Spirit FC become the fourth different team in just eight rounds to lead the NPL NSW Men’s 2 competition after they defeated Northern Tigers 2-1 on Saturday.
Spirit lead by just the barest of goal difference with Central Coast and the Tigers right on their heels.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers have certainly found their scoring boots this week, knocking in another four on Saturday, while Sydney University gained their first win of the season in the battle of the cellar dwellers.
Sydney University v Mounties Wanderers
This clash between the two sides sitting at the foot of the ladder, both without a win and the home side without a single point, held some promise, as much improvement had been noted by observers in the Sydney University team of late, without ‘the students’ getting any reward for their serious endeavours.
Mounties, by contrast, had at least achieved one draw and were beaten only 1-0, three nights earlier at Lynwood Park against Macarthur Rams.
Sydney University had given Spirit FC a bit of a scare on Tuesday evening at Christie Park, losing 3-2 and going close to levelling in the dying stages of a game which they’d played with only ten men for all of the second-half and the latter stages of the first, when conceding two of the three goals they’d finished with against their name.
This game against the Mounties began a minute or so late, but the delay was soon to be even more protracted, after Uni striker Gavin Forbes went down under a challenge in the fifth minute and didn’t get up.
The game was delayed for 25 minutes and once Forbes had been attended to and given the all-clear by the ambulance crew, the game recommenced with a concussed Forbes leaving the scene and being replaced by Khushaba Khushaba, who came into the midfield, while skipper, Nathan Sansom, who had been playing at the back, took over from Forbes up front.
As things transpired the move was a success, with the home side managing to steal the match, 2-1, three minutes into stoppage-time, having fallen a goal behind in the 33rd minute and taken some time to cope with a Mounties side that had most of the game until at least the hour mark.
The game was incident-packed and full of goalmouth action, especially in the second-half, with a thrilling finish; at least if you were a Sydney University supporter.
A very modest Uni captain, Sansom, paid tribute to his team’s fighting spirit, when he spoke about his team’s turnaround to earn their first win of the season and take the chance to move off the bottom of the table.
“We played well in our last game against Spirit FC and it was all about our tenacity and fighting qualities,” he explained.
Mounties Wanderers seemed well on the way to their own first win, after taking the lead, but they clearly faded later in the game and the loss of goalscorer, Nathan Attard, to injury looked instrumental in them losing their way.
He had to go off just after the hour mark and they lost much of their shape and rhythm after that.
Sydney University, despite fielding a makeshift front-line, with the unfortunate absence of Forbes, dug deep and never gave Mounties a moment’s peace as they dared to launch attack-after-attack with their limited personnel.
Putting away, or in Mounties’ case not putting away, chances was the key to the result.
Attard, for instance, was as guilty as anyone in the first-half, even if he was the player to finally break the deadlock.
He fired wide in the 15th, just failed to get his header on target in the 19th, then offered a weak shot at Uni keeper Marko Bozic in the 23rd, with dynamic winger, Gongjun Lee, also lobbing cleverly from distance, only to see his audacious attempt skim narrowly over the bar just before that.
All was forgiven, however, in the 33rd when Neftali Gonzales and Gongjun Lee combined to lay on a pass for Attard to sweep the ball home and give Mounties a deserved lead at that stage.
Attard did his best to extend his side’s lead with two major efforts in the last seven minutes, but he found Uni keeper Bozic too good, the custodian making two big late first-half saves to set up a second-half comeback.
In the second-half it looked as if, despite their grit and constant forays forward, Uni would be dealt a second blow by Mounties who had the game by the scruff of the neck for quite some time.
But in the 53rd Attard was unable to beat Bozic again, as his volley was superbly tipped over by the keeper, leaving Mounties coach Lou Contigiani no doubt tearing his hair out on the bench.
Some signs of a Uni revival had emerged, however, in the 51st, when Adrian Porcu had a rocket of a shot from 25 yards that veteran Mounties’ keeper Ali Akbal did well to get a finger-tip to and deflect over the crossbar.
Nathan Sansom led by example and took his familiar role as makeshift striker to heart, having been deployed in his more usual defensive position more recently, until Gavin Forbes met with the unfortunate injury that put him out of this game.
Sansom laid on a pass for the hard-working Khushaba Khushaba in the 68th, but the midfielder fired just wide.
This came immediately after Attard had been forced to leave the field with an injury, to be replaced by Matthew Viera, who promptly went into referee Khodr Yaghi’s book for a wild challenge, almost as soon as he’d entered the fray.
In the 73rd a Sansom-inspired Uni side drew level, with the skipper nodding back a corner, sent over from the right by Tomas Echesortu, and it was defender Gyubeom Kim who scored with a spectacular overhead kick, with his back to goal and from 12 yards out.
That goal lifted the ‘students’ to even greater heights and they pushed on looking for the winner, while Mounties, it has to be said, did not play with caution but looked for the winner themselves as well, but they were not the side they’d been earlier in the match and were nowhere near as effective.
In the 75th Sydney Uni went close to grabbing that precious second goal, when a cross from Jake Bradshaw, who had been played in behind the defence down the left flank by Porcu, saw Sansom strike the post, with the keeper getting something on it as well.
As time began to run out it did look as if the point apiece would be what both teams would have to settle for, but an all-out melee inside the Mounties six-yard box filled with Uni attacking players, was enough to allow Sansom to somehow scramble the ball home for the winner, with referee Khodr Yaghi whistling for the end of the game just moments later.
