Wollongong Wolves claimed a valuable 2-1 PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s win over Waratah Cup Champions Hakoah Sydney City East at Hensley Athletic Field on Saturday night keeping their hopes of a finals series finish alive.
Two goals from Peter Simonoski cancelled out Dean Bereveskos’ first half opener and sealed the comeback for the visitors.
Hakoah went ahead in the 20th minute but were pegged back on the hour, before Simonoski scored his second of the night with a little over ten minutes remaining to hand Wollongong the win, and three much-needed points in their push for a place in the finals.
Neither side was particularly quick to warm up on a cool night in Sydney’s east.
It took ten minutes before the first real glimpse of goalmouth action when Yuzo Tashiro headed against the crossbar after a series of Wollongong corners.
The visitors dominated the opening exchanges and it would have been reasonable to assume that they might have opened the scoring, too, yet it was Hakoah who took the lead in the 20th minute.
Bereveskos, who was influential for the home side right through the evening, scored against the run of play to give the Waratah Cup winners something of an unexpected advantage.
The goal served to turn the tide and suddenly Wollongong found themselves on the back foot.
Neil Jablonski threatened to double Hakoah’s lead just a minute after they took it with a flicked header from a few yards out, but he struggled to get the right contact and the ball spun out for a goal kick.
Wolves pushed for a leveller, and Darcy Madden almost made himself an unlikely hero when he latched onto a bouncing through ball and held off his defender to open up the chance for a shot in the box, but he could only manage to push the ball wide.
Bereveskos made a point of involving himself in every Hakoah move, and might have scored a second for the night after a clever exchange with Jablonski on the edge of the box, but Justin Pasfield was able to comfortably gather a rushed attempt on goal.
Hakoah looked good for their lead as halftime approached, yet were reminded of just how slender it was when Tashiro rattled the woodwork again from a Wollongong set piece in added time.
The second half was slow to get going but shots began to fly thick and fast as the hour passed.
An unmarked Andre De Jong sent a header over the bar before Simonoski snuck in at the far post up the other end to equalise for the visitors.
Simonoski whipped the ball into the top corner from a tight angle to give Anthony Bouzanis no chance of making a save.
Hakoah looked for Jablonski time and again but were often missing quality in the final third. Lee Jones led a quick break and unleashed a wild shot at goal which Pasfield beat away well, while Wollongong’s Brendan Griffin saw his clever volley held by a somewhat fortunate Bouzanis.
The home side were left to rue their wastefulness when Simonoski picked up the ball at the far post again, this time sliding his finish under Bouzanis to complete his side’s comeback, putting Wollongong Wolves 2-1 ahead.
It would finish that way, too, Hakoah offering little in attack after going behind.
Hakoah Sydney City East’s well-travelled Player-coach Gavin Rae expressed his frustration with the performance and the result.
“We had enough chances,” he said.
“We didn’t take them and we didn’t defend correctly, which makes it difficult against good players and good teams, and they took their chances well.
“I’m very disappointed – we played alright in the first half, but overall it’s very frustrating. After winning [the Waratah Cup] last week, I’m very frustrated with how difficult we made it for ourselves.
While victorious Wolves coach Jacob Timpano pointed out his side didn’t deserve to be a goal down and that the victory was the right result for the South Coast side.
“We probably didn’t deserve to be a goal down at halftime.
“We hit the bar twice and had a fair few chances – but in the end I’m really happy with the character that we showed in taking our chances in the second half.
“Hakoah are a physical, direct side and they’re very effective at doing what they do. We maybe didn’t cope with that as well as we should have in the first half, but we looked to change a few things up at half time and I’d say we deserved it based on that second half.”
Hakoah Sydney City East FC 1 (Bereveskos 20′)
Wollongong Wolves FC 2 (Simonoski 60′, 79′)
Saturday 15 July 2017,
Hensley Athletic Field, Pagewood
Referee: C. Young
Assistant referees: N. Backo and J. Adabjou
Fourth official: H. Jomaa
Hakoah Sydney City East FC: 1. BOUZANIS Anthony, 15. BEREVESKOS Dean, 10. DE JONG Andre, 6. DRAPER Cameron (7. LEKOSKI Aleksandar 82′), 16. GREEN Oliver, 9.JABLONSKI Neil, 18. JONES Harry, 36. JONES Lee, 40. KOUTA Michael, 19. RAE Gavin, 4. WALKER Bradley
Substitutes not used: 45. FIGUIERA Michael, 38. HAYHURST Finley, 33. SHADDOCK Connor, 30. ELDRIDGE Connor
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
Wollongong Wolves FC: 1. PASFIELD Justin, 8. GRIFFIN Brendan, 23. HAYES Steven, 3.MADDEN Darcy, 6. MONTGOMERY Nicholas, 4. MORTON Hayden, 17. O’ROURKE James, 7. PRICE Christopher, 15. ROBINSON Michael, 9.SIMONOSKI Peter, 30. TASHIRO Yuzo
Substitutes not used: 12. KAIRIES Luke, 18. LOMBO Jack, 5. MARKOVIC James, 20. KAMBISIOS Ethan, 10. EVE Sean
Yellow Cards: Robinson 45′
Red Cards: N/A
-By PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Max Grieve