NPL 1 Wrap: Late fightback not enough against Rockdale

Our NPL NSW side have fallen short at home against Rockdale Ilinden FC, losing 3-2 despite a late fightback.

Goals from Zac Sapsford and Nathaneal Blair’s third goal of the season weren’t enough for the Young Wanderers, as three first half goals for the visitors was enough for them to claim victory.

With the Wanderers sitting on top of the table heading into the round, coach Andrew Christiansen named a strong side, including many players backing up after playing in the Sydney Derby the previous night.

On a hot afternoon in Rooty Hill, the visitors had more of the ball to begin with, and had an early goal disallowed for offside.

NPL NSW Men’s First Grade, Round 3, Western Sydney Wanderers FC v Rockdale Ilinden FC at Wanderers Football Park on Sunday 03 Mar 2024 3:00 PM

They wouldn’t be denied in the 17th minute though as Olayinka Sunmola was able to score from close range into the corner.
Adam Bugarija, goalscorer in the win over Hills United, went close to making amends almost instantly, but his fierce shot from range was well saved by goalkeeper Harrison Devenish-Meares.

The miss was punished in the 26th minute when Dean Pelekanos scored from a strong shot on the edge of the box.

Rockdale had another goal disallowed for offside, before Sapsford halved the deficit in the 42nd minute, as he cut inside and finished brilliantly past Devenish-Meares.

The Wanderers hopes of going into the break only down by one were dashed by a brilliant goal from Alec Urosevski on the cusp of half-time.

Marcus Younis was introduced from the bench after the break, and he helped create a good chance for Bugarija before having a good header himself in the 65th minute.

He eventually got the assist for our second goal in stoppage time, as he broke down the right and sent a perfectly weighted ball into the path of Blair, who showed great composure to chip the ball over the onrushing Devenish-Meares and into the goal.

The Wanderers pushed players forward for a dramatic equaliser, but Rockdale put men behind the ball and were able to hold on for victory.