It was all business for Blacktown City FC who reclaimed top spot on Sunday afternoon after a 4-1 win over Wollongong Wolves FC at Blacktown City Sports Centre.

With the race for the 2022 NPL NSW Men’s Premiership resting in the balance, the equation was simple for  Blacktown City as they hosted Wollongong Wolves – win and you’ll return to the top of the ladder with one game remaining in the regular season.

Although their opponents were out of contention for a finals spot, City would need to be cautious of a traveling side with nothing to lose and start fast. And start fast they did.

From the outset, Blacktown controlled the ball as they looked to set up camp in Wollongong’s half. Creating a handful of half chances, it was the final ball that let them down when it mattered most early.

16 minutes in, after beginning to get a foothold in the contest, the away side created their first real chance via Jake Lavalle who was played through on goal and met by an onrushing Robinson.

The custodian’s challenge saw the ball fall back to Lavalle’s feet however, thankfully for City, their defence was on hand to delay Lavalle’s strike which was fired straight into the chest of a backtracking Robinson.

After a quiet period in the middle of the half, Blacktown found the back of the net in the 39th minute through their all-time leading scorer, Travis Major.

The forward notched his 99th goal for the club after Jak O’Brien was coolly played in by Jordan Smylie. Heading the byline, O’Brien’s cutback deflected, falling into the path of Major, who made no mistake from 6 yards out.

Coming out with intent in the second half, the hosts came close to a second just 45 seconds after the restart.

Making his way into the box, Major clipped a ball to the back post which found its way to Shabow. The attacker fired a strike which rebounded to Jackson Bandiera.

His effort from 12 yards out crashed against the crossbar and out of play, much to the dismay of all involved for Blacktown.

The home side would only have to wait three minutes for another opportunity however, this time, they would make no mistake.

A lofted ball towards the back post from Adam Berry was met by Smylie, whose looping header left Wolves keeper Hayden Durose rooted to the spot as the ball dipped under the crossbar and into the net.

In the 56th minute, Blacktown nearly had a third through Daniel Collins who rose highest from a corner. Luckily for Wollongong, his header flew just wide of Durose’s left hand post.

After a period of sustained possession, Blacktown found a third with 20 minutes left.

Playing the ball along the backline, Adam Berry released a pinpoint long ball, cutting the Wollongong defence and setting Mitchell Mallia clean through on goal.

The forward set himself and made no mistake, firing past an onrushing Durose and wheeling away in celebration.

With seven minutes to play, Wollongong finally found the back of the net.

Bringing down a high ball expertly, Leroy Jennings was brought down in the box by Blacktown defender Daniel Collins.

Although pleading his case, referee Sam Kelly waived away the claims. Making no mistake, Jennings placed his penalty low and hard, to the left of Robinson, giving his side a late lifeling in the contest.

Unfortunately for Wollongong however, they conceded just two minutes later, this time coming via the left foot of one of Blacktown’s favourite sons, Danny Choi.

Known for top draw finishes, Choi didn’t disappoint, picking up the ball 25 yards out.

Setting himself, he let rip a curling effort that was only ever bound for the top left corner, leaving Durose with no chance.

That would be the final nail in the coffin for Wollongong, as Blacktown closed out the remaining stage of the contest, running away 4-1 winners.

With one match remaining, Blacktown now sit top of the table, and now look forward to a blockbuster trip to Sydney Olympic FC on the final day of the regular season next week.

Match Stats

Blacktown City FC 4 (Major 39’, Smylie 49’, Mallia 70’, Choi 86’)

Wollongong Wolves FC 1 (Jennings 84’)

Sunday, 24th July, 2022

Blacktown City Sports Centre, Seven Hills

Referee: Sam Kelly

Assistant Referees: Patrick Teleki and Logan Jones

Fourth Official:  Alessandro Llana

Blacktown City FC: 3. Daniel Collins, 4. Lachlan Campbell (6. Matthew Lewis 78’), 5. Grant Lynch, 7. Travis Major (45. Danny Choi 73’), 8. Jak O’Brien, 10. Mario Shabow (21. Charles Mendy 78’), 17. Dakota Askew, 19. Adam Berry, 24. Jackson Bandiera, 30. Alex Robinson,  89. Jordan Smylie (11. Mitch Mallia 63’)

Substitutes Not Used:  22. Carlos De Oliveira, 40. Dylan Niski,

Yellow Cards: 3. Daniel Collins 83’

Red Cards: Nil

Wollongong Wolves FC: 1. Hayden Durose, 3. Darcy Madden (3. Daniel Collins 46’), 4. Nikola Djordjevic, 5. Banri Kanaizumi, 6. Senna Stevenson (10. Takumu Tsujimura 57’), 8. Brendan Griffin, 9. Joshua Macdonald (12. Harrison Taranto 73’), 17. Marcus Beattie, 19. Jake Lavalle (20. Kuot Maliet 57’), 22. Leroy Jennings, 24. Lachlan Scott (25. Nav Darjani 73’)

Substitutes Not Used: 13. Tomas Butkovic.

Yellow Cards: 4. Nikola Djordjevic 23’, 16. Guy Knight 63’, 12. Harrison Taranto 83’

Red Cards: Nil

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