Round 12 of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues' 2 NSW Men's competition proved yet again just how unpredictable and competitive this season has turned out to be, with more upsets and more talking points to mull over until Round 13 kicks off next week.
In the upset of the round, a young Northern Tigers outfit beat a white-hot Marconi 5-2 at North Turramurra, totally discarding the form guide that had in the past fortnight seen the Stallions score 10 goals in two games.
The Tigers played out of their skin to lead 4-1 at the break and as hard as they tried, the Stallions just couldn't bridge the gap in the remaining 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, Central Coast Mariners scored eight goals to nil in an annihilation of bottom-placed Bankstown City, a performance that showed just how potent the young Coasters can be when the stars align and opportunities are taken.
In another surprising result, North Shore Mariners slaughtered Bankstown Berries 5-0, a side that in the past fortnight had beaten title contenders Western Sydney and Mounties.
In other matches, St George beat Spirit 3-1 in the match of the round to climb up to second-equal with Western Sydney; Mt Druitt Town Rangers beat Macarthur 1-0 to end the Rams' unbeaten run at six matches; Western Sydney and Mounties shared the spoils in a one-all draw; and Hills Brumbies beat Blacktown Spartans 4-1 at Lilys Football Centre.
Match of the Round
St George 3 Spirit FC 1
A contender for Goal of the Season helped St George to a 3-1 win over Spirit FC on Saturday night, the victory moving the Saints into joint second on the PS4 NPL 2 ladder.
It is the first time this season that St George has managed to win two on the trot, and similarly to last week’s come-from-behind win against Bankstown City, again the Saints had to recover after going a goal down early.
But it was David Ilic’s strike right before half time which was the talk of the game. With the score at 1-1 and parity likely heading into the break, Ilic spotted the Spirit keeper James Webb off his line, and with a strike from well on half way, let fly with a thunderbolt which flew over the defence and the keeper to nestle under the bar. It was so sweetly hit, and accurate, that a goal seemed likely the moment it left the boot. It drew roars from the crowd in the stand, lifting many to their feet.
It was a goal which put St George in front for the first time on the night, and not without just reward.
Spirit had taken an early lead in under two minutes after a free kick was spilled by Daniel Sadaka in the Saints goal, leaving Louis Bozanic to get to the loose ball first, and put Spirit one up.
But despite the early loss of a goal, St George recovered well and set about the task of notching one or two of their own. They dominated much of the play, with Nicholas Paras influential in the middle of the park, his distribution as he looked to set up Juan Carlos Romero, or Rino Zenari out wide, a telling factor. An equaliser duly came, even if a scramble in the end, but Robbie Deasy headed home at the far post, after sustained pressure.
There was plenty of attacking intent from St George, not happy with just the one, and Paras missed by a whisker with a direct free kick from twenty five metres out.
Chris Godoy Bascur had a flick on which was held by Sadaka, as Spirit looked to make some ground, but with the time running out, for the first half at least, David Ilic struck.
But if St George had the run of the first half, Spirit took control of the second.
For a good thirty minutes, the visitors had the Saints largely pinned in their own half, and came close on a couple of occasions, even if it is fair to say they were half chances at best. Grant Cornwell had a cross which flashed across the face of goal, skimming just wide of the far upright and Yuya Samba struck with a direct free kick which drew a decent save from Sadaka,
Sadaka was to show a safe pair of hands for much of the game, cleanly taking plenty that Spirit attempted, and along with a backline which was defending stoutly, the Saints were able to keep Spirit at bay.
Their chances to increase their lead arose late in the game, a quick counter attack almost paying dividends when Stevan Ilic, on only minutes earlier, almost put clear Juan Carlos Romero, but with just a trifle too much on the ball.
But when Ali Nasreddine was brought down in the box by Zoran Kolundzic, with twelve minutes left on the clock, the Saints had their chance to seal the result. And Stevan Ilic, not to be outdone by his younger sibling, converted promptly from the spot for 3-1.
He almost made it four in the dying moments, but the three goals proved sufficient.
