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Rockdale Ilinden proved too strong for a plucky Wollongong Wolves in a tense 2-1 win at Ilinden Sports Centre in Round 7 of the NPL NSW Men’s competition.

In an evenly fought contest the home side managed to secure two through ace marksman Alec Urosevski to trump one goal to Wollonong’s Josh Macdonald.

Nick Littler and Banri Kanaizumi combined to bring down Urosevski in the area in the 15th minute awarding the home side a penalty duly dispatched by the Rockdale striker to open the scoring.

The lead lasted barely four minutes as Wollongong equalised through Josh Macdonald in bizarre fashion from a free kick from 25-yards out that drifted into the area and was missed by everyone, including David Bradasevic.

The ball caught up in the breeze and bamboozled everyone to creep its way into the net at the 19 minute mark.

A lively Urosevski came close to restoring the lead, again from a set piece, moments later but the curling shot swerved beyond the upright.

An audacious lob by Leroy Jennings in the 27th minute left Bradasevic stranded but the Wolves’ striker was left holding his head when the effort glanced off the far post with the first real opportunity from open play for either side.

Jaden Casella tried his luck from distance only to see the shot slide narrowly wide, although Hayden Durose looked to have it covered, and was unlucky to see his next attempt hit the inside of the post and rebound back into play to be cleared by the Wollongong defence.

Chris McStay thudded an effort against the woodwork but the whistle went for offside as Rockdale pressed their attack but failed to break a resolute Wolves’ defence.

Casella centred for McStay in the closing stages of the half, but the midfielder couldn’t gain any purchase on the ball and the half-time whistle blew for a 1-1 scoreline at the break.

Rockdale had their calls for another penalty waved away immediately on the restart when Peter Kekeris tumbled inside the area.

The build-up play from both was at times immaculate but the final ball option was lacking all too often when a cool head was required to lay the telling pass,

Bradasevic was called into action in the 65th minute as he needed to off a miraculous save from Peter Simonoski to his left that kept the scores level.

Changes were rung, personnel swapped yet the status quo remained.

Bradasevic, having had little to do in the match, saved from MacDonald with the scraps finally cleared up by Lachlan Griffiths as the visitors attempted to push home the advantage.

Up strode leading scorer Urosevski, so often thwarted leading the lone attack, who beat the offside trap when played through by substitute Will Mutch and restored Ilinden’s lead in the 80th minute when slipping a curling left-footed shot beyond the despairing dive of Durose.

The double-scoring hitman was replaced in the latter stages by Mo Ahmed after taking a knock to see out the final few moments on the bench.

Rockdale Ilinden coach, Steve Zoric, was relieved after the game as his side took home the three precious points on offer.

“Having watched their games [Wolves] over the last few weeks I felt they were slow in recovery and I knew if we could catch them high we had the pace to get in behind,” he said.

“We were waiting for those moments but if we had been a bit more energetic in the first-half we should have put them to bed but I’m more disappointed with the way we conceded the goal.

“”The second-half was tougher than we expected to be honest and they tried hard to get something from the game but sometimes you need to win ugly and we did that today, but we’ll take it.

“The most important thing is we got the win and are climbing the ladder.”

“There wasn’t a lot in the game,” conceded Wolves’ coach Luke Wilkshire.

“The key moments just didn’t happen for us and we copped an easy one and that is disappointing.

“But that is football sometimes and just now we are in that type of rut and we need to snap out of it.

“We need to break out of it and work harder and get the three points.

“We have a team that can play and I’ve told the lads that it doesn’t always go your way at times and we need to knuckle down and the results will come and that’s what we’ll do.”

Match Stats

Rockdale Ilinden 2 (Urosevski 16’p, 80’)

Wollongong Wolves 1 (Macdonald 19’)

Ilinden Sports Centre, Rockdale

Sunday 17th April 2022

Referee: Michael Weiner

Assistant Referees: Brodie Merchant and Amir Hosnani

Fourth Official: Nicholas Kour

Rockdale Ilinden: 1. David Bradasevic, 2. Daniel Petkovski, 3. Lachlan Griffiths, 4. Mitchell Stamatellis, 7. Alec Urosevski (16. Mo Ahmed 88’), 11. Peter Kekeris (8. Nikola Kuleski 68), 14. Brayden Sorge, 19. Patrick Savor (6. Daniel Araujo, 46’), 23. Jaden Casella, 25. Alex Masciovecchio (9. Bai Antoniou 56’), 88. Chris McStay (5. Will Mutch 68’)

Subs not used: 31. Matthew Marrum

Yellow Cards: Chris McStay 64’, Brayden Sorge 74’, Daniel Araujo 90+3’

Red Cards: Nil

Wollongong Wolves: 1. Hayden Durose,  3. Darcy Madden, 5. Banri Kanaizumi, 8. Brendan Griffin (19. Jake Lavalle 62’), 9. Peter Simonoski, 10. Takumu Tsujimura, 11. Josh Macdonald, 15. Nick Littler (14. Nicholas Duarte 46’), 16. Guy Knight, 22. Leroy Jennings, 24. Lachlan Scott

Subs not used: 6. Senna Stevenson, 12. Harrison Taranto, 13. Tomas Butkovic, 25. Nav Darjani

Yellow Cards: Guy Knight 24’

Red Cards: Nil

Player Ratings

3 –  Alec Urosevski (RI)

2 –  Leroy Jennings (WW)

1 – David Bradasevic (RI)

By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Reporter Micky Brock