Spirit FC’s lead at the top of the PS4 NPL NSW Men’s 2 remains six points but now it is Hakoah Sydney City East, rather than Central Coast, who are that team in second. And with Hakoah having a game in hand, the title race could end up being a lot closer than what might have seemed likely a few short weeks ago.
The race for the five intensifies with more challengers dropping by the wayside, It seems difficult from here for Mount Druitt Town Rangers while Fraser Park are hanging on by a thread. The two Bankstowns are digging in, perhaps causing a nervous Northern Tigers to sneak a look over their shoulders.
Match of the Round
Northern Tigers v Spirit FC
Spirit FC had to settle for a point for the second time in five days, but keep their six point lead nonetheless, after a very competitive 1-1 draw at Mills Park.
They almost took all three points but miraculously, a missed Daniel Cunningham penalty with a minute of normal time remaining, ensured that the points were shared.
Northern Tigers had taken an early lead, with just their first attack. After Spirit had started brightly, with a header cleared off the line in the opening minutes, a Tai Smith cross was only parried by David Lowery, and Liam McConaghy poked away the loose ball.
That early goal could have been an indicator of more to come, but the first half was surprisingly devoid of goal mouth action, both sides embroiled in a fight for midfield supremacy, but neither gaining the upper hand. It was only in the few minutes before half time that further opportunities arose, the best of all falling to Nick Trimble whose header, seemingly on target for the net, somehow powering wide.
But the game livened up tremendously after the break, Spirit perhaps realising they could ill afford a loss. Straight from the re-start, Spirit looked a different team, attacking at last with verve and purpose. Henry Wells made a scintillating run down the left, not his last, and an excellent cross fell to Brad Gibson who couldn’t quite get the touch needed. Gibson struck well a few minutes later, but without the power needed to trouble Matthew Nemes. It felt like a goal was coming, and come it duly did.
It arrived via the penalty spot, after Samuel Ryder brought down Wells, who turned sharply, and was clearly fouled. Not a hard one for the referee. Up stepped Cunningham, and it was 1-1.
Spirit were revived for a period. Kuag Reec almost scored but for an excellent Matt Nemes save, his hammer shot cannoning out for a corner off the keeper. Just after the hour Gosue Sama attempted a neat shot on the turn, but it was always rising.
Midway through the half, with the Tigers having survived a strong Spirit period, the home side retaliated with their own opportunities, some of which were to give Spirit an almighty scare.
Braden Cheng was to have one of the best. Having only just come on for the goalscorer McConaghy, Cheng received the ball after good lead up work, and seemed certain to score. But a strike wide was the result, giving Spirit their first fright. Matthew West was to give them their next, only Lowery once more, keeping the scoreline down.
Ryan Johnstone almost got Spirit a second, again after a Wells cross, but that one was cleared off the line.
It was clear that a draw suited nobody, Spirit for their title challenge and the Tigers, in their dual bid for club championship points and a top three finish. A second goal, and by now likely to be a winner, was coveted by both sides, and cruelly for the Tigers, at the 89th minute mark, it seemed that that winner would be Spirit’s.
A second penalty, again conceded by Ryder, but this time on Johnstone, saw Cunningham step up once more. You could count the three points for Spirit from here, the last time Cunningham missed a penalty unknown. But miss he did, or more accurately, strike the post despite sending the keeper the wrong way.
So shared points they were, even though there were very late flurries of activity, but on the balance, points shared deservingly.
Northern Tigers 1 (Liam McConaghy 10’) v Spirit FC 1 (Daniel Cunningham 57’ pen)
Sunday 2 August 2015 at Mills Park, Asquith
Referee: Stephen Lucas
Assistants: A Goodhew and L Daviston
Northern Tigers: 1. Matthew Nemes 2. Samuel Ryder 3. Lucas Dawson 4. Michael Rolston 6. Paul Davies 7. Matthew West 9. Liam McConaghy (17. Braden Cheng 69’) 10. Sherven Adeli 12. Russell Farrell 16. Steven Baveas 18. Tai Smith.
Subs not used: 21. Hamish Devenish-Meares, 11. Mitchell Smith 13. Jamie Craig 14. Julian Lim
Yellow Cards: Michael Rolston, Lucas Dawson
Coach: Steve Hurd
Spirit FC: 41. David Lowery 2. Daniel Cunningham 3. Henry Wells 4. Nick Trimble 8. Grant Cornwell 12. Brad Gibson (10. Ossama Zaki 80’) 13. Lord Darkoh 14. Ryan Johnstone 19. Tom Lovell 21. Kuag Reec (9. Tim Simpson 84’) 22. Gosue Sama.
Subs not used: 5. Jacob Harris 7. Andrew Robertson 20. Michael Streater
Yellow cards: Henry Wells, Nick Trimble, Gosue Sama
Coach: John McLafferty
St George v Mount Druitt Town Rangers
It has taken eight games but St George finally broke through for their first win since May with a well-earned three points against Mount Druitt Town Rangers on Saturday night.
A mid range chip over the keeper by Matt Sadler after twenty two minutes was enough to claim the win, although Anthony Abi-Arrage almost doubled the score, hitting the cross bar just before half time.
Mount Druitt Town certainly had their chances as well, especially early in the game when still at 0-0. Elsid Barkhousir was wide of the upright with just the keeper to beat and Patrick Crane headed over with another good chance.
In the second half, Ali Nasreddine forced a finger tip save from Justin Biega while at the other end, Osadolor Edosomwan failed to connect cleanly with a free header.
A few chances then but only the one goal. Not that St George were complaining about that at the end.
