Sydney United 58 have secured their second Grand Final berth in as many years with a 3-1 victory against Wollongong Wolves in a drama-filled clash at Albert Butler Memorial Park and have setup a date with Rockdale Illinden for the 2020 Championship at Marconi Stadium next Sunday.
In a repeat of the same game last season, United 58 was too good on the road as they once again denied Wollongong a place in the decider
It was a chaotic clash with both teams reduced to 10-men just before half-time after two separate off the ball incidents from United 58’s Patrick Antelmi and Thomas James of the Wolves.
A brilliant strike from Glen Trifiro and a clinical finish from Matt Sim in the second stanza was the difference with United 58 now set for a winner takes all clash against fierce rivals Rockdale Ilinden in next week’s decider.
Sydney United 58 didn’t hold back as they took the contest to Wollongong right from the opening whistle.
The visitors earlier pressure paid off when they were awarded a penalty after Matt Sim’s shot from the edge of the box was blocked by the arm of Wollongong defender Nikola Djordjevic.
Striker Antelmi made sure of the opportunity blasting the ball into the back of the net from the spot to give United 58 a 1-0 lead after only 15 minutes.
Despite falling behind the home side were not to be written off and found an equaliser through Marcus Beattie ten minutes from the break to level the score at 1-1.
The pressure was rising as the match closed in on half-time with the difficult conditions and physical play getting players on edge.
Tensions boiled over in the 38th minute with the game exploding into chaos after dirty play off the ball by Antelmi and Wollongong’s Thomas James caused an all in-brawl.
The moment of madness proved costly for both sides with referee Michael Weiner brandishing a straight red card for both strikers that reduced the two teams to ten-men going into the interval.
Wollongong raced out of the block after the break with Okada driving the home side’s attack forward.
The home side was desperate for an equaliser but struggled to find the finishing touch required.
A moment of brilliance from Trifiro gave the visitors the lead in the 74th minute when the midfield fired a rocket into the top left corner from the edge of the penalty box.
The Wolves pushed ahead in search of an equaliser with their season on the line.
But again the United 58 counter-attack was too much with Sim finding the back of the net after a brilliant cutting pass in behind the backline to stretch the visitors lead to 3-1 with only minutes left in the match.
It proved to be the final blow for United 58 with the final whistle confirming their place in the grand final and the end to Wollongong’s season.
In the day’s earlier match Blacktown City confirmed their place in the U20’s grand final with a 3-1 win against Western Sydney Wanderers.
They will take on Sydney FC in next week’s U20’s grand final.