Wollongong Olympic’s top goalscorer, Yusuke Ueda, delivered once again as his two goals were enough to knock off Corrimal and take Olympic through to the Illawarra Premier League Grand Final.
The 120 minutes of gruelling football got off to an exciting start when Ueda opened the scoring in the sixth minute of the match. Ueda’s opportunity arose due to a costly defensive mistake when Corrimal’s centre-half Dean Pender air-swung while attempting to stop Kojiro Hori’s cross from making its way into the box. Pender’s mishap allowed Ueda to run onto the ball and meet it as it bounced at waist-height before he lashed it into the back the net despite goalkeeper, Nic Loe, getting a glove on the ball.
In the 17th minute, Ueda had a golden opportunity to double Olympic’s advantage when he met a low cross on the volley inside the box. Ueda hit the ball strongly but too close to Nic Loe who pushed the ball onto the crossbar and gathered the rebound before Ueda had a chance to tap it in.
It wasn’t until the 23rd minute that Corrimal would have their first chance of the match. With the ball outside the box, Tomoki Wada cut the Olympic defence in half with a curling cross. Lunging forward towards the ball was Tim Wylie who skied his shot over the bar from the top of the six-yard box, however, this was inconsequential as he was ultimately ruled offside.
Chances remained difficult to come by for the rest of the half as both teams shored up their defence until the final five minutes as legs began to tire. In the 41st minute, Wollongong Olympic should have doubled their advantage when Kojiro Hori’s cross landed at the feet of Julian Minutillo on the edge of the six-yard box. Rushed for time, Minutillo failed to compose himself as he hit the ball straight into the body of Nic Loe who had little knowledge of the ball’s whereabouts. This gave Corrimal a chance to break on the counter, which resulted in Tim Wylie dribbling along the by-line towards the right-upright of the goal. Less than a few metres away from the post, Wylie shaped to cut the ball across goal to Van Elia. However, Mark Every, the Olympic defender, had chased back to stop the ball from reaching Elia. Unfortunately, for Every, his efforts resulted in him bundling the ball and himself into the goal to bring the scores level before the end of the half.
Having ended the first half on a high, Corrimal lost all momentum in the first minute of the second when Ben Zucco received his second yellow card for a reckless slide tackle. The one-man deficit acted as the catalyst for Corrimal to play more conservatively which resulted in few clear-cut chances for either side during the half as Corrimal attempted to hold on for extra time. However, the Rangers almost fell at the final hurdle when Ueda was played through on goal in the first minute of stoppage time. Reaching the goalkeeper, Ueda placed it into the bottom corner of the goal. Fortunately, for Corrimal, the referee’s whistle had already blown as Ueda was ruled offside.
In complete contrast to the second half of regular time, extra time began with a flurry of chances. In the 2nd minute, Ueda found himself with the ball in the area only to hit the ball straight at the keeper, while in the 7th minute, Ueda on the top of the box, dragged his shot across the face of goal prompting groans of frustration from his teammates. However, in the 10th minute of the extra period, Ueda would redeem himself when a free-kick was headed down into his path and smashed a half volley from the top of the box past Nic Loe to send Olympic into the lead.
A mere two minutes later, Corrimal was denied a quick equaliser by Olympic goalkeeper, Hayden Durose. Initially parrying a long-range Tomoki Wada effort, Durose was called back into action when Sam Matthews pounced on the rebound, hitting the ball towards the roof of the goal only for Durose to pull off a brilliant save and push the ball out for a corner.
On the stroke of half time of extra time, Olympic had a chance to wrap the game up when David Hartas received the ball on the right-hand side of the box. With Loe closing him down, Hartas toe-poked the ball goalward only to be denied by the post.
The final opportunity of the match fell for Ueda in the 23rd minute of extra time, when he strode into the box and opted for power over placement, hitting a fan behind the goal rather than the back of the net. However, the miss would have little consequence for Olympic as they managed to hold onto their lead for the remainder of the match.
Olympic has now qualified for the Grand Final, giving themselves the ultimate opportunity to claim a league-championship double. Meanwhile, Corrimal will now have to regroup and take on the in-form Tarrawanna Blueys without their midfield workhorse Ben Zucco for their opportunity to exact revenge over Olympic in the big dance at Win Stadium.
8th September @ J.J Kelly Park
Wollongong Olympic – 2 (Ueda 6’ & 100’)
Corrimal Rangers – 1 (OG Every 42’)
Wollongong Olympic – Hayden DUROSE, Kojiro HORI, Jack KEATING, Mark EVERY, Ikumi SAITO, Vaughan PATTERSON, Brendan FORDHAM, Joey LAVALLE, Julian MINUTILLO, John MARTINOVSKI, Yusuke UEDA.
Substitutes – Jamie WAKELING (on for Hori), Jack BALMFORTH (on for Martinovski), David HARTAS (on for Minutillo), Peter PRANDALOS (on for Lavalle), Christian PRETTO.
Corrimal Rangers – Nic LOE, Dean PENDER, Jason ZUFIC, Alvin CECCOLI, Ben ZUCCO, Banri KANAIZUMI, Lukas STERGIOU, Tomoki WADA, Sam MATTHEWS, Van ELIA, Tim WYLIE.
Substitutes – Matt GALANTI (on for Ceccoli), Paul GUIDO (on for Elia), James WALKER (on for Pender), David ZUFIC, Daniel CARRENO (on for J. Zufic).
Referee – Nick Ryan
Assistants – Nathan WOTTON, Caleb BLANCH
4th Official – Andrew NAYLOR
Report by Nic Wilson, on twitter @_nicwilson
Photo courtesy of Noel Wynn