Round 12 Preview – State League Women’s

Round 12 of the Women’s State League yet again sees some interesting clashes and key games as teams look to push for a top 4 berth.

SD Raiders FC host Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC while Parramatta FC host the UNSW and St George FC welcome Western NSW Mariners FC.

SD Raiders FC vs Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC, Sunday 25th June 3pm, Ernie Smith Reserve

SD Raiders FC welcome Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC as both clubs look to bounce back from disappointing losses last round. Only four points separates both these teams as Mt Druitt sit just outside the top four while SD Raiders are sitting third. This game though is huge for both club as three points is crucial for both in regards to a top four finish.

Mt Druitt coach Danny Abboud will be looking for a positive reaction from his team after a lackluster showing last week against St George. Raiders coach Catherine Cannuli will also be seeking a return to the winners circle after a topsy-turvey loss to top of the table APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC where they surrendered a two goal lead.

This game promises to be an exciting and fiercely contested match up as both teams will be desperate for the three points.

Parramatta FC vs University of NSW, Sunday 25th June 3pm, Melita Stadium

Parramatta FC host UNSW as they look to recover from a 16-0 loss last week away to Western NSW Mariners FC. UNSW on the other hand will look to continue their recent good form as they look to consolidate their position in the top 4. UNSW will see this game as a golden opportunity to grab all three points but will aware they do not want to get dragged into a battle and scrap.

UNSW find themselves only four points off second and will want to continue to win so as to continue their ascend up the table. Parramatta on the other hand will be looking to just compete for 90 minutes and will be hopeful they may be able to at least grab their second point of the season.

St George FC vs Western NSW Mariners FC, Sunday 25th June 3pm, St George Stadium

In what shapes as possibly the game of the round St George FC welcome 2nd placed Western NSW Mariners FC. The teams are both coming off confident boosting wins in Round 11 and will come into this contest high on confidence. The Mariners gave quietly been going about their work and find themselves sitting in second place. St George find themselves just outside the top four but know three points against the Mariners could place them in the top four.

The game promises goals and exciting free flowing football as both teams enjoy goingforward and creatingchances. The Mariners coach Jason Payne will know St George will provide a difficult test for his team but will be confident his team can overcome this and take the three points from the fixture. St George coach Carlo Tini will be hoping his team continue on from last weeks impressive win over Mt Druitt and continue their top four push. 

-By Sebastian Kalos

Round 17 Preview – PS4 NPL 2 NSW Men’s

Round 17 of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues' 2 NSW Men's competition kicks off this weekend and as usual there are plenty of interesting matchups to keep the punters happy.

On Saturday, the Football NSW cameras will be covering Mt Druitt Town Rangers' clash with Bankstown City Lions at Popondetta Park; while in other games, Central Coast Mariners host Northern Tigers at Pluim Park; Macarthur Rams entertain Hills Brumbies at Lynwood; Mounties visit St George at Seymour Shaw; and Bankstown Berries host Blacktown Spartans at The Crest.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Western Sydney Wanderers and Marconi will do battle at Bossley Park, and North Shore Mariners host Spirit FC at Northbridge.

Again, plenty of interesting matchups and with the table so congested and positions on the line each and every week, expect a few surprises along the way.

Match of the Round

Mt Druitt Town Rangers v Bankstown City Lions, 7pm, Saturday 24 June, Popondetta Park

Mt Druitt Town Rangers will host Bankstown City Lions in this Saturday's Match of the Round at Popondetta Park and the home side will be hoping to continue their good form and maintain their place in the top five on the Premiership table.

Rangers have been in super form in recent weeks, winning four from five matches, including last weekend's remarkable 4-2 victory over Mounties Wanderers.

Mt Druitt's rich vein of form is largely due to their consistency of selection, a luxury the side didn't have earlier in the season when injuries and suspensions played havoc on a weekly basis. The return of sharpshooter Kuag Reec has instilled confidence in the team, and so too has the leadership displayed by other senior players such as Matthew Clowes, Daniel McCann and newcomer Carlos Saliadarre.

The addition of Kris Vlismas from Sydney United 58 and Luke Grima from Parramatta FC has also strengthened the club and while they're one of the more unassuming outfits in the league, they just go about their business without any fuss and continue to surprise.

Assistant coach Stewart Montgomery said his side is in a good place at the moment, with the players comfortable with the club's playing style and desire to put in the hard yards on the training paddock.  

"I just really like how we're sticking to what we work on and that is controlled possession and getting the ball into advanced positions when we can. We've got quality guys up top who can score goals. If we just keep doing that and keep the ball away from the opposition, we're very hard to beat."

When asked what he expected of Bankstown this weekend, Montgomery replied: "We're expecting to play a side that has to win. We're conscious of that but that really doesn't change what we'll plan to do. We won't do anything fundamentally different. We've got a few things that we think we can break them down with but in real terms we've got to meet their energy levels and meet their commitment and then hopefully we get the opportunities to score the goals. That's our plan."

Bankstown City meanwhile, remain dead last on the table and their season becomes more desperate with every defeat.

Coach Mile Todoroski rued the fact that after upsetting title contenders Western Sydney Wanderers a fortnight ago, his side was unable to win two games in a row after last week succumbing to North Shore Mariners 1-0 at home.

The Lions have had their moments in recent weeks, with the upset of Western Sydney one for the highlights reel. And despite having a very talented group of players, the critical ability to create opportunities and to score goals is lacking.

Huseyin Jasli remains the team's premier player and is always good for the spectacular, while the robust Hussein Akil, goalkeeper Dion Shaw and the trickery of Aaron D’ Mello are also mainstays of the team. The acquisition of the skilful Michael Cimino from Marconi could also prove to be a good one once he regains full fitness, but the season doesn't get any easier for a side used to challenging for Premiership honours.

Mile Todoroski was confident a few weeks ago that his team was moving in the right direction and finally combining as a collective, not as a group of individuals thrown together for the first time. They'll need to build on that if they're to survive this season, starting with this Saturday's clash at Popondetta. But as always, the Lions' mentor wasn't getting carried away.

"Our situation is very tough but we have to accept that," he said. "We have to deal with the situation, that's our reality."

Central Coast Mariners v Northern Tigers, 5pm, Saturday 24 June, North Turramurra Oval

 

Central Coast Mariners will be aiming to extend their unbeaten run to seven matches when they take on Northern Tigers in a mammoth clash at North Turramurra Oval this Saturday.

The Mariners were preying on Hills Brumbies last week, eager to make them their sixth victim in as many games; and when goal-scoring ace Brenton Fox opened the scoring in the first minute and added a second just shy of the half hour mark, it looked like win number six was in the bag.

But it wasn't to be as Hills fought back to steal a 2-all draw, a result that left the young Coasters feeling devastated.  

According to Mariners coach Ben Cahn, his side created enough opportunities to win handsomely, hitting the bar once and squandering a number of half chances, but they couldn't put the ball into the back of the net, allowing the Brumbies to pounce and earn an invaluable point.

"The boys were devastated by the result but that's a testament to the belief they have in themselves and the expectations we have as a group now," Cahn told Football NSW.

"It was disappointing to have led by 2-0 and not come away with the win, especially after missing so many goals when we had that two-goal buffer."

Despite sharing the spoils, Central Coast has been the form side of the competition for almost two months - a 4-1 victory over league leaders Marconi the major highlight among many - and they have the ability to run riot if they're not pressured for the full 90 minutes.

It doesn't seem all that long ago that the Mariners struggled in the front and back thirds, squandering goal-scoring opportunities and leaking soft goals. But since the likes of Brenton Fox and Duncan Stewart have found their mojo - they've scored a remarkable 25 goals between them and are among the top four scorers in the league - and the backline has tightened things up in defence, the young guns have been humming a winning tune. 

Northern Tigers have also been in superb form. Unbeaten in five matches, Mark McCormick's side deserve their lofty second position on the table, but they'll need to be at their best to counter the young Mariners.

In a willing battle between two teams sharing second place on the ladder, the Tigers last week drew with St George, a result that McCormick acknowledged as fair.

"It was a decent game, both teams tried to play and I think a draw was a fair result," the Scotsman said. "It was a really tough game, they're a decent side.

"But we need to minimise the errors that we're making. We're our own worst enemy at times and we can't be gifting teams two goals and expect to win games. It's just impossible at this level of competition. That's something we need to improve on and the guys know that. Our effort was excellent, it's just our decision-making that needs to improve."

The Tigers have been one of a few surprise packages this season, their lofty position a just reward for their lively playing style, grit and determination.

They're also a very tight-knit group spearheaded by senior players such as club captain Michael Rolston, Jordan Ferrier and Jamie Craig. Add a few youngsters, like goal-scoring ace Ryan Peterson, and teenager Jordan Smylie and the team from North Turramurra have the goods to do some damage.

"We've got some guys who've been around the league but we've also got younger boys coming through and are finally developing," McCormick said. "The senior guys are teaching them what it means to win in this league. Every single victory that we've had has been a battle. And anyone that's got any points in this league knows that. You can't back off at all."

Neither side will back off this Saturday. After all, mercurial football is a part of their DNA.

Macarthur Rams v Hills Brumbies, 7pm, Saturday 24 June, Lynwood Park

Macarthur Rams will need to be at their very best when they take on Hills Brumbies at Lynwood Park this Saturday night.  

While the Rams have struggled over the past month or so, the Brumbies last week turned on what coach Dan Sheppard described as their "best performance of the season" against high-flying Central Coast Mariners.

"I honestly think that was our best performance of the season," Sheppard said. "It was very good. I was very impressed with that performance and I think Central Coast should feel a little bit lucky in many ways.

"We had no standouts because everyone had good games and it was an excellent team performance."

The Brumbies trailed 2-0 in the first half before storming back for a draw, with Matias Toro Suazo and Daine Merrin scoring the critical goals.

After winning PS4 NPL 3 last season, Hills have been a welcome addition to the second tier competition, their eye-catching brand of football and desire to score goals a great endorsement of the coaching staff and players.

Last week's stellar performance will see the Brumbies confident of putting the boot into a Rams side that has struggled big time during the past month or so. Indeed, coach Eddie Briscoe's side hasn't won a match for five weeks, a situation the Englishman hopes to address this weekend.

"It was a game of two halves to be fair," Briscoe said of last week's 2-0 defeat to Blacktown Spartans.  "We were better in the first half but we gave them a stupid goal and were chasing after that. I think we edged it in the first half and we even hit the bar. In the second half we got a man sent off and they got a penalty in injury time. It was a pretty even game but we didn't create much.

"Every week's a battle for us and we've got to find a way to stop people scoring and start scoring a few ourselves. We do it on the training paddock but when we cross that white line, we seem to switch off. We've just got to find a way."

Bankstown Berries v Blacktown Spartans, 7pm, Saturday 24 June, The Crest Athletic Centre

Bankstown Berries and Blacktown Spartans will be desperate to take home the spoils when they clash at The Crest on Saturday night.

With both sides languishing in the lower half of the table, three points would be a godsend in a competition where every millimeter gained counts for something.

The Berries played well in a 2-1 defeat to league leaders Marconi Stallions last weekend and could quite easily have snatched a draw.

Assistant coach Charles Samushonga was proud of their efforts.

"They did well, they came up against a very good side, probably the best side in our league," Samushonga told Football NSW. "For a large part of the game we more than matched them and could have equalised in the 92nd minute. We created chances that we weren't able to capitalise on. But I'm very proud of them, they did well."

"They worked ridiculously hard. They were composed when they did get on the ball and they tried to play. When you go up against a side like Marconi you can be a bit intimidated because of the calibre of player they field. But the boys faced up to them, matched them and took the game to them. They respected them but they didn't fear them. To come away from a game like that and say we were unfortunate not to get a draw is a big achievement. I'm very proud of them."

Meanwhile, Blacktown Spartans last Sunday broke through for their first win in seven weeks, when they toppled Macarthur 2-0 at Blacktown Football Park.

Blacktown Spartans broke through for their first win in seven games when they beat Macarthur Rams 2-0 at Blacktown Football Park on Sunday.

Alex Boyadijan opened the scoring in the second minute, while Koji Hori slotted home a penalty just shy of fulltime.  

After six consecutives losses, the clash against the Rams offered Blacktown a golden opportunity to get their campaign back on track. And they grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

"I played a very young team today but Emmanuel Elali was back and he made a massive difference," Spartans coach Luis Contigiani told Football NSW. "The first half was fairly even and the Rams could quite easily have scored a goal."

But according to Contigiani, the second half belonged to the Spartans.

"In the second half we were back to how we used to play: we gave them nothing in the final third and when we wanted to, we broke out with speed. We played with a bit of conviction. I saw a fighting spirit in the boys today that I haven't seen in a while. We're doing our best and that's all we can do."    

