Round 18 Review – PS4 NPL 2 NSW Men’s

The latest catch-phrase in the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues' 2 NSW Men's competition seems to be "There's no such thing as an easy game in NPL 2", one that is quickly gaining momentum as the combatants from top to bottom, battle fiercely for competition points and the right to compete in the big games at the end of the season, or to avoid the big drop into tier three.

Round 18 saw the Marconi juggernaut continue as Peter Tsekenis's side notched a workmanlike 2-0 win over North Shore Mariners; while St George announced themselves as genuine title contenders with a 2-1 victory over Central Coast Mariners.

Macarthur scored the upset of the round with a 1-0 defeat of Northern Tigers, while in other games Spirit FC extended their unbeaten run to four matches with a 2-1 win over Mt Druitt; Mounties found some form at last to beat Bankstown City 2-0; Western Sydney beat Blacktown Spartans 3-2 to earn their first win in eight weeks, while in the PS4 NPL 2 NSW Men's Match of the Round, Bankstown Berries upset Hills Brumbies 3-2. 

Match of the Round

Hills Brumbies 2 Bankstown Berries 3, Lilys Football Centre

Bankstown Berries scrambled to a 3-2 victory over Hills Brumbies in the Match of the Round at Lilys Football Centre on Saturday night.

For the Berries, Daniel Fornito scored two goals and Daniel Di Ruocco grabbed one, while Jordan Parfait and Michael Toscano replied for the Brumbies.

In all honesty, the first half was not the best game of football. Apart from a well taken penalty by Fornito and some sublime passing by Brumbies' playmaker Wade Giovenali, the fare on offer lacked intensity and (apart from Giovenali's touches), skill. 

Giovenali had the ball on a string, threading delightful passes to teammates all over the park, creating mayhem with his vision and accuracy. But apart from the Hills playmaker's class, the match meandered aimlessly with neither side showing any ingenuity or urgency.

But then referee Roberto Mattei awarded the visitor's a penalty in the 18th minute.   

Faced by the strapping Josh Stancic between the sticks, Fornito stepped up and calmly slotted home the spot kick to give Bankstown a surprise 1-0 lead

Three minutes later Giovenali struck a long range effort wide; before placing a brilliant through-ball to Nathan Rayner, who lifted his effort over the bar.

Just shy of the half hour mark the Berries put together some nice interplay only to see Jake Bradshaw hook his shot wide. The Number 12 really should have done better with the opportunity.

The Brumbies were operating in second gear, but in the 37th minute Parfait powered up a shift only to miss a golden chance to equalise from inside the box. The Brumbies were having one of those days.

Just short of halftime Fornito took off on a great solo run only to see Stancic pull off a brilliant save, one that stopped the Berries from doubling their lead going into the break.

Referee Mattei's whistle signalled a welcome end to one of the most uninspiring halves of football of the season.

The first 45 minutes may have been woeful but the second half opened with a bang.

In his first game back from a long stint on the sidelines through injury, Parfait equalised for Hills just four minutes after the restart, steering the equaliser past a stranded Berries goalkeeper Chad Taylor.

But Hills' delight only lasted three minutes as a poor defensive error allowed Berries' Daniel Di Ruocco to sneak in and give his side a 2-1 lead.

Berries' Mitchell Farmer then tried a long range effort that Stancic dealt with without any fuss before Giovenali fired in a cross from the right only for Parfait to glance his first-time effort just wide. Parfait was making the most of his return, finding space and opportunity.

Just after the hour mark, Berries' skipper Perry Moustakas - back after a five week suspension - made a run down the right flank and crossed for Bradshaw, who shot straight at Stancic from inside the box. The Berries were slowly gaining some momentum and making inroads on a vulnerable Brumbies defence.

Although it could be argued that at this stage the Berries were creating more chances and playing with far more conviction than their opponents, the match was turned on its head in the 64th minute when Brumbies' Greg Giovenali received a red card and was banished to the touchline. The home side's uphill battle had just become steeper. 

The Berries immediately took advantage and extended their lead to 3-1 when from a long range free kick, the ball fell for Fornito, who nailed his second goal of the game. Fornito unleashed a great shot from inside the box, Stancic got a hand to it, only to see the ball rebound off the post and into the back of the net. The Berries were slowly turning the screws and systematically opening the Brumbies up at the back.

In the 73rd minute veteran striker Gavin Forbes went close to extending the Berries' lead to three goals with a glancing header at the near post. His effort shaving the woodwork and ruffling the side netting.

The Berries attacked the 10-man Brumbies down the flanks and whipped in crosses at will, causing alarm in the Hills' defence. The home side struggled to deal with the onslaught and when in possession passed with uncertainty or simply gave the ball away. This was very much unlike the Brumbies, whose stylish football and spirit has enhanced the second tier competition since their promotion from NPL 3 at the end of last season.

