2023 NPL MENS 1 ROUND 30
MT DRUITT TOWN RANGERS v WOLLONGONG WOLVES
WOLVES SIGN OFF 2023 SEASON WITH FIVE WITHOUT REPLY
The Wolves rounded out the season with a best winning margin of five goals. A brace to Chris McStay, with one goal each to Takumi Ofuka, Banri Kanaizumi and Sebastian Hernandez saw the Wollongong Wolves put paid to Mt Druitt Town Rangers (without reply) in this ‘away’ game, switched late from Ponpondetta Park to Albert Butler Park. The Wolves played with swagger, putting their opportunities away in succinct style. Mt Druitt fielded a side without their usual line-up as they were being saved for an Australia Cup encounter. However, despite this, the young Town Rangers gained experience and made the Wolves work for their victory and to be play at the top of their game, which was a fitting way to compete in the circumstances.
Earlier in the season it was a nil nil draw between the two sides at WIN Stadium. Prior to this game, the Wolves had scored fifteen league goals to the Town Rangers’ nine in the match-ups. During 2023, Mt Druitt had nine nil score results not including today’s score line, with the Wolves having six. Thirteen players had contributed to goals scored for Mt Druitt while the Wolves had ten.
The Wolves kicked off this ‘away’ game running towards the northern end of the ground on this sunny afternoon.
Four minutes into the match, a Marcus Beattie throw in from the left went to Jake Trew. The striker turned with a defender in tow and as he was about to move the ball into the danger area, the defender blocked him and a corner kick ensued. Alex Masciovecchio plied the ball in but nothing of any consequence occurred.
It took fourteen minutes of the contest before the Wolves gained the upper hand. Central defender Banri Kanaizumi ran over the half way in possession before threading the ball to Lachlan Scott. He took the pass with his back to the opposition’s goal. He subsequently provided a low pass to McStay. On recept of the ball, to the left of the penalty area arc, McStay pushed the ball to his right before shooting. The ball lodged inside the goal at the Town Rangers custodian, Omid Ramezani’s left post.
A guilt edged opportunity fell to Ofuka around the twenty-five minute mark. A high Senna Stevenson cross from the right side after he rode a tackle. The ball found Ofuka hit a first time shot from close vicinity to the goal. However, a Mt Druitt player James Samuel-Gray was on the line and managed to keep the ball out, with the chance going begging.
The Town Rangers had an attacking foray in the twenty-eighth minute. Morales sent the ball in from the left. Wolves’ custodian Tomas Butkovic intervened with the ball finding Shunta Nakamura. He proceeded to shoot. As Butkovic was on the ground after his previous save, Kanaizumi was on hand to clear away the danger. This was Mt Druitt’s best chance of scoring.
Three minutes before half time the Wolves went further ahead. A free kick was awarded in the penalty arc. Ofuka and Kanaizumi stood at the ready. Ofuka took the kick with his right foot and the ball traversed into the goal beating Ramezani with precision.
At half time the lead was 2-0 and the Wolves were in the pole position. Mt. Druitt needed a miracle to get back into the match, even though a two-goal buffer is never safe.
Mt Druitt kicked off the second stanza and before long the Wolves’ Jake Trew was shielding the ball with Nicholas Morales trying all manner of ways to get the ball off him, only to be penalised ultimately. Scott was in a position to shoot but the ball skewed off his foot and posed no problem for Ramezani’s domain. A McStay header off an Alex Masciovecchio corner kick was narrowly wide of the target. McStay was an impressive figure in all that he did throughout the game and he was running the show.
The third goal arrived after Kanaizumi lifted the ball up to substitute Sebastian Hernandez. With a defender right on him he slotted the ball to the overlapping Senna Stevenson. Stevenson was restored to the run on side and he was impressive in his endeavours. He made inroads with purposeful running and he passed incisively. He also thwarted the opposition with well-timed tackles and interceptions. The right-gloved hand of Ramezani kept out his high cross at this time. However, to his chagrin, McStay projected a first timed hit into the goal to bring up his brace and his ninth goal of the season.
Six minutes later, the fourth goal was brought to bear. A Mt Druitt throw in to a teammate saw his errant pass intercepted by the Wolves’ Samuel Riak, who then slotted the ball to McStay. He swept the ball forward for Hernandez to run onto and this he did with speed and veracity. He outsprinted a defender and with Ramezani advancing, Hernandez pushed the ball into the goal at the precise time the custodian reached him. This exposed some defensive frailties with the ‘home’ side who were caught out.
At the other end, Nakamura tried to put through Abdelelah Faisal through but it did not amount to much, which was the story of most of Mt Druitt’s efforts. Try as they might they could breach the Wolves’ defensive line. Nicholas Morales was in a good position to do something but he slipped at the crucial time, this ending a promising Mt. Druitt attack.