St George v Mounties Wanderers, 7pm, Saturday 24 June, Seymour Shaw Park

St George host Mounties Wanderers at Seymour Shaw on Saturday night and the home side will be looking to continue the brilliant form that has them sitting pretty in second place on the table.

Saints played an entertaining 2-all draw with Northern Tigers at North Turramurra last weekend and coach Terry Palapanis was impressed with his side's performance.

"The Tigers are a good side, they're a mobile side, they play a different formation to everybody else," Palapanis told Football NSW. "It took our players a bit of time to adjust and I made a few tweaks at halftime. All in all, I'm pretty happy with the draw. It was a fair result.

"There weren't any standouts, they all did their jobs. We had a couple of players below par but other than that, the other nine were excellent."

The acquisition of Bruno Pivato from Bansktown City has also been a fillip for the side, his experience and talent in midfield, not to mention the two goals he's scored in two games, makes him invaluable as the season rolls on.

"Bruno is a very good player, a very good acquisition," Palapanis said. "He's enjoying his football and he's one of the best players in the league. No doubt about that."

When asked what he expected of Mounties, Palapanis said he was surprised by their struggles this season.

"They appear to be performing below their expectations," Palapanis said. "Given their big budget and the players they've brought in, for some reason the results haven't gone their way and they seem to be playing below par. But that can change very quickly and we'll need to be very careful that that beast doesn't awaken against us. I'm hoping Nefta (Neftali Gonzalez) is still out because he's one of the best players in the league and definitely their playmaker."   

Meanwhile, Mounties last week suffered a 4-2 loss to Mt Druitt Town Rangers, a setback that left coach Lee Sterrey bewildered.

"We were awarded three penalties in the second half and we only converted one," Sterrey told Football NSW. "Mt Druitt led 2-0 at the break and we had enough opportunities to come back and win the game, not just from the pens, but from chances created. We missed the first penalty and then they scored their third goal to lead 3-0.

At 3-0, Rangers were well and truly in the drivers' seat, but Mounties refused to give in. They received another penalty in the 70th minute and this time Reid Taylor made no mistake from the spot, bridging the gap to 3-1.

A minute later, Mt Druitt's Matthew Clowes put the ball into his own net and at 3-2 the game had suddenly changed its complexion and Mounties were in with a sniff.

Amazingly, Sterrey's side received a third penalty. And just as amazingly, they messed up for the second time. Three penalties in one half of football and only one successful spot kick to their name. Remarkable. 

"We're just not good enough," Mounties coach Lee Sterrey said. "You can't give sides a two goal start before you want to switch on and play. I expect better. Simple as that.

"I've been happy with our football content and our movement and interchange play, but we just haven't been sharp at the sharp end.

"Our front third's killing us at the moment and we've talked about that all year. We need to finish and we've got enough football quality to do that."

Western Sydney Wanderers v Marconi Stallions, 3pm, Sunday 25 June, Marconi Stadium

Western Sydney Wanderers host Marconi Stallions at Marconi Stadium this Sunday in a clash between two sides that were earlier this season considered certainties to contest the Grand Final.

But so much has changed since then. Marconi has opened up a handy seven-point lead at the top of the table, while the young Wanderers have taken home the spoils just once in their last seven matches.

The Wanderers still play a scintillating brand of football and they almost always dominate possession and chances created. But they're struggling where it counts the most - on the scoreboard.

Granted, like fellow A-League academy side Central Coast Mariners, Western Sydney's motivation isn't purely results-based; it's based on development and performance. Development of young players with ambitions of playing professional football and performance within a framework imposed by the club's head coach Tony Popovic.

There's no doubt that they're succeeding in these areas, with the likes of Keanu Baccus, Abraham Majok and Nicholas Suman recently signing first grade contracts, while Mario Shabow, Liam Youlley and Jackson Bandiera have moved on, seeking their fame and fortune elsewhere.

Coach Trevor Morgan is renowned for turning young talent into gold and he's not afraid to give 15 and 16-year-olds an opportunity to experience the harsh realities of a senior men’s' league that can be both physical and uncompromising. On many occasions this season Morgan's charges have left the field battered and bruised, courtesy of opponents willing to do anything to stop the youngsters from playing to their full potential. And while this approach has worked on occasion, fourth-placed Western Sydney remain a threat to the new order. They're just too talented and too professional not to. 

Meanwhile, new Marconi coach Peter Tsekenis seems to have found the answer to making the Stallions a more determined, selfless bunch; with consistency and renewed confidence responsible for the Stallions' recent run of good form. 

Despite losing to Central Coast a few weeks ago, Marconi have since been humming a winning tune, watching from their lofty perch as those below them battle one another for a place in the top four.

The likes of Michael Beauchamp, Sean Rooney, Mirjan Pavlovic and Marko Jesic look satisfied and content. They look energetic, focused and happy, which wasn't always the case during the first round. These guys have the ability to blow away anyone without a second glance and when they're hot, they're irresistible.

This will be an intriguing clash between two talented sides whose goals and aspirations are poles apart. Both obviously have a desire to win, that's fundamental to competitive sport, but regardless of the result, the Wanderers will continue to develop while Marconi will continue on their single-minded pursuit of Premiership honours and promotion. May the best team win.     

North Shore Mariners v Spirit FC, 3pm, Sunday 25 June, Northbridge Oval

North Shore Mariners and Spirit FC will be looking at continuing on their winning ways when they clash at Northbridge Oval on Sunday.

The Mariners grabbed an invaluable three points with a narrow 1-0 victory over Bankstown City Lions at Jensen Park last Sunday.

Sharpshooter Mitch Smith headed the winner in the 64th minute, earning his side a victory that sees them climb into sixth place on the competition table.

The Lions were hoping to build on last week's 3-2 win over Premiership contenders Western Sydney Wanderers, but North Shore were equally determined to break a two-game losing streak.

The match started with a bang, Smith earning a penalty after taking a tumble in the box after 10 minutes. Chris Lindsay stepped up to take the spot kick, only to be denied by Lions' goalkeeper Dion Shaw.

"The game was a very scrappy affair," Mariners coach Joe Haywood told Football NSW. "Bankstown were very direct in what they did today. We had to ground out a 1-0 win away from home, which is great."

Haywood added that Bankstown goalkeeper Dion Shaw made some super saves, including the penalty taken by Lindsay and one from point blank range in the second half.

"When you take those saves into consideration, plus a couple of half chances that we had, it could have been an easier game than what it turned out to be," Haywood said. "Overall, they didn't threaten our goal and we were in control for the majority of the game." 

Meanwhile, Spirit will enter the game confident they can foot it with the Mariners after an excellent performance against Western Sydney Wanderers last weekend.

Spirit played with confidence and conviction in the one-all draw, with goalkeeper Murray Nelson, playmaker Andre Schroeder and winger Dylan Whitlock catching the eye;

"I felt that we made them (Western Sydney) a little bit more uncomfortable than they made us feel," Spirit coach David Perkovic told Football NSW. "I think that we created more quality chances than what they did."

Indeed, since undergoing their midseason reviewa few weeks ago, Spirit has started the second round well, thrashing Macarthur Rams 4-0 and holding Premiership contenders Western Sydney to a draw.

"We've gone a long way towards addressing our deficiencies in our last couple of games and hopefully we continue to progress throughout the rest of the season," Perkovic said.

When asked what his side got out of the game against the Wanderers, the Spirit mentor replied: "Confidence. I think when you're playing a team like the Wanderers and you can dominate them in key areas of the match, it gives us a lot of confidence that we can take it to any team in the competition."

-By Derek Royal, Football NSW Reporter

 

Blast From The Past

This week we take a look back to 1989 and to the NSL semi final series, the last time that the Saints played in NSL finals. We had finished second in the table behind Marconi, a position not too different to today’s NPL2 standings, interestingly, although under a much changed football landscape.

The results in those finals series showed how close the competition was, with the Saints defeating Sydney Olympic 1-0 in the qualifying semi with a lone goal from Scott Ollerenshaw, before losing to Marconi 1-0 in the major semi. Unfortunately, the Saints then went down 1-0 to Olympic in the preliminary final, a goal by Abbas Saad preventing the Saints from making a Grand Final appearance. Marconi went on to defeat Sydney Olympic 1-0 in the Grand Final in front of a crowd of 23,387.

Here are a few pages from the final series program, showing the respective squads of the Saints and Marconi, two teams heavy with international representatives of the day.

Round 11 Review - Women's State League

In another intriguing round of football in the Women’s State League Western NSW Mariners FC welcomed bottom placed Parramatta FC while Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC hosted St George FC and top of the table APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC hosted second placed SD Raiders FC in the late kick off.

Match of the Round

APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC vs SD Raiders FC

In the late kick-off, top of the table APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC hosted second placed SD Raiders FC in a game that promised much excitement.

The game did not disappoint as APIA ran out 5-3 winners in a game which had it all, including three dismissals.

 

In cold condition, APIA started the brighter of the two teams as they looked to press and dominate possession from the outset.

The Raiders though held strong as they soaked up the early APIA pressure.

The first chance of the match though did fall to APIA as Christina Ferreyra dragged her shot wide of the far post after being slid in.

 

Against the run of play the Raiders took the lead in the 10th minute a APIA were made to pay for their inability to convert their possession into goal scoring opportunities.

Dominique Caridad slotted a free kick past APIA goalkeeper Courtney Halpin as the Raiders found themselves 1-0 up. The goal instilled a new-found confidence within the Raiders team as they began to slowly dominate play. APIA though still posed a threat as Ferreyra did slot one home only to be called back for offside. 

In the 30th minute the game got even better for the Raiders as they found themselves 2-0 up after breaking quickly Caterina Moio ran onto the threw ball and lobbed it over the onrushing APIA keeper Halpin.

The Raiders were in dream land as they could not have asked for a better start to the game.

The game though quickly was turned on its head as a few minutes later APIA were awarded a penalty after Brooke Hankin was shown a straight red card for the Raiders after she deliberately stopped a shot with her hand.

 

Dana Buttigieg stepped up to dispatch the penalty clinically as APIA halved the deficit. In a moment of madness though by Buttigieg she gestured a hand signal towards the referee after scoring the penalty and was shown her second yellow card.

The first half drama though was not finished there as a couple of minutes later APIA pulled level as Lucy Gilfedder followed up a shot which came back off the post to slot into an open net.

 

The second half started much like the first as APIA looked to gain the early ascendency. They were rewarded as in the 50th minute Gilfedder grabbed her second after running onto a threw ball and calmly placing it into the corner. 

APIA continued to create the better chances as the second half wore on as they went looking for a fourth which duly arrived in the 60th minute Nicole Carmichael slotted a shot into the far corner after another lightening break from the APIA team.

APIA were unlucky not to surge further ahead a couple of minutes later as a slip by the Raiders defender allowed Carmichael in again before a great covering block denied APIA a fifth.

Things though did get worse for the Raiders as Courtney Krope was given her second yellow of the match to leave the Raiders with 9. To the Raiders credit though they did not throw in the towel and in the 69th minute reduced the deficit back to 4-3 as Nicole Monti scrambled home a free kick to give the Raiders hope of an unlikely fightback.

 

This hope though was short lived as APIA barely a minute later scored a 5th as Ferreyra finally got her name on the scoresheet after she expertly chipped her effort past Rhianna Muscat in the Raiders goal. That seemed to take the steam out of the Raiders as APIA came close to a sixth but in the end had to settle for a 5-3 victory.

 

 APIA coach Matteo Maiorana was proud of the fight his team showed to come back from 2-0 down.

“Being 2-0 down and to come back and score 4 unanswered goals shows we aren't just a good footballing team but tonight proved we have the right attitude to fight when our backs were against the wall”.

SD Raiders coach Catherine Cannuli conceded her team just simply ran out of legs especially in the second half as the two red cards made it all the more difficult to contain a clinical APIA outfit.

