2023 NPL MENS 1 ROUND 14
WOLLONGONG WOLVES v BLACKTOWN CITY
WOLVES AND BLACKTOWN SHARE THE SPOILS
The Wolves played out a 0-0 draw with Blacktown City, the second such result ever between the two clubs. It was an entertaining game with neither team breaking the deadlock though both clubs had a gilt-edged chance each. A missed penalty proved costly for the Wolves and a Blacktown shot late in the match, cannoned off the post. A coach send off eventuated after the Blacktown custodian seemingly handled outside his box and no action was taken late in proceedings. A free kick was forthcoming to the away side, which caused conjecture in the light of the earlier incident. However, the Wolves gave a sterling performance to hold the 2022 Premiers and Tomas Butkovic, the Wolves custodian, gave an immense display to earn a clean sheet and keep his team in the contest.
For this match Blacktown’s renown gun striker, Travis Major and second top scorer for his club at this stage was not in the line-up due to an operation, while equal top scorers Jake Trew and Lachlan Scott for the Wolves were up front in the hope of adding to their tallies. Scott had scored in four out of the last five matches.
Coming into this confrontation, Blacktown had a win, loss, draw, win and win in the previous five rounds while the Wolves posted a loss, loss, draw, win and draw in the corresponding period.
In the home team’s previous match it was a 2-2 draw, a result that has now eventuated forty-seven times since 1981 and the result in this match was the sixtieth such outcome.
The Wolves were running towards southern stand and Blacktown kicked off and began spreading the ball around. As they encroached into the Wolves territory after a few minutes, Beaven harassed Mario Shabow before the striker put the ball in for his team’s first attacking foray. Alas it brought no joy as custodian Butkovic grasped the ball safely.
At the other end Scott produced a shot that Prendergast went low to take.
Seven minutes in, Alex Masciovecchio won the ball off Matthew Lewis to put the Wolves on the attack. Striker Trew met the ball in the upshot from his position on the left. His shot went skyward from his close vicinity.
The first corner was to the Wolves in the ninth minute. Walter Scott took the corner but nothing of any consequence emanated.
Riak had a low shot after some enterprising attacking momentum Wolves play with quick passing. The scoreboard was not changed as a result.
A free kick, five metres out from the penalty area to the right of centre for Blacktown on fourteen minutes, saw Jak O’Brien lifting the ball in for Greg Lynch. He got his head to the ball but it was misdirected. This was a let off for the Wolves
Charles Mendy’s shot on the turn was not powerful enough to trouble Butkovic. Harrison Buesnel had harassed Mendy in the lead up to the shot to put him off.
Riak played a high cross from the left from intended for Masciovecchio but Prendergast intervened before Masciovecchio had an opportunity to get the ball under control.
Twenty minutes in, Masciovecchio had a marauding run through the middle and arrived into the box. As he was about to pull the trigger Lynch ultimately blocked his shot. This was a good opportunity for the Wolves.
A second corner for the Wolves was awarded in the twenty-fifth minute, Takumi Ofuka took the kick but Blacktown headed the ball out.
On the half hour mark Oliveira received the ball after a feign by Jak O’Brien, Blacktown’s top scorer. He dragged Buesnel with him allowing De Oliveira a sight of the goal. His gilt-edged opportunity from close vicinity looked home for all money and that Blacktown would take the lead. However, Butkovic had other ideas and reacted quickly and pulled off a monumental save with his left foot. The ball rebounded and Beaven nodded the ball to Chris McStay who made sure the ball was pumped out of harm’s way.
Ofuka put the ball in from the left but Lachlan Campbell headed it out. Burnie charged down the left but Walter Scott intervened.
Butkovic, who was guarding his domain with conviction and skill, took a Blacktown corner kick.
Beaven played a cross in from the right and the ball was chested down by Lachlan Scott. Prendergast went low to take but could not hold the ball. However, this could not be taken advantage of much to the chagrin of the Wolves.
Another Blacktown corner kick was plied in. No jubilation was forthcoming.
It was a fairly even half with the Wolves just shading Blacktown in the play having had a few more shots on target that the 2022 Premiers.
