WOLLONGONG OLYMPIC V WOONONA SHARKS | IPL ROUND 5 | MATCH REPORT
A spectacular Tynan Diaz first-half freekick proved to be the decisive goal in Wollongong Olympic’s 1-0 victory over a defensively resolute Woonona Sharks at Ian McLennan Park on Sunday night.
It was a strong start from Olympic with Chris Price sending a header across goal following a corner two minutes in.
The 2019 League Champions continued to probe in search of the opening goal, however, it was the Sharks who had the next meaningful chance.
Brendan Pattman sending a teasing delivery across the box from the left-hand side towards Max Ashton who was unable to latch onto the ball at the back post.
Four minutes later, a determined run from Olympic’s Liam Wylie through the middle of the pitch saw the winger find Hikaru Kawasakiya on the left-hand side.
Kawasakiya drove into the box but could only find the side-netting with his left-footed shot.
Wollongong Olympic was a consistent threat from set-pieces throughout the match, with Diaz’s delivery into the box causing problems for Woonona.
28 minutes in following a corner, James O’Rourke forced an impressive save from Brandon Groom who reacted swiftly to push the ball over the bar.
Olympic’s persistent pressure finally produced a goal in the 32nd minute with Diaz bending a well-struck central freekick into the right side of the net.
Buoyed by Diaz’s brilliant freekick, Wollongong Olympic pushed on in pursuit of a second before the break.
Another Diaz set-piece; this time from a narrow angle on the left caused havoc with 10 minutes to play, with the ball being scrambled away from the Woonona box.
The Sharks held strong and kept it to just the one goal at halftime.
At the break, despite Olympic holding the majority of the ball, the side only had one goal to show for it, although Woonona had only been a sporadic threat in the first period.
The Sharks came out of the sheds with great purpose looking to restore parity.
Six minutes into the second half, another promising cross from Pattman on the left found Hassan Abudareb in the middle, who couldn’t make sufficient contact with the ball.
Four minutes later, Ashton; who had been lively throughout the match, took aim from range but it rolled into the arms of Olympic keeper Justin Pasfield.
Fifty-six minutes in, Olympic’s Rick Goodchild found himself in space in a central position outside the box and fired goalwards forcing Groom to tip the ball over the bar.
The resulting corner, saw Price come close again heading onto the crossbar this time.
In the final 20 minutes of the match, Wollongong Olympic had numerous opportunities to double the advantage.
In the 70th minute, Diaz’s cross from the right narrowly missed the head of Joe Lavalle at the back post and a minute later, Lavalle’s shot from outside the box was saved by Groom.
With 11 minutes to play, Olympic substitute Mason Mavridis played the ball across the top of the box to Wylie who sent an effort straight at Groom.
Not long after Stefan Dimoski’s deflected effort from the right side of the box was tipped round the far post.
Olympic saw out their second win in a row cementing them at the top of the table, given the relative fixtureless start to the competition.
Coach Matt Bailey was pleased with the way his side managed the game but noted the difficulties for the squad due to the lack of training and matches recently.
“It was an interesting match,” he said.
“I think it’s fair to say Woonona represented themselves really well; very resilient and we knew they would be. They never give away goals easily.
“It took us a little while to build into the game. I think the disruption of not training regularly, not being on the pitch has its disadvantages.
“I think we controlled the tempo of the match quite well which was good.”
Matt Bailey will travel to face his former side Bulli next Saturday for the first time since his departure partway through the 2019 season.
Bailey coached the Balls Paddock club to two League Championships, a Premiership and a Bert Bampton Cup in his time as a coach there.
Woonona coach Ian Connelly echoed Bailey’s views on the start of the season but was happy with his team’s efforts on the night.
“It’s been a difficult off-season not just for us; for all clubs involved. It’s been pretty disruptive,” he said.
“For a large part of the game, we probably stuck to our plan and there’s probably just a couple of little areas that let us down on the day.
“We really needed to keep our structure in place and be patient and not panic at any stage. We weren’t too concerned with them having the ball at the back, to be honest. It was about controlling the midfield and being compact at the back.”
The Sharks are scheduled to host Coniston next Saturday at Ocean Park.
Wollongong Olympic 1 (Tynan Diaz 32’)
Woonona Sharks 0
Wollongong Olympic: 1. PASFIELD Justin, 6. HARTAS David, 4. PRICE Chris, 12. LOW Brendan, 7. DIAZ Tynan, 8. LAVALLE Joe, 10. GOODCHILD Rick, 11. KAWASAKIYA Hikaru, 13. DIMOSKI Stefan, 14. WYLIE Liam, 17. O’ROURKE James
Substitutes: 18. PAPPAS Jason (GOODCHILD 89’), 19. LOWCOCK Sandy (WYLIE 81’), 3. MAVRIDIS Mason (KAWASAKIYA 67’), 2. KIZI Jordan, 22. FUENTEZ Christofer
Woonona Sharks: 1. GROOM Brandon, 4. REGAN WILLIAMS Taro, 5. BRESLIN Aidan, 6. TOOHEY Luke, 7. FRENCH Jesse, 10. PATTMAN Brendan, 12. ABUDAREB Hassan, 24. TAKAHASHI Shin, 25. ASHTON Max, 33. GAUDIOSI Robbie, 34. PAULL Luke
Substitutes: 2. WILTON Wade, 8. LEE Richard (ASHTON 86’), 11. LOZENKOVSKI Jordan (FRENCH 72’), 22. TANAKA Junya (TOOHEY 46’), 21. CHURCHWOOD Jack
Date: 27 March 2022
Venue: Ian McLennan Park
Referee: Caleb Blanch
Assistant Referees: Brendon Fotheringham and Harrison Fisher
Report by Timothy Gibson
Photo: Richie Wagner