Wollongong United turned around a two-goal deficit to surge to a 5-2 victory over top-tier newcomers University White at Kooloobong Oval on Sunday afternoon. 

In just their second game in the division, University powered out to a two-goal lead within six minutes thanks to an Amy Morrell brace. 

Her first of the day came off a wicked shot deflection that saw it bounce in front of goal, Morrell pounced first and made no mistake with the finish, firing into the bottom corner. 

Then, just two minutes later, United goalkeeper Aaliyah Sigabalavu pulled off a spectacular double save on both Zoe Seitaridis and Morrell but couldn’t keep out Morrell’s second effort as she found the back of the net from close range. 

United slowly started to claw their way back into the game and were rewarded with their first goal of the day when a deep cross skimmed the head of University defender Jessica Carman and bounced into her own goal. 

In the 22nd minute, United drew level following their slow start and it was a screamer of a free-kick that saw Rikki-Lee Wardle find the top corner from the sideline. 

The game steadied into an even battle for the rest of the half and Madeline Negus provided some spark off the bench. 

A nice interchange of passes between Negus and Sabrina Toufexis opened up space for the winger to run onto goal, however, she couldn’t angle her shot on target as it flew wide. 

The visitors had a big chance to pull ahead in the 32nd minute when Sophie Bourke looked to pounce on a loose ball following a corner.

It was only a retrieving University defence that denied United their third. 

In the 32nd minute, Negus used her pace again and almost was rewarded with a chipped goal but it took a miraculous fingertip save by Sigabalavu to deny her. 

Right on the stroke of half-time, former University forward Kristen Gorgieski went through one-on-one and really should have found the target, but her attempt flew over the bar as the teams went into the break level. 

United came out into the second half firing.

Cassandra Petkovska was denied by Ashley Donovan in goal after her solo effort before Teisha McKenzie blasted her shot into the crossbar following some nice work up the left by Caitlin Cardwell in the 48th minute. 

McKenzie was denied by the woodwork for the second time just minutes later when her cross blew onto the top of the crossbar and out for a goal-kick. 

It wasn’t until the 71st minute that United took the lead for the first time of the day. 

After a poor touch at the back, Gorgieski dispossessed the University defence deep into the Unicorns half.

The forward sent a delicately chipped attempt towards goal, picking out the top corner and pushing the visitors in front. 

Gorgieski hit the Unicorns with a quick-fire double when she was found wide open in the box before the calmest of finishes found the back of the net in the 76th minute. 

University continued to attack and sent several shots onto the United goal.

These shots didn’t seem to worry Sigabalavu as the goalkeeper kept out anything the Unicorns threw at her in the late stages of the game. 

Brittany Sands then put the game beyond doubt in the 87th minute as her silky turn around her opposing number set up a powerful shot that rifled into the top corner, rounding off a stellar comeback for United. 

United proved too strong for University White, coming from behind to pick up their first win in their first game of the season. 

University now turn their attention to next week’s away game to South Coast Flame whereas United return home to take on reigning league champions Albion Park. 

University White: 2 (Amy Morrell 4’ 6’)

Wollongong United: 5 (Jessica Carman OWN GOAL 11’, Rikki-Lee Wardle 22’, Kristen Georgieski 71’ 76’, Brittany Sands 87’)

University White: 8. AMATTO Grace, 7. BALA Nina, 14. CARMAN Jessica, 20. HAMILTON-HUCMAN Tallara, 9. HEDDITCH Stephanie, 21. KATSOUDAS Natasha, 13. MORRELL Amy, 5. NEGUS Madeline, 11. REAN Jordan, 19. RUSSELL Makenzie, 16. SEITARIDIS Zoe, 3. TOUFEXIS Sabrina, 1. DONOVAN Ashley, 4. ZAUMER Caitlyn, 6. ZIPPARO Isabella, 12. GODDARD Demi. 

Wollongong United: 4. BOURKE Sophie, 12. CARDWELL Caitlin, 10. GORGIESKI Kristen, 3. JACKSON Xanthe, 2. MCKENZIE Teisha, 13. MCLINTOCK Shannon, 9. PETKOVSKA Cassandra, 11. PETROVSKA Aleksia, 15. SANDS Brittany, 1. SIGABALAVU Aaliyah, 7. WARDLE Rikki-Lee, 5. PRESTON Cassandra, 22. PHAN Lin. 

Date: 11 April 2021

Ground: Kooloobong Oval

Referee: Martin Rowney

Assistant Referees: Caitlin Flynn and Club

Report by Nathan Turner, @nathanturner23_

Photo by Richie Wagner

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