Coniston have pulled off the most impressive and important upset of the Illawarra Premier League season on Sunday afternoon defeating Wollongong United 3-2 at Macedonia Park, ultimately costing them the IPL title for 2020.
Wollongong went into the match needing just a draw or for Woonona to lose or draw in order to secure the title. This script was thrown out early in the first half as Coniston found themselves up 2-0 at the half with goals from Brett Wilson and Matt Tchentscher.
Wollongong completely dominated the second half putting Coniston’s defence through their biggest test all season. Mitsuo Yamada scored the hosts opener in the 50th minute but they had to wait until the final minute of regulation until they levelled it up with a goal from substitute Jeremy Flanagan.
Right as the crowd at Macedonia Park calmed down from celebrating what they thought was a title securing goal, Branislav Radmanovic scored an improbable 95th minute goal breaking the hearts of the United faithful and gifted Woonona top spot in the IPL giving the club their maiden title.
Coniston were on the back foot early and were forced to play on the counter-attack, this worked heavily in their favour as their first two goals came from it. Brett Wilson had the visitors in dreamland with his super finish in the 18th minute then at the stroke of halftime a superb solo goal from Matt Tchentscher had them two to the good heading into the break leaving the hosts with a sizeable deficit to climb in order to secure the title.
Wollongong came out of the break firing and didn’t stop until they had first place secured. Both Yamada Mitsuo and Billy Tsovolos were denied certain goals as their shots from the 6-yard box were brilliantly cleared by the Coniston defence in a frantic goal line scramble.
It wasn’t long before United had their first goal of the afternoon in the 53rd minute through a close-range header from Mitsuo Yamada.
The hosts continued to mount the pressure on Coniston with a flurry of attacks, just moments after their first goal United found themselves in a golden situation when Yamada sent the ball across the goal and found Mason Versi with a near open goal, his powerful shot was desperately cleared by the Coniston defence on the goal line.
Wollongong came agonisingly close in the 64th minute when Zac McLaren found himself one-on-one with an oncoming Blake Horton who made a stellar save to keep his side in the lead.
The United attack continued to push on and sat deep in the opposing half for long periods of the remainder of the game, In the 78th minute a long over-head through ball was contested by Horton and Yamada, both players were going for the ball and took each other out the process leaving them both on the floor in pain. After reviewing the incident with his assistants, referee Brodie Merchant showed Horton a red for taking Yamada out whilst being the last man, forcing Coniston to play 16 year old striker Sam Benton in goals for the remainder of play.
Macedonia Park erupted in the 90th minute when Jeremy Flanagan found himself in prime position to finish into an empty net after following up on a great save from Benton. As it stood Wollongong would be crowned champions.
Coniston continued to fight right until the death and they were rewarded in the 96th minute of play when substitute Branislav Radmanovic somehow squeezed his shot past the United defence and in to steal the game with one of the last kicks before full-time.
It was a heartbreaking sequence of events for the home side going from champions to runners-up within a matter of minutes. They would be incredibly frustrated with themselves as they could of easily run away with the game early in the second half. On the other hand, Coniston will be thrilled that they could dethrone United on their home ground gifting Woonona the 2020 Premiership.
Wollongong United 2 ( YAMADA 50’, FLANAGAN 90’)
Coniston 3 (WILSON 18’, TCHENTSCHER 42’, RADMANEVIC 90+5’)
Wollongong United: 60. NIKOLOVSKI Jordan, 19. BROOKS Ben, 3. DIAS Andre, HIKARU Kawasakiya, 26. KAWAKAMI Seji, 42. LAZAREVSKI Danny, 44. MCLAREN Zac, 20. TSOVOLOS Billy, 23. YAMADA Mitsuo, 10. VERSI Mason, 8. CORREIA Josh.
Substitutes: 7. MENDES Michael, 14. FLANAGAN Jeremy, 17. TERZIC Dinko, 30. KLIME Sekytkoski, 62. BEDELOVSKI Zak.
Coniston: 1. HORTON Blake, 3. KAYANO Takayuki, 19. CAVILL Tomas, 16. ALLPORT Boden, 4. MACLOU Tyren, 18. O’NEILL Connor, 6. CIMINO Michael, 7. FUJIEDA Tomohito, 10. STERJOVSKI Dion, 11. TCHENTSCHER Matt, 9. WILSON Matt.
Substitutes: 24. RADMANOVIC Branislav, 29. PONTAROLO Connor, 50. DEDIS Athen, 33. ANDERSON Travis, 79. BANTON Sami.
Date: 4th October 2020
Venue: Macedonia Park
Referee: Brodie Merchant
Assistant Referees: Reece Edwards & John Ruscica