Wollongong United coach rapt with side's defensive stance

Wollongong United's Nathan Jagelman gets airborne against Woonona at Ocean Park on Saturday. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

Wollongong United's Nathan Jagelman gets airborne against Woonona at Ocean Park on Saturday. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

FOOTBALL

Wollongong United coach Oliver Vrtkovski commended his side's gutsy display in the second half of their 3-0 triumph over Woonona on Saturday.

The Reds led 1-0 at the break at Ocean Park before repelling waves of Sharks attacks in the second stanza to eventually run out convincing victors.

"It was a gritty, gutsy performance, particularly at 2-0 just after the half-time break. Woonona had nothing to lose, so they were going to pile numbers forward," Vrtkovski said.

"It can be very frustrating because you have to bring some men back to mark man-on-man but our boys maintained composure and discipline, so that really impressed me from the lads."

Before the onslaught, Brian Montanari had opened the scoring for the visitors on the half hour mark after Woonona keeper Paul Bitz spilled John Martinoski's free-kick from outside the area.

The goal encouraged the Sharks to chase the game in the second half and put the Reds under increasing pressure at the back.

But as they made their push, United were able to pick up a second goal in the 69th minute via a Robbie Shields header.

With the clock winding down, Adrian Nikolovski finally sealed the result in the closing stages with a third as the Reds picked up just their second clean sheet of the campaign.

"At times they had four or five players across the front and we just played a really strong defensive game," Vrtkovski said.

He was also able to hand midweek Japanese signing Motoki Kinjo his debut in the win which sees United move into third place.

After starting the season slow, United are now in hot-pursuit of Dapto Dandaloo Fury and Bulli with a game against Fernhill up their sleeve during the week.

"I think we are creating our own luck now and not being distracted by decisions that do go against us," Vrtkovski said.

"That is where the boys have impressed me really well and they are coming together really well as a team.

"There is a lot of positive energy around the team at the moment and it puts us in a good position for Tuesday night."

United followed up Saturday's league win with an emphatic 7-2 Bert Bampton quarter final victory over South Coast United on Sunday.

In Saturday's other games, Albion Park White Eagles ousted South Coast United 3-0, Bulli overcame Cringila 3-1 and Bellambi beat Wollongong Olympic 2-1.

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