YOOGALI Football Club came from a goal down to draw level with the Eastern Wanderers on Saturday and claim a hard-earned point from the first Billabong Cup match played at Wagga’s Gissing Oval.
Substitute Frankie Romeo – who was backing up from a full game in reserve grade – pounced for the equaliser with about 10 minutes left on the clock, poking home a scrappy goal from close range to seal a valuable away point for YFC.
His effort was just
rewards for Yoogali after dominating the second half and cancelled out Justin Curran’s early penalty, which put the Eastern Wanderers in front after just five minutes.
Curran converted from the spot after the home side was awarded a penalty when highly-rated YFC goalkeeper Jone Ralulu was adjudged to have pulled down Jamie Rankin in the box.
The result leaves both teams undefeated after an encouraging first two rounds of the Billabong Cup.
YFC coaching director Peter Jennings said his men weren’t at their best after a three-hour bus ride, but fought back well against tough opposition.
“Our intensity wasn’t always there. But it’s the first time most of these boys have done a road trip like this for a while,” he said.
“As I told the boys, draws away and wins at home will get us into the finals.
“For a team that’s coming into the competition, they’ll turn some heads. Wagga shouldn’t be dismissed.
“They’re quite well-organised, especially in midfield and in the back third.
“Hanwood, the other Yoogali, Yenda – they’re all going to have to watch out for this Wanderers side.”
Eastern Wanderers coach Andrew Douglas said he was delighted with how the Wagga outfit has handled their initiation into the strong Griffith competition.
“Some of those Fijian guys are monsters – really damaging in the air,” he said.
“The physicality of the game was right up there but our boys embraced it – they loved it.
“We have guys who can match it with them there and that held us in good stead. I was really happy.”
The Wanderers now have a handy two-week break with no games to be played in the Billabong Cup this weekend due to Easter, followed by the club’s scheduled bye the week after.