Ceccoli injured his ankle at training the previous night. Surjan was dropped "for tactical reasons".
Marconi without Pan-Keun Kim, Sean/Zeljko Babic and Brad Maloney aren't much chop. Wolves should have made the most of this rare opportunity to steal three valuable points. But they didn't. Of course.
Some old Marconi supporter instructed me after the game that Wolves should have won it in the first half when they missed a hatful of chances. I'd have been happy if Younis had put away his sitter just before the end of the game and got his hat trick. I stopped behind the goal on the way back from the loo to offer a prayer for just such a sitter. And lo and behold my prayer was answered. But instead of seeing the ball come sailing straight at me I saw Ray fluff it. I'd have been happy if Ray made more of a two-on-two opportunity a minute later. But Ray's just a pair of legs wrapped in red shorts. You put a ball in front of him and tell him to run. Or you put a ball at his feet and tell him to kick it. That's how he got his first two goals.
But let's look on the bright side. Both sides got a point.
Apart from a spell in the second half when Wolves' sweet young things looked like they didn't know what planet they were on, Marconi were getting their tails whipped. The old guy I mentioned was horrified they used so many long balls. But, like I told him, his ball players were missing. I liked McDonald, Smith and Mark Babic. McDonald was working particularly hard, didn't seem too crazy, strong on the ball, several good turns, often seemed to be the only player putting Wolves midfield under pressure.
Wolves started from the kick off with a steady build that saw Reid shoot over the cross bar. Sinozic and Awaritefe got two talkings to from Con "I've Got a Lecture and You're Going to Come Over Here and Hear Me Give It" Diomis in the first five minutes. Sinozic and Souris alternated in frustrating Awaritefe for the rest of the game. Like the old Marconi guy said, he spends too much time on the ground. Even more than Scott Chipperfield. And that's saying something!
Wolves gave away several free kicks. Younis chopping Smith. Sinozic taking the ball and Care. Younis backing into McDonald.
Fourteen minutes in and Reid had another chance. Drifted into the penalty area around some pale blue statues. He shot. Looked like Aceski had it. But no. I mean yes! Wolves scored!
Younis saw what Reid had done and tried to do the same. But missed the bit about running _around_ the statues. Thought if he ran fast enough he could run _through_ them.
Awaritefe did get room enough once to set a roving Babic up for a cross. Then McDonald beat Reid on the edge of the box. A few moments when Wolves' grip slipped.
Twenty-four minutes in and Petrovski did some good work on the edge of the Marconi penalty area, set up a shot for Younis and Wolves had goal two. Marconi almost pulled one back immediately. From the kick off. Pogliacomi was well off his line. The shot coming over from half way sent the keeper scrambling back just in time to punch the ball away for a corner.
But then Wolves were on the attack again. Petrovski running at the defenders and getting brought down just outside the area. The free kick: Spencer-Reid-Spencer-Reid shot keeper troubled but he got it gee that was close. Younis hit a ball for Aceski to catch then after someone shot over Wolves' bar Trajanovski hit one for Pogliacomi to catch. Petrovski missed a chance from a Younis cross. And then, in the 38th (that's what AAP said; I thought it was 39th) minute, Pogliacomi reacted slowly as Trajanovski lobbed one past him. Dreadful stuff. Dreadful.
It was Trajanovski who three minutes later demonstrated how slow Sinozic is. Raced around him and won a corner. Sinozic is hard to beat, but his great tackles are all in his timing. Not so good on the chase. Anyway, from the corner Smith had what looked like a sharp backward header that surprised everyone, Pogliacomi included, and scored.
Near the end of regular time in the first half Petrovski fought his way into the Marconi penalty area and pulled one back again for Younis to score. Then there was about ten minutes injury, lecture and card waving time.
It must have had something to do with the big red moon. But as the moon rose (and the Wolves fans started baying at it) it turned yellow. Then white. And as Wollongong were losing their upper hand the moon had a pale blue hue to it.
As the second half started Petrovski was still impressing. Getting in a great cross and chasing a defender back towards the Marconi goal and stealing the ball. But Awaritefe was the crowd's hero 18 minutes in when he poked home Marconi's third after a corner resulted in a couple of blocked shots and failed clearances. Marconi had the momentum and the initiative. They were finding players free wide. They were getting crosses and corners in. The winning goal had to come. It seemed. Inevitable.
After half an hour Marconi had a sensational miss. They looked on top. Fans behind could see it coming. Got the ball to the line. Cross from the left. Back in from the right. And ... wide. With Souris off Awaritefe had more room. Langan wasn't as tight on him.
But as the game ended it was actually Wolves who looked most like scoring.
With Masi on there was a different energy. Either Younis or Petrovski could have made way for his fresh legs. With hindsight perhaps Nick T. would be wishing he picked Younis. Masi won the ball in the air on the edge of the area. Somehow got it down for Younis. Only the keeper to beat. Only the keeper to beat. Only. Only. If only.
Counter attack. McDonald on a break. Stopped by Stanton. Wolves build. Awaritefe on a break. Stopped by Sinozic.
Then here come the Wolves. Two red shirts racing at two blues. What will Younis do? Damn those statues. It was a good tackle. Sure, that was it. Both Wolves players end up on their derriere. Younis has cramp. Marconi scamper free. With their point.
Apart from not winning. Again. I was most disappointed with skipper Matt Horsley. He was still doing a lot of running. Though not as much as in the past. Or not as far. Several times when once he'd have been screaming up the right wing making any defence look silly he was walking and talking 20 metres behind the play. No longer leading by example. Lost a bit of pace. And his touch, which has been central to Wolves' moments of Brazilianness, deserted him tonight.
Spencer was okay. Nothing outstanding. Huxley had a good first half. Chipperfield had a few good runs. Pace worked for him tonight. Reid was great. Well established now and sure to survive the vagaries and vicissitudes of Nick T's team selection.
Wolves' youth team also drew with Marconi. 2-2. Thanks to a trip that gave Marconi a penalty in the dying minutes. Otherwise the Wollongong boys (and Sasho Dimoski) were well on top.