Clinical Wollongong Wolves advance to Round of 16 for the first time
Wollongong Wolves have progressed to the FFA Cup Round of 16 for the first time in their history after a hard-fought 3-0 win over Mount Druitt Town Rangers on Saturday.
The Wolves were the more clinical at Popondetta Park as Peter Simonoski and Bilal Belkadi struck either side of half-time to put the visitors' in the box seat in the at-times fiery Round of 32 contest.
The storied club's advance was then sealed in the 70th minute as their leading NPL scorer Lachlan Scott slotted a well-placed finish into the bottom corner.
The visitor's composed finishing stood in stark contrast to their NPL New South Wales rivals Rangers, as Stuart Montgomery's side spurned gilt-edged chances in each half to the frustration of their small but parochial home crowd.
Mitchell Smith's miss with scores level midway through the opening stanza proved portentous as the Rangers had the better of the early chances before Simonoski's opportunistic opener deep into first-half injury time.
Luke Wilkshire's side promptly capitalised on their momentum from the restart as Belkadi put the finishing touches to a well-worked build-up inside two minutes of the restart.
The Rangers didn't go down without a fight - equaling the Wolves' total of 14 shots through the contest - but too often failed to trouble Wolves' gloveman Hayden Durose.
Despite being a dominant force on the national stage in the NPL in recent seasons - and two-time Champions in the former National Soccer League - the win is the first for Wolves from three attempts in the FFA Cup Round of 32.
10’ | Chance Wolves – The visitors probe early from set-pieces and are the first to find the target when Banri Kanaizumi heads a Leroy Jenning’s free-kick at Rangers goalkeeper Matthew Symes.
15' | Chance Rangers - A cutback to the top of the penalty area from Mitchell Smith is met first-time by Jared Macerola but the Wolves defence does enough to put him off and the shot flashes wide of the post.
28' | Chance Rangers - Wolves' goalkeeper Durose turns over the ball outside the box to put himself under pressure, the ball is promptly teed up for Smith on the burst at close range but he pushes the gilt-edged chance wide.
45+4' | Goal Wolves - Symes gets down low to his right to block a drive from Jennings but is left helpless as Peter Simonoski swoops on the loose ball and bangs it home from close range.
47' | Goal Wolves - The visitors double their advantage on the back of strong link-up play in and around the box as Bilal Belkadi makes no mistake with a firm strike from 15 yards.
51' | Chance Rangers - A strong run into the box from Jack Stewart results in the Rangers man firing on a tight angle but Durose is up to task with a tipped save.
54' | Chance Wolves - Kanaizumi forces a sharp stop from Symes with a solid hit after a scramble in the box from a Jennings free-kick.
60' | Chance Rangers - On the park for just 90 seconds, substitute Lukman Ahmed-Shaibu spurns an opportunity at point-blank range as he blasts a first time shot over the bar from inside 10 yards.
70' | Goal Wolves - The visitors surge forward on the break as Jennings lays the ball off Lachlan Scott, who converts with a pin-point finish into the bottom corner.
75' | Chance Wolves - Scott has a chance to double his haul and rub salt into the Rangers' wounds but his strike from the edge of the box is saved by Symes.
88' | Chance Wolves - An audacious late strike from Stefan Dimoski from 30 yards out on the break threatens to make it four but Symes makes an athletic save to spare his side further blushes.
90+1' | Chance Rangers - In search of a late consolation, Cooper Coskerie blazes high and wide with a long-range strike to epitomise the Rangers' frustrating evening in front of goal.
FFA Cup 2021 - Round of 32: Mount Druitt Town Rangers v Wollongong Wolves
Popondetta Park, Emerton
Saturday, 6 November 2021
Mount Druitt Town Rangers - 0
Wollongong Wolves - 3 (Peter Simonoski 45+4', Bilal Belkadi 47', Lachlan Scott 70')