Western Sydney Wanderers and NWS Spirit FC played out an entertaining and thrilling 3-3 draw in round 30 of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition at Wanderers Football Park on Sunday afternoon.
Wanderers looked set for the three points after Alexander Badolato and Thomas Lopez put them into a 2-0 lead at the break. Lopez added a third in the 56th minute before they were pegged back and forced to share the points.
NWS Spirit FC signed off their 2023 season with another comeback to snatch a point. Marcus Younis got the comeback started in the 55th minute before substitute Paul Katsetis made it 3-2 soon after. Anthony Younis completed the turnaround with his header in the 74th minute.
The Wanderers got off to the best possible start. The ball was whipped in from the right and found Badolato who fired home to make it 1-0 in the 4th minute.
NWS Spirit FC tried to respond quickly through Luiz Lobo. He strode confidently into the area but had his effort go over the bar.
Western Sydney Wanderers looked to double their delight early in the contest. They had an effort stabbed wide then another fizz wide of the post.
The visitors settled into their rhythm and racked up some chances. Matthew Cahill rose highest and nodded his headed down and away.
Wanderers made it 2-0 in the 34th minute from another slick passage of play. They exchanged passes well before Lopez tapped home.
NWS Spirit FC went close to pulling back a goal again through Cahill. He connected well with a header from a corner but crashed it against the bar.
Coming out of the break, NWS Spirit FC looked to start brightly. Lobo and Ollie Wiggin both had efforts which weren’t able to trouble Wanderers keeper Jack Gibson.
The visitors had most of the running to start the second half but Wanderers almost caught them on the counter through Lopez who fired over.
NWS Spirit FC found a goal for their endeavour in the 55th minute. Anthony Younis cut into the box, had his shot hit the crossbar and go over the line for 2-1.
Wanderers restored their two-goal advantage quickly. It was Lopez in the thick of the action again as he rolled the ball home to make it 3-1.
Peter Kekeris tried to get NWS Spirit FC back in the game. The substitute cut inside his defender and forced Wanderers substitute keeper William Loucas into a save.
NWS Spirit FC set the game up for a fantastic final 20 minutes. Substitute Peter Katsetis pounced on the low cross to fire home and make it 3-2 in the 65th minute.
The visitors found the equaliser in the 74th minute. Younis leapt high from a pinpoint cross to head home to make it 3-3.
NWS Spirit FC remarkably almost took the lead from another set piece. Corey Kavanagh had his header cleared off the line by Joshua Hong.
Both teams fought hard to find a late winner but they ended the season in a thrilling 3-3 draw to round off 30 weeks of hard work.
Speaking post match, Western Sydney Wanderers coach Andrew Christiansen reflected on a tough season for the young squad who survived relegation.
“It was an exciting game for the neutral. We got to give a few debuts which is always good and makes for an exciting future for the club. It was a tough year but the boys have grown from start to finish and they made it their goal halfway through to stay up which we achieved.” said Christiansen.
For NWS Spirit FC captain Jared Lum, he reflected on a season which saw the team create quite a few memorable moments:
“It was an entertaining game for the fans, our first half was a disaster which led to some discussions at half-time. We turned it around in the second half and probably a deserved result. We’ve done well for our first season and if you look back we’ve had the most memorable moments. It is a pass mark for us and we’ll build on it.”
Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Badolato ‘4, Lopez ‘34, ‘56)
NWS Spirit FC 3 (Younis ‘55, Katsetis ‘65, Younis ‘74)
Sunday 27 August 2023
Wanderers Football Park
Referee: Karl Davies
Assistant Referees: Joel Crawford & Blake Sanchez-Cruz
Fourth Official: Jackson Mackie
Western Sydney Wanderers: 1. Jack Gibson (20. William Loucas ‘45), 2. Anthony Pantazopoulos (28. Nathan Barrie ‘45), 4. Teng Kuol (3. Joshua Hong ‘45), 10. Alexander Badoato (9. Awan Lal ‘45), 16. Thomas Lopez, 21. Adam Bugarija (6. Kade Baccus ‘45), 22. Jesse Cameron, 23. Marcus Fernandez, 25. Ryley Hollingdale, 29. Edmun Haddad, 34. Ryan Devine
Unused subs: 27. Farah Koko
Yellow cards: nil
Red cards: nil
NWS Spirit FC: 1. Christopher Marques, 2. Anthony Younis, 3. Mushasi Kokubo (15. Paul Katsetis ‘45), 4. Kota Odakura, 6. Corey Kavanagh, 11. Ollie Wiggin, 13. Simon Nicholas, 17. Matthew Cahill (10. Peter Kekeris ‘45), 19. Daniel Mitwali (16. Kyle Shaw ‘60), 20. Jared Lum (26. Maisam Awaz ‘85), 21. Luiz Lobo
Unused subs: 12. Jacob Madden
Yellow cards: Mitwali ‘32, Shaw ‘90+1
Red cards: nil
3: Thomas Lopez (WSW)
2: Anthony Younis (NWS)
1: Ryley Hollingdale (WSW)
By Justin Davies (@JustDavies90)