 

Match Stats

APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC 5 (Dana Buttigieg 33’, Lucy Gilfedder 36’,50’, Nicole Carmichael 60’, Christina Ferreyra 70’)

SD Raiders FC 3 (Dominique Caridad 10’, Caterina Moio 30’, Nicole Monti 69’)

Sunday 18th of June 7pm, Lambert Park

APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC: 16.Jennifer Bennett, 3.Dana Buttigieg, 8.Carla Canini, 22.Nicole Carmichael(43.Schuman Tiake), 5.Olivia Cicco(34.Kim Cozens 77’),9.Christine Ferreyra, 6.Lucy Gilfedder(20.Gillian Raymond 71’) , 2.Stephanie Granville-Fyfe, 1.Courtney Halpin, 12.Madeline Latham(38.Sarah Urquhart 74’), 4.Samantha Scarlato

Substitutes not used: 29. Dione King

Yellow/Red Cards: 3. Dana Buttigieg 26’,34’

SD Raiders FC:10.Dominique Caridad, 22.Stephanie Conejeros Berjerie, 14.Brooke Hankin, 26.Natalia Ignjatovic, 15.Courtney Krope, 11.Caterina Moio(12.Cara Forns 89’), 5.Nicole Monti, 1.Rhianna Muscat, 7.Jami-Lee Mussett, 33.Helena Ngauora(2.Sarah Bittner 75’),54.Lara White

Substitutes not used: 29. Zoe Whyte, 8. Sheer Bryant

Yellow/Red Cards; 15.Courtney Krope 40’,64’, 5.Nicole Monti 61’

Western NSW Mariners FC 16 ( Sarah Colman, Teegan Courtney x2, Larissa Kilby, Chloe Lanham, Poorsha Mcphillamy, Annabel Meadley x2, Cuscal Rue x3, Jessica Salomoni x2, Kallie Sargent x3)

Parramatta FC 0

In what was always going to prove a tough test for the bottom placed Parramatta FC the Mariners completed a 16-0 rout.

In a game where Parramatta struggled to keep up with the rampant Mariners they were made to pay for their mistakes as the Mariners utilized their pace and power especially out wide.

 

Cuscal Rue and Kallie Sargent each helped themselves to hat-tricks as the Mariners shared the goals between 9 different scorers .

The win continues the Mariners strong run of form as they find themselves well entrenched inside the top 4.

Mariners coach Jason Payne while happy with the three points is aware of the much tougher tests which are still to follow if his team are to secure a top 4 berth.

 

Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC 2

St George FC 4 ( Amy Bennet x2, Lauren Gardner, Antonia Sarikakis)

In what was a game of two halves St George FC raced out to a 4-0 half-time lead as 2 goals within the first 10 minutes had St George threatening to run riot over Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC.

Amy Bennet helped herself to a first half double as the pace and quickness of movement of St George overwhelmed Mt Druitt as they were mad to pay for their defensive lapses.

The second half though was a different story as Mt Druitt threw causation to the wind and threatened to make a remarkable come-back as Stephanie Trovato halved the deficit with 2 second half strikes.

St George though held on for a much needed three points as they look to keep pace with the top four.

St George coach Carlo Tini was especially pleased with his team’s first half as they stuck to the game plan. Mt Druitt coach Danny Abboud was rightly frustrated as his team was punished for a slow and lackluster first half.

PS4 NPL Men's Round 16 Review

Marconi Stallions extended their lead at the top of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues' 2 NSW Men's competition to seven points with a narrow 2-1 victory over Bankstown Berries on Saturday night.

The Stallions remain Premiership favourites in a competition that has become one of the closest on record, with every team capable of winning on a given day.

Meanwhile, Northern Tigers and St George maintained second equal place on the ladder with an entertaining 3-all draw at North Turramurra; while the form team of the competition, Central Coast Mariners were held to a 2-all draw by an impressive Hills Brumbies outfit that fought back from being 2-0 down.

In the Match of the Round, Spirit FC and Western Sydney Wanderers shared the spoils 1-1 at Valentine Sports Park, a reuslt that did Spirit no favours as they languish in second last spot on the ladder, a prime example of the competitive nature of the league.

On Sunday, North Shore Mariners returned to the winners' circle after two consecutive defeats, by grinding out a 1-0 win away to Bankstown City; Blaktown Spartans also won their first game in seven weeks, a 2-0 result over Macarthur at Blacktown Football Park; while Mt Druitt Town Rangers showed their quality with a 4-2 victory over Mounties Wanderers at Glenwood.      

Match of the Round

Spirit FC 1 Western Sydney Wanderers 1, Valentine Sports Park

Spirit FC and Western Sydney Wanderers shared the spoils one-all in an entertaining PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues' 2 NSW Men's Match of the Round at Valentine Sports Park on Saturday night.

Andre Carle opened the scoring for Spirit, and Kyle Cimenti equalised for Western Sydney.

Wanderers dominated the early stages of the match but from around the 20th minute, Spirit enjoyed a purple patch of their own.

In the fourth minute Wanderers midfielder Charles Abou Serhal unleashed a vicious shot from just outside the box, only to be denied by a brilliant save by Spirit goalkeeper Murray Nelson. It would be the first of several fine saves by the Spirit gloveman.

Spirit's Andre Schroeder then freed Dylan Whitlock down the right flank a few minutes later but his low cross was cut out by the Wanderers defence.

Two minutes later, Wanderers' Oliver Puflett showed some skill, chipping in a nice cross from the right, but striker Kyle Cimenti could only head his effort over the bar from close range.

Spirit's Andre Schroeder taunted the Red and Black with his pace, skill and instinct for being in the right place at the right time. And in the 20th minute he went close to scoring with a glancing header. So close yet so far.

Five minutes later Whitlock again showed his pace down the right wing, beating his man before whipping in a dangerous cross. Johnny on the spot Schroeder couldn't connect and the chance went begging.

At this stage, the Wanderers were playing the better football - keeping possession and displaying the vibrance of youth with their speed and skill - but Spirit were creating more chances, and with a bit of luck, the home side could well have been ahead on the scoreboard.

Just on the half hour mark Spirit's Zoran Kolundzic beat Wanderers' keeper Mackenzie Syron from long range but his effort shaved the target by centimetres. That man Schroeder was at it again a moment later, but again he just couldn't find the back of the net. 

Spirit turned on a very committed first half performance. They played what was in front of them. They ran, they tackled, they played direct. They played with width. And of the two teams they looked the most likely to score.

But it wasn't just the likes of Shroeder and Whitlock who caught the eye. Grant Cornwell marshalled the Spirit defence brilliantly and Nelson proved to be a rock between the sticks.

In the 37th minute Cimenti missed a one-on-one with Nelson, firing his shot wide. The young Wanderer really should have done better, but credit should also go to Nelson, whose protection of his space was outstanding.

Nelson was at it again a couple of minutes later, going down bravely at the feet of Matthew Lecce, denying the Wanderers an opportunity to take the lead right on the stroke of halftime.

With the scores level at the break, Spirit showed their intent immediately after the restart, with Andre Carle getting the better of Syron in a one-on-one, and slotting home the opening goal with clinical precision. Finally the deadlock was broken and after 50 minutes the home side held a one-nil lead.

While the goal gave the home fans something to cheer about and Spirit's confidence soared, the setback seemed to give the Wanderers a kick in the pants. The Red and Black got their act together, moving swiftly through midfield and causing alarm bells to ring in the Spirit defence.

Tariq Maia chipped a free kick into the box, but Manny Gonzalez fired his header straight at Nelson.

But a few minutes later Maia showed his quality when he threaded an inch-perfect pass through for Cimenti, who fired home the equaliser past a despairing Nelson.

At one goal apiece, the Wanderers continued to attack and in the 69th minute were denied the lead when somehow Spirit defender Michael Streeter cleared off the line.

Spirit then launched their own wave of attacks. In the 79th minute a poor defensive error by the Wanderers saw Carle zero in on Syron, but one-on-one, the young keeper pulled off a superb save to again keep his side in the match. 

Schroeder delivered a great pass to Ryan Johnstone who, from inside the box, skied a golden opportunity over the bar. A minute later Johnstone was at it again, and again his effort cleared the bar. Two chances within as many minutes, but no reward.

In the 85th minute Carle looked like he'd given his side the lead when his header rocketed towards the top corner of the net. But somehow Syron pulled off the play of the day, a magnificent acrobatic save that tipped the ball away to safety. How he managed such brilliance in the blink of an eye was truly astounding.

The final play came in the 88th minute when Mohamed Najjar capitalised on a defensive mishap and slotted home what the Wanderers thought was the winning goal. But as the youngters celebrated, referee Patterson disallowed the goal for offside.

Given the flow of the game and chances created, a 1-1 draw was probably a fair result, although both sides had opportunities to steal victory.

Spirit played with confidence and conviction, with Nelson, Schroeder and Whitlock catching the eye; while the young Wanderers' fleet footedness, skill on the ball and ability to hold possession showed that they remain a serious threat for Premiership honours. Young Syron had a fantastic game and kept his side alive with some brilliant goalkeeping; while the likes of Oliver Puflett, Adrian Viggiani and Manny Gonzalez also stood out for the visitors.

The result leaves Western Sydney in fourth place on the ladder; while Spirit remain in 13th position, just three points above bottom-placed Bankstown City Lions.

Spirit coach David Perkovic was pleased with his side's performance.

"It was a healthy crowd here tonight and I think they got their entertainment for the night," Perkovic told Football NSW.

"I felt that we made them (Western Sydney) a little bit more uncomfortable than they made us feel. I think that we created more quality chances than what they did. We just tried to disrupt their buildup phase and when you do that you go a long way to getting something out of the game against the Wanderers."

Perkovic added that despite his side's lowly position on the league table, he didn't believe they'd played badly in a lot of games this season, they just struggled with taking opportunities.

"We had our midseason review a few weeks ago and came away confident that we knew what we needed to do to overcome our deficiencies," Perkovic said. "We've gone a long way to do that in our last couple of games (a 4-0 thrashing of Macarthur and Saturday's draw with Western Sydney) and hopefully we continue to progress throughout the rest of the season."

When asked what his side got out of the game against the Wanderers, Perkovic replied: "Confidence. I think when you're playing a team like the Wanderers and you can dominate them in key areas of the match, it gives us a lot of confidence that we can take it to any team in the competition."

Meanwhile, Wanderers coach Trevor Morgan was pleased with his side's efforts and the learning experience gained for his young players.

"I think it was a fair result in the end, when you count the chances," Morgan told Football NSW. "It was another good learning experience for us and important for a couple of boys. For example (goalkeeper) Mackenzie Syron played his first game tonight (and made) a couple of great saves (which) kept us in the game.     

"For us it was another test. It was another time where again we've played some young boys - Viggiani who's 16; Pagden who's still 15 - they're playing against men and they're learning. They're going to make some mistakes along the way but I'm impressed that there are improvements individually in their game and that's good to see."

Match Stats

Spirit FC 1 (Andre Carle 50') Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Kyle Cimenti 65')

Valentine Sports Park

Saturday 17 June 2017

Referee: K Patterson

Assistant Referees: A Lyndon, A Hasnani

Spirit FC: 1. Murray Nelson, 14. Andre Carle, 8. Grant Cornwell, 10. Chris Gomez (18. Bradley Gibson), 7. Jacob Harris, 17. Ryan Johnstone, 21. Zoran Kolundzic, 20. Tim Porter, 22. Andre Schroeder, 4. Michael Streeter, 11. Dylan Whitlock (12. Louis Bozanic)

Unused Subs: 26. James Webb, 3. Sid Malhotra, 6. Adam Nisbet

Coach: David Perkovic

Western Sydney Wanderers: 30. Mackenzie Syron (GK), 8. Charles Abou Serhal, 9. Kyle Cimenti, 5. Mathieu Cordier, 10. Emmanuel Gonzalez (14. Mohamed Najjar), 25. Jordan Hall, 22. Matthew Lecce (17. Adrian Viggiani), 50. Tariq Maia, 12. Noah Pagden, 18. Oliver Puflett, 24. Tate Russell

Unused Subs: 20. Daniel Axford, 2. Lachlan Campbell, 15. Blake Currey

Yellow Cards: 9. Kyle Cimenti

Coach: Trevor Morgan

Central Coast Mariners 2 Hills Brumbies 2, Pluim Park

Hills Brumbies came back from a two goal deficit to steal a point from the white-hot Central Coast Mariners at Pluim Park on Saturday.

Goal-scoring ace Brenton Fox grabbed two first half goals for the Mariners, while Matias Toro Suazo and Daine Merrin hit back for the Brumbies.

The Mariners were gunning for their sixth win in a row and when Fox opened the scoring in the first minute and added a second just shy of the half hour mark, it looked like the Coasters would canter home to victory. But it wasn't to be.

Mariners coach Ben Cahn said his side dominated the first half and should have held more than a two-goal lead.

"We started really well and scored in the first couple of minutes," Cahn told Football NSW. "We really dominated the first half, scored a comfortable second goal; hit the bar at 2-0 up just before halftime; missed two one-on-ones and in the second half we missed a host of really good chances and allowed them to sneak back into it."

The Central Coast mentor added that the result was disappointing and his boys felt like they'd lost, "which shows how far they've come in the last couple of months".

