Marconi Stallions reclaimed outright first on the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues' 2 NSW Men's table with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Blacktown Spartans on Saturday night.
Tony Candy's men turned on their best performance of the season and firmed as competition favourites as arch-rivals Western Sydney Wanderers suffered an upset 2-1 loss at Macarthur Rams.
In the match of the round, Bankstown Berries player-coach Perry Moustakas scored the only goal of the game in the 90th minute to grab a much-needed three points at the expense of Mounties Wanderers, whose inability to finish proved costly.
Meanwhile, North Shore Mariners overcame Central Coast Mariners 4-3; Northern Tigers got their campaign back on track with a 4-2 win over Bankstown City Lions; while Hills Brumbies and Spirit FC shared the spoils in a competitive one-all draw at Lilys Football Centre.
In the only Sunday match of the round, Mt Druitt Town Rangers came back from a goal down to beat St George 3-1 at Seymour Shaw Park.
Match of the Round
Bankstown Berries 1Mounties Wanderers 0, The Crest Athletic Centre
Bankstown Berries' player-coach Perry Moustakas struck home a 90th minute winner to steer his side to a 1-0 victory over Mounties Wanderers in the PS4 NPL 2 NSW Men's match of the round at The Crest Athletic Centre on Saturday night.
After last week dropping into the bottom four on the competition table, the Berries were desperate to get the three points against a classy Mounties side that has high expectations of a successful season. And through equal dosages of courage, determination, and a hint of luck, the Bankstown side managed to do so right at the death.
Mounties dominated the first half and created several opportunities to score. But unfortunately the side seems to have been cursed with the inability to finish. Granted, they play some great football and create chances, but for whatever reason, they just don't have the Midas touch in front of goal, a problem that coach Lee Sterrey has been desperate to address since the season kicked off more than two months ago.
In the ninth minute Mounties' Reid Taylor unleashed a rasping shot on goal, only to see Berries' goalkeeper Chad Taylor pull off a brilliant save.
Then in the 26th minute, impressive playmaker Neftali Gonzalez sent Reid Taylor racing down the sideline with a pinpoint pass. The speedy Number 20 then found striker Michael Gaitatzis with a perfect cross, only to see Berries' goalkeeper Taylor pull off another fine save. This was the first of a few gilt-edged opportunities that Mounties were unable to convert during the course of the game.
Four minutes later, that man Gonzalez was at it again, this time unleashing a long range effort on goal, only to be denied by Taylor. The Berries custodian was fast becoming his side's lucky charm.
The Berries' opportunities were few and far between and it took them until the half hour mark to hit the target when Vais forced Mounties keeper Jair Fernandez into a brilliant diving save. Fernandez again denied the Berries a minute later, this time foiling Jake Bradshaw who somehow managed to slip behind the Mounties' defence.
Towards the end of the first half, Mounties defender Zac Zfiligoi pumped a long ball downfield but Berries' keeper Taylor again reacted well, bursting out of his penalty box and putting his body on the line to save the day yet again.
After a physical first half highlighted by some robust play and a few half-chances, the two sides went to the break level at nil-all. For the Berries, Moustakas impressed with his composure at the back; while Mounties' Anthony Schmidt created problems for the Berries with his pace and skill down the left flank; and Gonzalez set the alarm bells ringing whenever he touched the ball.
The Berries lifted their game early in the second half with Fornito and Coombes going close, but again, it was the visiting side who looked the most likely to score.
Their best opportunity arrived in the 76th minute when Hiroto Tokuichi nodded a point blank header from close range straight at Taylor. Open goal. Only the goalkeeper to beat. No dice. Had Tokuichi gone either side of the gloveman, the ball would almost certainly have hit the back of the net. However, it wasn't to be. In fact, this missed opportunity would ultimately prove to be a costly one.
With the game drawing to a close and an inevitable draw looming, Di Ruocco, who had been tormenting the Mounties' defence throughout the entire second half, delivered a low cross for Moustakas, who side-footed the ball past Fernandez and into the back of the net from close range.
Cruel luck for Mounties, who definitely created more opportunities than the home side; but a slice of fortune for a brave Berries side, who never gave up and pressed their opponents until the very end.