It was a timely win for St George, only their first at home this season, on the field at least, while not since July 2011 have the Saints beaten Spirit FC, the past eight attempts having proved winless. This victory will have least set that record to rights.
St George 3 (Robbie Deasy 22’, David Ilic 45’, Stevan Ilic 78’ pen) beat Spirit FC 1 (Louis Bozanic 2’)
At Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Saturday 20 May 2017
Referee: Scott Edeling
Assistant Referees: Nikola Tatalo and Chris Wells
St George: 68. Daniel Sadaka 2. Thomas Menton 3. Ali Nasreddine 7. Robbie Deasy 10. Nicholas Paras (9. Stevan Ilic 72’) 14. Jacob Bandur 17. Rino Zenari (19. Anthony Morabito 86’) 18. David Ilic (16. Daniel Loe 67’) 20. Juan Carlos Heras Romero 24. Tarik Ercan (c) 34. Daniel Mitwali.
Subs not used: 4. Johnathan Kontalis 21. Matthew Williamson
Yellow Cards: Nil
Coach: Terry Palapanis
Spirit FC: 26. James Webb 5. Andrew Robertson 7. Jacob Harris 8. Grant Cornwell (c) 9. Chris Godoy Bascur 10. Chris Gomez 12. Louis Bozanic (22. Adrian Epifanino 27’, rep by 19. Ivan Separovic 78’) 17. Yuya Samba 18. Brad Gibson (6. Alexander Doyle 69’) 20. Tim Porter 21. Zoran Kolundzic.
Subs not used: 1. Murray Nelson 14. Sidhya Malhotra.
Yellow Cards: Grant Cornwell and Andrew Robertson
Coach: David Perkovic
By Peter Rowney
Central Coast Mariners 8 Bankstown City 0
Central Coast Mariners sent a warning shot to the rest of their PS4 NPL 2 rivals in a stunning 8-0 thrashing of Bankstown City Lions at Pluim Park on Saturday.
In a sublime effort, Brenton Fox scored four goals, while Lachlan Wales and Duncan Stewart grabbed two each.
Despite struggling for results this season, Mariners coach Ben Cahn has constantly praised his side's performances, even when they were sitting in second-last place on the table. Indeed, a couple of weeks ago the Central Coast mentor suggested that it wouldn't be long before his side led someone 6-0 at halftime, such were the amount of opportunities they were creating in the front third.
Cahn's words proved to be prophetic on Saturday as the Mariners hit Bankstown early with an up-tempo, intense start to the game, racing ahead to a 6-0 lead at the break.
"A couple of weeks ago I said it won't be long before we're 6-0 up at halftime against someone," Cahn laughed when speaking to Football NSW.
"But I'm under no illusions that Bankstown are doing it really tough at the moment. We knew that if we could start well and score early that would be a big dent in their confidence and belief. So we focused really hard on executing the gameplan right from the start: playing with a high tempo and being really positive.
"Strangely enough it wasn't too different to a lot of our first half performances this season where we've played really well and created a lot of chances. In this case though we took all of our chances and like I said it wouldn't be long before we're six-nil up against someone at halftime."
After racing to such a significant lead, the Mariners cruised in the second half and were still rewarded with two good goals. But despite winning by the highest margin of any team so far this season, Cahn refused to get carried away.
"We're not getting too far ahead of ourselves because there were still times in yesterday's game where I don't think we played very well. There were still some mistakes made, there were still some things that we can improve on massively. It's just still trying to strive for that consistency in the level of performance."
When asked who stood out for his side, Cahn replied: "Brenton Fox scored four and Duncan Stewart grabbed two and they were a constant threat all night and caused problems every time we went forward. Lachie Wales was good; we had young central defender Michael Glassock make his debut for us and he played himself into the game very well. He was very composed and a threat from setpieces for and against. Obviously when you score eight goals the front players will get the accolades, but really it was just a nice, complete team performance."