Cahn said his side had so many opportunities - one v ones and even an open goal from inside the six yard box - but just couldn't add to their two-goal lead.      

"The boys were devastated by the result but that's a testament to the belief they have in themselves and the expectations we have as a group now.

"Hills are a good side and they've got some really good attacking players. I think structurally certainly going forward they're one of the best in the league. They're very clever with the way they use their numbers going forward and they were in the game the whole time. They also had some good chances. But it was disappointing to have led by 2-0 and not come away with the win, especially after missing so many goals when we had that two-goal buffer."

Meanwhile, Brumbies coach Dan Sheppard told Football NSW he had mixed emotions about the result.  

"I honestly think that was our best performance of the season," he said. "It was very good. I was very impressed with that performance and I think Central Coast should feel a little bit lucky in many ways."

Sheppard added the Mariners also had a stroke of good fortune with their second goal, when a Brumbies player slipped and the home side pounced to grab a 2-0 lead.

"That can happen to anyone anytime because the field was wet. And the only other time they threatened us was when we pushed forward looking to score goals. If we'd equalised in the first half we would've run away with it."

Sheppard enjoyed the clash, one where both teams played good football that was exciting and entertaining.

"We had no standouts because everyone had good games," Sheppard said. "Even the guys who made mistakes and started badly turned it around and it was an excellent team performance."

Matias Toro Suazo pulled the first goal back for Hills in the 67th minute; before skipper Daine Merrin slotted home a penalty to claim a share of the spoils two minutes shy of fulltime.

Central Coast Mariners 2 (Brenton Fox 2) Hills Brumbies 2 (Matias Toro Suazo, Daine Merrin)

Pluim Park

Saturday 17 June 2017

Northern Tigers 3 St George 3, North Turramurra

Northern Tigers and St George turned on a splendid display of attacking football in a 3-all draw at North Turramurra on Saturday.

Luke Dawson, Jamie Craig and Aram Tayebi, scored for the Tigers, while Nicholas Paras, Juan Carlos Romero and Bruno Pivato found the net for the Saints.

Luke Dawson opened the scoring for the Tigers in the 14th minute but the lead didn't last long as Nico Paras capitalised on a defensive error to equalise for Saints just four minutes later.

Jamie Craig then put the Tigers ahead 2-1 in the 40th minute and that scoreline remained as the two sides went to the sheds at halftime.

Spanish goal-scoring machine Juan Carlos Romero equalised for St George in the 55th minute with his 13th goal of the season and with just seven minutes to go on the clock, Bruno Pivato gave his side what Saints fans would have thought was the match-winning lead.

But it wasn't to be as the Tigers launched another raid on the Saints' goal, with newcomer Aram Tayebi grabbing the equaliser just two minutes later. 

"It was a decent game, both teams tried to play and I think a draw was a fair result," Tigers coach Mark McCormick told Football NSW. "It was a really tough game, they're a decent side. They've changed quite a lot since we met them earlier in the competition.

"They're one of the better sides that we've played but we need to minimise the errors that we're making. We're our own worst enemy at times and we can't be gifting teams two goals and expect to win games. It's just impossible at this level of competition. That's something we need to improve on and the guys know that. Our effort was excellent, it's just our decision-making that needs to improve."

Northern Tigers 3 (Luke Dawson, Jamie Craig, Aram Tayebi) St George 3 (Nico Paras, Juan Carlos Romero, Bruno Pivato)

North Turramurra Recreation Area

Saturday 17 June 2017

Bankstown Berries 1 Marconi Stallions 2, The Crest Athletic Centre

Marconi Stallions extended their lead at the top of the table to seven points with a close 2-1 victory over Bankstown Berries at The Crest on Saturday night.

Marko Jesic and Mirjan Pavlovic scored for the Stallions, while Daniel Fornito replied for the Berries.

Jesic opened the scoring on the stroke of halftime, but the Berries struck back through Fornito in the 68th minute. Marconi responded immediately, with Pavlovic striking home what proved to be the match-winner just a minute later.

Marconi coach Peter Tsekenis was impressed with his side's performance, especially in the absence of former Socceroo defender Michael Beauchamp.

"We were without Beauchamp so we had a couple of young boys at the back who did a reasonably good job," Tsekenis told Football NSW. "The goal we conceded was disappointing because it was taken from outside the box but other than that, we created some good chances and dominated a large amount of the game. The players are responding and working well towards where I want them to be."

Tsekenis added that because of his late arrival at the club, he has been forced to implement in midseason strategies that would normally be worked on in preseason, a risk that he's prepared to take.

"It's a bit risky but I'm happy with the way things are progressing at the moment," he said. "I'm happy that we're coming along quite nicely in regards to what I'd like them to be doing and the way I want them to play.

"Its been a vast improvement on the last couple of weeks as we're heading in the right direction. We've got a good squad that I'm happy with and we've got good cover for every position and good balance."

Meanwhile, Berries assistant coach Charles Samushonga was proud of his charges, despite the narrow defeat.

"They did well, they came up against a very good side, probably the best side in our league," Samushonga told Football NSW. "For a large part of the game we more than matched them and could have equalised in the 92nd minute. We created chances that we weren't able to capitalise on. But I'm very proud of them, they did well."

Samushonga added that he was impressed by the side's "commitment to what we're trying to achieve".

"They worked ridiculously hard. They were composed when they did get on the ball and they tried to play. When you go up against a side like Marconi you can be a bit intimidated because of the calibre of player they field. But the boys faced up to them, matched them and took the game to them. They respected them but they didn't fear them. To come away from a game like that and say we were unfortunate not to get a draw is a big achievement. I'm very proud of them."     

Bankstown Berries 1 (Daniel Fornito) Marconi Stallions 2 (Marko Jesic, Mirjan Pavlovic)

The Crest Athletic Centre

Saturday 17 June 2017

Bankstown City 0 North Shore Mariners 1, Jensen Park

North Shore Mariners grabbed an invaluable three points with a narrow 1-0 victory over Bankstown City Lions at Jensen Park on Sunday.

Sharpshooter Mitch Smith headed the winner in the 64th minute, earning his side a victory that sees them climb into sixth place on the competition table.

The Lions were hoping to build on last week's 3-2 win over Premiership contenders Western Sydney Wanderers, but North Shore were equally determined to break a two-game losing streak.

Since beating Western Sydney Wanderers three weeks ago, North Shore had suffered consecutive losses to Mounties and Mt Druitt and while their performance against Bankstown wasn't outstanding, they did enough to grind out three competition points, an invaluable commodity given the tightness of the league ladder.

The match started with a bang, Smith earning a penalty after taking a tumble in the box after 10 minutes. Chris Lindsay stepped up to take the spot kick, only to be denied by Lions' goalkeeper Dion Shaw.

"The game was a very scrappy affair," Mariners coach Joe Haywood told Football NSW. "Bankstown were very direct in what they did today, which is fine, I've got no problem with that at all. We had to compete, which is what we did. We had to ground out a 1-0 win away from home, which is great."

Haywood added that Bankstown goalkeeper Dion Shaw made some super saves, including the penalty taken by Lindsay. and one from point blank range in the second half.

"When you take those saves into consideration, plus a couple of half chances that we had, it could have been an easier game than what it turned out to be," Haywood said. "Overall, they didn't threaten our goal and we were in control for the majority of the game."

When asked what impressed him the most about his side's win, Haywood replied: "We had a game plan and it was pleasing that the boys stuck to that game plan and in the end got the desired result. That was really pleasing."

Meanwhile, Bankstown City coach Mile Todoroski was disappointed his side couldn't capitalise on last week's win over the Wanderers.

"We can't win back-to-back, we can't win two games in a row," Todoroski told Football NSW. "We go hot cold, hot cold, which isn't good for us.

"It was a very hard game, North Shore Mariners are a very tough team, a very fit team. They're a very solid team and from what I saw from the grandstand, they don't have any weaknesses.

"We weren't good enough to do anything today. We tried the best we can but we didn't have one shot on goal. They were too strong for us physically and we lost the game 1-0, enough for three points.

"Our situation is very tough but we have to accept that. We have to deal with the situation, that's our reality."

Bankstown City Lions 0 North Shore Mariners 1 (Mitch Smith)

Jensen Park

Sunday 18 June 2017 

Mounties Wanderers 2 Mt Druitt Town Rangers 4, Valentine Sports Park

 

Mt Druitt Town Rangers stormed into outright fifth position on the league table with a 4-2 victory over Mounties Wanderers at Valentine Sports Park on Sunday.

Lachlan Roberts scored two goals and Kuag Reec and Jamie Dibb grabbed one each; while Reid Raylor and Mt Druitt's Matthew Clowes (own goal) scored for Mounties.

Mt Druitt dominated the first half and Roberts scored twice to give them a 2-0 lead at the break. Disappointed with his side's poor showing in the opening half, Mounties coach Lee Sterrey let rip in the sheds and his boys responded well, tearing into Mt Druitt with a zest and gusto that were missing in the first half. As a reward for their newfound aggression and commitment, the home side received a penalty in the 50th minute, only to squander the opportunity. That miss proved costly as Mt Druitt extended their lead seven minutes later when sharpshooter Kuag Reec tucked the ball into the back of the net. 

At 3-0, Rangers were well and truly in the drivers' seat, but Mounties refused to give in. They received another penalty in the 70th minute and this time Reid Taylor made no mistake from the spot, bridging the gap to 3-1.

A minute later, Mt Druitt's Matthew Clowes put the ball into his own net and at 3-2 the game had suddenly changed its complexion and Mounties were in with a sniff.

Amazingly, Sterrey's side received a third penalty. And just as amazingly, they messed up for the second time. Three penalties in one half of football and only one successful spot kick to their name. Remarkable. 

Sterrey lamented his side's poor start to the game and subsequent defeat.

"Mt Druitt's first half was quite good but we didn't add to it because we were so poor," Sterrey told Football NSW. "At 2-0 down at halftime I didn't think the game was dead and buried at that stage and obviously I ripped a few tiles off the wall in the dressing room verbally because we just weren't good enough.  

'It was a game of two halves, they were up for it first half and we dominated the second half. We had three penalties and had a header off the crossbar and while they had six or seven chances and scored four, we had at least that as well and scored two.

"We're just not good enough. You can't give sides a two goal start before you want to switch on and play. We're not doing enough and we're lucky to have three or four good players a week. We're always chasing games and we don't get out of trouble. I expect better. Simple as that."

Meanwhile, Mt Druitt assistant coach Stewart Montgomery was delighted with his side's performance.

"We're in a good place at the moment and we were really good today," Montgomery told Football NSW. "We were very dominant in the first half and controlled possession and played our game. We really retained the ball and did that really well."

Montgomery added that Mt Druitt's first three goals were a product of their ability to hold onto possession, get into advanced positions out wide, and crossing the ball and finishing.

"It was 2-0 at halftime and we didn't really want halftime to come because we'd missed probably three or four other clear opportunities along the way. We then went 3-0 up early in the second half and Mounties changed to a 4-2-4 and went really direct, putting their big guys up front and getting behind us with long balls and crosses.

"They also had three penalties and only scored one of them. We got our composure back in the last 15 minutes and went on to win it."

When asked what impressed him the most about his side's performance, Montgomery replied: "I just really like how we're sticking to what we work on and that is controlled possession and getting the ball into advanced positions when we can. We've got quality guys up top who can score goals. If we just keep doing that and keep the ball away from the opposition, we're very hard to beat."

Mounties Wanderers 2 (Reid Taylor, Matthew Clowes o.g.) Mt Druitt Town Rangers 4 (Lachlan Roberts 2, Kuag Reec, Jamie Dibb)

Valentine Sports Park

Sunday 18 June 2017

Blacktown Spartans 2 Macarthur Rams 0, Blacktown Football Park

Blacktown Spartans broke through for their first win in seven games when they beat Macarthur Rams 2-0 at Blacktown Football Park on Sunday.

Alex Boyadijan opened the scoring in the second minute, while Koji Hori slotted home a penalty just shy of fulltime.  

After leading the competition in the early part of the season, the Spartans' campaign took a turn for the worst in Round 10 when they copped a 5-0 battering from Marconi. They then went on a six game losing streak that included a cruel run with injuries and suspensions, not to mention a loss of six points for playing a suspended player.

The clash against the Rams offered Blacktown a golden opportunity to get their campaign back on track. And they grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

"I played a very young team today but Emmanuel Elali was back and he made a massive difference," Spartans coach Luis Contigiani told Football NSW. "The first half was fairly even and the Rams have got some good players, they knock the ball around well. And they could quite easily have scored a goal."

But according to Contigiani, the second half belonged to the Spartans.

