The first round of the Men’s 2 competition saw six winners with champions Macarthur Rams and new boys Hakoah Sydney City East both recording victories along with Preseason Cup winners Bankstown Berries, Spirit FC, Mount Druitt Town Rangers and Central Coast FC.
FEATURE GAME OF THE WEEK
Northern Tigers v Bankstown Berries
Bankstown Berries continued on their merry way, having already annexed the Pre-season Cup, two weeks earlier, when they had defeated the other north-side outfit, Spirit FC 3-0, this time posting a 2-1 win over nearest neighbours, Northern Tigers, in the opening match of the new campaign for both at Mills Park on a gloomy Sunday afternoon.
All three goals in the game came from the penalty-spot, the first of them stunning the hosts, Northern Tigers, with less than 90 seconds on the clock with home defender, Paul Davies, adjudged to have handled a rasping shot from Berries’ attacking midfielder, Nicholas Paras.
Paras stepped up and coolly planted the ball beyond the reach of Tigers’ custodian, Matt Nemes.
That early goal really seemed to shake the home side, who took a long while to get into their stride.
The Berries worked hard to try and extend their lead and had the Tigers back-pedalling for some time, before they could gain any kind of a foothold.
It wasn’t until the 39th minute that the Tigers began to make any significant impact, going forward, when Braden Chang rifled off a strong shot, but the Berries’ Louis Duchesne did well to block the effort inside the six-yard area.
Tigers’ keeper Nemes had to be at his best to deny Paras a second time, in the 35th, as the first-half concluded with the two sides far more evenly matched.
There was drama right at the end of the first period, though, when Matthew West got through, only to be thwarted by a last gasp interception from the Berries’ keeper, amid strong appeals for a penalty
that referee Ben Abraham waved away.
The Berries earned a second penalty, themselves, nine minutes into the second-half after Paras had seen his shot strike the arm of Lucas Dawson, standing immediately in front of him.
This time Paras deferred to Gerard Ouffoue and the former Macarthur Rams man was just as clinical from the spot as Paras had been earlier.
Some astute substitutions by Tigers’ coach, Steve Hurd, one at half-time, had lifted his team and they soon looked more capable of making a game of it, even allowing for a combative and well-drilled
Berries’ defence, which always looked sound,
Surging forward and looking like penetrating at every opportunity, Northern Tigers got their reward in the 71st after substitute, Mitchell Smith, burst through and keeper Michael Frost came out to challenge, in company with defender Omar Saadi.
Smith came down under the joint challenge of the two Berries men and referee Abraham again pointed to the spot, this time giving the Tigers the chance to test their nerve.
Paul Davies converted successfully and the Berries then had to defend grimly for the remaining 20 minutes, while managing to mount some promising counter-attacks whenever possible.
They could have done without a late second caution for Kyle Ewart, however, for time-wasting, but survived an ensuing torrid onslaught as the game drew to a close.
Mitchell Smith got into the box again in the 77th, only to send over a harmless cross, when a shot had looked a better option with only the keeper to beat.
A cross from Tai Smith in stoppage-time also just eluded the outstretched leg of Shervin Adell as the Tigers just failed to find an equaliser.
Berries coach Wally Savor was happy with the result, but had some reservations about the overall performance, while Steve Hurd felt that all of the penalties awarded in the game, including the one for his own team, were not at all clear-cut, but that his team had done well, given the quality of the opposition and that they had some key players sidelined with injuries.
It was a tough game to start the season for both teams and the Berries will be glad to have got this one out of the way.
The Tigers have to travel to play Mounties next week and the regulars, who missed this opening game, sure to be absent next week too, they know it’s going to be another demanding fixture.
Sunday 22 March 2015
at Mills Park Asquith
Referee: Ben Abraham
Northern Tigers 1 (Paul Davies 71’ pen) v Bankstown Berries 2 (Nicholas Paras 2’ pen, Gerard Ouffoue 54’ pen)
Northern Tigers: 1. Matt Nemes 2. Samuel Ryder 3. Lucas Dawson 6. Paul Davies 7 Matthew West 10. Shervin Adeli 12. Russell Farrell 13. Jamie Craig 15. Hayden Krha 17. Braden Cheng 18. Tai Smith.
Subs listed: 9. Liam McConaghy 11. Mitchell Smith 14. Julian Lim 19. David Kanaley 21. Harrison Devenish-Meares.
