A Peter Simonoski strike in the final minute has given Wollongong Wolves a dramatic 2-1 win against Hakoah Sydney City East at Hensley Athletic Field on Sunday.
It was an incredible ending to the match with the Wolves seemingly destined to settle for a draw after surviving a late Hakoah flurry.
After taking the lead in the 5th minute through Simonoski, Wollongong were forced on the back foot for nearly 60 minutes as the home side pushed hard for an equaliser.
When Harry Jones struck for Hakoah in the 79th minute the match, Jacob Timpano’s side looked out on their feet but Simonoski was ready to take his chance and fired past the keeper for his second of the match and more importantly the match winner.
Wollongong had the best of the early action taking only five minutes to find themselves on the scoreboard when Simonoski tapped home at the far post after a flick on from a set piece.
The visitors were in control of the fixture pushing forward at will, but lacked the clinical finishing required to extend their lead.
Hakoah were slowly working their way back into the contest as the half progressed but they too were let down by sloppy play when in possession.
34 minutes into the match, Anthony Bouzanis showed off why he is one of the best shot stoppers in the competition with a spectacular acrobatic save.
The young Hakoah keeper launched himself to his right to flick a howitzer of a volley from Wollongong’s Josh McDonald over the cross bar.
A late flurry from the home side threatened to deliver an equaliser. Takauki Noji found the back of the net but was ruled offside, before moments later Oliver Green fired wired on the cusp of half time.
Hakoah returned from the interval with new found vigour and pushed forward in an attempt to level the score.
Wollongong needed a goal line clearance from James Baldacchino in the 52nd minute to deny a skilful run and shot from Hakoah captain Stamatellis.
The waves of attack form the home side continued and they were unlucky once again no to capitalise in the 61st minute when Darcy Madden cleared a Hakoah cross off the line.
Wollongong nearly doubled their lead against the run of play in the 65th minute when Tashiro headed narrowly wide after a cross from Japanese compatriot Takuya Nozawa.
Despite the scare, Hakoah fought to find an equaliser but time and time again they were denied by desperation saves from the Wollongong defence
The Wolves could only hold on for so long and it was substitute Jones who found Hakoah’s equaliser.
Receiving the ball in the centre of the penalty area surrounded by Wollongong defenders, Jones survived a scrap for the ball before poking past the outstretched arms of the keeper.
A draw wasn’t enough for Hakoah as they refused to ease their attack.
Noji was once again the orchestrator for the home side but the combination of resilient opposition defence and a poor final touch prevented any real chance of Hakoah taking the lead.
With the match seemingly destined for a draw, Wollongong found a way to break the hearts of the Hakoah faithful.
Brendan Griffins perfectly weighted pass creating a one on one chance for Simonoski to fire Wollongong to victory.
A relieved Jacob Timpano praised his players for fighting until the final whistle.
“We have a lot of belief in this squad and the way we didn’t stop playing has helped us snatch victory when it appeared as if we were going to settle for a point,” he said.
“We dominated the first half but I felt we let Hakoah back into the game by dropping our standards after the break.
“Our defenders were very good again today to withstand the wave after wave of Hakoah attack. Peter (Simonoski) scoring the winner at the death was a great finish and proves the confidence we have to win the tough games.”
It was a far sombre feeling in the Hakoah sheds after the match with coach Gavin Rae ruing a point lost.
“It’s very frustrating when you do all the hard work and then let it slip away like that,” he said.
“We had a great reaction after the break to fight our way back into the contest but the lack of concentration to not close out the match has cost us.
“We are a young team and many players are still very much learning. Hopefully today can be a lesson which helps us going forward this season.”
Hakoah Sydney City East: (Jones 79’)
Wollongong Wolves: (Simonoski 6’ 93’)
Sunday, April 8 2018.
Hensley Athletic Field, Pagewood
Referee: A Ardnt
Assistant Referees: N Backo, J Park
Fourth Official: S Kelly
Hakoah Sydney City East: 1. Anthony BOUZANIS, 2. Connor SHADDOCK, 3. Michael KOUTA, 5. Mitchell STAMATELLIS, 6. Cameron DRAPER (7. Jack GREEN 78′), 8. Oliver GREEN (17. Harry JONES 67′), 10. Andre DE JONG, 19. Dominic COX, 20. James COOMBES, 21. Duncan STEWART, 60. Takayuki NOJI
Substitutes not used: 13.Robert EZEKIEL, 16. Josh ORCHARD, , 40. Michael FIGUEIRA
Wollongong Wolves: 1.Justin PASFIELD, 3. Darcy MADDEN, 4. Michael ROBINSON, 5. James BALDACCHINO, 7. Christopher PRICE (2. Taylor MCDONALD 49’), 9.Peter SIMONOSKI, 10. Joshua MCDONALD (8. Brendan GRIFFIN 82’) , 17. Ryan ENSOR, 23. Steven HAYES, 30. Yuzo TASHIRO, 40. Takuya NOZAWA
Substitutes not used: 12. Jordan NIKOLOVSKI, 14. Ethan KAMBISIOS, 16.Luke KAIRIES
Yellow Cards: Madden 67’, Simonoski 90’
3- Simonoski (WW)
2 – Kouta (HSCE)
1- Stamatellis (HSCE)