"In the second half we were back to how we used to play: we gave them nothing in the final third and when we wanted to, we broke out with speed. We played with a bit of conviction.

"They've been training well and they're doing their best. But when you lose so much depth - losing Mohamed Rahimi gave us a real mountain to climb - it's tough. I saw a fighting spirit in the boys today that I haven't seen in a while.

"Our shape was a lot better in defence and we kept the ball a lot better than we have in previous weeks. As I said, having Emmanuel Elali back made a massive difference. But we're doing our best and that's all we can do."

Meanwhile, Rams coach Eddie Briscoe rued yet another missed opportunity.

"It was a game of two halves to be fair, we were better in the first half but we gave them a stupid goal and were chasing after that," Briscoe told Football NSW. "I think we edged it in the first half and we even hit the bar. In the second half we got a man sent off and they got a penalty in injury time. It was a pretty even game but we didn't create much.

"Football-wise in the first half we were very good, but maintaining it for the whole 90 minutes is hard. And at the end of the day you've got to take your chances. Goals change games and you can't give stupid goals away if you want to win.

"Every week's a battle for us and we've got to find a way to stop people scoring and start scoring a few ourselves. We do it on the training paddock but when we cross that white line, we seem to switch off. We've just got to find a way. We know where we're at, we know what we're trying to achieve and at the end of the day you can only do what you can with what you've got."

Blacktown Spartans 2 (Alex Boyadijan, Kojiro Hori) Macarthur Rams 0

Blacktown Football Park

Sunday 18 June 2017     

-By Derek Royal, Football NSW Reporter

Round 11 Preview - Women's State League

In round 11 of the Women's State League bottom placed Parramatta FC make the long trip out to face Western NSW Mariners FC while Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC host St George FC and APIA host a top of the table clash against SD Raiders FC in the late kick off.

Western NSW Mariners FC vs Parramatta FC, Sunday 18th of June 3pm, Jack Brabham Park

Parramatta FC make the long trip out to face Western NSW Mariners FC as they look to add to their solitary point. The Mariners though will be determined to continue their recent good form and consolidate theirposition in the top four. Parramatta will be aware of the tough test they will face as the Mariners have proved to be a hard team to beat at home.

 

Mariners coach Jason Payne will be wary of his team maintaining their focus as Parramatta have already showcased this year their ability to take points off more fancied opponents as they demonstrated in their scoreless draw against SD Raiders.

 

Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC vs St George FC, Sunday 18th of June 3pm, Popondetta Park

Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC host St George FC in what should prove to be a highly entertaining clash wherein both teams have shown the ability to score goals. Mt Druitt were involved in the only game last round as they suffered a tough loss to top of the table APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC.

 

Mt Druitt coach Danny Abboud will know his team will have to concentrate for the full 90 minutes as he will be aware of the threats that St George pose. St George coach Carlo Tini will know the importance of three points so as to keep them in touch with the top four.

 

APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC vs SD Raiders FC, Sunday 18th of June 7pm, Lambert Park

In the late game APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC host SD Raiders FC in a top of the table clash where SD Raiders will be looking to close the gap on the undefeated APIA. APIA will be confident of maintaining their unbeaten start to the year but will know the dangers that the Raiders will present.

 

The Raiders will see this game as a perfect opportunity to return to the winner’s circle after some mixed results over the last few weeks. APIA will know they need to improve from their performance from last week against Mt Druitt even though they picked up the three points. APIA coach Matteo Maiorana will know the importance of his team’s ability to maintain possession and not let the Raiders dictate the tempo will be key to his team picking up the three points.

 

Raiders coach Catherine Cannuli will be emphasizing the importance of a good start by her team and the ability to squeeze the space that APIA are able to work within. This game has all the attributes to be a tight and exciting contest as both teams will be looking to gain a psychological edge over each other as we enter the second half of the season.

 

-By Sebastian Kalos

Round 10 Review - Women's State League

In rain interrupted round, only one game from round 10 the Women's State League was played as APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC welcomed Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC to Lambert Park.

APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC vs Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC

In what promised to be an exciting game, Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC made the trip out to face top of the table APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC who were looking to continue their unbeaten start to the year.

In cold and misty conditions APIA settled the quicker as they looked to dominate possession.

 

Mt Druitt looked to press high as they attempted to unsettle APIA out of their passing rhythm.

The first chance of the game though fell to APIA as a whipped ball from the right went across the face of the Mt Druitt goal with Rachelle Wang unable to stretch quite enough to divert the ballgoal-wards at the back post.

 

APIA's pressure soon brought two more early chances as first Dana Buttigieg saw her shot slide wide after being slid through before Wang saw her effort well saved by Mt Druitt keeper Jessica Broadfoot. Eventually though APIA did take the lead as in the 13 minute a great cross from the right was well met by Lucy Gilfedder who placed her volley past Broadfoot in the Mt Druitt goals to give APIA a deserved 1-0 lead.

 

APIA continued to push as they went in search of a second as Mt Druitt began to be stretched. Mt Druitt's first shot on goal did not occur until the 15 minute mark as Jessica Thorley tried her luck from 25 yards but her shot was straight down the throat of the APIA keeper.

 

APIA moments later were inches away from doubling their lead as Christina Ferreyra saw her shot come back off the post. Ferreyra though did not have to wait long to get her name on the scoresheet as in the 23rd minute she doubled APIA's lead after pouncing on her initial shot which was well saved before he was able to put away the rebound.

 

Mt Druitt to their credit continued to push as Thorley up front provided their biggest threat as she saw not her one of her shots fly just over the APIA goal. APIA as they have done all year punished an unfortunate slip by the Mt Druitt defender as Ferreyra scored her second of the game as her finish high into the Mt Druitt net enabled APIA to take a 3-0 lead into halftime.

 

Mt Druitt needed a quick response at the start of the second half if they were to get back into the contest and they duly delivered as Thorley finished smartly in the 50th minute to make the score 3-1 and give Mt Druitt a glimmer of hope of possibly getting back into the contest. Mt Druitt continued to press for a second but APIA held firm and in the 65th minute APIA put the result beyond doubt as Buttigieg diss possessed the Mt Druitt defender before finishing clinically into the top corner.

 

The game somewhat petered out after this as Mt Druitt could not find a way through a resolute APIA defence. A couple of late goals to substitutes Claire Kartambis and Nicole Carmichael added some gloss to the scoreline for APIA as they ran out 6-1 victors.

 

Mt Druitt coach Danny Abboud conceded his side struggled to compete with a well organised and clinicalAPIA for the full 90 minutes.

APIA coach Matteo Maiorana even though pleased with the win, was disappointed with the overall performance of his team,

"It was another game that I thought we dominated in large parts but our execution tonight was extremely poor.

“Now the team must refocus on the massive clash next weekend versus rivals SD Raiders".

Match Stats

APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC 6 (Lucy Gilfedder 6', Christina Ferreyra 23',33', Dana Buttigieg 65', Claire Kartambis 87', Nicole Carmichael 88')

Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC 1 (Jessica Thorley 50')

Sunday 11th of June 7pm, Lambert Park

APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC16. Jennifer Bennett, 3. Dana Buttigieg,( Kim Cozens 70') 8. Carla Canini5. Olivia Cicco, 9. Christina Ferreyra, 6. Lucy Gilfedder, 2. Stephanie Glanville-Fyfe, 12. Madeline Latham ( Nicole Carmichael 55'), 20. Raymond Gillian, 4. Samantha Scarlato, 11. Rachelle Wang ( Claire Kartambis 79')

Substitutes not used: 29. Dionei King

Yellow Cards: 3. Dana Buttigieg 70'

Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC2. Kaitlin Allan, 1. Jessica Broadfoot, 8. Alexandria Colosimo, 6. Brooke Conroy, 7. Lisa Fressard, 9. Diama Lombardo, 5. Semira Tanea, 14. Jessica Thorley, 12. Stefanie Trovato, 2. Rebecca Valiente ( Ashleigh Krenich 79') 4. Katherine Bacha,

Substitutes not used: 3. Brittany Duggan, 33. Katie Wellfare, 27. Stephanie Lagudi, 19. Izzy Lamalfa

Yellow Cards: 6. Brooke Conroy 71' 

-By Sebastian Kalos

PS4 NPL Men's Round 16 Preview

Round 16 of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues' NSW Men's competition kicks off this weekend, and as always there are plenty of interesting matches to tease league diehards.

The competition remains incredibly close but there's likely to be a split between the top and bottom clubs on the near horizon.

On Saturday, Spirit FC host Western Sydney Wanderers in the Match of the Round, while in other matches, Northern Tigers entertain St George, Central Coast face Hills Brumbies and Bankstown Berries host Marconi Stallions.

On Sunday, North Shore Mariners travel to Bankstown City, Mounties entertain Mt Druitt Town Rangers and Blacktown Spartans tackle Macarthur Rams.

Match of the Round

Spirit FC v Western Sydney Wanderers, 7pm, Saturday 17 June, Valentine Sports Park

 

Spirit FC will host Western Sydney Wanderers in this Saturday's PS4 NPL 2 NSW Men's Match of the Round at Valentine Sports Park.

The last time the two sides met, the Wanderers cruised to a 3-0 halftime lead before Spirit fought back courageously, only to go down 4-3.

"Spirit were well organised and tried to catch us in transition moments, looking to pounce when we lost the ball," Wanderers coach Trevor Morgan told Football NSW. "I think the 3-0 margin at halftime may have flattered us by one goal, but we definitely deserved to be leading."

Spirit changed tactics after the break and pressed from the restart, immediately forcing the Wanderers into error. The ball was played back to goalkeeper Nick Suman whose clearance led to a goal by Yuya Samba in a matter of seconds.

Morgan was disappointed to concede so early and that disappointment only increased when Spirit struck again to bridge the gap to 3-2.

"In the end, I think we should've gone for a clean sheet to be honest," Morgan said. "We had a 3-0 lead and the kids were playing good football, but we should've been able to finish it off."

Meanwhile, Spirit coach David Perkovic conceded that while the first half belonged to Western Sydney, he was proud of his side's performance in the second.

"The Wanderers were clearly the better side in the first half, so we changed things after halftime," Perkovic told Football NSW. "My instructions were to be positive, aggressive, and to go out there and win the second half."

With their coach's pep talk ringing in their ears, Spirit were quite aggressive in the second half and within minutes scored twice through Samba and Harris. But as the clock ticked away, the Wanderers held possession and eventually pulled away to win the three points.

"We learnt a lot from the game and the boys came off the pitch pretty positive from the second half," Perkovic said. "They got a bit of belief from that display and we'll carry that throughout the week as we prepare for our next game.

"Wanderers are a quality team and they keep the ball well. We were good enough to get back into the game so credit to our boys and next time we play them at least we can draw on such a positive experience. It was just disappointing how we played in the first half. But our reaction was positive after that."

A few things have changed since then. The Wanderers are a completely different side and while they're currently in fourth place, they've struggled in the past month or so. Jackson Bandiera, Mario Shabow, Liam Youlley and Cameron Devlin have left the club, while Abraham Majok, Nicholas Suman and Keanu Baccus have signed first grade contracts.

Spirit are third from bottom on the league table and while last week's match against Bankstown Berries was postponed, they're riding high after a 4-0 victory over Macarthur a fortnight ago.

Perkovic was delighted with the win over the Rams, one that boosted his side's confidence immensely.

When asked what impressed him the most about his side's performance, Perkovic replied: "Just how we were able to manage the game with and without the ball. Obviously we haven't been performing too well of late and frustration creeps in quickly so I was pleased that we didn't panic when we didn't have the ball, especially as the game wore on. We got more and more comfortable and didn't rush to get forward too quickly.

"Defensively we were very sound, everything they threw at us we managed well. It was good to keep a clean sheet and to get some goals."

Meanwhile, Wanderers coach Trevor Morgan was disappointed with his side's loss to bottom-placed Bankstown City last week, especially after being level at 2-all late in the game.

"You definitely want the players to have the maturity to not lose the game at 2-all and to possibly be able to win it and unfortunately at the moment, they showed last night that whilst they're trying to win a game they also leave themselves open to being beaten as well," Morgan told Football NSW.

"I think we could've settled our performance a bit more at 2-1 and then 2-2, but instead, being very young, they tried to rush. But that's stuff they'll get better at in time."

Central Coast Mariners v Hills Brumbies, 5pm, Saturday 17 June, Pluim Park

High-flying Central Coast Mariners will be seeking their sixth consecutive win when they face Hills Brumbies at Pluim Park this Saturday.

The Mariners have been the talk of the town for more than a month, playing a scintillating brand of football and dominating teams with their will to win and capacity to score a bagful of goals.

