After just two rounds, only two clubs retain a 100% record and it is the Central Coast FC and Hakoah Sydney City East who sit proudly at the head of the table.
Match of the Round
Sydney University v Hakoah Sydney City East
On paper Saturday night’s game at Lambert Park looked like being a tight affair between hosts Sydney University, fresh from a narrow 2-1 loss on the Central Coast on day one and visitors Hakoah Sydney City East, first day winners 3-2 over Fraser Park.
Indeed, most would have expected a tight tussle, with the ‘students’ having beaten Hakoah in an earlier Cup meeting, but right from the start it soon became apparent that the more fluid and technically-equipped Hakoah had the upper hand.
They rattled in six goals without reply, four before half-time, against a plucky Sydney University side which never gave up, but had no answer to the machine that the all conquering Hakoah team brought with them from last season’s clear-cut promotion push.
Hakoah coach, Mark Robertson, later revealed that his outfit had no fewer than eleven fresh faces from the successful 2014 side, but obviously many of the key personnel remain in the squad.
The weather was perfect for football and the game was played in cool conditions on the artificial pitch, with barely a breath of wind.
Neither side should have been disadvantaged by the surface as Sydney University spent last season at Hensley Field, the home in 2015 of Hakoah, which also boasts one of the many plastic pitches now seen all over the Sydney football scene.
The early signs were ominous for Sydney Uni, as Hakoah went on the offensive from the opening whistle, with Deklan Gilmartin volleying narrowly over the bar in only the fourth minute.
Sydney Uni youngster, Victor Anyimba, ploughed a fairly lone furrow up front on the right-hand side for the students, meeting stern resistance wherever he tried to roam, finding it almost impossible to penetrate, with his fellow striker, mostly deployed on the left, Gavin Forbes, unable to make much impact either.
This Hakoah side demonstrated their obvious cohesion and defensive organisation right from the start, with the whole team’s work ethic and passing-game of a very high standard.
Going forward, while captain Neil Jablonski and number ten, Gilmartin, were working well off one another, there was always strong support from behind in the shape of Gavin Rae, Federico Kertscher and the debut-making Harry Jones.
Later, early second-half substitutions did not change that dominance much at all, with Jeremy Hornblow and new signing Mick McCrory weighing in with major contributions, off the bench.
An eleventh-minute shot from Hakoah’s Gavin Rae was claimed down low by Uni keeper, Marko Bozic, but the pressure was soon to pay off, as Jablonski, looking every inch the old-fashioned target-man, followed through at point-blank range to ensure that Gilmartin’s finish to a precision cross from the left by the lively Brad Paikin, who had skipped past his marker out wide, crossed the line.
Only a minute earlier Rae had got through again to pose a threat, but his delicate chip, which beat a stranded keeper, narrowly cleared the bar.
Uni fought back courageously and went close through Anyimba and Borovickie, the latter from an excellent pass by Khushaba, with the Hakoah keeper, Matthew Symes. doing well both times to effect the save.
Jablonski intercepted a stray Uni pass to set up newly-introduced first grader, Harry Jones, in the 29th and whose deft finish across the keeper found its way into the net via the inside of the far-right post.
It was a goal on debut and one that Hakoah coach Robertson found especially pleasing.
“That was his first start and it was great to see him getting on the score-sheet right away,” said the amiable coach.
Another clinical team move by Hakoah in the 35th, involving a host of players, saw Jablonski getting on the end of some excellent lead-up work with a skilful finish to make it 3-0.
Somehow Jablonski was again given his freedom inside the Uni box in the 43rd to complete his hat-trick with the simplest of finishes after some hesitancy among the University defenders.
Unsurprisingly Jablonski was given a rest by his coach before long, as new-signing Mick McCrory took over the front-runner’s role five minutes into the second-half.
“I’ve had my eye on Mick for four years now,” revealed Robertson.
“I knew he was loyal to Hawkesbury all that time, but I finally persuaded him to join us this season and he’s a proven performer at this level.
With a 4-0 lead at half-time Hakoah could have been forgiven for slowing things down, but the fresh faces introduced by Robertson ensured they didn’t slacken their grip and two further goals were posted before referee Ben Abraham called time.
Sydney Uni would have had a good team talk at half-time to try and gain some kind of foothold, but after a bright start they unfortunately conceded again in the 54th.
It was a goal of some quality, too, a superb instinctive header from 53rd minute substitute, Jeremy Hornblow, who gave keeper Bozic no chance, thirty seconds after coming on for Gavin Rae.
