Blacktown City travelled down the F6 freeway to Wollongong full of confidence following their 3-1 defeat of the former unbeaten competition leader Sutherland Sharks the weekend before and they were determined to take another high flying scalp.
After an even first five minutes it was Wollongong who forced the first chance in the 7th minute and with the simplest of moves and a perfect through ball by Hawrysiuk for Wollongong FC saw Illija Prenzoski in on goal and he placed the ball to perfection to beat Blacktown’s goalkeeper Ivan Necevski and take his team to an early lead.
Minutes later, Blacktown had their first chance to pressure the Wolves goal mouth but a cross from the right by Daniel Wilkinson into the Wolves penalty area saw a perfectly timed defensive header directed out of trouble by Balla Conde for Wollongong.
From the ensuing play Ben Ellis was allowed to shoot from the edge of the Wolves area but his shot was saved into the chest of Wolves goalkeeper Justin Pasfield.
Blacktown were showing signs of their form from last week when in the 22nd minute a powerful drive from about 25 metres out by Ryan Walsh for Blacktown saw his shot go just wide of Pasfield’s left post but with Pasfield fully extended he looked confident in his positioning and looked to have it covered, despite the wayward strike.
Wollongong to their credit put their foot to the floor and seemed to just turn their attack up another gear and their enterprising passing and movement was creating headaches for the Blacktown defensive pattern. A smart ball by Matt Bailey through to Dez Giraldi for him to hold up the ball saw Dez return it to Bailey charging through and Bailey then sent a perfectly timed ball through to the overlapping Tynan Diaz down the right and Diaz through on goal forced his shot into the side netting but the Wolves team won approving applause by the Wolves faithful fans.
It was the Wolves who were forcing the play and their next chance came in the 34th minute when a Chris Price run down the left found the darting angled run of Prenzoski who turned and squared to Giraldi who fired just over the bar. From the goal kick Blacktown forced some passes together and and some individual brilliance of Chris Bedzo found some space down the right corridor and he was allowed to strike on goal within the area but again Pasfield fielded the shot with relative ease despite the obvious power of the shot from Bedzo.
The final stages of the first half belonged to the Demons and a great individual run by Akwasi Agyei on goal saw him metres from shooting but for a great piece of defending by Steve Hayes for Wollongong who came from the clouds to split Agyei and the advancing Pasfield and force the ball over the line for a corner.
The Wolves handled the last charge from the Demons and the last chance of the half after a neat cross from Jordan Simpson was unable to be converted by Bedzo when his header was difused again from a confident Pasfield.
The second half resembled the start of the first and the movement of Man of the Match Prenzoski had the Demons defense second guessing time after time and it wasn’t that long before the Wolves would make the Demons pay for their confusion.
In the 55th minute a foul in the area on Diaz by Wilkinson saw referee James Lewis award a penalty to Wollongong and Chris priced stepped up to fire straight and hard past Necevski who dived to his right and the Wolves took a 2-0 lead.
The Wolves almost made it three moments later when Prenzoski crossed into Giraldi who’s instinctive volley forced a point blank save by Nicevski.
Necevski was busy again moments later when a throw in from Hawrysiuk was as good, if not better than a cross, found Giraldi in room on the right of the area and a awkward strike off balance by Giraldi beat Necevski but to the delight of the Blacktown players found the left post and ricocheted out to safety for the Demons.
Blacktown were desperate to get onto the scoresheet but with every chance some excellent defending by Danial Cummins, Michael Hawrysiuk and the ever present goalkeeping of Justin Pasfield thwarted chance after chance for the Wolves.
Wollongong FC put the game beyond reach for Blacktown in the 73rd minute when they scored the goal of the match. The advancing Steve Hayes pushing forward in midfield put a perfect through ball to the right for Prenzoski who’s angled run to the right of the area saw him change his direction instead of selfishly shooting on goal he turned his defender in the opposite direction and laid a square pass back to the supporting Hayes who’s first time shot was drilled low and hard into the bottom left corner of the Demons net and put the game beyond doubt for the home team.