True to form, the Mariners last week humbled a brave Blacktown Spartans 4-2, a win that saw them climb above Western Sydney into third place on the Premiership table. 

Coach Ben Cahn was pleased with his side's persistence.

"The game plan was good, and even though they frustrated us for long periods and got themselves ahead and then back in the game, we still kept believing and kept trying to do the right things," Cahn told Football NSW.

"Apart from the two goals they scored and a couple of other passages that were sloppy, everybody chipped in and I was really happy with the overall performance."

The Brumbies meanwhile, last week suffered a shock 4-1 defeat to a rampant St George, so they'll be desperate to get their season back on track against the white hot Mariners. The newly-promoted side were also due to negotiate a midweek FFA Cup clash against Blacktown City, currently the best club in NSW.

The Brumbies have so far impressed in their debut PS4 NPL 2 NSW campaign. They're in a good place and have the desire to continue their rise as a force to be reckoned with.

The nucleus of last season's squad remains and many of the boys have played together in both under 20s and first grade, creating familiarity and combinations in their debut season in tier two.  

"We're doing well but we're still the newcomers in the competition, we've still got a lot to learn," coach Dan Sheppard told Football NSW. "I guess we're just happy we're getting results and we just want to make it last as long as we can."

Blacktown and Central Coast will certainly test the Brumbies in the next few days. How they respond to the challenge will be interesting and could have an impact on the remainder of the season.

Northern Tigers v St George, 6.30pm, Saturday 17 June, North Turramurra Recreation Area

 

Northern Tigers and St George clash at North Turramurra on Saturday in what should be a cracking match between two of the best sides in the competition.

Saints have won four of their last five matches, their solitary loss an unlucky 3-2 defeat at Marconi; while the Tigers are unbeaten in their last five outings, including a 5-2 rampage over the Stallions and a 7-2 thumping of Blacktown Spartans.

The Tigers beat Saints 3-1 in Round 3, their extra quality proving to be the difference between the two sides.

"I think we dominated the game in terms of possession and I was happy with that," Tigers coach Mark McCormick told Football NSW. "I think we were sound structurally and we had just a little bit of extra quality.

"After taking the lead late in the first half, we reiterated at the break that while we were doing the correct things, we needed to come out and be a little more aggressive in the second half and make our chances inside the box count. I think in both boxes we wanted it more and that's what happened in the second half."

Meanwhile, St George assistant coach Gwynne Berry had no complaints about the result, conceding that the better side won on the night.

"I thought they played a lot better than us, particularly in the first half," Berry told Football NSW. "We got ourselves caught out a little before halftime and then conceded straight away in the second half, which was a bit of a setback. But no complaints, they were better than us physically and technically, and their rotation was better than ours too."

Since then, Saints have improved as the season has progressed, creating opportunities, scoring goals and rocketing up the ladder into second place alongside the Tigers.

The acquisition of Spaniard Juan Carlos Romero has been a masterstroke, his close control, distribution and work off the ball outstanding, not to mention the 12 goals he has scored so far this season.  

Romero showed all of these qualities in Saints' 4-1 victory over Hills Brumbies last weekend, a match in which they created plenty of chances and held firm on defence.

Coach Terry Palapanis was impressed with his side's victory over Hills, a side he considers one of the best in the competition.

"Make no mistake, Hills are a very good side, so this was a fantastic result," Palapanis told Football NSW. "Because they're a good side that performance was definitely one of our best this season. We're okay, we're on track and I'm still hoping people think we're flying under the radar. But I think people will probably start taking note of us now. We're a decent side."

Meanwhile, Northern Tigers again showed their quality with a resounding 3-0 victory over Mounties Wanderers at North Turramurra last Saturday.

After a torrid first half Max Glanville opened the scoring for the Tigers in the 34th minute and the home side went to the break with a 1-0 lead.

Ryan Peterson extended the home side's lead to 2-0 when he slotted home a penalty in the 67th minute, and six minutes later Joel Hardwick struck a brilliant volley to seal the spoils. 

Tigers coach Mark McCormick was pleased with his side's performance, especially after they'd been put under the pump by Mounties' physicality and robust style of football.

"It was a good match from us," McCormick told Football NSW. "It was even in the first half and Mounties were playing direct and getting physical. We had to adjust to that early on and when we did, we controlled the game, especially in the second half. We were the more dominant team and created a lot of chances."

With the talent in both sides, this is a must-see for fans of both clubs. North Turramurra is the place to be. 

North Shore Mariners v Bankstown City, 3pm, Sunday 18 June, Jensen Park

Bankstown City host North Shore Mariners at Jensen Park on Sunday, and while the Lions will be hoping to build on last week's 3-2 win over Premiership contenders Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Mariners will be desperate to break their two-match losing streak.

Lions coach Mile Todoroski was delighted with his side's courageous performance, one that closed the gap on second-last Blacktown Spartans by a point, and one that has the wily Macedonian confident that they're finally developing into a half decent team.

"We looked pretty good on attack in first half," Todoroski said. " We scored in the first minute of the game. They scored in the first minute of the second half. We scored (the winner) at the end of the game. We closed the game very strong in the last 10 minutes. We were 2-1 down and won 3-2. It was a good performance."  

Meanwhile, ever since they beat the Wanderers three weeks ago, North Shore have struggled. They lost to the Mounties 5-2, and last week suffered a 2-1 defeat to Mt Druitt Town Rangers.    

Despite that, coach Joe Haywood will go into this match in a positive frame of mind after humbling Bankstown 4-1 in the third round.

On that occasion, sharpshooter Mitch Smith grabbed a hat-trick and namesake Marquin Smith scored one goal in what was the Mariners' first win of the season.

Since then North Shore have become a difficult opponent and something of a dark horse, with their 4-1 slaughter of Marconi and 2-1 win at Western Sydney highlights in a solid season.

"We're a long way from where we want to be in terms of getting some more wins under our belts," Haywood said. "It's more about learning from our mistakes. We just want to improve from where we were last year and hopefully we're making strides towards that.    

"We're trying to take each game as it comes. I think we're just competitive, and we're going to cause teams problems whether it's through our football, our discipline or our structure, or whether it's set pieces. We're always going to be a threat, we're always going to be a danger. That's something I'm working on and will continue to do so."

A win would certainly go a long way for both sides.

Blacktown Spartans v Macarthur Rams, 5pm, Sunday 18 June, Blacktown Football Park

Blacktown Spartans and Macarthur Rams will both be desperate to grab maximum points when they clash at Blacktown Football Park this Sunday.

Both sides have been struggling in recent weeks, with the Spartans second bottom on the ladder with 14 points, just three behind the Rams.

The situation was completely different when the sides last clashed in Round 3. Back then, the Spartans were riding high at the top of the table as they ground out a 3-2 victory over a gritty Rams side at Lynwood Park.

Afghani Mohamad Rahimi scored twice and Alex Boyadijan added another for the Spartans in a game that bounced from end of the field to the other. The Spartans squandered a penalty but with time almost up, Rahimi raced onto a through ball and slotted home at the far post for his side to claim a last-gasp victory.

Spartans coach Luis Contigiani was pleased with his side's performance.

"I'm very proud of the boys' discipline, very proud of the effort," Contigiani said. "We're grounded, we know we've still got a mountain to climb. We're not beating teams convincingly and I'm not 100 per cent convinced yet. I'm happy with the discipline and the effort, but I think we can improve and be even better. Macarthur were tough but when you win it inspires confidence. The boys are feeling really good."

Meanwhile, Rams' head coach Bill Pilovski said it was an entertaining game but his side were unlucky.

"A draw would have been a good result," Pilovski told Football NSW. "But when you're winning as the Spartans have been winning and you've got momentum, luck or the bounce of the ball seems to fall your way. The Spartans played well but I'm happy with my boys because we played well too. That's football."

Since then, the Spartans' season has deteriorated due to a cruel run with injuries and suspensions, not to mention a loss of six points for playing a suspended player. The side that was playing with such zest and confidence back then has lost six matches on the trot and this weekend's clash against the Rams offers them a golden opportunity to get their campaign back on track.

The Spartans last week suffered their sixth consecutive loss against Central Coast Mariners, a 4-2 setback that saw them plummet dangerously close to the bottom of the table. Coach Contigiani was disappointed by his side's defeat but pleased that they'd given their best.

"The Mariners have got the best of the best and they're a good team," Contigiani told Football NSW. "They're the equivalent of Western Sydney and Marconi: they're technical and creative.

"We always knew they would have more of the ball than us, so we sat back, absorbed pressure and had some good opportunities.

"My players did the best they could but the Mariners are a class act. They're better than us at the little things. Their first touch is really good, their movement off the ball is exceptional. We were up against a good team and we're just so understrength at the moment that it's really tough."

When asked what the positives were to come out of the game, Contigiani replied: "The fact that for 75 minutes we competed against a team that has been cleaning the floor with everyone, including Marconi, who they beat 3-1, was outstanding. It took them that long to bury us. We offered the best resistance we could and I thought we did well. 

"We're doing our best, I'm not going to give up we're just going to keep fighting. I'm praying and hoping that the tide will turn. We need to start winning otherwise we'll be in a lot of trouble."    

Meanwhile, the Rams also find themselves in a spot of bother. Eddie Briscoe's team is currently going through a rough patch and like the Spartans, are in urgent need of a win.

"We're making too many silly mistakes; there's no communication or leadership," Briscoe said after last week's 3-0 loss to Marconi. "Those simple things that get you around the pitch and get you results, we're not getting that.

"We've had the same issues all season and if we don't fix them we're not going to be competitive. We've really had a stop-start season. Even last night we had three players in and three players out. We've never really had a settled squad. We don't have the money that other clubs have got. We've got to develop from within and we've got to use what we've got. If we're not only our game 150 per cent every week we're not going to get the results and that's the honest truth. We haven't got that individual quality - we've got a couple of decent, quality players - and it's starting to show.

"We had our moments, we always do. We actually played in little patches some good football. We actually created three good chances; one got cleared off the line just before halftime and had that one gone in, it would've been 2-1. We just keep battling on."

Bankstown Berries v Marconi Stallions, 7pm, Saturday 17 June, The Crest Athletic Centre

 

Bankstown Berries face an uphill battle when they host league leaders Marconi Stallions at The Crest this Saturday night.

Marconi currently lead the competition and sit five points clear of Northern Tigers and St George, and with their team of stars in fine form, the Sky Blues pose a serious threat to the locals.

Marconi beat the Berries 3-1 in Round 3, with Mirjan Pavlovic scoring twice and Sean Rooney grabbing the other. But despite the loss, Berries coach Perry Moustakas was pleased with his side's effort.

"It was a great performance from my boys," Moustakas told Football NSW. "We really got stuck in and made it hard for Marconi. The difference between the sides was they were more clinical than us. The boys learnt a lot from the game but moving forward we need to take our chances and start getting results."

Marconi were too classy for Macarthur Rams last week and left Lynwood Park with a 3-0 victory, while the Berries' clash against Spirit was postponed.

The previous week the Berries ground out a 1-0 victory over local rivals Bankstown City, but they still remain in the bottom half of the table, something Moustakas will want to rectify asap.

The narrow victory over Bankstown was the Berries' first win in three league outings and while it may not have been pretty, it was enough to get their season back on the straight and narrow.

"We've had a lot of football over the last two weeks and we were playing with ten men for the last half an hour (against Bankstown)," Moustakas told Football NSW. "The effort from the boys was fantastic."

Their effort will need to be even more fantastic if they hope to foot it with the Premiership favourites this weekend, especially with sharpshooter Sean Rooney in such irresistible form in front of goal.

The former A-Leaguer has scored 16 goals so far this season and as always, will pose a huge threat this weekend.

Mounties Wanderers v Mt Druitt Town Rangers, 3pm, Sunday 18 June, Valentine Sports Park

 

Mounties Wanderers will be hoping to get their season back on track when they host Mt Druitt Town Rangers at Valentine Sports Park this Sunday.

Mounties last week copped a 3-0 beating by Northern Tigers and while coach Lee Sterrey was disappointed with the result, he didn't believe the scoreline was a true reflection of the game.

"I thought we had the better of the first 15-20 minutes and had some quality ball in the front third; we were playing well," Sterrey told Football NSW.

"We missed some golden opportunities and the scoreline didn't reflect the game. The big incidents in the game cost us. We should've been 1-0 up at halftime but we ended up chasing the whole game. Goals change games and if you don't take your opportunities you can't expect to win."

Meanwhile, Mt Druitt will go into the match fresh from a good 2-1 victory at North Shore Mariners, one of the toughest road trips in the league.

