NPL Wrap: Wanderers overhauled by Rockdale

A depleted Wanderers NPL NSW side were overhauled in the second half by ladder leading Rockdale in a 3-2 defeat at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday.

The Wanderers had all of their A-League Men’s scholarship players out, as well a number of injuries, meaning five players made their starting debuts in the side, including 16 year-old centre back Ricky Fransen.

Yet they started the game well, almost scoring after just two minutes through Awan Lual, and took the lead in the 11th minute.

Lual executed a deft pass in the middle of the pitch to strike partner Dallo Sandy, and the striker on starting debut held off defenders and slid the ball coolly underneath Ricardo Rizzo.
Lual then put in another great pass to Gigliotti in the 25th minute, but the winger’s effort was charged down by Rizzo.

There was drama after the half hour mark when Rockdale smashed the post with a shot, and the Wanderers then went down the other end and almost scored through Julian Cop, though his chipped effort drifted agonisingly wide of the post.

The Wanderers wouldn’t be denied their second when Gigliotti’s cross found Lual at the back stick, and after being given too much space by Rizzo he was able to put the ball in at the far post.

Unfortunately for the Wanderers, Lochie Constable scored a goal right on the cusp of half-time for the home side to halve the deficit, and the hosts introduced striker Bai Antoniou after the break to crank up the pressure on an inexperienced Wanderers team.

Some good work by Lucas Sinnott in goal and Fransen at the back helped keep Rockdale out, but they got the equaliser in the 76th minute through substitute Hunter Elliott.

The momentum was truly with the home side, and they took the lead with less than 10 minutes to go thanks to a header from Blake Ricciuto.

The Wanderers pushed men forward for an equaliser, but as Rockdale countered, Fransen received an unlucky red card in the final moments of the game after the referee adjudged him to have made a last man foul.

It was a valiant effort from a brave Wanderers side, who can take heart from taking the league leaders all the way, they will look to recover from the defeat when they host Central Coast in midweek.