Once the Wolves following the second half kick off lost possession, the Blacktown team broke quickly and a corner kick was following result after a time. It was whipped in but the Wolves defence coped adequately by heading out.
A Wolves corner kick was won on fifty-two minutes after a Takumi Ofuka shot was blocked and went over the goal line. Ben Berry headed Walter Scott’s corner effort out with force. On fifty-three minutes Scott inconvenienced Charles Mendy and received a yellow card for his professional indiscretion. The resultant free kick however failed to hit pay dirt.
Attacks were coming at regular intervals as each team applied their work rates in order to take the advantage. Opportunities were being presented, however, the domains of Butkovic and Prendergast could not be breached.
Lachlan Scott was barrelled over by Lachlan Campbell close to the near post, (Prendergast’s right post). Scott took the penalty kick and Prendergast went down to his left to save.
Campbell made a rampaging run down the left after dispossessing Lachlan Scot. He passed and received a one two pass with a teammate as he kept on moving. As he progressed down the left he finally cut the ball back for Oliveira. He struck with a powerful hit. Butkovic denied him once again with another top save.
Substitute Marcus Beattie and Walter Scott combined before Scott burst forward but his shot took a deflection for a corner kick. The kick came in and Tyren Burnie intervened.
Another Wolves corner kick, this time by Chris McStay was dealt with by Blacktown on sixty-five minutes and the pressure was relieved.
Lewis tried with a back header to break the deadlock but it flew wide.
Lynch blocked Lachlan Scott after Beattie made ground. A Blacktown corner kick saw a header come in a Butkovic was equal to the task once again. The ball came in for Mendy with Banri Kanaizumi going for the ball at the same time. A goal kick was the outcome.
A Beattie cross saw a Lachlan Scott shot fly straight to Prendergast.
A free kick on the edge of the box but inside the penalty arc saw Jak O’Brien crashing his low shot off the post (Butkovic’s left post). The ball rebounded forcibly out and further advantage could not be taken. Coach David Carney saw red after he remonstrated with the officials.
The spoils were shared and each side can rue their missed opportunities. This is Blacktown’s third and Wollongong’s fifth draw of the 2023 campaign. Blacktown also has now four nil scores to the Wolves three so far in 2023 while the away team has kept the home team scoreless on fourteen occasions while the converse was six times. Round 14 has been done and dusted and the Wolves would be somewhat disappointed they did take the match out but they did achieve a clean sheet against a powerhouse team.
WOLLONGONG WOLVES ………………0
BLACKTOWN CITY ………………………..0
Friday 5th May 2023
7.30 p.m. kick off
Coach: David Carney
13.Tomas Butkovic 3.Harrison Buesnel 5.Banri Kanaizumi 8.Samuel Riak 9.Takumi Ofuka (7.Marcus Beattie 57’) 14.Jake Trew 21.Ethan Beaven 23.Walter Scott 24.Lachlan Scott (Capt.) 25.Alex Masciovecchio (11.Nav Darjani 88’) 88.Chris McStay
Subs not used: 1.Nenad Vekic 4.Dax Kelly 6.Senna Stevenson 12.Ryan Mrvcic
Yellow Cards: Harrison Buesnel 41’ Chris McStay 51’ Walter Scott 53’ Samuel Riak 90’
Red Cards: David Carney 90+1’
Coach: Mark Crittenden
1.Tristan Prendergast (GK) 4.Lachlan Campbell 5.Grant Lynch 6. Matthew Lewis (C) 8.Jak O’Brien 10.Mario Shabow 12.Tyren Burnie, 16.Ben Berry, 18.Nicholas O’Brien 21.Charles Mendy (14.Caleb Jackson-Brown 88’) 22.Carlos De Oliveira (17.Tatsuya Kato 74’)
Substitutes not used: 3.Daniel Collins 20.Cayden Henderson GK 36.Darian Daghero, 43.Enrico Mazzotta
Red Cards: Nil
Referee: Craig Fisher
Assistant Referees: Anastasia Filacouridis and Lindsay Edmonds
Fourth Official: Hayden Michlayr
By Malcolm Rowney