Moustakas, Di Ruocco and goalkeeper Taylor were outstanding for Bankstown; while Gonzalez, Schmidt and Fernandez stood out for Mounties.
As expected, Berries player-coach Perry Moustakas was delighted with his team's victory, but refused to make a fuss over his crucial fifth goal of the season.
"We got a very important three points today so we'll take that and move on," Moustakas told Football NSW. "We've had a strange year, and we've been in every game. Results haven't been fair on us and this week we spoke a lot about concentration, because that's an area we've lacked at crucial times during games.
"Mounties are a great footballing team and they showed their quality tonight. We just had to hang in there and stay in the game. I felt that the longer the game went on, we'd eventually get a chance. We did and we took it. I'm just glad the luck went our way for once and now we've got to move forward.
"We have a great team spirit and the boys have fought hard all season. But tonight we had to fight for the full 90 minutes and that's what we did."
When asked if there was a chance he'd move himself from the backline into the forwards, Moustakas laughed and replied:
"My goal was a simple tap-in that was set-up beautifully. I'm glad I scored it but if I didn't, somebody else would have."
Meanwhile, Mounties coach Lee Sterrey was disappointed that yet again, his side was unable to capitalise on several goal-scoring opportunities.
"We threw everything at them in the first half and tried to play up-tempo in the first 20 minutes especially," Sterrey told Football NSW. "I thought we had three guilt-edged chances early on, (but) we didn't take them. That has been the story of our season thus far. Really we should've had enough in the first 20 to lead the game by at least one. And we didn't take our chances, it's simple.
Sterrey added that he was happy with his side's football content, their 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," Sterrey said. "I mean, we had four gilt-edged chances 15-20 yards out in the first half and we didn't take any of them.
"Fair play to (Berries goalkeeper) Chad (Taylor), who pulled off a couple of good saves, but we had enough chances there to lead the game. We need to finish and we've got enough football quality to do that. Our defence has been pretty tight all year and then we leak a goal in the 90th minute. Fair play to the Berries, they kept coming and kept fighting. Their movement was good, their desire was good, and at the end of the day they take home the spoils."
Bankstown Berries 1 (Perry Moustakas 90') Mounties Wanderers 0
The Crest Athletic Centre
Saturday 6 May 2017
Bankstown Berries: 1. Chad Taylor (GK), 2. Dominic Tripodi, 3. D. Di Ruocco, 5. James Combes, 6. M. Farmer, 7. Kyle Ewart, 8. Domenic Hudap, 10. V. Giannini, 11. A. Vais, 12. Jake Bradshaw, 14. J. Bittar, 15. Perry Moustakas, 17. D. Fornito, 19. H. Tomohiro, 20. N. Mouzourakis, 21. J. Dimitrakas.
Yellow Cards: Domenic Hudap, V. Giannini
Player Coach: Perry Moustakas
Mounties Wanderers: 1. Jair Fernandez, 4. Todd Halloran, 6. Anthony Schmidt, 7. Neftali Gonzalez, 9. Michael Gaitatzis, 11. Mitchell Davidson, 13. Pasqualino Cappuccio, 14. Noah Chianese, 17. B. Ansah, 18. Michael Cklamovski, 20. Reid Taylor, 21. Alexander Josipovic, 28. Hiroto Tokuichi, 29. Jake Ingle, 33. Zac Zfiligoi
Yellow Cards: Jake Ingle
Coach: Lee Sterrey
Central Coast Mariners 3 North Shore Mariners 4, Pluim Park
North Shore Mariners showed their fighting spirit when they struck twice in the last seven minutes to defeat Central Coast Mariners 4-3 at Pluim Park on Saturday night.
Aaron Davis, Tadgh Purcell, Marquin Smith and Ricky Woodward scored for North Shore, while Sean Pratt, Duncan Stewart and Brenton Fox grabbed one each for the young Coasters.
"It was a very competitive game of football," North Shore coach Joe Haywood told Football NSW. "Central Coast had a good shape about them, they were well organised and disciplined and played football the right way. It was just a good game of football all round, a good tactical battle and a good physical battle as well."