St George 1 (Matt Sadler 22’) v Mount Druitt Town Rangers 0
St George: 1. Aaron Liddell 3. Emmanuel Elali 5. Daniell Zeleny 6. Ali Nasreddine 7. Matt Sadler (12. Jacob Sullivan 90’) 9. Tom Slater 11. Wassim Hijazi 13. Lenox Tweneboa 14. Andrija Petkovic 15. Peter Pelekanos 18. Anthony Abi-Arrage (16. Joseph d’Elia 46’, rep 44. Thomas Menton 79’).
Subs not used: 17. David Hamilton 19. James Togias
Mount Druitt Town Rangers: 1. Justin Biega 2. Brian Griffin-Colls 3. Garang Awac 5. Ryan O’Shea 6. Elsid Barkhousir (10. Daniel Vellonio) 7. Luke Clifford 8. Nathan Ralph (12. Osadolor Edosomwan) 9. Bryan Soane (11. Kojiro Hiro) 13. Patrick Crane 14. Daniel McCann 15. Rainer Smahel.
Subs not used: 4. Robert Tribbia 21. Joel Tinker
Mounties Wanderers v Sydney University
With so much riding on this game, Sydney University had the task ahead of them and almost got over the line. Two goals in the first half to Peter Crevani and Nathan Sansom put Uni in the lead, a lone Aleksandar Tomic goal, the only Mounties reply.
But a send off to Matthew Fsadni on the hour reduced the visitors to ten, and Mounties took full advantage. With fifteen minutes to go, Jake Ingle managed the equaliser, a goal which provided much relief at the home end.
Mounties Wanderers 2 (Aleksandar Tomic, Jake Ingle) v Sydney University 2 (Peter Crevani, Nathan Sansom)
Mounties Wanderers: 30. Ali Akbal 3. Neftali Gonzalez 6. Aleksandar Tomic 18. Mark D’Alessandro 23. Nathan Attard (14. Dragan Savic) 24. Mitchell King 26. Jacob Carluccio 27. Gongjun Lee (11. Daine Merrin) 28. Leon Faria 29. Jake Ingle 32. James Letta.
Subs not used: 1. James Stojcevski 16. Rory McGeown 20. Jamie Dib
Sydney University: 1. Marko Bozic 3. Nathan Sansom 4. Gyubeom Kim 8. Khushaba Khushaba 10. Santiago Rodriguez (67. Brian Caulker) 13. Alexander Sopina (12. Dario Borovickic) 14. Daniel Mifsud (16. Adrian Porcu) 17. Stefan de Jesus 35. Matthew Fsadni 37. Marton Vass 44. Peter Crevani.
Subs not used: 21. Patrick Ferrara
Bankstown Berries v Central Coast
A second half double to Andrew Vitucci, his first goals of the season, kept the Berries on track for the semis, and all but scuttled Central Coast’s remaining hopes for the title, after a 2-0 victory at the Crest.
It wasn’t a good night for the Coast all round, who claimed only three club championship points but the Berries, with nineteen league points from the past twenty one, head to Hensley Field next week brimming with confidence. The Coast will be no doubt be hoping that the Berries can now do them a favour.
Bankstown Berries 2 (Andrew Vitucci 2) v Central Coast 0
Bankstown Berries: 1. Michael Frost 2. Andrew Vitucci 3. Liam McKenna 7. Kyle Ewart (4. Omar Saadi) 10. Jun Kato 11. Joel Anscomb 12. Mitchell Davidson 16. Milan Zoric 17. Ilkay Gurbuz (19. Dinitri Zakilas) 18. Matthew Trotter 21. Peter Dimitropoulos (14. Nicholas Paras).
Subs not used: 41. Stefan Giglio 8. Thomas Taylor.
Central Coast: 1. Blake Tuxford 2. Liam O’Dell 3. Joshua Forbes 5. Brian Jamba (22. Daniel Tuddenham) 8. Joel Hardwick 10. Alexander Arbelo 11. Louis Bozanic (6. Matthew Crowell) 12. Trent Buhagiar 14. Steve Whyte 16. Daniel McFarlane 17. Lachlan Wales (9. Adam Woodbine).
Subs not used: 20. Beyhan Irmako 7. Jayden Priest.
Macarthur Rams v Hakoah Sydney City East
But it was a good night for Hakoah Sydney City East after coming away from Lynwood Park with the points, despite being a goal down at half time.
Gavin Forbes put the Rams in front early in the first half, a lead that they held until the break.
But Macarthur dwindled in the second period, perhaps a little weary from their match against Sydney FC on Thursday, and a double to Neil Jablonski, sandwiched either side of one by Jacob Esposito saw Hakoah slip back down the M5 with the win safely tucked away.
Macarthur Rams 1 (Gavin Forbes 12’) v Hakoah Sydney City East 3 (Neil Jablonski 64’, 82’, Jacob Esposito 67’)
Bankstown City 2 v Fraser Park 1
The Lions dispatched fellow finals challengers Fraser Park 2-1 at Jensen Park to keep on the heels of near neighbours Bankstown Berries, as the two look likely to fight out fifth spot.
Gerard Ouffoue and Chris Gomez, who has been in fine goalscoring touch in recent weeks, scored for Bankstown, while Stefan Jovanovic had equalised for Fraser Park.
Fraser’s Hussein Akil remains the leading scorer in the competition, but the double to Neil Jablonski on Saturday reduces the margin to just one goal. Chris Gomez has brought himself into contention in recent weeks, and sits just three goals in arrears, along with Spirit’s Abraham Majok and the Central Coast’s Trent Buhagiar.
Source FNSW Website - by Peter Rowney, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men's 2 Reporter