The Wollongong Wolves threw away a two-goal lead and settled for a point following a 2-2 draw against Sydney Olympic at WIN Stadium on Sunday.
Jake Trew sent Wollongong into the break with the lead before he added his second on the hour mark.
Substitute Oliver Puflett changed the game for Olympic scoring a crucial brace to snatch his team a point.
It was a spirited start to the match with both teams trading shots early on.
In the 10th minute, Wollongong’s Marcus Beattie received the ball in the right of the box and fired goalwards, but Olympic goalkeeper Christopher Parsons held onto the ball.
Five minutes later, Olympic’s Peter Politis took on a well-struck volley from the edge of the box that flew just past the left post.
Wolves’ captain Lachlan Scott lined one up in the 17th minute, but the ball rolled straight to Parsons.
The hosts bagged the opener through Trew just after the half’s midway point.
The striker raced in on goal down the left and scuffed a finish that rolled under Parsons and into the goal.
The Wolves found some rhythm after getting in front, holding the ball high up the pitch.
Just after the half-hour mark, Christopher McStay’s powerful drive from outside the box was saved again by Parsons.
Alex Masciovecchio took aim after finding space outside the box 36 minutes in, but the ball skipped past the left post.
A solid first-half performance saw the home side take their slender lead into halftime.
Olympic came out strongly for the second period with halftime substitute Fabio Ferreira causing the Wolves problems with his movement.
However, Wollongong had a great chance to double their advantage an hour in.
Trew won a tussle on the left corner of the box with goalkeeper Parsons, but his left-footed shot bounced agonisingly past the right post.
The in-form forward wouldn’t be denied though, firing in the Wolves’ second just four minutes later.
McStay’s left-sided cross rolling to Trew in the middle, who rifled the ball into the top right corner.
Wollongong should have had their third in the 76th minute when Trew motored down the right and clipped the ball in for Lachlan Scott, who inexplicably cleared the crossbar.
The side would be left to rue this missed chance as Sydney Olympic halved the deficit with Puflett running in on goal and finishing past Tomas Butkovic.
Olympic nearly equalised with four minutes to play when Sam McIllhatton latched onto a ball over the top but shanked it wide.
As it’s been on many occasions this season, there was a cruel twist in the tail for the hosts conceding right at the death of stoppage time.
Puflett guiding a header into the left side of the goal following Ferreira’s left-sided cross that saw Olympic go home with a point.
Olympic coach Labinot Haliti credited his team for coming back while also giving credit to the Wolves for their performance.
“We took the two chances that came. To be fair, in the second half, after fifteen minutes, they had the better of the play,” Haliti said.
“I’ve been saying all year it’s a process, but sometimes it doesn’t look like a process because you’re losing games.
“It tells you that by coming back like that that we are heading in the right direction.”
Wollongong Wolves captain Lachlan Scott said that seeing two points slip away the way it did felt like a loss.
“It was a pretty frustrating one. We dominated for probably 95% of the game and to come away 2-2 is disheartening,” Scott explained.
“Obviously there were a lot of positives in it, I think the second half of the season we’ve been coming along nicely, and I just think if we keep performing like that we’re going to win a lot of games.”
Wollongong Wolves FC 2 (Jake Trew 26’ 64’)
Sydney Olympic FC 2 (Oliver Puflett 78’ 90+3’)
Sunday 13 August 2023
WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Referee: Brodie Merchant
Assistant Referees: Ethan Zvargulis and Issac Liu
Fourth Official: Harriet Gee
Wollongong Wolves FC: 13. Tomas Butkovic (GK), 5. Banri Kanaizumi, 7. Marcus Beattie, 8. Samuel Riak (99. Sebastian Hernandez 90+4’), 9. Takumi Ofuka, 14. Jake Trew, 21. Ethan Beavan, 23. Walter Scott, 24. Lachlan Scott (C) (6. Senna Stevenson 84’), 25. Alex Masciovecchio (11. Nav Darjani 90+2’), 88. Christopher McStay
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Nenad Vekic, 4. Dax Kelly, 10. Damon Gray
Yellow Cards: Lachlan Scott 25’, Christopher McStay 30’, Tomas Butkovic 86’
Red Cards: Nil
Sydney Olympic FC: 20. Christopher Parsons (GK), 2. Peter Politis, 3. Michael Neill, 5. Zygmunt Gordon (C), 7. William Angel (23. Jakob Cresnar 73’), 10. Darcy Burgess (8. Sam McIllhatton 63’), 14. Michael Vakis (9. Oliver Puflett 63’), 15. William Mutch, 18. Ruben Marcano, 29. Nick FitzGerald (22. Fabio Ferreira 46’), 99. Roy O’Donovan
Substitutes Not Used: 6. Jack Simmons
Yellow Cards: William Mutch 23’
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Jake Trew (WW)
2 – Oliver Puflett (SO)
1 – Fabio Ferreira (SO)
-By Tim Gibson
*Photo Credit Pedro Garcia