In the seventy-seventh minute it was all over red rover. A McStay free kick left of centre, thirty metres or so out from goal, was taken. It flew in on target but the custodian could not keep with his grasp. Mt. Druitt’s Will Harvey took possession and brought the ball out of harm’s way with Wolves’ substitute Damon Gray pursuing. Harvey passed but the ball went straight to Hernandez. He endeavoured to slot the ball out to Gray. However, the ball ricocheted off Harvey and fell back into Hernandez’ path. With Anthony Gallo in hot pursuit, Hernandez managed to stay in front. He subsequently placed a low cross into the box and Kanaizumi was present to rifle the ball home. This was Kanaizumi’s second goal of this campaign.
The Wolves looked to improve on this five-goal tally with Scott having a powerful low shot being kept out by substitute custodian Jeremy McCarthy in the eightieth minute. Five minutes later Hernandez had another go at goal, which did not bring any further joy.
The Wolves were methodical and took advantage of most of their opportunities in outclassing their opposition. The team was impressive in this final match.
Goal scorers for the Wolves’ club this year were Lachlan Scott (13) and Jake Trew (11) Takumi Ofuka (10) Chris McStay (9) Alex Masciovecchio (5), Banri Kanaizumi (3) with Samuel Riak, Mirza Muratovic, Joshua Macdonald, Nav Darjani, Sebastian Hernandez with one apiece.
The Wolves concluded the season in seventh position with eleven wins, ten draws and nine defeats scoring fifty-seven goals with forty-three against with a goal difference of plus fourteen. Conversely, Mt Druitt finished in fifteenth position and will have to play off with a home and away match with the second placed team in NPL Mens 2 for the position in the 2024 NPL Mens 1 competition.
Coach David Carney – ‘yea a good win, we have been playing really well the last few weeks but probably not really taking our chances that we have been creating but today we were clinical and to finish on a high is great….Chris has been outstanding all year for us, he’s our governor in midfield and when you work that hard you get the rewards. He’s the kind of clever player who runs off the strikers and he always gets in good positions on the ball and defensively he works his socks off and he can score goals. He’s a proper box-to-box type of player and he will be here next season as well……. Passing movement and movement off the ball is big thing that we work on in training sessions. When we lose the ball we want to get it back as soon as possible. It all coming well together and I’m really delighted…….I’m happy with the season. It is a completely new team, a young team. I think with someone like myself as a first year coach, a lot people said that I should go with experience. I was confident in what I wanted to do. I have worked with the best managers in the world and I have taken a lot from them. I want to get the players in who would work hard and listen and I have got that’.
Captain Lachlan Scott – ‘it was a good way to finish the season. We had a couple of games over the past few weeks where we played really well and had not been able to finish it off. It was good for us for to do that today because we know we are capable of it…. sometimes you can out with the mentality without a killer instinct but we did not do that today. Everyone came out with the right attitude and we put them away.’
Brace scorer Chris McStay – ‘the boys were right on it. It has been a great season along side Sammy in midfield and we have a good relationship and we gave our best today. On his brace – ‘Thank you. It was a great team effort and I was fortunate to be on the end of it. All the best.’
MT DRUITT TOWN RANGERS ……………..0
WOLLONGONG WOLVES F.C.………………5
Chris McStay 14’, 68’ Takumi Ofuka 42’’ Sebastian Hernandez 74’ Banri Kanaizumi 78’
@ ALBERT BUTLER MEMORIAL PARK
Sunday 27th August 2023
3.00 p.m. kick off
- DRUITT TOWN RANGERS
Coach: Stewart Montgomery
24.Omid Ramezani (GK) (1.Jeremy McCarthy 78’) 6.Jared Macerola (Capt.) (4.Omar Naboulsi 64’) 8.Henry Davies (32.Preneet Singh 64’) 11.Abdelelah Faisal 12.Will Harvey (30.Samuel Ozdemir 78’) 15.Anthony Gallo 19.Nicholas Morales 40.Shunta Nakamura 41.Ivan Sunjic 42.Bailey Jacobs 45. James Samuel-Gray
Subs not used – nil
Yellow Cards: nil
Red Cards: Nil
Coach: David Carney
13.Tomas Butkovic GK 5.Banri Kanaizumi 7.Marcus Beattie 8.Samuel Riak 9.Takumi Ofuka (11.Nav Darjani 80’) 14.Jake Trew (10.Damon Gray 71’) 21.Ethan Beaven (4.Dax Kelly 64’) 24.Lachlan Scott (Capt.) (Thomas Dunn 80’) 6.Senna Stevenson 25.Alex Masciovecchio (99.Sebastian Hernandez 64’) 88.Chris McStay
Subs not used: 1.RGK Nenad Vekic
Yellow Cards: Chris Beaven 51’
Red Cards: Nil
Referee: Danny Horstead
Assistant Referees: Patrick Telecki and Joshua Kermond
Fourth Official: Hayden Michlmayr
By Malcolm Rowney