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Read up on our big win Sunday at home against the Wanderers.


Rockdale Ilinden have clinched a vital victory at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre, prevailing 3-2 over a spirited Western Sydney Wanderers to go four points clear at the top of the ladder.

It was a mightily intense start to the match, with both teams playing exhilarating football at a high tempo and creating half chances.

However, it was Western Sydney Wanderers who struck first, with a clinical, incisive move opening the scoring at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre.

A soft, lobbed volley towards the frontline was touched on beautifully by Awan Lual, finding the corresponding run of Dallo Sandy in behind.

The forward took a positive touch towards goal, and entered the box under heavy pressure from Giorgio Speranza, chasing from behind.

However Sandy impressively kept his composure, and placed the ball round Riccardo Rizzo to give the Wanderers the lead in scintillating style.

It was a highly impressive beginning for the Wanderers, with a wealth of factors meaning they had five starting debutants in the side, and the away team continued to impress.

The Wanderers threatened with multiple threatening crosses into the box which just weren’t capitalised on in attack, as Rockdale matched their opponent’s high intensity, but were struggling to assert their authority on the match.

In the coming minutes, Rockdale did settle into a period of sustained pressure, but the next chance again fell the way of the Wanderers off a calculated counter-attack.

A pass from Rushonn Tafuani found Lual with space to attack, and the attacker moved forwards before playing a delightful to split the defence and find Phillip Gigliotti in behind.

With the winger’s first touch, he shot at goal, but Ricardo Rizzo had read the situation well and was out quickly to prevent a second for the Wanderers.

Then, in a sensational sequence of events, both ends went inches off finding a goal.

Up Rockdale’s end, a teasing freekick into the box from Brendan Cholkian wasn’t dealt with by Lucas Sinnott, presenting a delightful chance inside the six yard box.

Alec Urosevski attacked the bouncing ball with purpose and power, but sensationally missed, hitting the crossbar to keep the Wanderers ahead.

An emphatic clearance from the Wanderers defence wasn’t controlled by Brayden Sorge on the halfway line, and all of a sudden, Julian Cop was in behind with Rockdale’s goalkeeper stranded.

With Rizzo on the penalty box, Cop attempted a chip that was destined for the back of the net, but somehow his effort drifted wide of the post, and a massive chance went begging for each side.

In the 44th minute, the Wanderers did find their second, with another sensationally clinical strike.

From a deep right position, Gigliotti whipped a powerful cross towards Lual, who was standing off the shoulder of right-back Sorge.

The forward chested the ball down and capitalised on some poor positioning from Rizzo, allowing him to clinically volley into the net after letting the ball bounce.

However, moments later, Rockdale halved the deficit to make it truly game on in the second half.

After dominating the remainder of the half, a well worked move found Mathieu Cordier free on the left, who cut inside to find space for a cross.

Cordier’s deft cross was headered onwards by Lochlan Constable at the near post, with the touch steering it past Lucas Sinnott and into the back of the net, grabbing a crucial goal for Rockdale moments before halftime.

Rockdale started the first half with a strong sense of motivation and intent, and Urosvski forced an alert save from Sinnott just a minute in.

The home side continued to build pressure, but the Wanderers remained strong, limiting any clear cut chances.

In the 71st minute, another Urosevski shot forced a stunning reaction save from Sinnott, with the striker shooting powerfully from close range after a mix-up in the Wanderers backline.

This was a sign of things to come for the home side, as Rockdale finally found their equaliser through Hunter Elliott.

Their patience in possession allowed them to find Cordier in a wide left position with time to cross, and fullback slid a threatening ball across the box which wasn’t dealt with by the Wanderers’ defence.

After an initial extraordinary close range save from Sinnott, the ball fell to the feet of substitute Hunter Elliott, who made no mistake from mere metres from goal in converting wilfully into the back of the net.

The excitement was continuing to build at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre, and in the 81st minute, the home side scored again to complete an extraordinary comeback.

After an inswinging corner remained in the centre, the ball was hooked back into goal from Dean Pelekanos.

His hooked ball found Blake Ricciuto at the far post, who made no mistake with a close-range header, sending the home fans into raptures.

It was a nail-biting final 10 minutes, as Rockdale fought hard to hold onto their spot at the top of the ladder.

They held on well – aided by a late send off to Ricky Fransen after a last-man tackle – and earned a four-point gap at the top of the ladder.

Rockdale coach Paul Dee was happy with the home sides performance, but spoke of a willingness to continue to improve.

“It was important, considering the week that’s played out that was an important three points,” he said.

“It probably wasn’t our best performance, but we found a way to get three points against a terrific, young, talented side that were really energetic today and had great detail from Andrew Christensen and Richard Cardozo who have done a great job all year.

“We’re pleased with the outcome, but we still have to knuckle down and keep working.”

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Andrew Christensen was proud of his side’s effort despite the end result.

“I’m gutted for the boys, I thought we deserved to get something out of the game results wise but I’m delighted with the performance from the group,” he said.

“Full credit to Rockdale, they’re a strong team and they found their way back into the game, but on the whole really proud of our group and really pleasing signs of what’s to come for the rest of the year.”

Match Stats

Rockdale Ilinden FC 3 (Constable 45+2’, Elliott 76’, Ricciuto 81’)

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Sandy 11’, Lual 44’)

Sunday 9 June, 2024

Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre

Referee: Adrian Arndt

Assistant Referees: Matthew Mcorist and Arinath Gobinath

Fourth Official: Mayson Griffith

Rockdale Ilinden FC: 20. Ricardo Rizzo, 2. Daniel Collins, 5. Giorgio Speranza (9. Bai Antoniou 45;), 6. Isaac Danzo, 7. Alec Urosevski (C) (17. Brae Ovens, 90’), 8. Dean Pelekanos, 10. Brendan Cholokian (77. So Kataoka 65’), 11. Lochlan Constable (4. Roberto Speranza 90’), 14. Brayden Sorge (23. Hunter Elliott 65’), 22. Blake Ricciuto, 66. Mathieu Cordier

Substitutes Not Used: 29. Steven Kriezis

Yellow Cards: Ricciuto 61’

Red Cards: None

Western Sydney Wanderers FC: 20. Lucas Sinnott, 18. Awan Lual, 23. Marcus Fernandez, 24. Antony Barbic, 25. Ryley Hollingdale (C), 27. Julian Cop, 29. Evangelos Kalamvokis, 36. Dallo Sandy (19. Dimo Dimo 68’), 37. Ricky Fransen, 45. Rushonn Tafuani, 77. Phillip Gigliotti

Substitutes Not Used: 12. Lachlan Tilt, 17. Lukas Ribarevski, 21. Andre Rizgalla, 30. Marcus Petrovski, 66. Joseph Banza

Yellow Cards: Gigliotti 41’

Red Cards: Fransen 90’