“We were our own worst enemies,” bewailed Mounties coach Contigiani, as he ruefully reflected on his team’s latest loss.
“We created so many chances that we didn’t put away. It’s so frustrating and it’s been the same story in every game.
Sydney Uni coach, Raul Blanco, job done, was one of the first to leave Lambert Park, too quickly for us to catch up with him, but he probably won’t have minded his ‘captain courageous’ having the final word, the youthful utility player proving himself in every department on this occasion.
Sydney University 2 (Gyubeom Kim 73’, Nathan Sansom 90+3’)
Mounties Wanderers 1 (Nathan Attard 33’)
Saturday 9 May 2015
at Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: Khodr Yaghi
Asst: Darren Allatt and David Haslett
Sydney University: 1. Marko Bozic 3. Nathan Sansom (c) 4. Gyubeom Kim 6. Jeremy Butnaru 9. Gavin Forbes (8. Khushaba Khushaba 5’) 11. Jake Bradshaw 12. Dario Borovickic 16. Adrian Porcu 18. Phillip Bures 38. Tomas Echesortu 40. Phillip Boceski (35. Thomas Keenan 68’).
Subs not used: 21. Patrick Ferrara 13. Alexander Sopina
Yellow Card: Adrian Porcu 86’
Coach: Raul Blanco
Mounties Wanderers: 30. Ali Akbal 3. Neftali Gonzalez 6. Aleksandar Tomic 11. Daine Merrin 16. Scott Goodwin 18. Mark D’Alessandro 22. Nathan Attard (9. Matt Viera 66’) 24. Mitchell King (15. Jamie Dib 82’) 26. Leon Faria (2. Brendan King 90’) 27. Gongjun Lee 29. Jake Ingle
Subs not used: 1. Stjepan Fuduric 7. Edward Stewart
Yellow Cards: Neftali Gonzalez 54’, Matt Viera 69’
Coach: Lou Contigiani
-Feature report by Paul Green
Spirit FC v Northern Tigers
Kuag Reec scored a double, one in each half, to help Spirit FC knock off the previous leaders in Northern Tigers, and themselves move to the top of the ladder.
Reec, the ex-Hills Brumbies striker, has looked impressive this season for Spirit, and lifts his tally to four league goals for the season. Liam McConaghy was the visitor’s sole goal getter, finishing off a disappointing last four days for the Tigers, who now will turn their attention to the FFA Cup qualifier against Blacktown City next Wednesday.
Spirit, meanwhile, will face St George on Tuesday at Christie Park in their rearranged round six fixture.
Spirit 2 (Kuag Reec 2) v Northern Tigers 1 (Liam McConaghy)
Fraser Park v Bankstown City
If any result shows the unpredictably of this league, this one at Fraser Park would just about sum it up. After Fraser suffered a 5-2 reverse at Mount Druitt Town Rangers on Wednesday, and Bankstown City defeated the then league leaders Northern Tigers at Mills Park, a Lions victory on Sunday would seem relatively predictable.
But that certainly wasn’t the case as Fraser Park took an early lead after just seven minutes through Stefan Jovanovic, collecting a rebound after Adem Kir struck the crossbar, and then doubled the lead with seven minutes to go. Kevin Oliviera was the recipient of good work by Jeffrey Issa and Kir, tucking away the second.
Nikola Todoroski almost put Fraser Park 3-0 in front but for a late saving clearance by Michael Beauchamp, but when Bankstown were reduced to ten when substitute Steven Veleski was red carded in the 86th minute, it did seem all over for the Lions.
But in a final few dramatic minutes, Bankstown got one back following a quick thinking free kick in stoppage time, put way by Dean Heffernan. Four further minutes were played but Fraser Park deservedly hung on.
None more were pleased than debutant third choice goalkeeper, Terry Landis, the 16 year old having his first start in the first team, due to illness and unavailability of his more senior colleagues.
Fraser Park 2 (Stefan Jovanovic 7’, Kevin Oliviera 83’) v Bankstown City 1 (Dean Heffernan 90+2’)
Mount Druitt Town Rangers v St George
A hatrick to Shayne Ardle set up Mount Druitt Town for their second win in four days, lifting the Rangers to inside the five and just three points from top, in one of the most tightly congested tables in years.
Osadolor Edosomwan also scored for Mount Druitt, the 4-0 result their biggest since returning to this level of competition in 2013.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers 4 (Shayne Ardle 3, Osadolor Edosomwan) v St George 0
Central Coast v Bankstown Berries
Three second half goals to Jake McGing, Josh Bingham and Adam Woodbine secured a comfortable three points for Central Coast as they drew within one goal of regaining the league leadership.
The 3-0 defeat of the Bankstown Berries has again resulted in a three way tie at the top, but the Berries still remain just four points from the lead, in a pack of chasing clubs.
Central Coast 3 (Jake McGing, Josh Bingham, Adam Woodbine) v Bankstown Berries 0
Hakoah Sydney City East v Macarthur Rams
There were no goals at Hensley Field, the 0-0 draw being the first in Men’s 2 this year.
Despite only picking up a point each, both clubs still made ground on the leaders, courtesy of Spirit’s win over Northern Tigers.
Hakoah Sydney City East 0 v Macarthur Rams 0
Source FNSW Website- by Peter Rowney, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men's 2 Reporter