July 8, 2024

2024 NPL MENS 1 ROUND 23




History repeats as Sydney Olympic score a stoppage time goal in the Round 23 clash to win 2-1 against the home team, the Wollongong Wolves at WIN Stadium. As per the first iteration, a 3-4 loss in Round 8, the Wolves had clawed back to even the proceedings, only for a late, late goal to consign the team to an underserving defeat. A converted penalty kick to each team, by Roy O’Donovan and Chris McStay plus a goal to Oliver Puflett, earned the honours.

The Wolves began the game running towards the northern end with Sydney Olympic kicking off. The away team showed their attacking intentions when William Mutch pushed a short pass back Sam McIlHatton (two former Sydney FC NPL teammates). The latter swept the ball to the top scorer O’Donovan as Dylan Ryan tried to intervene with his stuck-out leg but unsuccessful.  O’Donovan   attempted a first shot only for it to be deflected as Darcy Madden converged. The ball flew high, and O’Donovan met it, sending his header seemingly goal bound. The Wolves’ custodian, Vedran Janjetovic pulled off an acrobatic leap to push the shot away to safety. It was a top save.

Madden was to the fore defensively again on five minutes as he twisted and turned to elude attackers and play the ball into the touch for a safety measure.  Ryan put the ball up intended for Lachlan Scott only for Ziggy Gordon to intercede.

A left footed attempt by McIlhatton. from outside the box failed to beat Janjetovic as Olympic kept up their assaults.

Two attacking headers from Ryan on seventeen minutes applied Wolves pressure on the Olympic domain. The first was not mustered with the requisite Ryan force and the second was unfortunately wide. At the other end, Madden tackled Zac Zoricich to scuttle a dangerous situation.

Later, a Ryan and McStay combination saw Scott nearly breaking the deadlock as the Olympic ‘keeper turned his impressive effort around the post for a corner kick.

On occasions during the match, a few Wolves passes were misdirected and weakly hit allowing the Olympic team easy pickings. In the twenty-sixth minutes, one such pass went astray, and Jack Simmons hit the ball narrowly wide.

The Wolves, as the half progressed, began to impose themselves more.  Yagoub Mustafa probed with swerving effort that looked to being successful as it neared the goal, only for Parsons to pull off a great save. Scott put his shot wide and a further Scott header from a McStay flighted ball, was also unfortunately wide of the target.

In time added on for the first half, Sebastian Hernandez moved quickly to mount a challenge on the Olympic domain.  It was a tremendous effort. However, a one-handed Parsons save kept the score at 0-0.

This was a competitive half of football with each team conjuring up many scoring opportunities but were unable to convert these into successful outcomes.

The second half saw Olympic at the ready, as O’Donovan’s enterprise from the edge of the penalty area was taken superbly by Janjetovic.

The Wolves went looking for something for themselves when Hernandez sped into range, but the fingertips of Parsons kept his sharp feat out of the harm’s way. A little while later, Simmons swept the ball wide and the Wolves breathed a little easier.  From a McStay corner kick from the right, a Ryan header was subsequently blocked and then Banri Kanaizumi blasted high from close range at the far post. Alex Masciovecchio following Hernandez’ prior involvement, rifled his deed over the target. A Madden header was directly straight at Parsons as a McStay corner kick was played in. The Wolves’ attacking momentum was being sustained. Olympic’s Oliver Puflett blazed over on sixty-six minutes showing his penchant for getting into good space for goal scoring. Takumi Ofuka zoomed into the box with clever skill in eluding players. A free man was on his right pleading for the ball. However, Ofuka elected to continue, and the chance went begging.

However, a decisive moment took place when Kanaizumi tugged the shirt of Teng Kuol thereby impeding him. A penalty kick was awarded. O’Donovan with a fourteen-goal tally in 2024, took the spot kick. He propelled a ball powerfully high into the goal with Janjetovic having Buckley’s chance of saving.  Olympic had hit the lead.

Masciovecchio looked to get his team back onto an even keel. However, his endeavour took a deflection and flew high over the target. A host of substitutions took place in the second half to freshen things up with both teams taking this option.

With time running out, McStay’s fling from distance traversed over the bar and Masciovecchio’s left footed aspiration alas, did not have the power to trouble Parsons.

Double saves from Janjetovic emanated as Puflett had two bites of the cherry and failed to beat the impressive custodian.

A lifeline presented itself when Ofuka burst into box and was impeded by Parsons, blotting his copybook somewhat. McStay was the designated spot kick taker. He directed the ball low to the right of Parsons, who dived the correct way and got a slight touch but was unable to keep the ball out.

A Kuol shot was saved by Janjetovic as Olympic searched for a winner and Puflett’s attempt came off the cross bar from his position wide on the right.

However, Kuol tormented his marker in attendance with his three time change of direction, before cutting the ball back into the centre. Puflett managed to slot the ball into the goal. A Wolves defender lunged but could not make contact. Sydney Olympic had the gamebreaker to finally win the encounter and break the Wolves’ resolve.

Alex Masciovecchio –‘ yes disappointing, it has happened a few times this year. And last time we played them, yes indeed.  It is one of those things in football that you must try to minimise.  After we got the goal and especially leading up to the penalty that we scored we were on top, and we just did not put it away.      First half whatever, but in the second we deserved it.’  (to win)  .. On his chance – ‘I had to lunge out at it, and I just did not get on it well enough’.





Chris McStay 90’ pen.


Roy O’Donovan 73’ pen.  Oliver Puflett (90+6)

@ WIN Stadium, Wollongong


3.00 p.m. kick off.


Coach: David Carney

  1. Vedran Janjetovic (GK), 3. Darcy Madden (Andre Takami 77’) 4. Dylan Ryan, 5. Banri Kanaizumi, 6. Samuel Riak (27. Damon Gray 87’) 7. Takumi Ofuka 9. Jake Trew (25. Alex Masciovecchio 61’), 10. Yagoub Mustafa 11. Sebastien Hernandez 24. Lachlan Scott (Capt.), 88. Christopher McStay.

Substitutes Not Used:, 13. Oliver Yates, 2. Harrison Buesnell, 17. Mirza Muratovic

Yellow Cards: nil

Red Cards: nil


Coach: Labinot Haliti

20 Chris Parsons, 2. Peter Politis, 4. Michael Glassock 5. Zygmunt Gordon, 6. Jack Simmons 918. Teng Kuol 69’), 8. Sam McIlhatton (9. Oliver Puflett,81’) 11. Adam Parkhouse (Darcy Burgess 90+2), 12. Zac Zoricich, 14. Michael Vakis (29. George Antonis 81’), 15. William Mutch, 99. Roy O’Donovan (Capt.)

Substitutes not used: 1. Montgomery Partington, 19. Gianni Di Pizio

Yellow Cards: Zygmunt Gordon 15’, Roy O’Donovan 75’, Chris Parsons 89’

Red Cards: nil

Referee: Ivica Covic

Assistant Referees: Anastasia Filacouridis and Amirhossein Hosnani

Fourth Official: Jeh Coutinho

By Malcolm Rowney