Central Coast Mariners 8 (Brenton Fox 4, Duncan Stewart 2, Lachlan Wales 2) beat Bankstown City Lions 0
At Pluim Park
Saturday 20 May 2017
Central Coast Mariners: 1. Adam Pearce (GK), 2. Shelford Dais, 4. Michael Glassock, 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. S Kamara, 16. Gianni Stensness, 17. Jack Kuipers, 18. Steve Whyte, 20. Aidan Munford (GK), L Wilson.
Coach: Ben Cahn
Bankstown City: 1. Dion Shaw (GK), 3. A Bercerra, 5. Jeffrey Issa, 6. Aaron D'Mello, 7. Bruno Pivato, 8. David McMurray, 9. Nikola Todoroski, 10. Hussein Akil, 11. Huseyin Jasli, 12. Steven Veleski, 13. S Tarazona, 14. Mate Lucic, 17. Davide Talone, 21. Harry Timms, 22. D Jakimovski, 26. J. Gorgovski, 27. Antonio Gauci, 28. A Tanevski, S Tarazona
Yellow Cards: Dion Shaw, S Tarazona
Coach: Mile Todoroski
Northern Tigers 5 Marconi Stallions 2
Northern Tigers scored the upset of the round with a 5-2 victory over a Marconi Stallions side that has been in white-hot form in the past fortnight.
Tigers' striker Ryan Peterson scored a hat-trick and Ally Brown scored twice; while for Marconi Sean Rooney grabbed both his side's goals.
Marconi had scored 10 goals from their last two matches but that meant nothing to the young Tigers outfit who ripped home four to lead 4-1 at halftime.
Hampered by some serious injury concerns and fielding an inexperienced lineup, the Tigers were expected to face an uphill battle against a side considered to be the most talented in the league.
But someone forgot to tell coach Mark McCormick and his band of merry young men.
"We dominated from start to finish and although they scored first we led 4-1 at halftime," McCormick told Football NSW. "We just moved them around and played our game and it worked for us. Our lead at halftime was deserved."
But despite leading 4-1 at the break, McCormick knew the Stallions would "throw the kitchen sink" at his side in the second half.
"They came out and played direct in the second half, and we went toe to toe with them," McCormick said. "We had the domination but we also had the steel and the grit when it was required. That was definitely what was most pleasing."
McCormick also stressed that while striker Ryan Peterson scored a hat-trick and Ally Brown grabbed two goals, the victory was based on a solid team performance, one that not only impressed the Tigers' coach, but also the opposition.
"When you're opposing a team that has a former international (Michael Beauchamp) and six former A-League players, players who've played at the highest level of the game, and they come up to me and our players and say that we thoroughly deserved the win and we were better than them all over the field, is fantastic," McCormick said.
"The biggest compliment to me was when Beauchamp came up and said he could see that our boys all work for each other and he could tell we were a team of young players. That's the best compliment we can have. When people who've been around the game like him are saying things like that, it's fantastic. It was a proud day to be associated with my boys."
Northern Tigers 5 (Ryan Peterson 3, Ally Brown 2) beat Marconi Stallions 2 (Sean Rooney 2)
At North Turramurra Recreation Area
Saturday 20 May 2017
Northern Tigers: 1. Harrison Devenish-Meares (GK), 3. Jamie Craig, 4. Michael Rolston, 5. Ally Brown, 6. Jordan Ferrier, 7. Joel Hardwick, 10. Lucas Dawson, 11. Lachlan Hughes, 13. Paul Turrin, 17. Kyohei Kimura, 19. Ryan Peterson, 26. John Bachelard, 29. Jordan Smylie, 40. Benjamin Taylor.
Yellow Cards: 11. Lachlan Hughes, 26. John Bachelard
Coach: Mark McCormick
Marconi Stallions: 1. Nenad Vekic (GK), 4. Dhari Alsaad, 5. Michael Beauchamp, 7. Mirjan Pavlovic, 8. Sean Rooney, 10. Marko Jesic, 11. Sam Perre, 14. Peter Pelekanos, 16. Aron Berg, 18. Peter Triantis, 19. Eros Bergamin, 21. Kristian Sekuthoski, 22. Brandon Vella, 23. Christopher Nunes, 25. Sam Burfoot.
