Points Shared Against Wollongong

It was raining goals at the Ilinden Sports Centre as Sydney FC shared the points with the Wollongong Wolves in a thrilling 3-3 draw on Sunday evening.

The Wolves took the lead through a Leroy Jennings goal in the 5th minute but Luka Smyth was able to equalise in the 29th minute.

Wollongong took the lead again in the 54th minute as Jennings completed his brace but a penalty conversion from Jaiden Kucharski saw them give up the lead again.

Moments after the penalty and a rare Alen Harbas goal gave the young guns the lead but a late Lachlan Scott strike broke the hearts of the home support after a defensive lapse and goalmouth scramble.

Kucharski fired the first shot in anger after two minutes but scuffed the effort wide of the upright, closely followed by Adrian Segecic dragging a shot beyond the other post.

It was Jennings who netted after five minutes when stretching to poke the ball over Adam Pavlesic to open the scoring for the Wolves in a role reversal as the visitors hit on the break.

Segecic fed Kucharski but again the finish was wayward and blasted over the bar as the young guns of Sydney FC looked to hit back immediately.

A goal-line clearance from Nick Littler kept Segecic off the scoresheet after the midfielder was set away by skipper Oscar Priestman before Pavlesic saved point blank from Scott at the other end in an action packed opening quarter hour.

Hayden Durose comfortably held a Matthew Scarcella shot from the edge of the box as the opportunities continued to be created but Ben Gibson was unlucky to see his header bounce back into play off the upright as the young Sky Blues pressed forward.

Littler was on the end of a Josh MacDonald free kick but wasn’t able to turn his header back across the box however parity was restored in the 29th minute when the ball fell invitingly for Smyth to side-foot home.

The chances kept coming for Sydney FC but were either spurned or blocked on the line with the home side taking control of the match.

The threatening Kucharski was guilty of another miss when heading wide of the mark after powering into the area with Durose scrambling to cover the threat.

Wollongong weathered the onslaught and countered several times but couldn’t register another strike to once again restore their one-goal advantage, but it remained level at the break.

Kucharski sped through the middle of the park in the 51st mninute and laid the ball to Segecic in a central position, but again the finish arrowed agonisingly wide of the woodwork although Durose looked to have it covered.

Jennings was in the right place at the right time when Macdonald broke down the left pulling a fantastic save out of Pavlesic with the ball falling to the Wolves’ striker to net his second of the match.

Jennings went looking for his hat-trick but another tremendous full length stop by Pavlesic prevented any further addition to the score albeit the ball looped up and skimmed past the post.

Gibson won his side a penalty when Darcy Madden was adjudged to have felled the Sydney striker in the box.

Kucharski took the spot kick and levelled the match once more, sending Durose the wrong way.

Substitute Alen Harbas sent the Sky Boues into the lead for the first time less than a minute later.

Kucharski almost made it worse for the visitors but once again fired wide from outside the area and blasted high when set up by Gibson on the break.

The good work was undone when Sydney FC failed to clear the ball and, after a goalmouth scramble, Scott was able to prod home and restore parity in a truly topsy-turvy game of football with plenty of time remaining for either side to find a winner.

Kucharski almost found it with a customary run through down the right but fired straight at Durose before the Wolves’ defence was able to clear but in pushing hard for a winner they left themselves vulnerable at the back if they could exploit the situation.

Sydney FC threw everything at Wolves in the dying stages and thought they had won it when in mid celebration the strike was waived away for offside leaving the score locked at the final whistle.

“We had enough chances to score five or six tonight, easy,” said Sydney FC coach Jim van Weeren.

“The disappointing aspect is the defensive moments we had to give away really cheap goals tonight, the first and third in particular.

“We create a lot of chances and normally we are quite clinical but today we weren’t for whatever reason but in scoring three goals it should be enough to win you a game of football.

“Thankfully we have a strong mentality within this group of players, a real winning mentality and you can see that.

“We try to stay in games for as long as possible regardless of the score and the credit has to go to the boys who are showing a maturity beyond their years.”

“It was a good game for the neutral,” stated Wolves coach Luke Wilkshire.

“There were chances at both ends and I felt it could have got a third when we were 2-1 up we would see it out for the win.

“Sydney FC are a good young side and came back into the match but I cannot fault our boys’ efforts tonight.

“The biggest problem for us was when they were in transition, they are quick and direct and we knew that but at times we lost the ball in bad situations and allowed that to happen but in general I thought the draw was a fair result on this performance.”

Match Stats

Sydney FC 3 (Luka Smyth 29’, Jaiden Kucharksi 74p’, Alen Harbas 75’)

Wollongong Wolves 3 (Leroy Jennings 5’, 54’, Lachlan Scott 82’)

Ilinden Sports Centre, Rockdale

Sunday 5th June 2022

Referee: Craig Fisher

Assistants: Joon Park and Matt Staples

Fourth Official: Isabella Mossin

Sydney FC: 30. Adam Pavlesic, 6. Aaron Gurd, 4. Nathan Grimaldi, 9. Ben Gibson, 10. Jaiden Kucharski, 11. Adrian Segecic, 12. Jake Girdwood-Reich, 15. Luka Smyth (33. Zane Schreiber 60’), 16. Matthew Scarcella (37. Hayden Matthews 67’), 18. Oscar Priestman, 28. Louis Agosti (29. Alen Harbas 60’)

Substitutes Not Used: 1. Gus Hoesfloot, 27. Dejan Bakrdanikoski

Yellow Cards: Nil

Red Cards: Nil

Wollongong Wolves: 1. Hayden Durose, 3. Darcy Madden, 4. Nikola Djordjevic, 5. Banri Kanaizumi, 10. Takumu Tsujimura, 11. Josh Macdonald, 15. Nick Littler, 16. Guy Knight,  22. Leroy Jennings, 24. Lachlan Scott, 25. Nav Darjani (20. Kuot Maliet 56’)

Substitutes Not Used: 9. Peter Simonoski, 12. Harrison Taranto, 13. Tomas Butkovic, 14. Nicholas Duarte, 19. Jake Lavalle

Yellow Cards: Nil

Red Cards: Nil

By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Reporter Micky Brock