The cross from the left was played into an area where Hornblow had a defender in his way and was just beyond the near-post, but the substitute’s bullet-like header would have stood up at any level of football as a real gem.
“That fifth goal really sank us,” said University coach, Raul Blanco, post-match.
“We still tried very hard and full marks to Hakoah today, but we couldn’t prevent the fifth goal and after that it was impossible at 5-0 down to come back. We just have to forget this loss and go back to basics.
“I don’t like to make excuses, though it’s true we had three or four players out injured today and we now have to travel on Wednesday to play Albion Park in the FFA Cup. We’ll play our strongest available team, of course, with hopefully a strong showing.
Hakoah have a Cup game of their own to deal with on Wednesday night, at Hensley Field against Glebe Gorillas, but the way they finished off this match at Lambert Park suggested that they won’t need too much ‘animal’ to remain in the Cup ahead of their Friday meeting with Central Coast at Hensley.
They wrapped things up perfectly at Lambert Park with a sixth goal from diminutive Federico Kertscher, after a defender dwelt on the ball inside his own six-yard box, allowing the Hakoah man to capitalise and put further icing on the cake.
Overall it was a stylish and mostly immaculate display by Hakoah who are already shaping up as a team to watch in 2015 and may pose a threat to some of the more established candidates for promotion this season.
“We did show a good work ethic, yes,” agreed Hakoah tactician Mark Robertson.
“If you knew the way I played myself during my career you’d know I had the same work ethic, so it should come as no surprise to see my team showing those same attributes.
“We are fit, even though we only train twice a week, while I think some of the other (ambitious) teams train three times; but you can see from tonight’s match that we make those two nights count.
Sydney University 0
Hakoah Sydney City East 6 (Neil Jablonski 21’, 35’, 43’ Harry Jones 29’, Jeremy Hornblow 54’, Federico Kertscher 70’)
Saturday 28 March 2015
at Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: Ben Abraham
Assistant Referees: Darren Ayatt and Matthew Reidy
Sydney University: 1. Marko Bozic 3. Nathan Sansom 4. Gyubeom Kim (35. Thomas Keenan 46’) 8. Khushaba Khushaba 9. Gavin Forbes 11. Jake Bradshaw 12. Dario Borovickic 14. Daniel Mifsud 15. Victor Anyimba 16. Adrian Porcu 43. Philip Bures.
Subs not used: 21. Patrick Ferrara 27. Bruce Wilson 30. Bilal Rashid.
Yellow cards: Marko Bozic 32’, Victor Anyimba 42’, Kim Gyubeom
38’, Daniel Mifsud 72’
Red Cards: Nil
Coach: Raul Blanco
Hakoah Sydney City East: 1. Matthew Symes 4. Bradley Walker (30. David Adamo 46’) 8. Paul Orgad 9. Neil Jablonski (5. Michael McCrory 50’) 10. Deklan Gilmartin 11. Gavin Rae (12. Jeremy Hornblow 53’) 13. Michael Randall 16. Brad Paikin 19. Jacob Esposito 26. Federico Kertscher 29. Harry Jones
Subs not used: 2. Remy Wolanski 41. Jair Fernandez.
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Coach: Mark Robertson
-by Paul Green
Bankstown City v Mount Druitt Town Rangers
A four-goal fifteen minute burst by Bankstown City midway through the second half steamrolled Mount Druitt Town Rangers as the Lions ran rampant, finishing with a 5-0 scoreline, a result they richly deserved.
The 0-0 half time score gave no indication of what was to come, as the Rangers had been well in the game for the first half, even if the Lions had spurned a number of chances which may have given them the lead.
Brima Kamara had looked lively all half, having a shot cleared off the line after twenty minutes, but chances to Huseyin Jasli, whose shot took a wicked bounce which almost caught out Robert Kolak, Domenic Hudap and Aaron D’Mello all could have opened the scoring. Likewise for Mount Druitt Town, Bryan Soane controlled and turned superbly, before his shot was safely collected by Dion Shaw.
But once Bankstown took the lead after fifty five minutes, and no surprise it was through Kamara, the home side turned the screws for a quick quarter hour, streaking to a 4-0 lead by the 70th minute.
Superb work by Hudap down the right saw Rainer Smahel turn into his own net under heavy pressure by Kamara, before defender Todd Halloran smashed a piledriver into the roof of the net, from twenty five yards, to make it 3-0. No argument that this was the goal of the game.