"Once we went a goal up we were outplayed," Mt Druitt assistant coach Stewart Montgomery told Football NSW. "Their runs from deep, their movement in the top third caused us trouble and we hung on until halftime. Our keeper Carlos Saliadarre made some fantastic saves to keep us in the game."

In the second half, Mt Druitt changed their shape and brought Kris Vlismas into centre midfield to pick up the Mariners' late runs. According to Montgomery, once that happened, his side was "pretty comfortable".

Daniel McCann scored the winner in the 64th minute, a header that flashed into the back of the net.

In the latter stages of the match, and trailing by 2-1, North Shore chased an equaliser by throwing numbers into the front third. But the visitors dealt with everything, even Saliadarre, who capped his performance with a penalty save two minutes into stoppage time.

"Today was about hanging in there, using the tenacity and camaraderie in our squad to get an outcome in what was a really important game for both clubs," Montgomery said.

"The ladder's so tight it was just really important that we won that one. That's the first time we've beaten them so I'm happy."

When asked who stood out for his side, Montgomery replied: "Carlos Saliadarre was outstanding in goal, he kept us in the game. Kuag (Reec) was always effective up front and Kris Vlismas was very good when he came in to do a job for us in the second half."

This will be an intriguing clash between two quality sides.

-By Derek Royal, Football NSW Reporter 

PS4 NPL Men's Round 15 Review

The PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men's competition again threw up some interesting results over the weekend, with bottom-placed Bankstown City Lions' 2-1 victory over Premiership contenders Western Sydney Wanderers the biggest upset of the round.

St George showed they've become a force to be reckoned with in a rampant 4-1 victory over Hills Brumbies in Saturday's Match of the Round at Seymour Shaw Park. Saints now sit in equal second alongside Northern Tigers, who comfortably accounted for Mounties Wanderers 3-0.

In other games Marconi kept their place at the top of the table with a 3-0 win at Macarthur; Mt Druitt Town Rangers beat North Shore Mariners 3-2; and Central Coast again sent a message to the rest of the competition with a 4-2 win over a struggling Blacktown Spartans; the Coasters' fifth win on the trot.

Match of the Round

St George 4 Hills Brumbies 1, Seymour Shaw Park

In a tale of two halves, St George showed they're a force to be reckoned with in the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues' 2 NSW competition with a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Hills Brumbies at Seymour Shaw Park on Saturday night.

For Saints, Nicholas Paras scored two goals and Juan Carlos Romero and Bruno Pivato grabbed one each; while Hills skipper Daine Merrin slotted home a penalty on the stroke of fulltime.

Saints entered the match with seven first teamers sidelined by a combination of injuries and suspensions, but they showed they had enough depth and tenacity to put the sword to a very tough opponent.

In the fifth minute Spanish import Juan Carlos Romero had a golden opportunity to open the scoring, but his header from close range cleared the crossbar. A few minutes later David Ilic tried his luck from long range, an effort that Hills goalkeeper Josh Stancic saved comfortably.

A third of the way through the first half, Hills' Wade Giovenali began to take control of the midfield, passing with pinpoint accuracy and causing mayhem in the Saints' defence. So precise was his distribution, Giovenali appeared to have the ball on a string. But none of the opportunities created by the Australian futsal representative bore any fruit.

In the 19th minute, Saints' Nico Paras had a chance from inside the box but Hills keeper Stancic pulled off a fine save.

While Giovenali shone for Hills, Romero and Bruno Pivato turned on the magic for Saints. In his first game back at St George after a short stint at Bankstown City, Pivato was busy and industrious, his mane of curly hair easily recognisable to the home crowd. Romero's class though, shone like a beacon on a dark stormy night, his close control, distribution and work off the ball outstanding.    

With halftime fast approaching, both sides continued to thrust and parry, battling for an edge. But it was Saints who broke through in the 40th minute when Romero floated in a lovely cross for Paras to head home from close range.

The move was swift and clinical, and the two men involved would ultimately play a huge role in Saints' victory.

St George led 1-0 at the break and while they came out pumped for the second half, Hills were a pale imitation of the side that had competed ferociously in the first 45 minutes.

The combination between Romero and Paras posed big problems for Hills and a minute after the restart a beautiful pass from Paras found Romero lurking on the left. Romero took on the defence and from a tight angle fired a rocket into the top corner of the net to give the home side a 2-0 lead.

Romero's goal proved to be a turning point in the match. As Saints' spirits soared and their confidence grew, Hills' resistance fell by the wayside and their performance deteriorated.

Not surprisingly, Saints struck again 10 minutes later. Romero dispossessed a Hills defender and fired in a perfect low cross for Paras (who else?) who tapped home from close range. Romero and Paras were virtually unstoppable.

The Spaniard should have added a fourth goal two minutes later but he finished second in a one-on-one with Stancic. Saints continued to dominate and added a fourth goal with three minutes remaining on the clock, when Pivato beat Stancic to not only give his side an unassailable 4-0 lead, but to also seal a fine return to his former club.

Hills completed the scoring in the 90th minute when captain Daine Merrin slotted home a consolation goal from the penalty spot.

St George were superb in the second half and outplayed a quality side that had no answers to a sharp and selfless performance that well and truly sent a message to their NPL 2 rivals.

As expected. St George coach Terry Palapanis was delighted with his side's performance.

"I think we showed good character," Palapanis told Football NSW. "We were compact in defence and we kept creating chances. Make no mistake, Hills are a very good side, so this was a fantastic result."  

Palapanis said his side has improved as the season has progressed, doing now what they weren't doing at the start of the season: "executing to a tee".

"We tweaked things at halftime and the tactics were spot-on and the execution was fantastic," he said.

"Because they're a good side that performance was definitely one of our best this season. We missed some chances and while JC (Romero) scored a cracker, he missed a few chances and he's a bit upset actually. We're okay, we're on track and I'm still hoping people think we're flying under the radar. But I think people will probably start taking note of us now. We're a decent side."

Meanwhile, Brumbies assistant coach Joe Giovenali was disappointed with his side's second half performance.

"It was a game of two halves and the first half was fairly even," Giovenali told Football NSW. "Second half we just didn't turn up. St George dominated possession and knocked it around and we were just chasing most of the second half."

When asked what was said at halftime after conceding a late goal in the first half, Giovenali replied: "We thought at 1-0 down we're still a chance, we're in the game and we'd try to get an early goal. But unfortunately it didn't happen. I think that once they got that second goal a few of the boys' heads dropped and St George started to dominate a lot of possession and we were chasing a lot of players around the field.

"We can't play any worse so hopefully the next game we'll regroup and pick up and see how we go from there. Hopefully the boys can pick it up (but today) the better team on the day won."

Match Stats

St George 4 (Nicholas Paras 2, Juan Carlos Romero, Bruno Pivato) Hills Brumbies 1 (Daine Merrin)

Seymour Shaw Park

Saturday 10 June 2017

Referee: James Lewis

Assistant Referees: James Gwynne, Tara Brown

St George: 68. Daniel Sadaka (GK), 14. Jacob Bandur, 7. Robbie Deasy, 24. Tarik Ercan, 20. Juan Carlos Romero, 18. David Ilic, 4. Jonathan Kontalis, 16. Daniel Loe, 19. Anthony Morabito, 10. Nicholas Paras, 6. Bruno Pivato

Subs: 5. Jayden McLeod, 27. Liam Thomas, 32. Michael Kotzambasis,  21. Matthew Williamson, 49. Antony Barca

Yellow Cards: 18. David Ilic

Coach: Terry Palapanis

Hills Brumbies: 1. Josh Stancic, 21. Nikolas Dimitriadis, 7. Wade Giovenali, 17. Brendan Hoyer, 11. Daine Merrin, 9. Sean Mitchell, 8. Eoin Montford, 24. Nathan Rayner, 6. Bradley Robertson,  15 Matias Toro Suazo, 12. Matthew Viera

Subs: 28. Kieran Pace, 69. Alastair Bruce, 14. Victor Anyimba, 45. Jacob Basden, 3. Nicolas Pradenas

Yellow Cards: 21. Nikolas Dimitriadis, 8. Eoin Montford

Coach: Dan Sheppard

Northern Tigers 3 Mounties Wanderers 0, North Turramurra

Northern Tigers again showed their quality with a resounding 3-0 victory over Mounties Wanderers at North Turramurra on Saturday.

After a torrid first half Max Glanville opened the scoring for the Tigers in the 34th minute and the home side went to the break with a 1-0 lead.

Ryan Peterson extended the home side's lead to 2-0 when he slotted home a penalty in the 67th minute, and six minutes later Joel Hardwick struck a brilliant volley to seal the spoils of victory. 

Tigers coach Mark McCormick was pleased with his side's performance, especially after they'd been put under the pump by Mounties' physicality and robust style of football.

"It was a good match from us," McCormick told Football NSW. "It was even in the first half and Mounties were playing direct and getting physical. We had to adjust to that early on and when we did, we controlled the game, especially in the second half. We were the more dominant team and created a lot of chances.

"The game was maybe in the balance at 1-0 at halftime but we came out in the second half and played some good football, which is always pleasing."

Despite flying high in equal second place on the league table, McCormick refuses to get carried away and orefers to take things one step at a time.

"We haven't fielded the same team two weeks in a row this season due to injiures and suspensions so I'm not taking anything for granted," he said. "Everything can change in the blink of an eye."

Meanwhile, Mounties coach Lee Steerey was disappointed with the result and didn't believe the 3-0 scoreline was a true reflection of the game.

"I thought we had the better of the first 15-20 minutes and had some quality ball in the front third; we were playing well," Sterrey told Football NSW. "A couple of times we were a bit gun shy and we missed an open goal; a minute later we let a soft goal in so it was like a double whammy. Everybody knows goals change games and I felt we should've gone into the sheds 1-0 up; not 1-0 down."

"We missed some golden opportunities but the scoreline didn't reflect the game. In the second half we started okay, first 10 minutes or so I put Reid Taylor on and changed my formation.

"We conceded a cheap penalty and they led 2-0. Then they scored a cracking goal, the guy chested it down and hit a running volley into the top corner. It was a great finish but we should've cleared the ball better than we did. They played well in the second half but the big incidents in the game cost us. We should've been 1-0 up but we ended up chasing the whole game. As I said, goals change games and if you don't take your opportunities you can't expect to win.

"Tigers are well structured, they're a good football side; they're well coached but I still don't believe the 3-0 scoreline reflects the game."     

Northern Tigers 3 (Max Glanville, Ryan Peterson, Joel Hardwick) Mounties Wanderers 0

North Turramurra Recreation Area

Saturday 10 June 2017

Macarthur Rams 0 Marconi 3, Lynwood Park

Marconi Stallions continued their march towards Premiership honours with a 3-0 victory over Macarthur Rams at Lynwood Park on Saturday night.

Sean Rooney scored two goals and Brandon Vella grabbed one in a performance that keeps the Stallions five points clear of nearest rivals Northern Tigers and St George.

Stallions coach Peter Tsekenis last week lamented the amount of goals his side had leaked in the previous month, including those conceded in the 3-1 loss to Central Coast Mariners. He would've been delighted his side kept a clean sheet at Macarthur. 

"It's obvious we've got some deficiencies in defence, we've been leaking a lot of goals in the last month or so," Tsekenis told Football NSW.

"There's a few deficiencies there and hopefully we can go back to training and really sort them out. (Against Central Coast) we conceded three goals too easily for my liking, so that has to be rectified."

While the defence got their act together, Rooney was at his goal-poaching best, his brace taking the sharpshooter's tally to 16 for the season.

Macarthur were always facing an uphill battle, even before a ball was kicked. Marconi boast the most talented and most experienced side in the competition, with ex Socceroo Michael Beauchamp leading the likes of former A-Leaguers Rooney, Mirjan Pavlovic and Marko Jesic, a talented bunch capable of destroying teams in a heartbeat.

Tsekenis also added to his squad Shane Webb and Brett Studman, acquisitions that will strengthen the Stallions and reinforce their push for promotion.

Meanwhile, Rams coach Eddie Briscoe was disappointed with the result but conceded that the Stallions were simply too good on the night.

"They're a good team," Briscoe told Football NSW. "They play good structured football and the best team won on the night. We're making too many silly mistakes; there's no communication or leadership. Those simple things that get you around the pitch and get you results, we're not getting that.

"We've had the same issues all season and if we don't fix them we're not going to be competitive. We've really had a stop-start season. Even last night we had three players in and three players out. We've never really had a settled squad. We don't have the money that other clubs have got. We've got to develop from within and we've got to use what we've got. If we're not only our game 150 per cent every week we're not going to get the results and that's the honest truth. We haven't got that individual quality - we've got a couple of decent, quality players - and it's starting to show.