Central Coast matched North Shore physically and they competed well, but according to Haywood, the young academy side lacked the ability to defend set pieces at key moments during the game.
"They had chances to go two goals up but didn't take them," Haywood said. "And eventually when they went 3-2 up, they thought they'd won the game. But in senior football it's not over until the final whistle and we kept going until the end, which paid dividends for us."
Haywood made some shrewd substitutions towards the end of the game, bringing on two strikers and an attacking fullback. The move was a courageous one and according to Haywood, "we went for it and got what we deserved".
When asked to name his team's standouts, the North Shore coach replied: "Club captain Ricky Woodward was my standout. At three-all and after a battle in the midfield and a lot of defensive work, he still had the desire to make a 30 or 40 yard run in the 90th minute, chased after a long ball and scored the winner, sending the keeper the wrong way. I thought that was outstanding from him and good leadership for the rest of the group."
Haywood also praised his side's fitness and their ability to play until the bitter end.
"We've been working hard at training on our fitness and performance and it came to fruition because we were still competing at the end of the game and we got the result that the boys deserved," he said.
Meanwhile, despite their defeat and their position on the bottom of the PS4 NPL 2 NSW table, Central Coast coach Ben Cahn remains upbeat about his side's ability and prospects for the future.
"We were by far the better team, we missed a host of goals and they scored four goals from four chances," Cahn told Football NSW. "I'm speechless to be honest. They (North Shore) turned up and played very little football. We set out to match them physically and match their direct style and I think we sprung some surprises on them."
Cahn said that tactically, North Shore had no answer to his young team, and when in the seventh minute Tadgh Purcell gave the visitors the lead from a corner, the strike came "against the run of play".
Central Coast equalised through Sean Pratt in the 16th minute before Duncan Stewart slotted home on the half hour. The home side led 2-1 at the break but North Shore equalised in the 72nd minute from a corner. Brenton Fox then gave Central Coast a 3-2 lead with just seven minutes remaining, boosting the youngsters' confidence and perhaps lulling them into a false sense of security. But North Shore had other ideas, and kept up the tempo to successfully steal the spoils at the death.
"We went 3-2 up with seven minutes to go, a really good goal to Brenton Fox," Cahn said. Then North Shore scored from another corner and somehow in injury time they scored with what I think was their only shot on target from open play in the game.
"We're really disappointed. We had a really tough week, we had some tough conversations with the boys about dealing with more physical and direct approaches and we knew that North Shore would probably be one of the most physical teams to play against. We dealt with it really well and other than the three set pieces, which were a real disappointment, we actually physically out-played them and out-fought them. We won that battle, we won that side of it and I was really proud of the players."
Cahn added that it must be heartbreaking for his players because "every week we play better football than the opposition, we play really well. We dominate but we get out-thought. This week we actually won the fight and they were really uncomfortable dealing with how we played. We defended comfortably from open play and they posed us no threat at all.
"Unfortunately, three corners, three goals and an innocuous strike from outside the box in injury time, which was probably the only time we switched off defensively, was enough for the opposition. Again we came out and conceded four goals which is really disheartening for the boys because where they've fallen short in previous weeks they've actually stood up and played with a lot of heart, a lot of character, a lot of fight.
"To be 3-2 up with seven minutes to go and to be in complete control of the game for 83 minutes was a real hard one to take. I still believe that we're one of the better sides in the league. If we can just get those one per centers right there's no reason why we can't get a run of eight, nine, ten wins because we haven't played a team yet that I don't think we can't beat. We're just lacking that depth, that experience, that maturity.
"It's been a difficult learning curve the first 10 games, but hopefully the boys will keep believing, keep improving. I thought yesterday was a massive improvement from where they've been so hopefully it's not long before someone looks down on us and gives us a little bit of luck."