Coach: Steve Hurd
Bankstown Berries: 1. Michael Frost 2. Andy Vitucci 4. Omar Saadi 5. Joseph Savor 6. Shivan Swamy 7. Kyle Ewart 8. Thomas Taylor 9. Gerard Ouffoue 12. Mitchell Davidson 13. Louis Duchesne 14. Nicholas Paras.
Subs listed: 10. Jun Kato 11. Joel Anscomb 16. Milan Zoric 22. Aleksandar Lekoski. 44. Thomas Kanu.
Red Card: Kyle Ewart
Coach: Wally Savor
Macarthur Rams v St George
Reigning champions Macarthur Rams kicked off their new campaign with a win, a penalty double to Ben Cornish helping to secure the points against St George.
Cornish, signed from Rockdale City Suns during the off-season, but a former Rams junior, scored the first in the 36th minute after Blake Brooker was brought down inside the box. The 1-0 half time lead was doubled eight minutes after the break when Cornish again put away a spotkick, this time the result of a handball decision.
The introduction of Matt Sadler saw St George draw a goal back, Sadler getting on the end of a sweet Peter Pelekanos inswinging cross, knocking the ball first time past Chad Taylor.
The Saints lifted after the goal and had a chance to draw level, again after good work by Sadler and Pelekanos but the cross just failed to find the on-charging St George attack.
“We looked good in parts”, stated new Rams coach John Sopina. “We lost eight senior players from last year’s squad so it will take some time. But there were some good passages of play and we put together some fourteen/fifteen passes at times.”
“I am happy with the result, I thought we deserved to win, but it is still early”.
For the first league game of the season, it was perhaps a bit scratchy at times, but there was enough on show to give both sides promise for the season ahead.
Macarthur Rams 2 (Ben Cornish 36’ pen, 53’ pen) v St George 1 (Matt Sadler 65’)
Macarthur Rams: 1. Chad Taylor 2. Craig Cooley (c) 4. Ben Cornish 5. Calum Fleming 6. Blake Brooker (18. Carlos Enwiya) 8. Ryan Marchant (10. Eros Bergamin) 12. David McMurray 13. Daniel Carrozza 14. Mark Symington 15. Joel Craig 16. Daniel Ramirez (19. Daniel Willoughby).
St George: 17. David Hamilton 3. Emmanuel Elali 5. Daniell Zeleny 6. Ali Nasreddine (11. Wassim Hijazi) 8. Tarik Ercan 10. Michael Yarnold (c) 14. Andrija Petkovic (4. Johnathan Kontalis) 15. Peter Pelekanos 18. Anthony Abi-Arrage (7. Matt Sadler) 19. Stevan Ilic 20. David Wilson.
Referee: Stephen Lucas
Assts: Alex Long and Alex Goodhew.
Central Coast FC v Sydney University
Central Coast commenced their season in fine fashion, tailoring a 2-1 win over Sydney University.
Having earlier defeated Uni in the cup, Central Coast were perhaps slight favourites heading into this opener, and the result was duly secured with goals by the experienced Adam Woodbine and the youthful Brian Jamba, signed during the offseason from Blacktown City.
Central Coast 2 (Adam Woodbine, Brian Jamba) v Sydney University 1
Spirit FC v Bankstown City
For the first time since entering this level of the game in 2009, Spirit FC celebrated the opening of the season with a win at last. Having drawn three and lost three of their six previous first round matches, Spirit finally gained a win they so keenly desired.
It may have been by the barest of margins, a single goal by Abraham Majok, but it was enough to send the Lions home empty handed.
Spirit FC 1 (Abraham Majok) v Bankstown City 0
Hakoah Sydney City East v Fraser Park
Hakoah couldn’t have asked for a better start to their NPL campaign with three first half goals setting them up for a strong victory over Fraser Park.
Paul Orgad, Neil Jablonski and player/coach Gavin Rae all got on the scoresheet to give Hakoah the perfect beginning and a valuable three opening points. Fraser Park responded with their own first half opener via Hussein Akil while Kevin Oliveira reduced the arrears in the second half but they were not enough to spoil Hakoah’s day.
Hakoah Sydney City East 3 (Paul Orgad, Neil Jablonski, Gavin Rae) v Fraser Park 2 (Hussein Akil, Kevin Oliviera)
Mount Druitt Town Rangers v Mounties Wanderers
In the late game at Popondetta Park, a goal in each half saw off the visitors from Mounties Wanderers. Bryan Soane and Shayne Ardle did the damage as the Rangers got their season off to a flyer.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers 2 (Bryan Soane, Shayne Ardle) v Mounties Wanderers 0
Source FNSW -by Peter Rowney, with assistance from Paul Goodwin