Wollongong United secured their first Bert Bampton Cup in five years with a 2-0 win over last season’s cup winners Bulli at Ian McLennan Park on Sunday afternoon. It took until the 71st minute for scoring to open when Mitsuo Yamada converted with excellence from the penalty spot, before Jeremy Flanagan doubled the advantage five minutes later with a left-footed strike from inside the box.
United showed a preview of what was to come within the first five minutes after Mason Versi went on a marauding run infield but was tackled on the edge of the box. The ball fell into the path of Mitsuo Yamada inside the box, who rolled it onto the post, leaving Bulli keeper Ben McGinnes stranded before the shot-stopper collected the rebound.
Five minutes later, Bulli created a chance of their own after Luke van Zyl cut inside from the left-hand side and attempted to power a strike into the top corner – but saw his shot power over the bar. Three minutes later, United came forward once more with Takumu Tsujimura making a great connection with a volley from the top of the box, but it was straight at McGinnes.
Ten minutes later, Bulli’s van Zyl was involved again on the left-hand side of the park, hitting a shot which was well-saved at the near post by Jordan Nikolovski.
Bulli’s pressure continued and in the 32nd minute, a cross in from the right-hand side from Seiya Kambayashi found the head of Ben McDonald – who headed over from close range. Just a few minutes later, Bulli came forward once again, this time through Sam Davies who scooped a ball over the United defence, finding van Zyl who thundered a strike goalwards – forcing an impressive save from Nikolovski.
Heading into the final minute of regular time in the first half, United’s Versi took aim from outside the box but couldn’t get it on target, dragging the shot wide of the goal. Bulli finished the opening half the stronger of the two sides with captain Ben McDonald having two opportunities to open the scoring – The first of which a cross from the left-hand side finding his head before nodding the effort wide of the near post before a few seconds later he got onto the end of a Kambayashi cross from the right-hand side, sending a glancing header goalwards. However, this second effort stayed out of the net thanks to an incredible reaction save from Nikolovski – with the keeper touching the ball onto the crossbar and away from danger, leaving the sides unable to be separated at the break, despite both striking the woodwork.
Bulli started the second half how they finished the first, when four minutes in, a ball played into the channel for van Zyl from Kambayashi saw the ex-Helensburgh skipper attempt to play the ball across the six-yard box – but his movement was intercepted. Nine minutes later, Bulli’s Tsujimura took aim on the right-hand side, firing goalwards but his shot sailed wide of the post. Three minutes later, United substitute Jeremey Flanagan – who had just come on – had a great sight of goal, being played into a face-to-face challenge with Ben McGinnes, but Flanagan failed to make sufficient contact with the ball – seeing it dribble into the hands of the Bulli custodian.
In the 71st minute, Wollongong United were awarded a penalty after a handball in the penalty area. Mitsuo Yamada stepped to the spot and leathered a strike into the roof of the net, giving United the lead against the reigning Bert Bampton holders. Five minutes later, this advantage was doubled after Versi stood up a ball to the back post, finding Flanagan and seeing his effort find the net. Despite the two-goal lead, United continued to press forwards and four minutes later, Versi took aim from a significant distance on the right-hand side of the park – prompting a good save from McGinnes, who parried the shot away from danger, with United holding on to secure their fifth Bert Bampton Cup – the equal highest number of titles in the competition’s history.
Wollongong United coach Oli Vrtkovski was happy with the side’s performance, highlighting the impact of substitute Jeremy Flanagan.
“[Flanagan’s impact brought a] different energy, it was something that they [Bulli] weren’t expecting,” Vrtkovski said.
“Jeremy [Flanagan] was fantastic… He got himself into a great position to get himself a well-earned goal.”
Wollongong United 2 (Mitsuo Yamada 71’, Jeremy Flanagan 76’)
Bulli FC 0
Man of the Match: Seiji Kawakami
Wollongong United: 60. NIKOLOVSKI Jordan, 19. BROOKS Ben, 3. DIAS Andre, 11. KAWASAKIYA Hikaru, 26. KAWAKAMI Seiji, 42. LAZAREVSKI Danny, 7. MENDES Michael, 41. THOMAS Sean, 20. TSOVOLOS Billy, 23. YAMADA Mitsuo, 10. VERSI Mason
Substitutes: 30. SEKUTKOSKI Klime (KAWASAKIYA), 38. SEKUTKOSKI Kristian (YAMADA), 8. CORREIA Joshua, 14. FLANAGAN Jeremy (MENDES), 43. PRENTOSKI Jordan
Bulli: 1. MCGINNES Ben, 30. KAMBAYASHI Seiya, 3. HARRIS Jack, 27. CLARINO Ian, 5. FOSTER Luke, 4. BAKER Aaron, 6. DAVIES Sam, 31. EMERTON Ryan, 26. TSUJIMURA Takumu, 9. MCDONALD Ben, 7. VAN ZYL Luke
Substitutes: 8. HEWSON Blake (BAKER), 11. ENGLISH Edward, 19. MIRANDA Sam (EMERTON), 16. FARINA Daniel
Date: 6 September 2020
Venue: Ian McLennan Park
Referee: Bobby Mazevski
Assistant Referees: Ethan Zvargulis and Harrison Fisher
Fourth Official: Greg Reid
Report by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_
Photo courtesy of Pedro Garcia