Several changes following the 3rd goal by both teams took a bit of sting out of the match but during the final stages of the match the best chances fell to Prenzoski who fired inches over the bar following a neat passing movement from Hayes to Price to Prenzoski.
The Demons probably had the best final chance of the game but for some brilliance from Pasfield who diving to his left blocked a shot from Bedzo who beat 2 defenders and shot top right but for the hands of Pasfield to deny his celebration.
The fulltime score more so reflects the quality of this Wollongong FC side rather than the table position of their opposition Blacktown today and there is plenty to build on for a Blacktown side who have some quality young players coming through their ranks.
After the match Wollongong FC coach John Turner was delighted with his teams performance but again reiterated that there is so much more to come for Wollongong FC in the next few weeks.
The Wolves have their early season stars Michael West and Osagie Ederaro still to come back from injury along with Lachlan Cahill who was allowed to travel to Copenhagen to trial for one week at a Danish top flight team.
An embarrassment of riches are at Turner’s disposal with former Olyroo and Socceroo goalkeeper Michael Turnbull and Timor-Leste international Alfredo Esteves amongst the quality of talent in his strong bench.
?I thought today their effort was outstanding, the boys are really putting in for each other and the efforts of every one of them has been lifted up to a new level?, they really want it?, said Turner.
?The professionalism being shown from both Turnbull and Esteves is pleasing?, their experience and professionalism is not being lost on this team?, said Turner. Man of the Match – Illija Prenzoski reinforced Turner’s praise of his team mates as a whole by mentioning in the club’s after match speech, ?this team is like a real family? , Prenzoski said.
Wollongong FC’s consistent defender Danial Cummins may find himself sidelined for a couple of games when he received a yellow card in the 49th minute.
His accumulation of cards means he should serve a two match ban, which will see him miss games against Sydney United and Marconi but will see him likely to return against Sutherland fresh in the final match day should coach Turner see fit to put him straight back in to the starting line up.
?I was happy to get the three points and I am happy for the boys but I am real disappointed to receive the yellow card?, Cummins said. Danial went on to say that he will be more determined than ever to return after the two weeks refreshed, fit and ready to give everything he has got to make sure his team finishes off the year with a successful finale.
With the Wolves to play a deferred match with Sydney United next weekend a win could throw the title race wide open. A win could put Wollongong on top of the competition ladder with the same points as Sutherland.
Wollongong FC 3 (Illija Prenzoski 7′, Chris Price 55′, Steve Hayes 73)
Blacktown City Demons 0
Venue: John Crehan Park, CRINGILA
Referee: James Lewis
Assistant Referees: Brett Woodford, Dale Fuda
Fourth Official: Michael Seaborn
Wollongong FC: 1.Justin PASFIELD; 5. Steve HAYES , 6. Illija PRENZOSKI, 7. Michael HAWRYSIUK, 9. Dez GIRALDI (15. Samet KAYNAK 85′), 10. Balla CONDE (2. Alfredo ESTEVES 75′), 12. Chris PRICE, 13. Tynan DIAZ, 14. Danial CUMMINS, 17. Ben BLAKE (C), 19. Matt BAILEY (8. Mitchell LONG)
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Michael TURNBULL (GK)
Yellow Cards: Danial CUMMINS 49′, Dez GIRALDI 83′, Alfredo ESTEVES 88′
Red Cards: Nil
Blacktown City Demons: 1. Ivan NECEVSKI; 3. Paul KARBON, 4. Daniel WILKINSON, 5. Ryan WALSH, 8. Chris BEDZO, 13. Ben ELLIS, 16. Luke AUSTIN (6. Ken CHUN 61′), 17. Graeme FORBES, 19. Akwasi AGYEI (18. Jessie PINTO 65′), 25. Jordan SIMPSON, 29. Matt LEWIS(10. Sean ROONEY 73′)
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Matt NEMES (GK), 9. Bruno SALAS
Yellow Cards: Ryan WALSH 12′, Daniel WILKINSON 54′
Red Cards: Nil
3 ? Illija Prenzoski (WFC)
2 ? Danial CUMMINS (WFC)
1 ? Michael HAWRYSIUK (WFC)
-By Andrew Byron