Wollongong Wolves have been crowned 2019 National Premier Leagues Champions after defeating Football Queensland’s Lions FC in a thrilling 4-3 encounter at Albert Butler Park cementing them as the best NPL club in Australia.
The 2019 NPL NSW Men’s Premiers needed extra time to give Luke Wilkshire and his men the coveted title after the game ended 2-2 in ninety minutes.
But the Wolves were made to work for the NPL title as the visitors struck first in the 13th minute after Andrew Thompson sent a pinpoint cross to Shaun Carlos who headed the ball beyond Justin Pasfield and it was the Queenslanders who drew first blood.
The scoreline stayed that way as half-time saw Warren Moon’s men grab the ascendancy but it was the second half that saw the action and tension hit fever pitch.
The hosts bagged an equaliser in the 52nd via a penalty as Harry Callahan was brought down in the box by Matija Simic.
Up stepped the NPL NSW Men’s Player of the Year and Golden Boot award winner Thomas James who dispatched his penalty and it was game on.
The action was flying thick and fast but the game finally saw a third goal scored in the 80th minute when Wolves’ Japanese import Takeru Okada scored what he thought was the winner. His cracking left foot shot was too hot to handle and the Wolves were in the box seat of winning the prestigious NPL title.
Lions FC had other plans and blew the match right open as four minutes after Okada’s goal, Marek Madle hit an equaliser. Teammate Josh Brindell-South worked his magic and sent through a cross to Madle’s head and he finished with aplomb.
No further goals were scored in the ninety minutes although Lions FC knew its task of winning the NPL title was to be made that much tougher after Mitchell Hore received his second yellow of the match and was given his marching orders.
Extra time was yet another see-sawing event and after the first half concluded, it was the second half that drew all the goals.
The Wolves hit the lead once more in 109th minute after Taylor McDonald sent through a brilliant cross to Bul Juach and his resulting header sent the Wolves fans into raptures.
Wollongong then made the task that much harder for Lions FC as sharpshooter James smashed home his second of the game in the 116th minute and it looked like it was game set and match.
Joe Duckworth had other ideas as Madle won his team a penalty following a foul from Wolves defender Nikola Djordjevic – Duckworth tucked his spot-kick away in the 119th minute but it proved to be too little too late as the final whistle sounded with the NPL title heading back to NSW.
The win gave the Wolves not only the NPL Title but a round of 32 FFA Cup spot in 2020 pushing the quota to six representative teams hailing from NSW.
Football NSW would like to congratulate the Wollongong Wolves on being crowned Australian NPL Champions!
Harry Callahan from the Wollongong Wolves took out the prestigious John Kosmina Medal for being the player of the NPL 2019 Grand Final which was presented by former Socceroo and NSL & Hyundai A-League Champion Alvin Ceccoli.
2019 marks the seventh edition of the NPL Finals Series, which was won last year by South Australian club Campbelltown City SC. Sydney United 58 FC won the inaugural competition in 2013 and in 2016, while MetroStars SC from South Australia (2014), Blacktown City FC from New South Wales (2015) and Heidelberg United FC from Victoria (2017) have also been crowned Champions of the series in the past.
NPL 2019 Grand Final Match Details
Saturday 5 October 2019
Wollongong Wolves (NSW) 4 (Thomas James 52’ (p)/116’, Takeru Okada 80’, Bul Juach 109’)
Lions FC (QLD) 3 (Shaun Carlos 13’, Marek Madle 84’, Joe Duckworth 119’(p))
Albert Butler Park, Primbee, NSW
Kick-Off: 2:30pm (local) (2:30pm (AEST))
Referee: Stephen Laurie
Assistant Referee 1: Brad Wright
Assistant Referee 2: Emma Kocbek
Fourth Official: Tim Danaskos
Wollongong Wolves (NSW): 1.Justin Pasfield (gk) (c), 2.Taylor McDonald, 3.Darcy Madden, 4.Nikola Djordjevic, 9.Thomas James, 11.Takeru Okada (23.Jordan Nikolovski 108’), 14.Harry Callahan (13.Stefan Dimoski 117’), 15.Nicholas Littler, 16.Guy Knight (10.Brendan Griffin 94’), 17.James Stojcevski, 24.Lachlan Scott (8.Bul Juach 95’)
Substitutes Not Used: 12.Luke Kairies (gk)
Yellow Cards: James Stojcevski 40’, Justin Pasfield 53’, Guy Knight 91’, Harry Callahan 112’, Nikola Djordjevic 119’
Red Cards: Nil
Lions FC (QLD): 90.Luke Borean (gk), 2.Andy Thompson (17.Marek Madle 73’) , 4.Matija Simic (c), 5.Tommy Jarrard, 8.Mitch Hore, 10.Joe Duckworth, 11.Nathan Shepherd (9.Keegan Jelacic 62’), 12.Shaun Carlos (6.Nathan Reardon 73’), 13.Henry Hore, 15.Danny Kim, 16.Joshua Brindell-South (3.Leum Walpole 105’)
Substitutes Not Used: 20.Jacson Riley (GK)
Yellow Cards: Danny Kim 32’, Mitch Hore 54’/90+2’, Joshua Brindell-South 103’
Red Cards: Mitch Hore 90+2’
John Kosmina Medal Winner: Harry Callahan (Wollongong Wolves)