. Matthew Crossley
Yellow Cards: Ismail Hares 38’, Nicholas Trimble 52’
Red Cards: Nil
3 – James Stojcevski (Wollongong Wolves)
2 – Thomas James (Wollongong Wolves)
1 – Alex Boyadjian (Mount Druitt Town Rangers)
-By National Premier Leagues NSW Mens Reporter Cal Behrendt (@CalBehrendt)