Yellow Cards: 14. Peter Pelekanos
Coach: Tony Candy
Macarthur Rams 0 Mt Druitt Town Rangers 1
Macarthur Rams' unbeaten run came to end when Mt Druitt Town Rangers beat the locals 1-0 at Lynwood Park on Saturday night.
Mt Druitt's Brian Griffin-Colls scored from the penalty spot just on the stroke of halftime.
Macarthur hadn't been beaten in six matches and according to disappointed Rams coach Eddie Briscoe, their unbeaten run should have been extended to seven.
"We played well and we were the better team," Briscoe told Football NSW. "We created some good chances but we couldn't score. We hit the post with an open goal at our mercy and their keeper pulled off a great save from close range. They got a penalty which I don't think was a penalty, and that changed the game. But at the end of the day if you don't score goals you don't win games."
Briscoe added that while his side carved Mt Druitt up out wide and created some good opportunities, Rangers' half-chances were from Rams mistakes.
"It's very disappointing and I feel sick because the boys worked so hard," Briscoe said. "Every game's a battle in this league and you've got to be on your game to get a result. Unfortunately, it wasn't our night."
Meanwhile, Mt Druitt coach Aidan Desmond said the game was a tight one with nothing between the sides.
"I don't think there was any difference between the two sides," Desmond told Football NSW. "If anything I'd say a little bit of luck went our way last night and we scored a goal.
"Lynwood Park is always a difficult place to get a result and the Rams are always a good side. They work very hard and they've got plenty of pace across the park. It's never easy out there.
"Our boys just worked hard, they ground it out and got a clean sheet. We just went back to basics and worked solid across the park."
Mt Druitt Town Rangers 1 (Brian Griffin-Colls) beat Macarthur Rams 0
At Lynwood Park
Saturday 20 May 2017
Macarthur Rams: 1. Nikola Matic, 2. Craig Cooley, 3. Danny Lazarevski, 4. Simon Valastro, 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: 4. Simon Valastro, 15. Mason Versi
Coach: Eddie Briscoe
Mt Druitt Town Rangers: 1. Carlos Saliadarre (GK), 2. Hiten Satoh, 3. Brian Griffin-Colls, 6. Alexander Vlismas, 7. Chriss Loucos, 8. Matthew Clowes, 9. Kuag Reec, 10. Nathan Ralph, 11. M McLintock, 13. Lord Darkoh, 14. Daniel McCann, 15. A Guzman, 17. Aram Tayebi Derazkala, 18. Jamie Dib, 21. Joel Tinker (GK)
Yellow Cards: 7. Chris Loucous, 8. Matthew Clowes, 9. Kuag Reec
17. Aram Tayebi Derazkala
Coach: Aidan Desmond
Bankstown Berries 0 North Shore Mariners 5
North Shore Mariners pumped Bankstown Berries 5-0 in a scintillating performance at The Crest Athletic Centre on Saturday night.
Marquin Smith and Mitchell Smith scored two goals apiece, while Brayden Cheng scored one.
Both sides entered the match equal on 14 points on the ladder but such is the unpredictability of this season's competition that it's a difficult task predicting the outcome of games on a weekly basis.
The Berries have provided shock value in recent weeks, defeating contenders Mounties and Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0 in successive games, while the Mariners had only won one game in their last six. Nobody saw a 5-0 scoreline coming.
Mariners coach Joe Haywood made a few changes to his starting eleven and implemented a new gameplan. The changes worked a treat.
"I made a few changes just to keep everyone on their toes," Haywood told Football NSW. "We're a squad, there's no superstars and we all work together as a group. The boys compete well for places at training every week, which I think is great."
When asked what impressed him the most about his side's five star performance, Haywood replied: "I think it was our attacking intent. The score was five but it could've been more. We had two definite one-on-ones that we should've scored from.
"In recent weeks we've been conceding goals but we also knew that we had a good defensive structure for the previous eight games before that, so overall what inspired the group was to keep a clean sheet. We know we can score goals but we wanted to keep a clean sheet and we're happy we did that."
Haywood added that while each of the goalscorers performed well, he believed it was his side's collective excellence that won the day.
