If points were awarded for possession and determination, then Wollongong FC deserved all three.
However Marconi, while not dominating play, did squander their fair share of chances including the most obvious one in the 93? minute when Tolgay Ozbey superbly dribbled past a myriad of defenders only to find himself one-on-one with an outstretched Justin Pasfield, but somehow he couldn?t beat the Wollongong custodian with his shot.
After the game Wollongong FC coach John Turner was very pleased with his team and, in particular, he was most impressed with Marconi goalkeeper James Chronopoulos who pulled off some great saves.
?We had 80 minutes of the game and 80% possession, but we came up with a point,? he said.
?Their goalkeeper had one of those nights where he pulled off save after save and he kept them in the game.
?If one of our early chances had have gone in, we would have scored three or four because I believe that we were far superior to Marconi tonight.
?I was extremely happy with the effort of my boys because they never stopped running for ninety minutes.
?We wanted to win the game, we never dropped our heads and even when we equalised we never settled for 1-1.?
The first real shot of the night was in the 15? minute by Mitchell Long from outside the box, but it sailed over.
Marconi replied shortly afterwards with the opening goal by Nahuel Arrarte who brilliantly steered a free-kick from outside the box, around the wall and into the back of the net. And didn?t he celebrate his goal with his team-mates!
A minute later Ozbey tried his luck from outside the box, but Pasfield was ready between the sticks.
The tide turned when Wollongong FC in the space of three minutes had three opportunities. Firstly, Osagie Ederaro in the 27? minute tried his luck from outside the box, but his shot was rather weak and didn?t trouble Chronopoulos.
However, two minutes later Chronopoulos pulled off the best save seen at Marconi Stadium this season when he was able to dive to his left and miraculously turn the ball away for a corner from an Ederaro header from close-range.
In the 30? minute a diagonal shot by Matt Bailey seemed to beat everyone, but unfortunately for Wollongong it also narrowly missed the goal.
In the 40? minute Ilija Prenzoski, arguably the best player on the field, brought out the best in Chronopoulos again when he forced the home custodian to dive brilliantly to his right and deny the visitors what appeared to be a certain goal.
Early in the second-half Ben Bronneberg courageously put his body on the line when he dived in front of a powerful Ballamadou Conde shot that was destined for goal.
A long-range powerful effort by Arrarte almost hit the intended target of the net, but narrowly missed shortly afterwards. It was the lone bright spark in the second-half for the Stallions before Ozbey?s last minute golden opportunity.
A powerful shot by Bailey in the 70? minute hit the side netting and three minutes later Wollongong deservedly equalised.
However, the irony of the goal was that Chronopoulos, Marconi?s best player, gifted the ball to Prenzoski with a poor clearance and the clever Wollongong player found the back of the net with a stupendous strike that stunned the home crowd.
It was a real shame for Chronopoulos because his only blight of the night ended up gifting Wollongong their equaliser. But to make too much of the ?keeper?s misfortune would also take away from Prenzoski?s first class strike and the fact that the visitors should really have been on the scoreboard well before then.
Marconi Stallions 1 (Nahuel Arrarte 21?)
Wollongong FC 1 (Ilija Prenzoski 73?)
Venue: Marconi Stadium.
Referee: Kris Griffith-Jones
Assistants: Alison Flynn and Sarah Ho
Marconi Stallions: James Chronopoulos; Wade Oostendorp (Nathan Moulds 46?), Luke Casserly, Tallan Martin (Ante Deur 79?), Kain Rastall (Jason Trifiro 56?), Tolgay Ozbey, Matthew Gordon, Christopher Nunes, Nahuel Arrarte, Ben Bronneberg, Umut Tokdogan.
Substitutes Not Used: Tim McGowan, Cem Akili
Wollongong FC: Justin Pasfield; Alfredo Esteves, Michael West, Steve Hayes, Ilija Prenzoski, Mitchell Long (Lachlan Cahill 73?), Ballamadou Conde, Danial Cummins, Tynan Diaz, Osagie Ederaro, Matt Bailey.
Substitutes Not Used: Jamie Pitt, Karouna Michael, Daniel Nash
Yellow Cards: Rastall 50? (MS); Cummins 19? (WFC)
3 – Ilija Prenzoski (WFC)
2 – James Chronopoulos (MS)
1 – Steve Hayes (WFC)
-By Joe Russo