Wolves v Carlton

Round 16 report by Stephen Webb
Wollongong City v Carlton

How can I tell you I'm disappointed? Let me count the ways.

Carlton should be happy with this. Two goals from about five shots. And Wolves ... read any of my past reports. Nothing changes.

Pretty even first half. Except Carlton got two goals. Wolves had the ball most of the second half. And kicked the ball in the general direction of the Carlton goal a fair bit. But Carlton didn't care. They just rode the game home.

After last week's 0-10 win over Sydney United Colts, Wolves' youth team came back to reality with a 0-2 loss to AIS. It had been raining most of the day. And previous days. It eased up after half time of the youth game. But the ground was sopping. Sodden. Very wet. And the rain returned sporadically during the senior game. Not surprising the crowd was so disappointing. Who wants to watch a ball-playing team when it's tipping down and the ball stops and skids so unpredictably. Great if you like watching aquaplaning slide tackles, but!

Wolves were: Pogliacomi, Souris, Ceccoli, Stanton, Horsley, Brooks, Chipperfield, Younis (Masi 53), Spencer, Huxley (Surjan 64), Reid. Langan spent the game on the bench. Petrovski was out suspended. Sinozic was scoring for South Korea in Melbourne.

Carlton were: Cagalj, Anthopoulos, Stergiopoulos, Colosimo, Douglas, Marth, Atkinson, Moriera (Pir 86), Cervinski, Tricarico (Josifovski 67), Markovac (Ouliaris near the end).

The first cross of the game came in the fourth minute from Anthopoulos (who I thought had a good first half; strong work against Spencer, then against Chipperfield) straight to Pogliacomi. And the ball went directly to the other end so Cagalj could get a touch. The first shot came after 12 minutes from Tricarico. First corner after nine minutes. Markovac taking it.

Then Younis with a run on goal blew a sitter over the Carlton crossbar. Down the other end again and Pogliacomi has a bit of trouble grappling with a soft but skidding shot. (Brooks caused the same trouble for Cagalj in the 20th minute.)

The first 15 minutes looked like they were just sounding each other out. Then Marth scored. Apparently with an easy header from a corner. I missed it because people near us were (again) having trouble finding their seats. Looked back to the game and there Wolves were kicking off.

Roly was very tidy, cleaning up Younis, Chipperfield and Reid.

Stanton was having a good game in defence. Souris was man-of-the-match, though. He certainly was safe and made some very timely interceptions. Reid didn't look as good as in past weeks. More mistakes. His balls only occasionally finding their targets. Ceccoli had one of his best games this season. Used the heavy ground to his advantage, making himself look quite skilful - making Tricarico and co look silly.

But just when Wolves were looking like they were getting on top of the game, someone gave Colosimo a delicious ball that cut through a huddle of players so he could pop it over an onrushing Pogliacomi.

Four minutes later Anthopoulos was booked for tripping Chipperfield who had long beaten him and was heading off towards the penalty area. And Wolves had one of several wasted free kicks. Back down the other end Pogliacomi can't hold a Markovac corner and Carlton has another. Finds Tricarico who shows off some fancy footwork and gets a cross in. Cleared. Stergiopoulos beats Younis. Wolves come out of defence. Souris delivers a wonderful long ball to Spencer's head right in front of the Carlton goal. He heads. Nicely down for Cagalj. And it's half time.

Four minutes into the second half Reid finds he has done well to beat a defender and keep the ball as he enters the Carlton penalty area. So he shoots. Into the side netting. And Brooks free on the other side of the goal mouth holds his head in his hands.

Another four minutes later and Masi's on. He's fouled immediately. Free kick results in a good cross coming in from Horsley and Masi finds himself with a great chance in the goal box. Which he can't convert. So the ball heads down the park. Carlton have a free kick that squeaks through the wall to Pogliacomi. And Wolves attack again. Reid has a chance to shoot, surely. No. He gives it to Masi who does nothing with it. But in the 61st minute Masi has it again and shoots ... into the side netting. Soon it's Spencer blasting one wide.

In the 66th Tricarico discovers the ref doesn't think it's so tricky to scrap at people's legs while lying on the ground. He gets booked. And a minute later Josifovski has taken his place on the pitch.

Twenty-seven minutes into the second half and Wolves are still blasting away. Brooks hits one to Cagalj. Masi (who is doing his job as the impact player and causing Stergiopoulos no end of trouble) hits one over the top.

On 78 minutes Colosimo is booked for heading a ball into the stands - after it was clearly already out. One way or another Carlton are just soaking up time. Long balls across the back line. Not really interested in scoring again. Not enough players up now to threaten Wolves' defence. A few breaks. Usually caught offside.

But Wolves do get one back. Masi cleverly turns a defender on the edge of the Carlton penalty area and centres it for Brooks to slot home. One thing about Brooks (compared to most other Wolves players), his shots aren't always fierce but they are invariably on target. Wolves with one goal think they can get another. Spencer finally gets one of his slogs on target (he takes so long to line them up he's usually dispossessed before he can swing his leg) and Cagalj makes a fine save. Masi is getting Carlton rattled. A Horsley-Reid combination gets the ball to Masi's feet; he shoots again - again over the bar.

Wolves have a corner. Reid to take it. There's some rough stuff in the goal mouth. Time is running out. Take the bloody corner. Chipperfield is booked. Take the corner. Pogliacomi is up for the corner. Take it. More rough stuff. Reid fires in a low one that wouldn't threaten a rooball goal. Pogliacomi rushes back. Wolves are attacking again. Stanton unsuccessfully tries to shoot through a forest of legs. And Ceccoli tries it to much better effect. Cagalj saves. No, Wolves, no. There's no time for the long build up. There's no time. No time. Left.

At least I saved $20. I told Chris I'd let him have a Wolves flag if we were winning at half time. He managed to con a few bucks out of me, though, for a Wolves tattoo and some inflatable clapping tubes that sound quite metallic if you whack them just right. Not that there's much opportunity to wave a flag or clap if you're a Wolves fan these days.

Tuesday night it's Melbourne Knights.