Wollongong Olympic secured a 3-1 victory over Bellambi Rosellas at Ian McLennan Park on Saturday night.
Three first-half goals from Olympic were enough to see the side remain on top of the table.
Stefan Dimoski put Olympic ahead midway through the first half, before two quickfire goals in the final 10 minutes of the half courtesy of Joe Lavalle and Rick Goodchild put the side 3-0 up at the break.
The Rosellas had a more influential second period although they could only find a consolation goal from Luke Boersma’s penalty right at the end.
Olympic looked to set the tone early on as four minutes in, Dimoski found space in behind the right channel of the Bellambi defence and cut it back for Goodchild who cleared the crossbar with his effort.
Bellambi conjured up a couple of chances over the next five minutes with Nicholas Valjak rolling a left-footed effort into the gloves of Olympic keeper Justin Pasfield before sending a header just wide.
Olympic began asserting themselves in the match and 12 minutes in Dimoski had a goal ruled out for offside.
In the next five minutes, Goodchild got on the end of a long ball from the right but poked it just over the bar while David Hartas took aim from range but Bellambi keeper Volkan Guden was equal to it.
The side eventually broke the Rosellas’ resistance in the 23rd minute, as a ball into the box from the right dropped to Dimoski who bundled it home at the back post.
This inspired a fast finish to the half for Olympic with the side looking to put the game to bed.
At the half-hour mark, Jordan Kizi had his shot tipped over the bar before the resulting corner where James O’Rourke had a header blocked.
With 10 minutes to play in the first period, Olympic added a second as Hartas received the ball on the right after a well-worked moved and passed it into the middle for Lavalle who side-footed it into the goal.
Only a couple of minutes later, the side had a third goal, with Rick Goodchild volleying the ball into the bottom left corner from the edge of the box.
Bellambi could’ve pulled one back six minutes before the break as Chris Gomez’s cross from the right found Valjak centrally, but he couldn’t find the target.
Olympic went into halftime with a three-goal advantage and looked set to go on and earn their fourth win of the season.
It was a chance-shy second half by comparison to the first with neither side consistently creating shooting opportunities.
However, for Olympic in the 54th minute, Kizi sent an effort over the bar and six minutes later Liam Wille’s cross from the left found Hartas in the middle who shovelled his shot over as well.
It was a resurgent Bellambi display in the final 15 minutes with the side carving out several openings.
76 minutes in, substitute Shuhei Nagasawa was played in face-to-face with Pasfield and attempted to slide the ball into the bottom-right corner but it rolled past the post.
Nagasawa had another one-on-one in the 87th minute this time drawing a shape save from Pasfield down to his left.
In the final minute of regular time, the Rosellas’ were awarded a penalty that Boersma stepped up for and drilled into the bottom left corner despite a touch from Pasfield on the way in.
This proved to be a mere consolation for Bellambi although as Olympic secured the three points with a 3-1 win.
Bellambi have now lost their first two matches to start the year and sit in 11th.
It sets up a crucial clash with South Coast United next Saturday night at Ian McLennan Park with United the other side yet to win this year.
Wollongong Olympic coach Matt Bailey was delighted with the performance of his team and was especially pleased with defender Mark Every who played for the first time this season.
“I thought the first-half performance was probably the best performance I’ve seen since I’ve been here and that certainly was pleasing, he said.
“The way we controlled the tempo of the match, the way we dominated possession, the way we created chances consistently with patience was really important for me.
“He [Mark Every] adds an aura around our defence. He’s such a powerful figure and he really made a difference today.”
Weather pending, Olympic will feature in arguably the match of the round as they host reigning champions Wollongong United at PCYC next Sunday.
Bellambi Rosellas 1 (Luke Boersma Penalty 90’)
Wollongong Olympic 3 (Stefan Dimoski 23’, Joe Lavalle 35’, Rick Goodchild 37’)
Bellambi Rosellas: 1. GUDEN Volkan, 2. FRIEDRICH Blake, 17. HAJITTOFI Angelo, 4. HRISTOVSKI Steven, 3. KOLIOPOULOS Daniel, 6. BOERSMA Luke, 5. VALJAK Nicholas, 9. WILSON Brett, 11. HIROSE Reo, 10. GOMEZ Chris, 8. MOLLOY Sean
Substitutes: 12. NAGASAWA Shuhei (GOMEZ 67’), 13. DO PAO Alexander (WILSON 85’), 14. SAWAN Ali, 15. ZAVRODIC Marcus, 16. CUPITT Nathan
Wollongong Olympic: 1. PASFIELD Justin, 17. O’ROURKE James, 26. EVERY Mark, 6. HARTAS David, 12. LOW Brendan, 7. DIAZ Tynan, 8. LAVALLE Joe, 10. GOODCHILD Rick, 14. WILLE Liam, 2. KIZI Jordan, 13. DIMOSKI Stefan
Substitutes: 19. LOWCOCK Sandy (WILLE 80’), 3. HOGAN Dylan (DIMOSKI 87’), 5. AVOURIS Dion (LAVALLE 87’), 20. FUENTEZ Cristofer
Date: Saturday April 30 2022
Venue: Ian McLennan Park
Referee: Jay Walpole
Assistant Referees: Demi Goddard and Damien Dennelly
Report by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_
Photo courtesy of Graham Brown