Both Wollongong Community FC and Bonnyrigg came into the match knowing that a win could catapult them up the table after first round losses.
The game opened brightly with Wollongong looking sharp in the early exchanges. Some good interplay between Chris Nathaniel and Samet Kaynak down the Wollongong flank left Bonnyrigg defenders red faced by Kaynak’s audacious step over and ?Johan Cruyff-like? turn, although his cross-turn-shot ended up in the stand.
Daniel Willoughby and Milorad Simonovic linked up neatly and began to trouble the Wollongong backline. On 8? minutes, Willoughby turned and fired a snapshot that left Alex Augusto in the Wollongong goal needing a sharp save to deny him.
A minute later it was Willoughby shooting high and wide when he stole half a yard on the home defence.
The teams kept sparring for openings with Wollongong passing and using the width, meanwhile Bonnyrigg favoured a far more direct route one approach. Jamie Pitt and Chris Nathaniel had shots which Ali Akbal in the Bonnyrigg goal did well to smother.
Wollongong were gaining the ascendancy and only good goalkeeping, and an excellent last ditch clearance by Milan Zoric, seemed to keep Bonnyrigg in contention.
Then, seemingly from nowhere and very much against the run of play, Bonnyrigg were awarded a free-kick halfway between the Wollongong penalty-area and the halfway line. Steve Hayes certainly came out of the tackle with the ball but referee Gillett judged him to have tackled the man from behind.
The floated free-kick to the back-post looked over hit, somehow, Eric Nyamekye running backwards managed to get his head onto it and the ball looped over the despairing Augusto into the home net; 1-0 Bonnyrigg.
Wollongong came straight back at Bonnyrigg from the kick off with Kaynak having a snapshot which the keeper saved easily.
Wollongong regrouped and seemed to steady themselves only to concede a penalty in the 34? minute after a mistimed challenge by Ben Bronnenberg on Willoughby. Almir Dizdaric stepped up and calmly scored; 2-0 Bonnyrigg.
With a minute of first-half injury-time gone Bronneberg put in a crunching challenge in midfield which referee Gillett penalised and deemed worthy of a straight red card.
Half-time came with Wollongong 2-0 down and with ten men. Bonnyrigg had every reason to believe that they had done enough to take the three points.
Whatever Wollongong coach Tony Pace said to his men at half-time, it must have inspired them. The ten men of Wollongong lifted and began to play some sublime passing football. A neutral could have been forgiven for thinking Bonnyrigg were a man down at times, as wave after wave of Wollongong attacks rained in from all areas.
It took less than 5? minutes for Wollongong to peg back a goal. A cross in from the right was met smartly by the head of Ilija Prenzoski and it was game on in Wollongong.
Bonnyrigg seemed to be in a state of shock as the Wollongong juggernaut gathered pace. The White Eagles began to resort to hopeful long balls as they tried to expose the home side’s back three.
On 60? minutes coach Pace rang the changes replacing a defender and a midfielder with two midfielders as he chased the game.
Finally the pressure paid off and after Kaynak was adjudged to have been held by the shirt, referee Gillett pointed to the spot and the Wollongong crowd began to sense that they were witnessing something special. Prenzoski drove his shot low and hard and despite and excellent effort by the goalkeeper, the ball ended up in the back of the Bonnyrigg net to level things at 2-2.
In a rare forward foray, Nyamekye was unlucky when Augusto dove bravely at his feet to thwart the lively striker. Paul Cotte blasted over when well placed and Wollongong looked to have salvaged a draw against all the odds.
Bonnyrigg seemed like they would now settle for the draw but Wollongong had other ideas. Some neat passing between Hayes, Kearns and Dimitrievski resulted in the ball flying sharply across the Bonnyrigg goal only for Kaynak to pop-up at the back post and smash the ball viciously into the Bonnyrigg net.
Bonnyrigg tried desperately to salvage a point and Nyamekye slotted the ball neatly past Augusto into the net in the dying moments; though Bonnyrigg knew it wasn’t to be their day when they saw the assistant’s flag raised for offside.
?We were too overconfident,? said White Eagles? captain David Petrovic.
?We are a young team but we showed them disrespect and they taught us a lesson. They worked hard as a team and wanted it more in the end.?
Wollongong’s match-winner Samet Kaynak was delighted at the end of the match:
?Many people wrote us off, they thought we were only here to make up the numbers. We are not, today we showed that we can win against the odds. Even getting to where we are now has been a struggle, but this should show everyone we are here to win. We can compete with anyone in this league.?
Wollongong coach Tony Pace expressed his content:
?We are a good side, today we showed it. The boys played as a team and won as a team. I’m very proud of their performance. We used our heads and went out to win this and we did.?
Wollongong Community FC 3 (Ilija Prenzoski 51?, 68? (pen), Samet Kaynak 72?)
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 2 (Eric Nyamekye 20?, Almir Dizdaric 34?)
Sunday, 8th March, 2009
John Crehan Park
Referee: Matthew Gillett
Assistant Referees: Nicholas Backo and Khodr Yaghi
Fourth Official: Scott Ferguson
Wollongong Community FC: 1.Alex Augusto; 2.Kieran Deane, 15.Jimmy Lawrence, 4.Alfredo Esteves, 6.Ilia Prenzoski, 8.Samet Kaynak (7. Josh Price), 9.Steve Hayes, 10.Balla Conde (18.Steve Dimitrievski), 13.Ben Bronneberg, 3.Jamie Pitt, 17. Chris Nathaniel (12. Brendan Kearns).
Substitutes Not Used: 14.Corey Gameiro, 20.Matteo Brandalise (gk)
Yellow Cards: Bronnenberg 34?, Esteves 49?
Red Cards: Bronnenberg 45?+1?
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 23.Ali Akbal; 2.Paul Cotte (14.Domenec Cutri), 4.David Petrovic, 7.Nikola Zonjic, 8.Daniel Willoughby (15.Steven Bozinovski), 9.Eric Nyamekye, 11.Almir Dizdaric, 13.Nathan Rivera, 17.Milorad Simonovic, 19.Antonio Faria (6.Ilkay Gurbuz), 20.Milan Zoric
Substitutes Not Used: 1.Nened Vekic (gk), 3. Drazen Janjic.
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
3 ? Steve Hayes (WCFC)
2 ? Alfredo Esteves (WCFC)
1 ? Samet Kaynak (WFC)
-By David Wallace