A-Leagues rivals clash in wild match as 93rd-minute heroics sum up young gun’s season: Wonderkid Watch

Welcome to Wonderkid Watch: A weekly piece that keeps you up to date with the players and stories emerging from A-Leagues clubs playing at NPL level in Australia.


Central Coast v Sydney FC at Industree Group Stadium!
Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Victory at Sky Stadium!

Eight-goal thriller between two A-Leagues rivals in Tarneit

Western United and unbeaten VPL1 leaders Melbourne Victory went head-to-head at the Regional Football Facility over the weekend, and it did not disappoint.

The A-Leagues rivals put on a show in a wild 4-4 draw in Tarneit on Sunday.

Jake Najdovski scored twice and Luke Vickery was also on target for Western following their Young Socceroos call-ups, while Abel Walatee also scored after signing his maiden professional contract with the Isuzu UTE A-League side.

STATE OF PLAY: All the details about the Semi-Final second legs with a Grand Final on the line

Victory stayed undefeated through 13 rounds thanks to goals to Eli Adams, Fabian Monge, Luka Kolic and Adem Duratovic.

There was an interesting kick-off time for the big showdown, with the game beginning at 10am AEST on Sunday – the day of Victory’s Isuzu UTE A-League Semi-Final first-leg showdown against Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park.

PRELIM SQUAD: 13 A-League All Stars Men players locked in to face Premier League giants

It was a fast start in Melbourne’s west, with the score 2-2 after just 25 minutes of action and it was 3-3 at half-time.

Western and Victory traded a goal apiece in the second 45 minutes, though the visitors nearly snatched all three points at the death.

Victory remain first and six points clear at the summit, with Western fourth and 10 points off the pace.

“I was very happy with how aggressive the boys were on and off the ball, we created plenty of opportunities and made it very hard for Victory,” Western head coach Diogo Ferreira told aleagues.com.au, with his side having scored the most goals in VPL1 with 42.

“Defensively it is always upsetting to concede goals but it gives us a chance to work on certain aspects of our game and rectify them for the future. Overall we walk away upset that we didn’t get the three points but happy with the way we played our football. 

“I am extremely happy with not only the way we are playing as a collective but how individuals have developed since last season. We have had 11 players debut for the A-League team and a lot of boys are now getting rewarded with contracts.

“We also pride ourselves on playing an attacking brand of football which is translating to scoring a lot of goals. Internally we have set a target for the next 13 games and I have all the belief with the quality we have that we can achieve that. 

“I’m so proud of the boys that are getting call ups but also so excited for the future and I know we have many other boys that will be  knocking at the door.”

Najdovski’s two goals takes him to eight goals for the season to be level atop the VPL1 scoring charts.

The 19-year-old, born and bred in the west, is a product of the club’s academy and made his A-Leagues debut this season.

After impressing in both the U21 and the U23 teams, he signed his first professional contract in 2022 and made his senior debut in an Australia Cup tie against Edgeworth Eagles last year.

This season, the teenager had his first taste of Isuzu UTE A-League football – making six substitute appearances.


“Jake and Luke have been two of our standout young players and we are extremely proud to see them earning worthy national team recognition,” said Western’s general manager of football Mal Impiombato of Najdovski and Vickery’s inclusion for the Young Socceroos’ three-day training camp in Western Sydney this month.

“Both players impress our staff equally with their talent and their behaviour, with work ethic and ambition that we believe will hold them in good stead for the future.

“It is a testament to the work of our Academy staff that our young players are achieving success, so I also congratulate them for their role in this.

“It’s been a significant year for young talents at our club, and we wish Jake and Luke all the best while looking forward to hopefully seeing more opportunities for our players in the future.”

Elsewhere in Victoria’s second tier, Melbourne City were 3-0 winners over lowly North Geelong Warriors.

Alessandro Diamanti’s City were too good for their opponents courtesy of goals via Max Caputo – the club’s Isuzu UTE A-League Rising Star award winner – Alessandro Lopane and Medin Memeti.

Memeti has scored two goals this season – the joint most at the club in 2024.

It continues the 16-year-old’s rise at City, where he capped a memorable NPL debut last season with an incredible hat-trick.

The teenager came off the bench 10 minutes into the second half with City trailing Brunswick City 2-0 last season and scored in the 70th, 86th and 89th minutes to inspire a wild comeback.

City are 11th in the 14-team league, 20 points behind cross-town rivals Victory.

In NPLW VIC, Calder United were beaten 3-1 by South Melbourne.

Scenes at Wanderland!

And breathe! Saturday night’s showdown in Western Sydney was pure chaos.

Leaders Western Sydney Wanderers emerged 3-2 victors over Sydney Olympic after Nathaneal Blair scored a stunning 93rd-minute free-kick in NPLM NSW.

The Wanderers conceded in the fourth minute but replied with two goals in the space of three minutes through Alexander Badolato and Anthony Pantazopoulos by the seventh minute.

Olympic equalised 20 minutes from time but Western Sydney had the final say thanks to star forward Blair, who curled the ball into the back of the net deep into stoppage time to spark wild scenes as he celebrated with Wanderers fans.

It was his 13th goal of the season – level atop the NPLM NSW Golden Boot charts.

The 19-year-old striker, who took a took a year off football and worked at Bunnings before landing at Western Sydney, is continuing to take the competition by storm.

Western Sydney are a point clear atop the table after 14 games.

Elsewhere in the league, Mitchell Glasson scored for Sydney FC in their 3-1 loss to Rockdale Illinden.

“I felt we largely dominated the second-half but rightly so Rockdale converted their chances to put us under pressure,” said Sydney head coach Jimmy Van Weeren via NPL NSW.

“It came down to that little five minute period where they punished us and I think, for us, the final third we were just a bit off with the final pass to get in behind or free enough to shoot but overall it was a largely positive performance today putting the final score aside.

“We know we have players of quality, and the results will come with game time and consistency but the positive today for us was some of the individual performances.”


Central Coast Mariners, meanwhile, did not play as their fixture with St George was postponed.

In NPLW NSW,  Josie Allan and Claire Adams scored for Emerging Jets in a 7-2 loss to NWS Spirit.

Hat-trick hero ignites rampaging Bulls

Football NSW’s League One top-of-the-table clash saw Bulls FC Academy crush Mt Druitt Town Rangers 7-1.

Mason Wells scored a hat-trick for the rampaging Bulls, who are now just one point behind league-leading Mt Druitt.

A thoroughly deserved hat-trick,” Bulls head coach Craig Noone told aleagues.com.au of Wells.

“Wellsy’s consistent performances have always been there and his hard work day to day at the training ground along with his fitness levels could not be questioned as he’s one of the fittest in the squad. 

“Area of his game we are trying to improve on are his goals and assists. I think you’ll find both them numbers will start to creep up from here on in till the end of the season.”

Zane HelwehJoel Bertolissio and Abdelelah Faisal were on target for the Bulls, who also benefited from an own goal against Mt Druitt.

In League Two, Newcastle Jets are yet to taste defeat following a 1-1 draw with Fraser Park which saw Justin Vidic score before he was later sent off.


Over in NPLM QLD, Ivan Ozzi scored for Brisbane Roar in a 1-1 draw against Gold Coast United.

In NPLM SA, Luka Jovanovic‘s 92nd-minute equaliser rescued a 2-2 draw for Adelaide United away to FK Beograd. Harry Crawford also scored.

Meanwhile in New Zealand’s Central League, Wellington Phoenix played out a 1-1 draw at Stop Out Sports Club after beating Island Bay United 2-1 during the week.

Daniel Makowem scored in both games.