A drama-filled Good Friday classic at Wetherall Park finished with Wollongong Olympic claiming a 3-2 victory against Port Kembla.
Stefan Dimoski’s first goal of the season towards the end of a dominant first half for the visitors put the side in the lead at the break.
Daniel Carella restored parity for Port Kembla early in the second period before Rick Goodchild converted a penalty with 20 minutes to play that put Olympic back in front.
Dimoski’s second goal of the match with a minute of regular time to play looked to have sealed the points for Matt Bailey’s side, however, a late David Hartas own goal gave the hosts a chance.
In the 95th minute, the home side was awarded a penalty and after a significant delay, Jordan Nikolovski powered his effort off the post leaving Olympic to take all three points.
A strong opening 10 minutes from the away side foreshadowed a fine first-half display with both Tory Musumeci and Rick Goodchild seeing shots saved.
Olympic continued to press on and in the 18th minute, Liam Wille’s long-range effort from the left cannoned back off the crossbar.
Just three minutes later, the side struck the woodwork again with Goodchild’s effort hitting the crossbar as well.
It seems only a matter of time before Olympic would find the opening goal, however, against the run of play the hosts nearly took the lead just before the half-hour mark.
A clever ball from Rocky Lavalle slipped in Jordan Nikolovski who attempted to poke the ball home, but Wollongong Olympic keeper Justin Pasfield was equal to it.
This chance was a mere anomaly in the Olympic onslaught and with seven minutes to play in the first half, the side finally found the first goal.
A corner wasn’t dealt with by the Port Kembla defence as the ball bounced around in the box before Dimoski bundled it into the net.
It may have been a scrappy goal for Olympic, but it saw the side take a narrow advantage into the break.
The home side came out of the sheds with renewed spirit, and it didn’t take long before they restored parity.
A cross from the right found Carella at the back post who accurately guided his header into the bottom left corner.
Port Kembla proceeded to take the ascendancy in the match with Carella wriggling wilfully in the box before driving his shot into the palms of Pasfield just after the hour mark.
Despite a period of positive play for the hosts, their progress was undone in the 70th minute as Wollongong Olympic was given a penalty.
Goodchild stepped up confidently and calmly passed the ball into the left side of the net with Port keeper Bryce Daenell moving in the other direction.
Olympic intended to see out the victory holding out Port Kembla soundly in the following minutes.
With a minute to play, Olympic extended their advantage with Dimoski picking the ball up in space on the right and sending a crisp strike into the far corner in off the post.
The away side looked all set to return to winning ways in the competition after their defeat to Bulli a fortnight ago.
However, Port Kembla never gave up and substitute Christian Saffioti’s deflected shot spun into the net to reduce the deficit to one goal two minutes into added time.
At the death of the match, Port Kembla was given a penalty and a chance to snatch a point.
Jordan Nikolovski had converted a penalty in each of his two games this season including a stoppage-time winner against South Coast United in Round 4.
After an extensive delay with Pasfield’s pre-penalty antics earning him a caution, Jordan Nikolovski arrowed his attempt onto the left post before Pasfield smothered the ball.
Seconds later, the final whistle was blown with Wollongong Olympic surviving the latest of scares to secure a 3-2 victory over Port Kembla.
This was only Port Kembla’s first defeat of the season; however, coach Stuart Beedie lamented the consistently slow starts in games from the team so far this season.
“I think two of the three games we’ve played the first half has been very ordinary and it’s something we’re going to have to address,” he said.
“We’ll regroup, get together as a team and hopefully weather permitting get going again next week.
The side are scheduled to travel to Albion Park White Eagles next Friday night whose only match in the league this season was a very late win against Tarrawanna on Super Saturday.
Wollongong Olympic coach Matt Bailey could breathe a huge sigh of relief after the late drama.
However, he was still very disappointed with the side’s performance in the moments leading up to the late penalty but noted a good first half from the team.
“First and foremost, it’s good to get on the pitch, it’s been too long,” he said.
“The first half was a perfect example of what Olympic’s about.
“We created near on 10 chances and to go in 1-0 up with a sloppy goal was probably not a reflection of the dominance we had in that first half.
“I don’t think I’ve been as disappointed with a win. We’ve got smart players; we’ve got a strong squad but that just displayed naivety in the last 10 minutes.
“Things that we shouldn’t get caught out doing we were doing and that’s disappointing for a group with this level of experience and quality.”
The side is set to host a Coniston team next Sunday at PCYC who are yet to find a win in the two matches they’ve played this season in the league.
Port Kembla 2 (Daniel Carella 52’, David Hartas OWN GOAL 90+2’)
Wollongong Olympic 3 (Stefan Dimoski 38’ 89’, Rick Goodchild PEN 70’)
Port Kembla: 1. DAENELL Bryce, 2, DI PIETRO Mitch, 3. DONNELLY Lachlan, 4. PAPALIA Luca, 5. PRANDALOS Peter, 6. CARRASCO Oli, 7. NIKOLOVSKI Jayden, 8. CHICHARO Daniel, 9. LAVALLE Rocky, 10. NIKOLOVSKI Jordan, 11. CARELLA Daniel
Substitutes: 12. ANAGNOSTOPOULOS James (R. LAVALLE 70’), 13. GEORGES Sam, 14. SAFFIOTI Christian (Jayden NIKOLOVSKI 79’), 15. CRAPIS Josh (CHICHARO 88’), 21. GENUA Luke
Wollongong Olympic: 1. PASFIELD Justin, 6. HARTAS David, 4. PRICE David, 12. LOW Brendan, 7. DIAZ Tynan, 10. GOODCHILD Rick, 13. DIMOSKI Stefan, 9. MUSUMECI Tory, 14. WILLE Liam, 2. KIZI Jordan, 17. O’ROURKE James
Substitutes: 18. PAPPAS Jason (KIZI 63’), 8. LAVALLE Joe (MUSUMECI 84’), 11. KAWASAKIYA Hikaru (WILLE 53’), 3. MAVRIDIS Mason, 20. FUENTEZ Cristofer
Date: Friday 15 April 2022
Venue: Wetherall Park
Referee: Greg Reid
Assistant Referees: Reece Edwards and Hayden Michlmayr
Report by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_
Photo courtesy of John Carusi