North Shore Mariners secured a dramatic 3-2 victory over reigning National Premier Leagues NSW Premiers Wollongong Wolves on Sunday afternoon at Albert Butler Memorial Park producing one of the shocks of the season already.
The Mariners began the game positively moving the ball forward quickly creating a couple of half-chances.
However, it was the Wolves who took the lead 12 minutes in through Thomas James.
An effective pattern of pressure from the hosts saw possession relinquished by the Mariners’ in their back third.
Lachlan Scott picked up the ball on the left-hand side and drilled it towards the back post where James calmly slotted the ball back across the keeper and into the net.
Despite the early goal, Wollongong were unable to add to their advantage and three minutes before the break, the Mariners restored parity.
Panny Nikas, who made his debut with his new club after he suffered a facial injury in pre-season, shifted the ball inside from the right-hand side onto his left foot before he fired into the near side of the goal.
The sides went into the sheds with the scores level at 1-1.
It was a chance-shy beginning to the second period as neither side imposed themselves on the match.
In the 68th minute, Wollongong was awarded a free-kick on the left-hand side and the delivery found the head of Lachlan Scott who narrowly missed the target with his header at the back post.
The Wolves would be left to rue Scott’s missed chance when four minutes later, the Mariners took the lead for the first time in the match.
Some quick play on the right-hand side saw Emmanuel Peters played clean through down the right-hand and the forward comfortably found the far corner with his right-footed shot.
The Wolves began to show more urgency going forwards after the goal with the pressure resulting in a penalty being awarded with ten minutes to play.
James stepped up and confidently powered an effort into the left side of the goal with Ryan Wood diving the opposite direction.
There was late drama, however, when Smith put the visitors into the lead during stoppage time.
A ball down the right-hand side prompted a shot from Peters with Durose only able to parry the ball into the path of Smith who rose highest heading the ball home securing all three points for the North Shore Mariners.
Wolves coach Luke Wilkshire was critical of side’s performance, specifically highlighting the defensive frailties shown by the team.
“It is a very disappointing result,” he said.
“We didn’t defend as well as we can do, we conceded some sloppy goals.
“I think they wanted it more.
“We got we deserved, and that was nothing.”
Mariners head coach Joe Haywood on the other hand was delighted with his side’s display despite the concession of an early goal
“I thought we had a really good start to the game but we let ourselves down with the goal,” Haywood said.
“Overall, I thought we were the better team. We were in control with and without the ball.
“We are getting more confident each game that goes by.
“We’ll get stronger. We’ll get better.”
The Mariners have had an impressive start their 2020 NPL NSW Men’s campaign taking off points against last year’s Champions APIA in round 1 with a 1-1 draw while getting all three points away to the 2019 Premiers the Wolves.
Wollongong Wolves 2 (James 12’, 80’)
North Shore Mariners 3 (Nikas 42’, Peters 72’, Smith 90+1’)
Sunday 8 March 2020
Albert Butler Memorial Park, Kemblawarra
Referee: H. Jomaa
Assistant Referees: N. Wotton and M. McOrist
Fourth Official: J. Rose
Wollongong Wolves: 23. Hayden Durose (GK), 3. Darcy Madden, 4. Nikola Djordjevic, 7. Christopher Price, 8. Brendan Griffin, 9. Thomas James, 10. Marcus Beattie (19. Bul Juach 60’), 11. Takeru Okada (14. Harry Callahan 67’), 15. Nicholas Littler, 16. Guy Knight, 24. Lachlan Scott
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Justin Pasfield, 2. Taylor McDonald, 6. Ethan Kambisios
Yellow Cards: Griffin 5’, Juach 77’
North Shore Mariners: 1. Ryan Wood (GK), 3. Chris Lindsay (26. Daniel Olaniran 86’), 6. Brian Jamba, 7. Hugo Forlico (19. Daniel Saric 64’), 9. Braden Cheng (14. Jesse Piriz 82’), 11. Emmanuel Peters, 16. Daniel Dias, 18. Mitchell Smith, 22. Edward Caspers, 27. Panny Nikas, 30. Zac Sfiligoi
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Eddie Lee, 21. Joel Tinker
Yellow Cards: Sfiligoi 70’
3 – Emmanuel Peters (NSM)
2 – Thomas James (WW)
1 – Panny Nikas (NSM)
By National Premier Leagues NSW Reporter Timothy Gibson