Wollongong Wolves are on the precipice of claiming the 2019 National Premier League NSW Men’s Premiership after a 4-0 win over Sutherland Sharks at WIN Stadium on Saturday evening.
Two goals in each half was enough to secure the result for the Wolves, who move within one point of claiming the Premiership with only three rounds remaining.
Despite both sides seeing solid opportunities go begging in the opening exchanges, it was the hosts who finally broke the deadlock in the 30th minute thanks to a goal from in-form striker Lachlan Scott.
Scott fired home his 12th goal of the season with style after Darcy Madden allowed the ball to roll to the striker, with Scott tapping the loose ball past Sharks keeper Anthony Bouzanis and extending Scott’s scoring streak to five games.
Wollongong doubled their lead five minutes later through Madden, who made the most of a quick break down the middle of the field, rounding Bouzanis and sliding the ball into the back of the net.
The Wolves furthered their lead in the 49th minute through Takeru Okada, with the Japanese midfielder taking advantage of a Scott through ball down the left flank to fire the ball into the bottom right corner.
The hosts completed their rout in the 69th minute with a stunning strike from league top-scorer Thomas James, who produced a top-drawer effort from the edge of the box to beat Bouzanis into the top-right corner – it was the Englishman’s twentieth goal of the season.
Sutherland came close to nabbing a consolation goal several times in the final twenty minutes, but the Sharks were unable to get past the league-leaders, with Wollongong holding on to claim a 4-0 result.
Wollongong assistant coach Yuzo Tashiro – who held the reins for the match due to head coach Luke Wilkshire’s absence – was pleased with the result, noting the side did well to quickly change gears.
“The contest was very good, we had a quick transition for the full 90 minutes,” he said.
“[It was a] good performance, good goals [and] good attitude.”
Wolves defender Taylor McDonald agreed with Tashiro’s statements, also noting that the side still needs to focus to ensure they claim the Premiership.
“It was a good result by the boys, everyone put in a good shift and it was such a crucial point at such a crucial time of the year,” he said.
“We’ve still got a bit of work to do but it’s a good feeling knowing that you’ve got that cushion [of points], but we’ll keep going for next week and make sure we get the job done.”
Meanwhile, Sutherland Sharks coach Terry Palapanis was disappointed by the result, but noted the side was missing a few key players which could have helped reshape the outcome.
“One of those games. Fair play to them, they’ve got some quality up top, their front three is the best in the league by a country mile and they came out today and punished us,” he said.
“We’ve lost some good players – Charles [Lokolingoy] missing, Harry Skotadis overseas, Liam Mcging last minute going to the A-League with Wellington – I’ve had to rebuild this team three, four times this season and when your coming up against firepower like [Wollongong], that’s what you get.
“We’ll look at it again on Monday and go to the videos and try and make something of the season in the last three games.”
Wollongong can claim the Premiership as early as Sunday if A.P.I.A. Leichhardt Tigers fail to grab a point against Sydney Olympic, but the Wolves can secure the Premiership with a point against Blacktown City at Lily Homes Stadium next Sunday. Meanwhile Sutherland will attempt to return to winning ways and remain in the finals hunt when they host Mount Druitt Town Rangers next Saturday at Seymour Shaw Park.
Wollongong Wolves 4 (Lachlan Scott 30’, Darcy Madden 35’, Takeru Okada 49’, Thomas James 69’)
Sutherland Sharks 0
Saturday 20th July, 2019
WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Referee: C. Fisher
Assistant Referees: N. Wotton and J. Bell
Fourth Official: S. Andrews
Wollongong Wolves: 1. Justin Pasfield, 2. Taylor McDonald, 3. Darcy Madden (14. Harry Callahan 66’), 4. Nikola Djordjevic, 7. Christopher Price, 9. Thomas James, 11. Takeru Okada, 15. Nick Littler, 16. Guy Knight, 17. James Stojcevski (10. Brendan Griffin 74’), 24. Lachlan Scott (13. Stefan Dimoski 83’)
Substitutes Not Used: 12. Luke Kairies (GK), 23. Jordan Nikolovski
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Sutherland Sharks: 1. Anthony Bouzanis, 2. Quentin Cheng (19. Harry Sutherland 59’), 3. Marc Warren, 4. Patrick O’Shea, 7. Bai Antoniou, 8. Mateo Poljak, 9. Jeremy Cox, 10. Raul Beneit Romero, 11. Jordan Morfitis (32. Alexander Lopez 53’), 12. Blair Brown, 21. Tarik Ercan (25. Brodie Clarkson 66’)
Substitutes Not Used: 18. Mitchell Evans, 30. Thomas Aquilina
Yellow Cards: Tarik Ercan 57’
Red Cards: Nil
Player Ratings have now been hidden due to the second half of the season commencing.
-By Cal Behrendt