Three goals quickly became four as Damir Prodanovic joined in the action, shooting low into the bottom corner two minutes later, from the edge of the box.
A fifth in stoppage time, by Steven Veleski and after good work by Chris Gomez, sealed the result at a very healthy 5-0.
“We have been working for that in training”, stated Lions coach Leo Carle after the game.
“We probably could have had it won in the first half, as we created some good chances, but they eventually came, and there were some very good goals”.
There certainly was, and there was little that Mount Druitt Town could do, the quality of the goals speaking for themselves.
But for Rangers coach, Aiden Desmond, there were lessons to be learnt for his young side.
“We have to learn not to switch off”, was his clear message. “We spoke about that at half time but we are a young team. We will learn that you can’t get away with things in this league, like perhaps you can in the Under 20s. But the advantage of a young side is that they also bounce back quickly and we will go again”.
Bankstown City 5 (Brima Kamara 55’, Rainer Smahel 61’ own goal, Todd Halloran 68’, Damir Prodanovic 70’, Steven Veleski 92’) v Mount Druitt Town Rangers 0
Referee: Adam Weir
Assts: Alex Long and Jordan Lake
Bankstown City: 1. Dion Shaw 2. Todd Halloran 3. Grant Lynch 4. Aaron D’Mello (6. Reuben Lagos 75’) 5. Michael Beauchamp 7. Brima Kamara 10. Domenic Hudap 11. Huseyin Jasli (12. Steven Veleski 75’) 15. Billy Darwich 20. Alvaro Malmierca 23. Damir Prodanovic (9. Chris Gomez 70’).
Subs not used: 16. Jason Park 30. Nicholas Carosi.
Yellow Cards: Domenic Hudap.
Red Cards: Nil
Coach: Leo Carle.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers: 1. Robert Kolak 2. Brian Griffin-Colls 4. Robert Tribbia 6. Rainer Smahel 8. Shayne Ardle 9. Bryan Soane 11. Kojiro Hori 12. Osadalor Edosomwan (7. Luke Clifford 61’) 14. Daniel McCann 16. Nathan Ralph (13. Patrick Crane 73’) 18. Luke Jenner.
Subs not used: Gk. Justin Biega 10. Daniel Vellonio 17. Daniel Embleton.
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Coach: Aiden Desmond
Bankstown Berries v Macarthur Rams
Two braces, one each to the Berries’ Aleksander Lekoski and the other to the Rams’ Blake Brooker were the highlights of this enterprising match up, both sides earning a point to remain undefeated.
Lekoski put the Berries ahead in the first half and doubled his tally after the break, but a double to Brooker ensured that Macarthur continued their good start to the season.
Bankstown Berries 2 (Aleksander Lekoski 2) v Macarthur Rams 2 (Blake Brooker 2)
St George v Central Coast
Central Coast claimed their second win on the trot, defeating St George 3-1 away, to move into equal first place on the ladder, with new boys Hakoah Sydney City East.
The Coast led 1-0 at the break, courtesy of Adam Woodbine, and extended their lead to three goals early in the second half. Josh Bingham scored twice, the first from the spot, as the Coast pulled away to a comfortable lead.
Hussein Salameh reduced the scoreline back to 3-1 not long after, but the lead proved too commanding and so the Coast’s good start continued, setting up nicely next week’s round three meeting with fellow leaders Hakoah.
St George 1 (Hussein Salameh) v Central Coast 3 (Josh Bingham 2, Adam Woodbine)
Spirit FC v Fraser Park
The late reversal of this fixture didn’t affect Fraser Park at all, the one day notice not proving any hindrance as the visitors came away from Christie Park with all three points. Kevin Oliviera scored the only goal of the game, his second in a week, midway through the second half.
Spirit were reduced to ten men in the final moments, when Gosue Sama earned a red card, but the sendoff came too late to affect the result.
Spirit FC 0 v Fraser Park 1 (Kevin Oliviera 65’)
Mounties Wanderers v Northern Tigers
Northern Tigers overturned the disappointment of their opening round loss, coming away from Cook Park with a 2-0 win, consigning Mounties to their second straight loss.
Goals to Liam McConaghy and Tai Smith did the damage, as the Mounties were kept scoreless once more. Surprisingly, they remain the only side not to hit the target so far this season.
Mounties Wanderers 0 v Northern Tigers 2 (Liam McConaghy, Tai Smith)
Source FNSW -By Peter Rowney