"The goal-scorers always get the plaudits but the boys at the back and the goalkeeper obviously played their part in keeping the clean sheet, which was our goal. As a group I think we all reached our aims for the game."
North Shore Mariners 5 (Marquin Smith 2. Mitch Smith 2, Braden Cheng) beat Bankstown Berries 0
At The Crest Athletic Centre
Saturday 20 May 2017
Bankstown Berries: 1. Chad Taylor (GK), 3. D. Di Ruocco, 4. T Raftopoulos, 5. James Combes, 6. M. Farmer, 7. Kyle Ewart, 8. Domenic Hudap, 9. B Cook, 10. V. Giannini, 11. A. Vais, 12. Jake Bradshaw, 15. Perry Moustakas, 17. D. Fornito, 19. H. Tomohiro, 20. N. Mouzourakis, 21. J. Dimitrakas.
Yellow cards: 17. D. Fornito, 8. Domenic Hudap 19. H. Tomohiro
Player Coach: Perry Moustakas
North Shore Mariners: 1. D. Maunder, 3. Chris Lindsay, 4. James Scott, 6. Ricky Woodward, 8. Mitch Arcosa, 9. S. Tonkin, 10. Brayden Cheng, 11. Freddy Ankumah-Sey, 12. S Toth, 13. Marquin Smith, 18. Mitch Smith, 21. Aaron Davis, 23. C Desa, 27. Robbie Kerr, 28. Michael Stojanovski, 36. Stefan Giglio (GK)
Coach: Joe Haywood
Hills Brumbies 4 Blacktown Spartans 1
Hills Brumbies bounced back from last week's 5-1 defeat to Marconi to put the sword to Blacktown Spartans 4-1 at Lilys Football Centre on Saturday night.
Hills coach Dan Sheppard was expecting a tough match from a Spartans team that had started the season with a hiss and a roar only to be broadsided by a deduction of six points for playing a suspended player in the opening two rounds of the competition.
The teams went to the sheds with the score locked at one-all and while the final scoreline may have given the match a one-sided look, the margin actually flattered the winners.
"The scoreline was very flattering for us and on another day it could've been a draw to be honest," Sheppard told Football NSW. "Two of our goals were penalties and the Spartans will be very unhappy and feel very unfairly treated."
The Spartans started the game well and opened the scoring in the ninth minute. Hills equalised in the 37th minute and took the lead through a Greg Giovenali penalty midway through the second half. Giovenali struck from the spot again in the 87th minute before Peter Cejka grabbed a late goal in stoppage time.
"The scoreline flatters us because we scored two late goals," Sheppard said. "The difference between the two sides was we were better with our chances in front of goal."
When asked what impressed him the most about his side's performance, Sheppard replied:
"We weren't playing well in the first half, we were down 1-0 and we'd suffered some bad results in recent weeks, so we could easily have lost our confidence and dropped our heads. But we didn't. We dug deep and got the equaliser and from there things just literally worked for us.
"But as good as we were at times, the result was still very harsh on Spartans. I think we have to take a big reality check because they still opened us up a couple of times and should've scored. (Hills goalkeeper) Josh Stancic made a couple of excellent saves that kept us in the game and the last two goals we scored were very late, so that blew the scoreline out. A lot of praise needs to go to Spartans."
Hills Brumbies 4 (Greg Giovenali 2, Peter Cejka) beat Blacktown Spartans 1
At Lilys Football Centre
Saturday 20 May 2017
Hills Brumbies: 1. Josh Stancic (GK), 5. M Zarantonello, 6. Bradley Robertson, 7. Wade Giovenali, 8. Eoin Montford, 9. Sean Mitchell, 11. Daine Merrin (C), 14. V Anyimba, 15. Matias Toro Suazo, 16. Greg Giovenali, 17. Brendon Hoyer, 19. Glenn Kelshaw, 21. Nick Dimitriadis, 24. Nathan Rayner, 69. Alastair Bruce, 91. Peter Cejka.