Central Coast Mariners 3 (Duncan Stewart, Sean Pratt, Brenton Fox) North Shore Mariners 4 (Aaron Davis, Tadgh Purcell, Marquin Smith, Ricky Woodward)
Saturday 6 May 2017
Central Coast Mariners: 1. Adam Pearce (GK), 4. Reece Papadimitrios, 5. Jake McGuinness, 6. James Enticknap, 7. Lachlan Wales, 8. Thomas Lyons, 9. Brenton Fox, 10. Duncan Stewart, 11. Peter Kekeris, 12. Yerasimakis Petratos, 14. Sean Pratt, 16. Gianni Stensness, 17. Jack Kuipers, 18. Steve Whyte, 20. Aidan Munford (GK)
Yellow Cards: James Enticknap, Thomas Lyons
Coach: Ben Cahn
North Shore Mariners: 1. D. Maunder, 3. Chris Lindsay, 4. James Scott, 6. Ricky Woodward, 7. Joe Esposito, 8. Mitch Arcosa, 9. S. Tonkin, 10. Brayden Cheng, 11. Freddy Ankumah-Sey, 13. Marquin Smith, 18. Mitch Smith, 21. Aaron Davis, 27. Robbie Kerr, 28. Michael Stojanovski, 33. Tadgh Purcell, 36. Stefan Giglio (GK)
Yellow Cards: Mitch Arcosa, Brayden Cheng, Ricky Woodward, Scott Tonkin, James Scott, Tadgh Purcell
Coach: Joe Haywood
Northern Tigers 4 Bankstown City 2, North Turramurra Recreation Area
Northern Tigers got their season back on track with a comfortable 4-2 victory over Bankstown City Lions at North Turramurra on Saturday night.
For the Tigers, Jordan Smylie grabbed a hat-trick and Max Glanville scored one; while Nikola Todoroski grabbed a brace for the visitors.
Tigers coach Mark McCormick was disappointed with his side's 3-0 capitulation to Mt Druitt Town Rangers last week, a match in which the opposition smashed home three goals in the first 20 minutes.
The Scotsman vowed that his side wouldn't get off to such a sluggish start again and his side lived up to that promise by racing away to a 2-0 lead against the Lions after just 13 minutes.
"We dominated right from the start and it was pretty much a role reversal from last week," McCormick told Football NSW. "We got off to a good start and that always helps."
Jordan Smylie scored in the fourth and 13th minutes to give his side a 2-0 lead but Nikola Todoroski pulled one back for Bankstown around the half hour mark. Max Glanville then put the Tigers ahead 3-1 in the 37th minute and the home side held that lead at halftime.
"We moved the ball really well and were in control of the game," McCormick said. "We created several goal-scoring chances and moved them around. We controlled the whole field and that was certainly the most pleasing part of the performance."
When asked to name his standouts, McCormick replied: "Obviously (hat-trick hero) Jordan Smylie but everyone else played their part. It was a big effort from the club yesterday because we were smashed by injuries. We've been absolutely decimated so to get the win was really important. Both our central midfielders were only 19; Smylie is 17; so we're a very young team. We were good enough and it's a great result for the group."
Meanwhile, Bankstown coach Mile Todoroski again stressed how tough this campaign has been for his small squad of players.
"It's very hard," Todoroski told Football NSW. "Obviously it's very tough, very difficult. Our last four do not exist at all and middle four or five is confused all game and disoriented. We were totally outplayed in the first half and they (Northern Tigers) were completely on top of the game. But their four goals were very weak."
Bankstown remain on the bottom of the league and while the club is struggling big time, Todoroski isn't about to give up.
"As a coach I feel helpless but at the end of the day we don't have the time to sit down and cry," he said. "We have to fight and start to regroup and try to chase a miracle."
Northern Tigers 4 (Jordan Smylie 3, Max Glanville) Bankstown City Lions 2 (Nikola Todoroski 2)
North Turramurra Recreation Area
Saturday 7 May 2017
Northern Tigers: 1. Harrison Devenish-Meares (GK), 2. Josh Ward, 3. Jamie Craig, 4. Michael Rolston, 5. Alexander Brown, 6. Jordan Ferrier, 7. Joel Hardwick, 8. Max Glanville, 10. Lucas Dawson, 11. Lachlan Hughes, 13. Paul Turrin, 18. Joshua Tanner, 19. Ryan Peterson, 22. Z. Morris, 26. John Bachelard, 29. Jordan Smylie, 40. Benjamin Taylor.
