Wollongong United came from behind twice to claim the Youth Cup with a 3-2 victory over Coniston at Ian McLennan Park on Sunday afternoon.
Coniston took the lead in the 19th minute when Neo Musso lifted the ball over Zak Bedelovski. However, United pulled level with a couple of minutes to play in the half after Kyah Jovanovski headed home. But it was Coniston who took the lead into the half-time break, with Jack Donnely sending a looping header into the back of the net. United levelled the game just after the hour mark through Joshua Correia before James Stojanovski scored the winner for United five minutes later with a low drive into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Wollongong United showed intent to pull ahead from the opening minute, with Anthony Krsteski picking up the ball on the left-hand side and making room for a shot, which was easily gathered by Coniston custodian Ahmed Algarawi. Coniston weathered the early United assault before creating a couple of opportunities of their own in the 18th minute. Positive play from Dane Matthews on the left-hand side saw the midfielder go past a couple of players before passing the ball inside to Matthew Poposki. Poposki took aim from outside the box, firing a well-struck shot over the bar. A minute later, Coniston fired into the lead. Strong play from Neo Musso saw him go face-to-face with United keeper Zak Bedelovski, lofting the ball over the keeper while under pressure from a United defender.
United responded to going behind by creating several chances over the next 15 minutes – the first of these coming halfway through the first period when Kyah Jovanovski rose highest from a corner on the left-hand side, but saw his header inch wide. A minute later, United were presented with a fantastic opportunity to equalise through a penalty after Anthony Krsteski was bundled over in the box. Krsteski stepped up to the spot and blasted the effort over the bar – a let off for Coniston.
With two minutes to play in the first half, United’s pressure paid dividends as they found an equaliser. Krsteski picked up the ball on the right-hand side inside the box before standing a cross up to the back post, allowing Kyah Jovanovski to run onto the ball and nod it beyond Algarawi.
Both sides looked to be going into the break unable to be separated, but deep into stoppage time Coniston retook the lead. A cross in from the left-hand side found Jack Donnelly at the back post, who sent a looping header back across the goal and into the net. It was a sucker-punch for United, who had worked so hard to get back into the game only for it to all be for nothing with Donnelly’s late goal.
United came out to the second period with great conviction and five minutes in the side carved out an opening. Jordan Prentoski took aim centrally from range and dragged a shot from right-to-left, but Agarawi was equal to it. Three minutes later, United had a great chance to equalise when an intelligent cutback from Thomas Darjani on the left-hand side of the box found Joshua Correia, but Correia scuffed his shot over the bar from close range.
Correia’s persistence paid off ten minutes later however, when the United player found the back of the net. It was of a similar mold to his first chance – with a cut-back from the left-hand side finding him – but on this occasion, he was able to calmly pass the ball into the net via the inside of the far post. United’s pressure didn’t stop there, and the side continued to surge forwards with the hope of finding a winning goal, and five minutes after the equaliser, the side had it. A corner from the right-hand side came out to James Stojanovski on the edge of the box, who hit a low drive into the far corner of the net – scoring what would be the winning goal for Wollongong United.
United coach Yani Sekuloski was proud of his side’s performance despite the disappointment of conceding twice.
“The boys never actually gave up and fought right to the end,” Sekuloski said.
“We conceded two goals, weren’t really happy with that… you get three back, it’s actually outstanding.”
Coniston coach Miles Mihajlovic was upbeat despite the defeat – seeing it as the side showing progress.
“We are going in the right direction, no doubt we’ve got to keep pushing on,” Mihajlovic said.
“This is a great experience for us.”
Wollongong United 3 (Kyah Jovanovski 43’, Joshua Correia 63’, James Stojanovski 68’)
Coniston FC 2 (Neo Musso 19’, Jack Donnelly 45+1’)
Man of the Match: Filip Pilipovic
Wollongong United: 62. BEDELOVSKI Zak, 22. HANSEN Lee, 45. NAUMOVSKI Jason, 40. PILIPOVIC Filip, 32. STOJANOVSKI James, 16. NATTRASS Will, 35. JOVANOVSKI Kyah, 21. SEKULOSKI James, 49. KRSTESKI Anthony, 43. PRENTOSKI Jordan, 48. BROWN Curtis
Substitutes: 36. RADIC Milos, 31. NAVARRO Marcus, 9. DARJANI Thomas, 8. CORREIA Joshua, 33. FOWLER Ben, 25. HATZIMANOLIS Victor
Coniston: 12. ALGARAWI Ahmed, 43. TOOLE Lachlan, 54. KARAYIANNIS Adam, 26. REDPATH Keaghan, 34. EVANS GILDEA Jack, 28. OLIVEIRA Brandon, 45. ANGELEVSKI Brandon, 50. DEDIS Athanasios, 21. POPOSKI Matthew, 35. MUSSO Neo, 47. MATTHEW Dane
Substitutes: 55. CHRYSSOSTOMIDIS Alex, 57. KARANFILOSKI Filip, 27. DONNELLY Jack, 51. CHRISTENSEN Callum, 48. ABDEL MAGEED Omar, 79. BENTEN Sami
Date: 6 September 2020
Venue: Ian McLennan Park
Referee: Greg Reid
Assistant Referees: John Ruscica and Lachlan McRae
Fourth Official: Ethan Zvargulis
Report by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_
Photo courtesy of Pedro Garcia