Wollongong Wolves have maintained their lead at the top of the National Premier League NSW Men’s ladder with a 4-0 win over Sydney FC at WIN Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
A Thomas James brace and goals from Takeru Okada and Lachlan Scott was enough to get the job done for the Wolves in slippery conditions, with the side returning to winning ways after their 2-1 loss to Sydney United 58 last round.
Both sides struggled to adjust to the wet Wollongong weather in the opening exchanges, but the Wolves took the lead in the 36th minute after Harry Callahan lobbed a ball in the direction of Thomas James from the right-hand side of the field.
James made no mistake of the chance, deftly nodding the ball past Sydney keeper Thomas Heward-Belle and handing the hosts the only goal in a tight opening half.
The visitors had a chance to level the scores shortly before the half-time break, but a speculative shot from Harry Van der Saag was quickly collected by Justin Pasfield.
But the Wolves came out firing in the second phase of play, with the side doubling their lead in the 57th minute after a James Stojcevski free-kick saw a loose ball pushed out to Takeru Okada on the edge of the box.
The Japanese midfielder showed no mercy, rifling a shot through the crowded box and into the bottom-left corner to extend Wollongong’s lead.
The hosts added their third goal of the afternoon in the 76th minute, with the side awarded a penalty after Harry Callahan was brought down in the box. Thomas James stepped up to take the spot-kick, only to have his effort saved by Heward-Belle.
However, Wollongong’s Lachlan Scott was the first to the loose ball produced by the save, with the former Western Sydney Wanderer tapping the ball into the back of the net.
Wollongong completed their victory with a fourth goal six minutes from full-time, with James nodding home a Stojcevski free-kick to hand the Wolves all three points.
Wollongong coach Luke Wilkshire was pleased to secure the victory but noted his team could have done a lot more against their opponents.
“I think the first half I definitely wasn’t happy with – I think it was the worst half of football we have played,” he said.
“But credit to Sydney, I thought they were well organised defensively and did well in the first half. But the standards that we have, we weren’t up to them in the first half.
“It’s a sign of a good team when you can still win games when you are not at your best and we do have that here. We have a good team and seven games to go now, but like I said, we have our standards and for me we weren’t quite at them today, which is the disappointing bit.”
Meanwhile Sydney FC coach Jim Van Weeren was very pleased at how his young squad performed on the pitch but noted that the side can progress further.
“I think there was plenty of positives, the average age for us out there today was 18 and you come to Wollongong against the top of the table and I thought the young boys – a few of them starting on debut – did really well,” he said.”
“You always want to do better, we lost 4-0 and you can’t hide behind that, but we find the positives.
“There will be a few things we will try and work on in the week and we get a few boys back next week so, we move on.”
The Wolves will return to WIN Stadium for the fourth week in a row next round, hosting a stumbling Sydney Olympic side next Sunday while Sydney FC will host a resurgent Mount Druitt Town Rangers on Saturday evening, as the Sky Blues hope to end the Rangers’ three-match unbeaten run.
Wollongong Wolves FC 4 (Thomas James 36’, 84’, Takeru Okada 57’, Lachlan Scott 76’)
Sydney FC 0
Sunday 16th June, 2019
WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Referee: S. Lucas
Assistant Referees: L. Greenshields and R. Osborne
Fourth Official: B. Merchant
Wollongong Wolves: 1. Justin Pasfield, 2. Taylor McDonald, 4. Nikola Djordjevic, 6. Benjamin Tosi (16. Guy Knight 45’), 7. Christopher Price, 9. Thomas James, 11. Takeru Okada, 14. Harry Callahan (25. Bul Juach 81’), 15. Nick Littler, 17. James Stojcevski, 24. Lachlan Scott (13. Stefan Dimoski 76’)
Substitutes Not Used: 3. Darcy Madden 12. Luke Kairies (GK)
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Sydney FC: 1. Thomas Heward-Belle, 4. Thomas Fay, 5. Patrick Scibilio, 6. Harry Van der Saag, 12. Giuseppe Tilio (11. Luke Ivanovic 58’), 15. Ryan Teague, 16. Paolo Bonanni, 17. Callum Talbot, 18. Benjamin Koop (7. Jaiden Kucharski 84’), 24. Jake Hollman (34. Calem Nieuwenhof 69’), 54. Anton Mlinaric
Substitutes Not Used: 21. Thomas Main, 30. Adam Pavlesic
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Player Ratings have now been hidden due to the second half of the season commencing.
By National Premier Leagues NSW Reporter Cal Behrendt (@CalBehrendt)