Yellow Cards: Max Glanville, Jordan Smylie
Coach: Mark McCormick
Bankstown City: 1. Dion Shaw (GK), 2. Adem Kir, 5. Jeffrey Issa, 6. Aaron D'Mello, 7. Bruno Pivato, 8. David Mcmurray, 9. Nikola Todoroski, 10. Hussein Akil, 11. Huseyin Jasli, 12. Steven Valeski, 14. Mate Lucic, 21. Harry Timms, 26. J. Gorgovski, 27. Antonio Gauci
Coach: Mile Todoroski
Blacktown Spartans 0 Marconi Stallions 5, Blacktown Football Park
The real Marconi Stallions finally stood up and put the PS4 NPL 2 competition on notice with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over high-flying Blacktown Spartans at Blacktown Football Park on Saturday night.
Ace striker Sean Rooney grabbed four goals and Marko Jesic scored one as the Stallions showed just how potent they can be when they fire on all cylinders.
By virtue of their win and Western Sydney's shock loss at Macarthur, Marconi now sit alone on top of the table, three points clear of their main rivals.
Before this match, the Stallions hadn't put together a full 90 minute performance this season. But they certainly rectified that against a hapless Spartans on Saturday night. While we've seen glimpses of Marconi's brilliance during the season, this was finally the one instance when they took the game by the scruff of the neck and squeezed the life out of the opposition.
The Sky Blues raced to a 3-0 lead after just 26 minutes and added another two goals in the second half. Sure, Blacktown lost Emmanuel Elali to a red card but the result would probably have been well beyond the home side even with a full contingent of players.
Any team with former Socceroo Michael Beauchamp, and ex-A-Leaguers Peter Triantis, Marko Jesic, Sean Rooney and Mirjan Pavlovic, has the potential to wipe the floor with anyone in the competition. And unfortunately for the Spartans, it was them who copped the wrath of a side that on this performance, firmed as outright favourites to win PS4 NPL 2 NSW.
"I think the boys were just in the mood last night," Marconi coach Tony Candy told Football NSW. "They turned up and were in the mood. They showed what they can do and it was a good performance. We were quite aggressive and our attitude toward the match was perfect and everyone was on the same page. We kept the ball and made it very difficult for their back four.
"The boys haven't been happy with the way they've been playing and they took responsibility for that. They were in the mood last night and showed what they can do."
Candy said that he didn't expect the Spartans to be any different to every other opponent who sit deep and counter-attack.
"When our opponents look at our team and the forward line that we have, they automatically decide to sit deep and try to deny us time and space," Candy said. "We expect that every week and that was pretty much the way the Spartans approached the game. They really didn't come at us and didn't put us any pressure but were looking at hitting us on the counter."
Meanwhile, despite losing their entire squad and management team from last season, Blacktown has this season played with a vigor and conviction unbecoming of a side so young and inexperienced.
And they've bought into new coach Luis Contigiani's assertion that through belief, determination and hard work, the rewards will come. Indeed, their place in the top echelon of the league has proved their quality; but against a rampant Marconi, the youngsters from Sydney's west were on a hiding to nothing.
"I think we saved our worst performance of the season for the game against the best team in the competition," Contigiani told Football NSW. "We were our worst enemies. My defensive line was half asleep and we conceded in the first minute. You can't afford to be asleep against such a quality team. So we were already on the back foot from the first minute. Then we conceded a free kick in the 10th minute and they scored again.
"We had a player sent off (Emmanuel Elali) and that was the end for our boys. But to be honest, psychologically they had us beaten before the game even started. Experience played its hand.
"They were far superior than us but I was very disappointed in my team because everything we told them at training during the week and everything we asked of them, they didn't do. It's a massive learning curve for them as young players and now we have to learn from the experience and move on."
