Nick Montgomery was the name on everyone’s lips, but it was Japanese star Yuzo Tashiro who stole the show as Wollongong Wolves ended a tumultuous week on a high note with a 2-0 win over Rockdale City Suns at WIN Stadium on Sunday.
As former Central Coast Mariners skipper Montgomery made his debut for the Wolves, Tashiro scored a second half double to propel the hosts to a valuable victory on home soil.
The win couldn’t have been more timely for the Wolves after they were beaten 3-0 at home last week by Bonnyrigg and then stripped of three competition points after it was found two suspended players participated in their round one win over Parramatta.
Despite the difficult week, Wolves coach Jacob Timpano never lost faith in his team.
“We had a rough few days with losing the points and losing to Bonnyrigg but for me I know this team is a good side,” he said.
“We have shown on numerous occasions that we can beat the top teams in the competition as we have done [on Sunday].
“It is just a matter of believing in ourselves and improving each week.
“I am looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Rockdale had lost just once this season heading into Sunday’s clash and are second on the NSW NPL Men’s 1 ladder.
However, they were always second best against the Wolves.
After holding the better of possession and chances in the first half, Wollongong eventually took the lead they deserved just a minute into the second stanza.
Josh MacDonald, who was one of the two players that played with a suspension in round one, squared the ball to Tashiro to finish past Suns keeper Ante Covic.
Covic was tested again just five minutes later when Patrick Antelmi forced the former A-League gloveman to tip his free-kick over the crossbar.
The Suns’ best chance came in the 65th minute through Jordan Figon, who forced Justin Pasfield into a fine save.
Wollongong double their tally with eight minutes remaining in similar circumstances to the first goal.
Again it was MacDonald who crossed the ball for Tashiro to head home at the back post and seal a crucial home victory.
“I thought we dominated the match,” Timpano said.
“In the first half we probably had the better of the chances, with Josh [MacDonald] getting in one-on-one.
“They are a good side.
“They are probably one of the most experienced teams in the competition but I thought we disciplined.
“Everyone played their role.”
Wollongong are now five points out of a top-five spot, with Sydney Olympic (18 points) currently holding down the last of the finals spots.
Blacktown City (23 points) remain in the lead at the top of the competition.
The Wolves meet Sydney FC next Saturday night to complete the full first round of fixtures.