Whilst the opening stanza could be seen as a testing time for both sides, it was the Berries with a barrage of consecutive corners who looked the most likely to open the scoring.
Wollongong FC though, through new international recruit Alfredo, who started the match after impressing in his first up game last weekend as a substitute, that opened the scoring in the 8? minute after he finished off a polished cross into the box from a corner by Tynan Diaz, which found the lightly marked Alfredo free to head in with a well executed header on the far post.
The Berries fought hard to level the match but it seemed that every raid into the Wolves final third was thwarted by the ever present Alfredo.
Wollongong FC got their second goal in the 29? minute through a touch of brilliance from Illja Prenzoski who sent a lob over the last line of defence, to the speedy Osagie Ederaro, who on the volley chipped the ball over the helpless Berries goalkeeper Hamish McLean.
Western Sydney had a good chance through Michael Cunico to get a goal back after an uncharacteristic error by Alfredo saw Cunico through on goal, but a perfectly timed sliding tackle by Captain Ben Blake saved the day for the Wolves.
Moments later an opportunity to the Berries’ Danny Wilson saw his shot fire just wide of the goal.
In the 34? minute another chance fell to Wollongong’s Nigerian ?pocket dynamo? Ederaro, who failed to score with a free header on the far post, with his effort seemingly troubling the corner flag more than the goal.
A couple of late chances in the half fell to Sobczyk for the Berries when he was gifted two headed chances but neither tested the young Wolves goalkeeper Daniel Nash.
The second-half started with West Sydney sending out four new faces in the line up with the team searching for an immediate impact. They started the half with the first chance and it was a blazing shot by Neil Philippou who forced a diving one-handed save by Nash to force the ball away to the right of the goal. The ensuing play saw fellow replacement Shaun Piggot fire a cross in from the left which looked to have found the feet of Cunico who fired the ball into the back of the Wolves net, but the Referee’s assistant judged Cunico offside and the Wolves were allowed a breather.
Again it was Wollongong’s prolific goalscorer Daniel Aliffi who sprung the Wolves back into action and made the scoreboard attendant add anther one to their list. Aliffi’s 58? minute header sent the Wolves out to a 3-0 lead after a sublime cross into the box from the effervescent Diaz out on the Wolves right flank.
Wollongong’s coach John Turner decided to give some game time to a couple of his trialists? at that point on and immediately brought in Samet Kaynak, Matthew Bailey and youth grade midfielder Josh Price, the younger brother of Chris Price who was replaced earlier in the match with a knee strain.
A couple of chances again fell to Ederaro for Wollongong in the ensuing period, but it was an own goal by central defender Danial Cummins who accidentally got on the end of a Berries cross and the deflected header fired past the despairing arms of Nash.
The goal bred new life into the Berries and it saw them push forward striving for further goals. Danny Wilson made a great run down the right for the Berries and he rocketed in the perfect cross looking for the Berries attackers to strike but the ball was too good even for the Wolves defence and went out for a goal kick just wide of the keeper?s right post.
The Wolves had a further chance to add more to their tally through Aliffi but his shot fired just wide after good lead up work by Bailey.
The Berries had the last say in the match though when a stoppage time goal by a deserved Michael Cunico headed into the net to record the second goal of the night for an improved second half for the league?s new outfit.
Fulltime 3-2 to Wollongong FC.
After the match the Wollongong FC coach John Turner responded to his team?s effort by saying, ?We can’t be expected to be perfect this time of year but it is good to see the way the team applied themselves in the first-half. With the many changes we made in the second half it was good to get some game time for the younger players who were not in the run on side. It was also pleasing that we were again creating a lot of chances but disappointing that we didn’t finish off a few more goals.?
Berries player/coach Scott Baillie was testing a lot of new combinations and players with his starting line up and commented that ?our boy’s didn’t play for the full 90 minutes like we did against Manly last weekend. We started the first half off a little flat but we came in at half time and after a good team talk it was pleasing to see our boy’s apply themselves more in the second half?. Baillie went on to say that there is a squad of 23 he has to choose from and there is still a bit of work before he can settle on his starting 11 for the important Round 1 debut fixture in the NSW Premier League for the Berries.
– Andrew Byron
Western Sydney Berries 2 (O.G. Daniel Cummins 80′, Michael Cunico 90+1′)
Wollongong FC 3 (Alfredo 8′, Osagie Ederaro 29′, Daniel Aliffi 58′)
Wednesday, 30th January 2008
Lidcome Oval, Lidcome
Referee: Ryan Shepheard
Assistant Referees: Nick Backo, Dale Fuda
Western Sydney Berries: 1. Hamish McLEAN, 2. Con PARADISIS, 4. Scott BAILLIE (Player/Coach), 5. Michael CUNICO (Captain), 6. Jack SOBCZYK, 7. Danny WILSON, 15. Ryan JONES, 16. Kosta LAGOUDAKIS, 17. Sash TIROVSKI, 18. Josh SAMA, 21. Josh FERGUSON
Substitutes Used: 3. Shaun PIGGOT, 8. Johnny FOTIADIS, 12. Neil PHILIPPOU, 19. Dimitri ZAKILIS
Substitutes Not Used: James WEBB (GK)
Yellow Cards: Michael Cunico 61′
Red Cards: Nil
Wollongong FC: 1.Daniel NASH (gk), 3. ALFREDO, 4. Michael WEST, 5. Steven HAYES, 7. Illja PRENZOSKI, 12. Chris PRICE, 13. Daniel ALIFFI, 14. Danial CUMMINS, 16. Tynan DIAZ, 17. Ben BLAKE (Captain), 18. Osagie EDERARO
Substitutes Used: 15. Ballamadou CONDE, 8. Matthew BAILEY, 29. Josh PRICE, 32. Samet KAYNAK, Adam RODRIGUEZ (gk)
Substitutes Not Used: Nil
Yellow Cards: Matthew Bailey 60′
Red Cards: Nil
3 points ? Alfredo (WFC)
2 points ? Michael Cunico (WS)
1 point ? Tynan Diaz (WFC)