Woonona came back from two goals down against Wollongong Olympic to earn an important point. Vaughan Patterson opened the scoring for the hosts finding himself unmarked in the box able to head home. Olympic doubled their advantage with Yusuke Ueda finishing from close range. Jai Mellor halved the deficit reacting first to a rebound and Lachlan Newman scored deep into stoppage time to restore parity.

After a positive start from Olympic, they were awarded a freekick on the right-hand side. A delivery was whipped in which found Vaughan Patterson completely unmarked in the box. He was able to confidently head the ball past Ben Wunsch in the Woonona goal.

In the 22nd minute, Olympic had an opportunity to double their advantage as Yusuke Ueda found space on the left-hand side but dragged his shot wide of the far post. Olympic’s pressure continued as six minutes later Wunsch made a crucial intervention punching the ball clear after Ikumi Saito fizzed in a dangerous ball. The ball fell out to Matt Floro who produced a tame effort from the top of the box which was safely held by Wunsch.

Yusuke Ueda had another chance to score when Floro found him free in the box, but his volley sliced past the post. Five minutes later, Ueda had his goal. Some nice play from Ekoue D’Almedia allowed him to put the ball on a plate for Ueda who tapped it into the net.

Olympic went into halftime with a comfortable lead which reflected the nature of the game to that point. They were able to easily create chances and weren’t exposed to much threat on the counter-attack from their opponents. Olympic looked nailed on to go top of the league. Woonona needed to step up their game in the second half to avoid a big score line.

Woonona had the perfect start to the second half as in the 53rd minute they pulled one back. A driven freekick from Aden Wade rebounded to Jai Mellor who made no mistake from close range – smashing home a right-footed effort. Olympic’s situation got worse three minutes later when Jack Keating was dismissed for two cautionable offences.

Woonona had a great opportunity to gain a valuable point but had to be weary of the constant threat Yusuke Ueda provides. This eventuated in the 69th minute when a neat turn in the box opened up the potential for a strike. He slipped at the vital moment and saw his effort clear the crossbar.

Woonona continued pushing for an equaliser and in the 76th minute Jarred Morley headed over from a cross in from the right-hand side. Four minutes later, he was involved again as he played a ball to Wade who was unable to test the keeper with his strike from the edge of the box. The ball bouncing into the arms of the Shark’s custodian.

It looked like Woonona were going to drop three points but a freekick was awarded deep into stoppage time. Aden Wade stepped up and smashed the ball goalwards which prompted a goalmouth scramble. Super-sub Lachlan Newman got to the ball first and slammed it into the far corner to steal a point for Woonona.

Olympic will be very disappointed that they dropped points from what seemed to be an unassailable position. Two set pieces which weren’t defended well cost them two points which would’ve sent them top of the league. This game also brought about a debut for 17-year-old Michael Kyriakoudes who looked composed in a deep-lying midfield role. Woonona will be very pleased with their second-half performance showing great character. This is a very good point for the Sharks.

Olympic face South Coast United next time around and will be looking to get back to winning ways. They enjoyed playing against United last season scoring eight goals across their two meetings. Woonona play host to Coniston next week and will look to the point earned at the PCYC for inspiration against last season’s District League champions.

Saturday 20 April 2019 at PCYC, North Wollongong

Wollongong Olympic – 2 (Patterson 10’, Ueda 39’)

Woonona Sharks – 2 (Mellor 53’, Newman 90+3’)

Wollongong Olympic: Hayden DUROSE, Korijo HORI, Mark EVERY, Jack KEATING, Ikumi SAITO, Ekoue D’ALMEIDA, Vaughan PATTERSON, Peter PRANDALOS, Jamie WAKELING, Matt FLORO, Yusuke UEDA

Substitutes: John MARTINOSKI (WAKELING), Robbie GUARDIOSI, Douglas GRAY (FLORO), Michael KYRIAKOUDES (D’ALMEDIA), Harrison MATIAS

Woonona Sharks: Ben WUNSCH, Tyren MACLOU, Tyler BROMHAM-FULLER, Jeremy LOPEZ, Christopher GIBSON, Jai MELLOR, Bradley STRUDWICK, Kota ODAKURA, Aden WADE, Jarred MORLEY, Corey HAINES-GROSE

Substitutes: Cameron BESGROVE, Ryan SUTCLIFFE, Lachlan NEWMAN (STRUDWICK), Kyle DEL, Chris WEARING

Referee – Nick RYAN

Assistant Referees – Greg REID and Anna PHIPPS

Report by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_