Blacktown Spartans 0 Marconi Stallions 5 (Sean Rooney 4, Marko Jesic)
Blacktown Football Park
Saturday 6 May 2017
Blacktown Spartans: 42. Jacob Forster (GK), 2. Daisan Kim, 3. Emmanuel Elali, 4. Tiano Boutoubia, 6. Mohamad Rahimi, 7. Michael Konestabo (13. Brendon Bezzina 33'), 8. Aaron White, 10. Kojiro Hori, 11. Alex Boyadijan, 16. Alessandro Pecora (12. Alessandro Pecora 60'), 20. Mitchell Cross (5. James Letta 39')
Unused Subs: 15. Andre Giolosa, 50. Hugh Brown
Yellow Cards: James Letta, Aaron White
Red Cards: Emmanuel Elali 37'
Coach: Luis Contigiani
Marconi Stallions: 1. Nenad Vekic (GK), 4. Dhari Alsaad, 5. Michael Beauchamp, 7. Mirjan Pavlovic (40. Fabian Monge 69'), 8. Sean Rooney (11. Sam Perre 58'), 10. Marko Jesic, 14. Peter Pelekanos, 18. Peter Triantis (19. Eros Bergamin 57'), 22. Brandon Vella, 23. Christopher Nunes, 25. Sam Burfoot
Unused Subs: 2. Stefan Dubocanin, 21. Kristian Sekuthoski
Yellow Cards: Sam Burfoot, Marko Jesic, Peter Pelekanos,
Coach: Tony Candy
Macarthur Rams 2 Western Sydney Wanderers 1, Lynwood Park
Macarthur Rams passed their biggest test of the season with flying colours when they upset competition favourites Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 at Lynwood Park on Saturday night.
Kurdvan Abduljabbar scored both goals to extend his side's unbeaten streak to five games; while Abraham Majok pulled one back for the Wanderers.
As expected, Rams coach Eddie Briscoe was delighted with his side's performance and said that despite the hardship of the early rounds of the competition, they've been showing plenty of improvement every week.
"We're doing our best and at the end of the day we're going in there positive and things are working," Briscoe told Football NSW. "We were really positive last night; we tried to play high, put them under pressure and try and contain them. And it worked."
Briscoe added that both sides had good chances and as expected, the Wanderers had the majority of possession.
"They're a possession-based team and around the front third they hold possession and put you under pressure around the edge of the box. But they didn't penetrate as well as they could, and we actually defended really well. They didn't really have any clear chances whereas we probably had two or three breakaways where we were one-on-one with the keeper and just bad decision-making cost us."
The two sides went into halftime level at nil-all but in the 52nd minute Macarthur received a penalty, which Kurdvan Abduljabbar slotted home for a 1-0 lead. Ten minutes later Western Sydney equalised through Majok before Abduljabbar scored the winner in the 74th minute.
"We tried to play a bit more direct because the Wanderers play a bit flat at the back and we got over the top a couple of times," Briscoe said. "We got a cross in and Kurdy (Abduljabbar) got a good finish. From that we defended stoutly and held on for the win.
It was a really good game and we played really well."
When asked what impressed him the most about his side's performance, Briscoe replied: "We're improving every week and we're starting to play football. We're getting confident and being very positive.
"Wanderers coach Trevor Morgan is doing a fantastic job with those kids, mate. They play really good football but I think decision-making in the final third is what cost them. Thank God for that because they're a good footballing team and Trevor's got a good reputation for developing young players and he's doing a great job. They're fantastic to sit and watch.
"But our boys were brilliant, we're sticking to the cause and putting teams under pressure. And we can play.
"It was a team effort although I'll give a special mention to the defence because they marshalled really well. Matty Trotter got through so much work and the whole team performed really well."
Meanwhile, Wanderers coach Trevor Morgan said that while he was disappointed his side didn't capitalise on their chances in front of goal, Macarthur did a good job and stayed true to their gameplan.
"We had 65 per cent of the ball again and twice as many box entries as they had," Morgan said. "That's doesn't get you the points so in general I think we still controlled the majority of the match and unfortunately the telling moments fell their way. They're the lessons our young boys need to learn."
Morgan added that despite their dominance, Western Sydney's decision-making could have been better, while the opposition defended with a desperation that was difficult to penetrate.
When asked what the difference was between the two sides, "Morgan replied: "Obviously their physicality is their strength but I think that we probably didn't defend our box to the standard we expect. It certainly wasn't a game where there were any oustanding individuals on our part. As a team we were probably making the wrong decisions and we probably had too many people who rated a five or a six out of ten rather than an eight (out of ten)."
Despite the loss, Western Sydney share second place on the table with Blacktown Spartans, three points below Marconi.
