Northbridge Bulls earned their first memorable win of the season with a late 1-0 victory against Wollongong Wolves at WIN Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
A Moudi Najjar goal in the dying stages was the difference as the visitors claimed all three competition points – its first since joining both the North Shore Mariners and Macarthur FC concept for the 2021 season.
It was a frustrating result for the 2019 Premiers who failed to hit their mark but seemed likely to hold on for a draw.
However, Najjar had different ideas snatching victory in the most dramatic of fashion.
The Wolves got off to a bright start getting a shot off within the opening minute of the match.
Hamish Lamberton setting off on a lung-bursting run down the right-hand side before delivering a ball into the box finding Lachlan Scott who on the turn forced an important save from Ryan Wood in the Northbridge goal.
In the 32nd minute, Bul Juach nearly had a goal against his former side as he was played through face-to-face with Wolves’ shot-stopper Hayden Durose.
However, Juach failed to capitalise on the opportunity attempting to round Durose but the keeper got a touch on the ball to prevent the first goal of the match.
It was an action-packed end to the first half with Northbridge having two golden chances to take the lead.
In the 45th minute, Northbridge were awarded a penalty with Rory Jordan stepping up and seeing his strike saved by Durose with the keeper diving to his right.
A minute later, Jordan took aim from the edge of the box with the strike deflecting into the path of Theph Theph inside the box whose snapshot was well-saved by Durose.
Despite multiple chances for both sides, the scores were level at the break.
It was a reserved start to the second period but just before the hour mark, the Wolves created an opening as Lamberton played Marcus Beattie in behind in the right-hand channel of the box, but he was unable to put the ball beyond the onrushing Wood.
With just over 10 minutes to play, Bulls’ substitute Charles William almost made the difference as he went through one-on-one with Durose but failed to prod the ball beyond the keeper seeing it trickle away for a corner.
Deep into injury time, the visitors were awarded a freekick just outside the box on the right-hand side near the byline of the Wolves’ defensive third.
Walter Scott delivered the ball into the box which found the head of Moudi Najjar who glanced the ball into the far corner and won the points for Northbridge.
It was a great effort by the visitors who backed up from their Wednesday night’s thrilling 3-3 draw against the Marconi Stallions that no doubt gassed them coming into this match.
Northbridge Bulls coach Mile Sterjovski was happy with the performance but also highlighted how a victory such as this could be the catalyst heading into the side’s next match against Sydney United 58.
“I thought it was a good performance and the win has been coming for us for a little while, we’ve been playing some great football,” he said.
“This will give us a huge boost heading into our next game against the champions Sydney United 58.
“I think this proves to them [the players] that they are great players… they are developing, they are progressing, they are able to compete against the best teams.”
Wollongong Wolves coach Luke Wilkshire was disappointed with the side’s overall performance especially in the first half making specific mention to unnecessary fouls given away throughout the game as the hosts continued to have an indifferent start to the 2021 NPL NSW Men’s season.
“I think at the end we probably got what we deserved, the first half definitely wasn’t good enough… Silly fouls cost us,” he said.
“The second half was better but still not good enough.
“We weren’t anywhere near aggressive enough or positive enough as we needed to be.
“It’s a disappointing day for us but we’ve got to move on.”
Wollongong Wolves 0
Northbridge Bulls 1 (Moudi Najjar 90+2’)
Sunday, 28 March 2021
WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Referee: C. Fisher
Assistant Referees: J. Adabjou and L. Webb
Fourth Official: L. Jones
Wollongong Wolves: 23.Hayden Durose (GK), 2.Taylor McDonald, 3.Darcy Madden, 4.Nicola Djordjevic, 7.Marcus Beattie, 11.Leroy Jennings (17.Jake Lavalle 60’), 12.Harrison Taranto (10.Van Elia 67’), 16.Fletcher McFarlane (6.Ethan Kambisios 67’), 18.Hamish Lamberton, 19.Bilal Belkadi (20.Liam Wille 35’), 24.Lachlan Scott
Substitutes Not Used: 1.Aidan Mundford,13.Stefan Dimoski
Yellow Cards: Liam Willie 45’, Darcy Madden 88’
Red Cards: Nil
Northbridge Bulls: 1.Ryan Wood (GK), 3.Theph Theph, 4.Nikola Ujdur, 8.Sean Eve (19.Charles William 63’), 9.Bul Juach (6.Lachlan Sepping 73’), 10.Rory Jordan, 11. Stephan De robillard (18.Diego Bonilla 78’), 13.Walter Scott, 15.Edward Caspers, 17.Yianni Niccalou, 24.Moudi Najjar
Substitutes not used: 14.Giovanni Panuccio, 16.Jake Jovanovski, 40.Barry Griffin
Yellow Cards: Walter Scott 87’, Moudi Najjar 90+2’
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Theph Theph (NB)
2 – Hayden Durose (WW)
1 – Ryan Wood (NB)
By National Premier Leagues NSW Reporter Timothy Gibson