Wollongong United missed an opportunity to maintain their perfect start to the season due to a 1-1 draw away to Bulli on Saturday. 

The 2018 grand finalists played out a dour opening 45 minutes before the match heated up in the final half-hour after Ben McDonald put Bulli ahead from the penalty mark.

Sean Thomas brought the visitors level in the 83rd minute before United won a penalty late on only for Ben McGinnes to keep out Mitsuo Yamada’s effort.

United had the better of the field position in the early stages of the match, though they didn’t manage to really test McGinnes outside of an under-hit strike from Klime Sekutkoski.

Bulli had their own half-chances in the final 20 minutes of the opening period with McDonald miss-hitting Joel Beattie’s cut back and Luke Van Zyl driving a shot straight at United custodian Sam Nastic.

United’s Danny Lazarevski had a header on target four minutes into the second half but it went straight at McGinnes before the ball was eventually cleared.

The home supporters were cheering when McDonald turned the ball home in the 54th minute, however, the assistant referee had flagged the striker offside.

McDonald would get the opener five minutes later with a penalty after Sam Nastic pulled off a good save from Van Zyl before Beattie was fouled in the area by Andre Dias. 

The Bulli marksman dispatched the set-piece, sending Nastic the wrong way.

Mason Versi and Yamada both got shots away in the following 10 minutes, while at the other end, Nastic had to make another fine save, this time off a Kyle Jackson shot.

United claimed their equaliser with seven minutes remaining in regular time with Bulli failing to clear a corner before it bobbled to Thomas who headed the ball just over the line.

The visitors had a chance to snatch all three points in the 87th minute when Yamada was impeded by Jack Harris in the box.

The Japanese opted to take the penalty, but his hit was beaten away by McGinnes diving to his right.

The sides raced back and forward for the final throes of the contest, but neither outfit could find their second goal of the afternoon.

The point sees the Macedonia Park club drop to second after Coniston continued their winning start to the season with a 4-0 thumping of Woonona. 

United return home on Tuesday night for an FFA Cup tie with NPL 2 side SD Raiders, before hosting the derby match with Cringila next Saturday afternoon.

As for Bulli, they will travel to David Thomas Reserve to take on Manly Vale on Wednesday night with the FFA Cup clash coming just 48 hours before facing Corrimal at Memorial Park.

Bulli: 1 (Ben McDonald 59’ PEN)

Wollongong United: 1 (Sean Thomas 83’)

Bulli: 1. MCGINNES Ben, 2. JACKSON Kyle, 5. FOSTER Luke, 6. DAVIES Sam, 7. VAN ZYL Luke, 9. MCDONALD Ben, 11. BEATTIE Joel, 15. LITTLER Nick, 16. KNIGHT Guy, 19. CLARINO Ian

Substitutes: 10. DEL TURCO Mitchell (FOSTER), 12. LLOYD Harry, 8. LEVY Jake (VAN ZYL) 25. ADNUM Sam, 21. KLUDASS Braeden

Wollongong United: 19. BROOKS Ben, 3. DIAS Andre, 26. KAWAKAMI Seiji, 42. LAZAREVSKI Danny, 80. NASTIC Sam, 29. SEKUTKOSKI Klime, 32. STOJANOVSKI James, 10. TERZIC Dinko, 41. THOMAS Sean, 11. VERSI Mason, 23. YAMADA Mitsuo

Substitutes: 46. BRENNAN Maty (SEKUTKOSKI), 8. CORREIA Josh, 7. FLANAGAN Jeremy (TERZIC), 44. MCLAREN Zac (VERSI), 4. VESCIO Rene

Date: 10 April 2021

Venue: Balls Paddock

Referee: Nick Ryan

Assistant Referees: Steven Payne and Tim Gibson

Report by Dylan Arvela, on Twitter @dylanarvela

Photo by Dana Walker

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