Wulguru 2-3 Ingham (J. Grazioli 2, Vanoli).
Photos by Sharon Woodward.
A LATE free-kick from captain Josh Vanoli sealed a 3-2 win for Ingham over Wulguru in a thrilling encounter in the North Queensland premier league.
Wolves were twice clawed back by their Townsville rivals after striker Jonte Grazioli had put them ahead on 15-minutes and again on the hour.
With the game poised at 2-2 and the clock running down, 27-year-old left-back Vanoli stepped up and tucked-in a stunning free-kick from just outside the box.
The winning strike sparked wild celebrations that saw coach Bruno Casale and his assistants warned for running onto the pitch.
Casale said: ‘We have a never-say-die attitude. Last season we wouldn’t have won this game. But we are maturing.’
‘Wulguru were a much bigger side than us. They came out with a lot of aggression at the start of the second-half.
‘But we weren’t gonna be intimidated – we fought until the last minute.
‘We were the better side and we deserved the win.’
It is a second victory on the bounce for our premier league side.
Before beating Rebels 1-0 last week we were winless and joint-bottom of the league.
Now we have six-points from six, despite having eight first-team players out injured.
Ingham were slow out of the blocks but almost took the lead through debutant Art Toatong’s well-saved header on ten minutes.
Shortly after a through ball which was chased down by Ingham’s high-press fell to Jonte Grazioli who slotted home to open the scoring.
Wolves were dominating but Wulguru grabbed an equaliser against the run of play on the stroke of half-time to level the tie at 1-1.
The hosts were fired up at the start of the second period and tried to out-muscle their younger opponents.
But Ingham weathered the storm and on the hour Aidan Reinuado played an incisive though ball for Grazioli to race onto and score his second on the night and third in two games.
It was the same combination that sealed a 1-0 win against Rebels last week.
Wulguru had tried to play a high defensive line but were being torn to pieces by Ingham’s pace up front.
As the Townsville side dropped deeper they resorted to playing long balls, as Ingham again took control of the game.
Full-back Vanoli made an overlapping run on 65’ and charged into the opposing box before being chopped down.
When seventeen-year-old midfielder Nick Stokes’ penalty was saved, the Wulguru keeper’s over-the-top celebrations saw him booked before he was sent to the sin-bin for dissent, leaving his side with ten-men.
It looked as though there would only be one winner.
But Ingham conceded a freak goal from a 45-yard Wulguru hit-and-hope that swirled in the air and ended up in the back of the net, 2-2.
With time running out, Ingham pushed for the three points.
When Reinuado was brought down on the right-side of the box, captain Vanoli picked up the ball and placed it softly on the grass.
He paused for a few seconds – perhaps visualising where he was about to bury the ball – before curling an unforgettable winner around the defensive wall and into the bottom corner, sparking wild celebrations.
It’s only one match – but it will live long in the memory.
Wolves’ young charges, the youngest side in the premier league, travel to Townsville on Saturday to play Brothers.
If it’s half as good as this encounter, it will be well worth the journey.