Macarthur Rams 2 (Kurdvan Abduljabbar 32', 74') Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Abraham Majok 62')
Saturday 6 May 2017
Macarthur Rams: 1. Nikola Matic, 2. Craig Cooley, 3. Danny Lazarevski, 8. Matthew Trotter, 10. Ben Cornish, 11. Damien Travis, 13. Alex Lazarevski, 14. Kurdvan Abduljabbar, 15. Mason Versi, 16. Mitch Di Pietro, 17. Sho Arakawa, 19. Jordan Ward, 27. Regan Suters.
Yellow Cards: Nikola Matic, Damien Travis
Coach: Eddie Briscoe
Western Sydney Wanderers: 2. Lachlan Campbell, 5. Mathieu Cordier, 6. Cameron Devlin, 8. Charles Abou Serhal, 9. Kyle Cimenti, 10. Emmanuel Gonzalez, 15. B. Currey, 16. Jerry Skotakis, 18. Oliver Puflett, 20. Daniel Axford (GK), 22. Matthew Lecce, 24. Tate Russell, 26. Jackson Bandiera, 40. Nick Suman (GK), 50. Tariq Maia
Yellow Cards: B. Currey
Coach: Trevor Morgan
Hills Brumbies 1 Spirit FC 1, Lilys Football Centre
Hills Brumbies and Spirit FC shared the spoils in a one-all draw at Lilys Football Centre on Saturday night.
Jake Harris opened the scoring for Spirit from the penalty spot in the 68th minute, while Hills' Sean Mitchell equalised with just four minutes remaining.
"It was a fairly even game to be honest," Hills coach Dan Sheppard told Football NSW. "A draw was probably a fair scoreline on the balance of play but Spirit will probably feel aggrieved they didn't win the game because they had probably the best chance of the game that they missed, which would have put them 2-1 ahead with just two minutes to go."
When asked if he was happy with his side's performance, Sheppard replied: "Yes and no. We could've done more in attack but it was a game dominated by a midfield battle and neither team had many chances on goal. But Spirit had the better chances, including the open-goal tap-in they missed at the end of the game."
When asked to name his standouts, Sheppard said there weren't any but his side's performance was an improvement on last week, when they suffered a shock loss to Bankstown City Lions.
"We're just happy to get a point because these are the sort of games that can quite easily get away from you."
Meanwhile, Spirit FC coach David Perkovic was pleased with his side's performance but disappointed they couldn't capitalise on their opportunities.
"We set up a little bit differently than what we have been," Perkovic told Football NSW. "We were in control of the game and I think that we asked more questions of them than they did of us. But it was a good competitive match, one I felt that we should've got three points for."
According to Perkovic, Spirit has in their last three matches created more goal-scoring opportunities than their opponents, but their inability to finish has been a major frustration.
"I have to admit that our efforts in the last three games has been quite good," Perkovic said. "In all three of those matches we've created more goal-scoring opportunities than our opponents. However, there's still a bit of a problem converting those chances but I'm confident that once we're able to overcome that then we'll be able to bury teams when we should.
"We missed an open goal against Hillsand we had a couple of opportunities where a pass would have been the better option than a shot. We definitely had more opportunities to kill off the game but it wasn't to be."
When asked to name his side's standouts, Perkovic replied: "It was a good group effort. Jake Harris played in a new role and I was quite pleased with his efforts in the middle of the park; while our stand-in captain Grant Cornwell was outstanding as he has been all season."
Hills Brumbies 1 (Sean Mitchell 86') Spirit FC 1 (Jake Harris 68')
Lilys Football Centre
Saturday 6 May 2017
Hills Brumbies: 1. Josh Stancic (GK), 3. Nicholas Pradenas Meza, 6. Bradley Robertson, 7. Wade Giovenali, 8. Eoin Montford, 9. Sean Mitchell, 11. Daine Merrin (C), 16. Greg Giovenali, 17. Brendon Hoyer, 19. Glenn Kelshaw, 21. Nick Dimitriadis, 24. Nathan Rayner, 28. Kieran Pace, 45. Jake Basden, 69. Alister Bruce, 91. Peter Cejka.