Yellow Cards: 16. Greg Giovenali, 21. Nick Dimitriadis, 8. Eoin Montford
Coach: Dan Sheppard
Blacktown Spartans: 40. Jacob Forster (GK), 2. Daisan Kim, 4. Tiano Boutoubia, 5. James Letta, 6. Mohamad Rahimi, 7. Michael Konestabo, 8. Aaron White, 10. Kojiro Hori, 11. Mitchell Cross, 12. Richard Blanco, 13. Brendon Bezzina, 15. A Gioiosa, 18. Alex Boyadijan, 23. O Dullak, 50. H Brown
Coach: Luis Contigiani
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 Mounties Wanderers 1
Western Sydney Wanderers and Mounties Wanderers shared the spoils in a one-all draw at Sydney United Sports Centre on Saturday night.
Wanderers' Kyle Cimenti opened the scoring in the 39th minute while Noah Chianese equalised for Mounties just shy of the hour.
Western Sydney coach Trevor Morgan was hoping his side could get their season back on track after two losses in as many weeks, and was pleased with the result against a Mounties side that parked the bus in the first 45 minutes.
"Mounties played very deep in the first half and were very content to drop off which presented problems for our boys and they had to solve that," Morgan told Football NSW. "In the second half Mounties changed tactics and pressed us hard and they got a goal, which opened up the game.
"I think we did very well. Again we faced someone who employed different tactics during a game. An experienced coach like Lee (Sterrey) is always going to make some changes during the play and it's good for us. It gives us different things to respond to."
"I was disappointed for the boys but pleased with certain aspects of the performance, which were excellent.
"I'm very happy with their efforts because it was an improvement on recent weeks and we're still in second place on the ladder."
Meanwhile, Mounties coach Lee Sterrey was pleased with the result, especially after losing playmaker Neftali Gonzalez to a back injury before kickoff.
"We sat deep in the first half and played a 5-2-3 which for different reasons I thought would hurt Western Sydney," Sterrey told Football NSW. "To be fair they probably had 80 per cent possession in the first half but we never conceded until the 39th minute."
Sterrey added that sitting deep requires the ability to break quickly but due to a turnover rate that he described as "terrible for a first grade side", Mounties' efforts were ineffective.
"Our retention of the ball where we setup, where we wanted to play, wasn't good enough," Sterrey explained. "We spoke about that at halftime and I gave the boys a bit of stick about showing some character and pride in the shirt and playing for Mounties. It worked."
Mounties reverted to a 4-3-3 formation in the second half and the side rallied brilliantly, equalising just shy of the hour.
"I was really proud of their effort," Sterrey said. "Everybody stood up and everybody pressed their players. They pressed high up the field and their movement that led to our goal was excellent. In the second half, our comeback and our determination to get something out of the game was fantastic."
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Kyle Cimenti) drew with Mounties Wanderers 1 (Noah Chianese)
At Sydney United Sports Centre
Saturday 20 May 2017
Western Sydney Wanderers: 2. Lachlan Campbell, 5. Mathieu Cordier, 6. Cameron Devlin, 8. Charles Abou Serhal, 9. Kyle Cimenti, 15. Blake Currey (3. Abdelrahman Kuku), 18. Oliver Puflett (10. Emmanuel Gonzalez), 20. Daniel Axford (GK), 22. Matthew Lecce (14. Mohamed Najjar), 24. Tate Russell, 50. Tariq Maia
Unused Subs: 16. Joshua Bartolotto, 30. Mackenzie Syron
Coach: Trevor Morgan
Mounties Wanderers: 1. Jair Fernandez, 4. Todd Halloran, 6. Anthony Schmidt, 9. Michael Gaitatzis (11. Mitchell Davidson), 13. Pasqualino Cappuccio, 14. Noah Chianese (34. Mickael Abanoub), 18. Michael Cklamovski, 20. Reid Taylor (7. Josh Viera), 28. Hiroto Tokuichi, 29. Jake Ingle, 33. Zac Zfiligoi
Unused Subs: 22. Taewoo Jung, 30. Alexander Josipovic
Yellow Cards: 29. Jake Ingle
Coach: Lee Sterrey
-By Derek Royal, Football NSW Reporter