"We had our moments, we always do. We actually played in little patches some good football. We actually created three good chances; one got cleared off the line just before halftime and had that one gone in, it would've been 2-1. They scored at the right times. Their timing killed the game, they scored at the right times. They're a quality outfit, coached very well by Peter. We just keep battling on."

Macarthur Rams 0 Marconi Stallions 3 (Sean Rooney 2, Brandon Vella)

Lynwood Park

Saturday 10 June 2017

Western Sydney Wanderers 2 Bankstown City Lions 3, Sydney United Sports Centre

Bankstown City Lions caused the boilover of the round when they stole a last-gasp 3-2 victory over Premiership contenders Western Sydney Wanderers at Edensor Park on Saturday night.

Bankstown shocked the home side when Huseyin Jasli scored a screamer from halfway inside the first minute, a strike that turbo-charged the Lions' confidence and saw them hold onto the lead until halftime. Jasli took the ball from the kickoff, looked up and noticed Wanderers' keeper Daniel Axford was off his line. The flying left winger then unleashed a rocket that rattled the back of the net for a spectacular start to the game.

Bankstown held onto their 1-0 lead at the break, but true to form, Western Sydney equalised through Matthew Lecce, who tapped home from close range a minute after the restart. Manny Gonzalez then gave the Wanderers a 2-1 lead in the 63rd minute, but 10 minutes later Mate Lucic equalised for Bankstown with a half volley from the edge of the box. Jasli completed the escape act when snatched the winner after a nice pass from Nikola Todoroski a minute into stoppage time.

Lions coach Mile Todoroski was delighted with his side's performance.

"I told you last weekend (after his side's 1-0 loss to Bankstown Berries) I smell something different in the team," Todoroski told Football NSW. "We lost last time (to the Berries) but now we are looking more like a team.”

Todoroski said that the result could have gone either way, with Western Sydney creating enough chances to win, only to be denied by a resolute Lions' defence. The wily coach added that his side had opportunities to "kill the game in the first half" but "at the end of the day, I'm happy with the result".

Todoroski praised the Wanderers for being a very talented young side but he also complimented his own side for their resistance and attack in the first half.

"We looked pretty good on attack in the first half. But the game was all the time up and down. We scored in the first minute of the game. They scored in the first minute of the second half. We scored (the winner) at the end of the game. We closed the game very strong in the last 10 minutes. We were 2-1 down and won 3-2. It was a good performance."  

As expected, the Wanderers dominated possession and played with patience. But the Lions' passion and physicality proved to be the edge they needed. Bankstown played in the young Wanderers' faces and roughed them up a bit, tactics that ultimately worked in their favour.

Meanwhile, Wanderers coach Trevor Morgan was disappointed with the result but pleased with some elements of the performance.

"I think there's a lot of games where we have a lot of possession, but there's not a lot of games where we were the only team with chances," Morgan told Football NSW. "I think Bankstown last night scored a rare goal from the kickoff which set the scene a little bit. Congratulations to them, they're fighting for survival in the league and they certainly turned up last night with great determination and ultimately put their chances away and deserved their win."

Morgan added that his coaching brief was to unearth young talent for the Wanderers' first team, something he's definitely doing.

"We've got a brief to try and unearth young talent and we're definitely doing that, giving young kids a go," Morgan said. "But what will be interesting is to find the players we believe are talented who show they have the mentality to deal with the things that aren't easy. That's the most interesting thing to me. It's not like we're winning 5-0 or losing 5-0, the games are always tight for us and quite competitive so the kids are not far away from the level to win things. But because it doesn't come easily, it's interesting for me to see which players can deal with that because it's one thing to have talent, it's another thing to apply that talent under pressure. I want to see who keeps going when things aren't easy." 

"You definitely want the players to have the maturity to not lose the game at 2-all and to possibly be able to win it and unfortunately at the moment, they showed last night that whilst they're trying to win a game they also leave themselves open to being beaten as well. I think we could've settled our performance a bit more at 2-1 and then 2-2, but instead, being very young, they tried to rush but that's stuff they'll get better at in time."

Western Sydney now lie in third place on the league table, three points behind Northern Tigers and St George; while Bankstown City have closed the gap at the bottom to just one point behind Blacktown Spartans.

North Shore Mariners 1 Mt Druitt Town Rangers 2, Northbridge Oval

Mt Druitt Town Rangers beat North Shore Mariners 2-1 in a torrid encounter at Northbridge Oval on Sunday.

Kuag Reec and Daniel McCann scored for Mt Druitt, while Mitch Smith grabbed one for the Mariners.

Reec opened the scoring for Mt Druitt in the seventh minute, but the rest of the first half belonged to North Shore, whose high press and vigor put Mt Druitt under enormous pressure, forcing them to hang on with grim determination.  

Mitch Smith equalised for the Mariners just on the half hour mark and the two teams went to the sheds level at one-all.

"Once we went a goal up we were outplayed," Mt Druitt assistant coach Stewart Montgomery told Football NSW. "Their runs from deep, their movement in the top third caused us trouble and we hung on until halftime. Our keeper Carlos Saliadarre made some fantastic saves to keep us in the game."

Montgomery added that the Mariners compressed the middle of the park and forced Mt Druitt to play centrally, where they were ambushed and put to the test in a fierce battle.

"They keep the tempo really high, you just don't get to settle and they tend to draw you into their style of game," Montgomery said. "That wasn't how we wanted to play. They won the battle and caught us out on transition, so it was very effective for them."

In the second half, Mt Druitt changed their shape and brought Kris Vlismas into centre midfield to pick up the Mariners' late runs. According to Montgomery, once that happened, his side was "pretty comfortable".

Daniel McCann scored the winner in the 64th minute, a header that flashed into the back of the net.

In the latter stages of the match, and trailing by 2-1, North Shore chased an equaliser by throwing numbers into the front third. But the visitors dealt with everything, even Saliadarre, who capped his performance with a penalty save two minutes into stoppage time.

"Today was about hanging in there, using the tenacity and camaraderie in our squad to get an outcome in what was a really important game for both clubs," Montgomery said.

"The ladder's so tight it was just really important that we won that one. That's the first time we've beaten them so I'm happy."

When asked who stood out for his side, Montgomery replied: "Carlos Saliadarre was outstanding in goal, he kept us in the game. Kuag was always effective up front and Kris Vlismas was very good when he came in to do a job for us in the second half. Also, never let it be said that Daniel McCann can't score goals with his head. It's very rare but he did it today."  

Meanwhile, Mariners coach Joe Haywood was unimpressed with the result and rued the fact that his side squandered several opportunities.

"It was a frustrating game that we could've and should've comfortably won. From open play we had five good chances in the first half, but we couldn't put them away. We had three good chances from set pieces with free headers that were headed over the bar. The game should've been out of sight at halftime. But football is football and it was one-all at the break.

"In the second half we weren't as potent. They changed tactics which nullified our threat slightly. But either way we shouldn't have been losing the game and we missed a penalty in the 94th minute that could've drawn the game. What could've been a comfortable win turned out to be an uncomfortable loss."

When asked if there were any positives to come out of the game, Haywood replied: "The chances we created was a positive. We've just got to try to convert those chances. Otherwise we'll get punished for it, which is what has happened in the last two games. We've just got to try to put the ball back into the net again. You've got Mitch Smith a striker doing his job but everyone around him have got to start putting the ball in the back of the net as well."

North Shore Mariners 1 (Mitch Smith) Mt Druitt Town Rangers 2 (Kuag Reec, Daniel McCann)

Northbridge Oval

Sunday 11 June 2017  

Central Coast Mariners 4 Blacktown Spartans 2, Valentine Sports Park

Central Coast Mariners extended their unbeaten run to five games with a 4-2 victory over a brave Blacktown Spartans at Valentine Sports Park on Sunday.

The win sees Ben Cahn's Mariners climb past arch rivals Western Sydney Wanderers into third place on the Premiership ladder, their highest position of the season.

The Spartans shocked the Mariners when Kojiro Hori opened the scoring from a free kick on the edge of the box in the ninth minute. But Central Coast hit back quickly through Sullu Kamara four minutes later. Filling in for the injured Duncan Stewart, Kamara received a neat pass from James Enticknap before rounding the keeper to score, a memorable moment on his first grade debut.

Lachlan Wales then gave the Mariners the lead in the 26th minute, completing a fine solo run before curling the ball into the top corner of the net. But the Spartans refused to surrender and just six minutes shy of halftime Michael Konestabo embarked on a solo run of his own before striking home the equaliser.

The two sides went to the break at two-all and Cahn was upset that his youngsters had allowed Konestabo to slice through them like a knife through butter.

"The Spartans' goal was a good solo run and a nice finish but from our perspective it was poorly defended," Cahn told Football NSW. "The whole move was poorly defended and I was really disappointed with that one and it left a sour taste in the mouth going into halftime."

Cahn added that he knew the Spartans would sit very deep and put a lot of numbers behind the ball.

"Their only threat was long balls on the counter attack and while they caught us a couple of times we were always in full control."

Reece Papas joined the action in the second half and made an immediate impact, delivering a corner for Michael Glassock to score the third goal, before Gianni Stensness rifled home his side's fourth goal with a shot from the edge of the box at the death.

When asked what impressed him the most about the win, Cahn replied:

"Knowing that there was a late change of venue, which didn't suit us at all because we had to travel to Sydney for our 'home' game worried us. The change took us away from a surface that we like to play on. But all things considered, the game plan was good, and even though they frustrated us for long periods and got themselves ahead and then back in the game, we still kept believing and kept trying to do the right things.

"Apart from the two goals they scored and a couple of other passages that were sloppy, everybody chipped in and I was really happy with the overall performance. 

Meanwhile, Spartans coach Luis Contigiani was disappointed by his side's defeat but pleased that his side had given their best.

"The Mariners have got the best of the best and they're a good team," Contigiani told Football NSW. "They're the equivalent of Western Sydney and Marconi: they're technical and creative.

"We always knew they would have more of the ball than us, so we sat back, absorbed pressure and had some good opportunities.

"My players did the best they could but the Mariners are a class act. They're better than us at the little things. Their first touch is really good, their movement off the ball is exceptional. We were up against a good team and we're just so understrength at the moment that it's really tough."

When asked what the positives were to come out of the game, Contigiani replied: "The fact that for 75 minutes we competed against a team that has been cleaning the floor with everyone, including Marconi, who they beat 3-1, was outstanding. It took them that long to bury us. We offered the best resistance we could and I thought we did well."

Contigiani is doing it tough at the moment. He's lost first string keeper Domenic Nascimben for the season. Emmanuel Elali is out for five games, Alessandro Pecora is out for three games, while ace playmaker Mohamed Rahimi has left the club and joined Sydney Olympic.

"We desperately need to bring in replacements and they're usually 17 or 18-year-olds or players who've never played at this level," Contigiani said. "You ask these boys to compete and play as well as your regulars and they struggle. But we're doing our best, I'm not going to give up we're just going to keep fighting. I'm praying and hoping that the tide will turn. We need to start winning otherwise we'll be in a lot of trouble."   

Central Coast Mariners 4 (Sullu Kamara, Lachlan Wales, Michael Glassock, Gianni Stensness) Blacktown Spartans 2 (Kojiro Hori, Michael Konestabo)

Valentine Sports Park

Sunday 11 June 2017

Bankstown Berries v Spirit FC - Washed Out

-By Derek Royal, Football NSW Reporter

BLAST FROM THE PAST

blast.jpg

With Football NSW celebrating Heritage Round in the NPL1 this weekend, it is worthwhile to take a look back at one of our most famous St George teams of all time, that of 1971.

The Saints were at the peak of their powers during that period, and here we have a look at a match program from those heady days, a fixture against arch rivals APIA.  The Saints included six players in the starting eleven who would travel to West Germany to represent Australia in the World Cup three years later (Jack Reilly, Doug Utjesenovic, Manfred Schaefer, Harry Williams, Atti Abonyi and Adrian Alston), while George Harris was only a whisker away from making the squad.

We played at Hurstville Oval in those days before moving to St George Stadium upon its opening in 1978. Our last game at Hurstville Oval was in the (national) Philips Soccer League in 1977, with only the one game played there (most games being played otherwise at the Sydney Sports Ground). Here is the program from that match, a fixture against Fitzroy United (renamed Heidelberg United a year later). Included in the Fitzroy side was Gary Cole, a striker who went on to hold the Australian record for the number of goals in an international, when he scored 7 in a game against Fiji, in 1981. That record was of course beaten famously by Archie Thompson’s 13 goals against American Samoa in 2001.

For St George, ex-Arsenal legend Charlie George played as a loan player for six matches that season.