Wollongong Olympic centre forward Yusuke Ueda took his goal tally for the Illawarra Mercury Premier League season to 20 with a superbly taken hat-trick against Albion Park White Eagles on Saturday. The Japanese marksman showed his versatility scoring one with his left foot, one with his right and one with his head.
The home side pressed for large chunks of the match but could find no way through Olympic’s well-organised back four, in which centre half Jack Keating excelled today.
Defeat for the White Eagles makes Finals football look a distant prospect with just four Rounds left to play, so last season’s Grand Final winners will look ahead to next weekend’s Bert Bampton Cup Final as their best chance to add to the club’s silverware this season.
Albion Park came into this tie unbeaten under new coach George Antoniou, but were quickly put on the back foot as Ueda struck in only the second minute.
Stefan Dimoski sent the ball in from the right straight to Ueda’s feet. With nowhere to go on his stronger right side, the striker spun left and drilled the ball goalwards. Bryce Daenell in the White Eagles goal failed to gather and a defender’s effort to clear off the line came just too late to deny Ueda his first.
He could have made it two just moments later as he fired a bullet with his right foot from ten yards out, but a brave Mark Every got his body in the way to block.
And the White Eagles were saved by the woodwork as Olympic powered forward in the early stages, a defensive header glancing onto the upright as Shun Tokuno sent another lethal ball in from the right.
The home side took time to settle, but as the half hour mark approached, and with Olympic captain Brendan Fordham off the field for 10 minutes receiving treatment for a bleeding nose, the White Eagles attacking trio of Shohei Okuno, Yosuke Tashiro and Mitch del Turco began to test the Olympic defence for the first time.
Tashiro got the better of his marker and pulled the ball back from the byline into the path of Robbie Delbanco, whose header clattered against the side of Jake Duczynski. Then it was Tashiro again who forced Hayden Durose to spill the ball, though the Olympic keeper managed to get two hands on it before Del Turco could pounce.
As half time approached Vaughan Patterson tried an audacious scissors kick from the edge of the area which bounced so high in front of Durose that it forced an outstretched save from the Olympic gloveman. And then Okuno, with the last kick of the half, sent a free kick just inches wide of the upright.
The second stanza began with end-to-end action. Okuno stepped up a gear and began to assert himself in the centre of the park, with Shannon Fielding probing forward up the right flank for the home side.
But it was Olympic who almost doubled their lead in the 50th minute. Martinoski found Hayato Yakumaru inside the box and the newcomer’s strike thundered against the bar before being gathered by Daenell.
At the other end Keating was cutting out anything that approached him from the air and Fordham got back to make a brave challenge on Delbanco just ten yards out.
Midway through the second half the game was finely poised and with scores coming through from other grounds, a goal for the home side might have seen them well-placed to challenge for fifth over the coming weeks.
But with 18 minutes to go Ueda got his second, and five minutes later he wrapped the game up with his hat-trick.
Martinoski put him through for 2-0, Ueda finishing it off with an unstoppable right foot strike. And then another break which saw shots from Dimoski and Yakumaru parried clear, but only as far as the head of Ueda, who nodded home for his third.
That took the stuffing out of the White Eagles. Patterson forced another save out of Durose before the end, but this was Ueda’s day, and the hat-trick went off to loud applause around the ground as he was substituted in the 90th minute.
For Olympic coach Rob Birkin the game went to plan. After the game, he paid tribute to his back line who had all worked hard to deny Albion Park today. “We shifted things around at half time with an idea of catching them on the counter, and we managed that a couple of times, so it all worked to plan for us”.
On Ueda, Birkin said: “He’s hunting the ball out and with a licence to go where the goals are, that’s where you’ll find him. I’m very pleased for the young man”.
Speaking after the game White Eagles coach Antoniou acknowledged his side were beaten by the better team on the day: “They are up at the top for a reason,” he said.
But his side look ahead now to next weekend’s Fraternity Club Bert Bampton Cup Final, when they take on Bulli FC. “That’s another quality team,” said Antoniou, “but we’re looking forward to taking them on and giving a good account of ourselves. It’s good for the club and good for the players to be in a cup final again”.
Albion Park White Eagles – 0
Wollongong Olympic – 3 (Ueda 2’, 72’, 77’)
Assists: Olympic: Dimoski, Martinoski, Yakumaru
Saturday 22 July 2017
Referee: Steve Bozic
Assistant Referees:: Brodie Merchant, Dean Moreira
Albion Park White Eagles: Bryce Daenell, Chris Nathaniel, Mark Every (Hayden Waples 75’), Shannon Fielding Peter Prandalos, Luke Debrot (Hikaru Kawasakiya 62’), Robbie Delbanco, Vaughan Patterson, Mitch Del Turco, Shohei Okuno, Yosuke Tashiro (Steven Hristovski 81’) (subs not used: Jacob Hufton, Lee Gilroy)
Wollongong Olympic: Hayden Durose, Haydyn Lloyd, Shun Tokuno, Jack Keating, Jake Duczynski, Lukas Stergiou (Brendan Belsito 88’), Brendan Fordham, Yusuke Ueda (Matthew Galanti 90’), Stefan Dimoski, John Martinoski, Hayato Yakumaru (Dylan Perlowski 78’), (sub not used: Jamie Wakeling, Nuno Pires)
Report by Simon Duffin
Photos by Kiah Hufton
Last Modified on 22/07/2017 21:31