R14 1st vs Helensburgh (1018)

Wollongong United came from behind to beat Helensburgh Thistle 2-1 on Saturday night at Ian McLennan Park.

Liam Unicomb gave the Thistle the lead, but Jordan Nikolovski equalised to set the scores level heading into halftime.

Nav Darjani’s stunner in the second half proved the difference in the match, securing United’s win.

Wollongong United had a sustained spell of possession at the start of the match, probing for an opening goal early on.

However, Helensburgh’s direct balls in behind almost resulted in a goal for the side in the 12th minute. Josh O’Hanlon clipped a ball in behind for Unicomb, who rounded United goalkeeper Tom Alston to his left. Unicomb’s touch had taken him wide, so he drilled the ball across the box, but no Thistle player was running in.

United sprung forward five minutes later. Nikolovski latching onto a ball into the left channel. He looked to slot it past Thistle goalkeeper Luke Morgan, who managed to repel the shot.

The game was starting to heat up as it approached midway through the first half. In the 19th minute, Ethan Lehn shifted the ball inside from the left back and fired a strike from the edge of the area that Alston was forced to parry behind for a corner.

Helensburgh kept the pressure up and grabbed the lead four minutes later. Unicomb found space in the box and rolled an accurate effort into the far-right corner.

United responded after going behind with a few forays forward and had a goal ruled out for offside.

In the 28th minute, Daniel Geroski had a great chance for the side picking up the ball inside the box and hitting a low volley that Morgan got down to.

Four minutes later, they restored parity. Nikolovski got on the end of a left-sided cross that had been stood up to the back post, nodding a powerful header into the goal.

Less than two minutes after this, Helensburgh nearly retook the lead as Yuto Mochizuki’s curler bounced narrowly wide of the right post.

After their equaliser, United started to move the ball with speed in Helensburgh’s half, and it was only some desperate defending from the Thistle that kept them from the lead.

They were unable to capitalise on the pressure as the teams headed into halftime with the scores level.

United came out for the second half with renewed intensity, focussed on finding the go-ahead goal.

Ten minutes in, Joshua Galevski got into the right of the box and almost caught Morgan out at his near post, but the goalkeeper got a strong left hand to the ball.

United’s pressure was relentless, but the Thistle held off wave upon wave of attack and were still level heading into the final third of the game.

In the 69th minute, though, a moment of magic from Wollongong United’s Darjani broke the deadlock. The winger sprinted to keep a ball rolling towards the right by-line in play. He retrieved it and cut inside past Lehn in the box before arrowing a left-footed shot into the top left corner.

While United had been set up in the Helensburgh half for most of the second period, the Thistle started to create opportunities on the counter as the game wore on.

In the 75th minute, Hudson Hick arced a ball out to the right for Unicomb, who showed his pace down the right. He got into the box and extracted a sprawling save from Alston at his near post.

United could have sealed the game two minutes later when Nikolovski picked up the ball on the penalty spot, but he skewed it wide of the left post on the turn.

The Thistle conjured up a late spell of possession in the match as United dropped deeper, eager to see out the victory.

This resulted in some chances for United on the break with Nikolovski and Van Elia staying high.

In the second minute of stoppage time, Elia got the ball on the edge of the box and hit it first time, clearing the bar.

Wollongong United survived the five minutes of additional time to claim the three points at Ian McLennan Park.

The side host Shellharbour on Saturday while Helensburgh travel to Tarrawanna.

Match Stats

Report by Tim Gibson

Photos courtesy of Richie Wagner


Notice board

OFFICE HOURS: Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm

Searching for Clubs?

Find clubs, club contacts, field locations and more in our clubs directory. 


Get social

Upcoming Events