Yellow Cards: Greg Giovenali, Wade Giovenali, Glenn Kelshaw, Kieran Pace, Nicholas Pradenas Meza, Bradley Robertson
Coach: Dan Sheppard
Spirit FC: 1. Murray Nelson (GK), 3. Jack Musgrave, 4. Michael Streeter, 5. Andy Robertson, 7. Jake Harris, 8. Grant Cornwell, 9. Chris Godoy Bascur, 10. Chris Gomez, 12. Louis Bozanic, 16. Sidhya Malhotra, 17. Yuya Samba, 18. Bradley Gibson, 20. Adrian Epifanino, 21. Zoran Kolundzic, 26. James Webb (GK)
Yellow Cards: Louis Bozanic, Jack Musgrave, Michael Streeter
Coach: David Perkovic
St George 1 Mt Druitt Town Rangers 3, Seymour Shaw Park
Mt Druitt Town Rangers came back from a goal down to beat St George 3-1 in a nail-biter at Seymour Shaw Park on Sunday.
Saints opened the scoring through Spanish sensation Juan Carlos Romero late in the first half to lead 1-0 at the break. But Rangers equalised in the 54th before snatching two late goals to steal the spoils.
In his first game back from injury, Rangers goal-scoring ace Kuag Reec was brought down inside the box in the 54th minute, giving Daniel Mccann the chance to slot home the equaliser from the spot.
Reec then held his nerve eight minutes from the end of normal time, to steer the ball into the net to give his side a 2-1 lead. But Mt Druitt weren't finished as Mitchell Mclintock put his name on the scoresheet four minutes into injury time after capitalising on a fine pass from Alex Vlismas.
"We showed a lot of character to come back from 1-0 down at halftime," Mt Druitt coach Aidan Desmond told Football NSW. "We also lost our keeper Carlos Saliadarre who not only suffered a concussion in the second half but also an ankle injury before being replaced by Joel Tinker, who did a good job."
Desmond praised his side for grinding out the win, a collective performance that now sees the Rangers sitting in fifth place on the table.
"We're not getting carried away because there's still a long way to go, but it's good to see that we're starting get some consistency," Desmond said.
Desmond also praised Kuag Reec, whose return has put an extra spring into the step of his teammates.
"The boys lifted mentally with Kuag on the park," Desmond said of the sharpshooter who hadn't played since last season. "He trained with the team on Thursday night for the first time and the mood and the spirit in the team was different."
Prior to last week's 3-0 win over Northern Tigers Mt Druitt had been through a rough patch. They couldn't score. They were inconsistent and they struggled to compete. But now, after two wins in as many weeks, the wheels seem to be turning in the right direction, slowly but surely. Desmond's boys are certainly back in the mix.
St George 1 (Juan Carlos Romero) Mt Druitt Town Rangers 3 (Daniel Mccann, Kuag Reec, Mitchell Mclintock)
Seymour Shaw Park
Sunday 7 May 2017
St George: Matt Lynch (GK), 3. Ali Nasreddine, 4. Jonathan Kontalis, 5. Jayden Mcleod, 6. Zac Ribeiro, 7. Robbie Deasy, 8. Tarik Ercan (C), 9. Stevan Ilic, 10. Nicholas Paras, 11. Orman Okunaiya, 14. Jacob Bandur, 16. Daniel Loe, 18. David Ilic, 19. Anthony Morabito, 20. Juan Carlos Heras Romero, 34. Daniel Mitwali, 38. M. Kotzambasis, 45. Anthony Barca.
Coach: Terry Palapanis
Mt Druitt Town Rangers: 1. Carlos Saliadarre (GK), 2. Hiten Satoh, 3. Brian Griffin-Colls, 5. David Mavisa, 6. Alexander Vlismas, 7. Chriss Loucos, 8. Matthew Clowes, 9. Mitchell Mclintock, 10. Nathan Ralph, 12. Nicholas Trimble, 14. Daniel Mccann, 16. Scott Goodwin, 17. Aram Tayebi Derazkala, 18. Jamie Dib, 21. Joel Tinker (GK), 23. Lachlan Roberts, Kuag Reec
Coach: Aidan Desmond
-By Derek Royal, Football NSW Reporter