Wollongong Wolves have fought back from two goals down to heroically snatch a 2-2 draw against Marconi Stallions at Marconi Stadium on Friday.
Strikes from leading defender Darcy Madden and Stefan Dimovski helped the visitors take a valuable point after going behind early in the contest.
It was a frustrating result for the Stallions after downing rivals Sydney United 58 last week, looked set for back-to-back wins after a brace from skipper Marko Jesic inside the first 20 minutes.
However, it wasn’t to be for the home side as Wollongong rallied with the game on the line.
The game’s opening chance arrived in the 5th minute when Stefan Dimoski in the box met a Taylor McDonald cross. Even though he didn’t miss the target, he was judged to be offside by a perfectly positioned assistant referee.
Marconi breathed a sigh of relief and did open the scoring out of nothing in the 11th minute. An Anthony Frangie cross from the by-line reached Marko Jesic in the middle, and he drilled it low into the bottom of the net.
Marconi Stallions doubled the score in the 20th minute when Liam Youlley gave a delightful ball to Jesic through the middle, and the skipper made no mistake with his clinical finish to mark his fifth goal of the year.
Wollongong Wolves had a good chance when Fletcher McFarlane drove the ball forcefully from outside the box only to force Nenad Vekic in goal to turn the ball away for a corner.
And it was from that very set-piece that Wollongong struck; a short corner was played to Darcy Madden, who caught the Marconi defence unaware with his nice diagonal finish that ended up in the back of the net.
In the 38th minute, another corner was almost Marconi’s undoing again. However, this time, the ball reached Van Elia just outside the box and the Kiwi international forced Vekic to turn the sphere over the crossbar with his powerful attempt. It was to be the last real chance of the first stanza of play.
In the second half, Wollongong equalised in the 51st minute when Evan Ball had a shot that was partially cleared by the Marconi defence but only as far as Dimoski, who drilled it home from the edge of the area. It was now indeed game on, with both sides once again on equal footing.
However, the reality was somewhat different. The game meandered from side to side in the second half without either team ever looking like breaking through.
A free-kick from Connor Evans in the 83rd minute forced ‘keeper Hayden Durose to punch clear. Wollongong replied almost instantly with Lachlan Scott, who shot from outside the box only to see Vekic neutralise his shot very well. In the end, the score didn’t change as both sides settled for a point.
After the game, Marconi coach Peter Tsekenis spoke about his team’s effort but was disappointed to have a two-goal lead slip.
“We did really well to get two goals in front, but you got to give credit to Wollongong,” he said.
“They came out to play high press and high tempo. They didn’t let the game settle, and we had to play that sort of game today.
“They got a couple of goals back – one from a set-piece – and they were worthy of the point. However, I am a bit disappointed that we let go of a 2-0 lead, but we can be better, much better. We just have to move on for our next game.”
Luke Wilkshire, coach of Wollongong Wolves, was philosophical about receiving a point.
“After going 2-0 down, it was a good response from the boys, but naturally, you want to win,” he said.
“We want three points from every game, but we copped two sloppy goals from our part, but I am pleased from the response from our boys.
“It is a new squad this year, and we have some good young talent coming through. If we perform like today and with our added quality, we’ll be fine.
“I like to attack and entertain, but our defence is also doing a great job because we have quality there too.”
MARCONI STALLIONS: 2 (Jesic 11’, 20’)
WOLLONGONG WOLVES: 2 (Madden 27’, Dimoski 51’)
Friday, 2nd April 2021
Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
Referee: Michael Weiner
Assistant Referees: Melik Ibrahim, Logan Jones
Fourth Official: Ayab Naji
MARCONI STALLIONS: 1.Nenad Vekic, 2.Nathan Millgate, 3.Giorgio Speranza, 4.Roberto Speranza, 6.Mark Rodic, 8.Connor Evans, 10.Marko Jesic, 11.Mitchell Mallia, 14.Anthony Frangie (21.Emmanuel Peters 67’) 16.Liam Youlley (17.Martin Fernandez 82’), 23.Brandon Vella.
Substitutes not used: 9.Anthony Costa, 20.Dion Shaw.
Yellow Cards: Evans 83’
Red Card: Nil
WOLLONGONG WOLVES: 23.Hayden Durose, 2.Taylor McDonald, 3.Darcy Madden, 4.Nikola Djordjevic, 6.Ethan Kambisios, 7.Marcus Beattie, 10.Van Elia (18.Hamish Lamberton 65’), 13.Stefan Dimoski (24.Lachlan Scott 52’), 16.Fletcher McFarlane (12.Harrison Taranto 65’), 19.Evan Ball (14.Brendan Low 71’), 20.Liam Willie (11.Leroy Jennings 52’)
Substitutes not used: 1.Aidan Munford.
Yellow Cards: Ball 68’, Kambisios 70’, Low 89’
Red Card: Nil
3- Marko Jesic (MS)
2 – Darcy Madden (WW)
1 – Marcus Beattie (WW)
By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Joe Russo