But as time ticked by, so too did the score remain the same, offering the Brumbies the slightest hope of an unlikely comeback. Rayner chased a through ball in the 79th minute only to be foiled by goalkeeper Chad Taylor, who dived bravely at the Brumbies feet. A couple of minutes later Taylor again denied Rayner, who shot straight at the gloveman when he probably should have passed elsewhere.  

While Taylor was having a blinder, Stancic at the other end of the pitch was doing his bit too, this time brilliantly cutting out a wicked cross from Di Ruocco just outside the six yard box. Had Stancic not intervened, the incoming Berries' attack would surely have settled the game from close range.

Two minutes later, the unlikely happened when Brumbies' sub Michael Toscano glanced home to bridge the gap to 3-2, prompting an avalanche of attacks on the Berries' goal. In a desperate attempt to salvage something from the game, the home side threw everything bar the kitchen sink at the Berries. Even goalkeeper Stancic joined the fray in the front third.

Nicholas Pradenas Meza headed over the bar and goal-scoring hero Toscano put the ball wide, much to the despair of the small (not to mention freezing) home crowd.

A volley over the bar from inside the penalty box ended the Brumbies' comeback hopes and as the referee blew the final whistle, the Berries celebrated an unlikely victory; while Hills were left to ponder a performance that posed more questions than answers.

As expected, Berries' player coach Perry Moustakas was delighted with his side's victory.

"It was a very important win for us," Moustakas told Football NSW. "At the moment it doesn't matter how we win, we just need to get those three points. We're in a tough situation.

"I thought we played really good in the first half and we should have been a few up. I've said it to the boys all week, Hills Brumbies are not going to give up. I love playing against them, they're full of energy all the way to the last minute (and) they're still in the game."

When asked what impressed him the most about his side's performance, Moustakas replied: "Coming off probably the worst performance of our season (last week's 5-4 loss to Blacktown Spartans) to turn it around the way we did midweek (a 2-all draw with Mt Druitt), and then today, I've got to say the heart of the players was exceptional. We've played a lot of football this year and we've got a small squad, and you (could) see (in) the last five minutes (of tonight's game) the boys were struggling. But they're full of heart and they'll go to the end. I'm very proud of that."

Moustakas added that while the performance was a collective one where everyone put in a great shift, he was impressed with the younger boys who in the past few weeks have stepped up and made their presence felt in the top grade.

 "For these guys to perform the way they did I'm very happy with that."

Meanwhile, Brumbies coach Dan Sheppard wasn't impressed with certain parts of the match and while he was expecting a tough, physical game from the Berries, he wasn't convinced they were the better side on the night.

"(Tonight the) Berries got lucky with many things, the luck of the bounce went their way," Sheppard told Football NSW. "On another day the luck may have gone our way but this year we've had no luck.

"Even with 10 players we were the better team and we had them under the pump. We missed a free header at the end and then we missed an air swing and we could've snatched the points."

The past month hasn't been an easy one for the Brumbies, with three defeats offset by a couple of draws. Indeed, Dan Sheppard's side hasn't won since they beat Mounties in Round 13.

The Brumbies' cause hasn't been helped by the loss of goalscoring ace Peter Cejka, who transferred to Blacktown City; Victor Anyimba, who is now at Parramatta; and the retirement of Jackson Franich through injury.

Cejka's loss is the hardest felt, with his record of 12 goals from nine matches, not to mention his ability to hold up the ball, key components to the Brumbies' success in the first half of the season. It's also no coincidence that since Cejka's departure, Hills haven't been able to win a game.

The team is creating opportunities but they're not being converted, while defensively, things need to be tightened up. Dramatically. Correct those two issues and the side from Sydney's Hills District has the talent to make some noise.

Match Stats

Hill Brumbies 2 (Jordan Parfait, Michael Toscano) 

Bankstown Berries 3 (Daniel Fornito 2, Daniel Di Ruocco)

Lilys Football Centre

Saturday 1 July 2017

Referee: Roberto Mattei

Assistant Referees: Nick Farmer, Paddy Raymonds

Hills Brumbies: 1. Josh Stancic (GK), 16. Greg Giovenali, 7. Wade Giovenali, 17. Brendan Hoyer, 11. Daine Merrin, 9. Sean Mtchell, 8. Eoin Montford, 28. Keiran Pace, 10. Jordan Parfait, 24. Nathan Rayner, 12. Matthew Viera

Subs: 69. Alastair Bruce, 3. Nicholas Pradenas Meza, 15. Matias Toro Suazo, 13. Michael Toscano, 45. Jacob Basdon

Yellow Cards: Eoin Montford, Matthew Viera

Red Card: Greg Giovenali

Coach: Dan Sheppard

Bankstown Berries: 1. Chad Taylor (GK), 12. Jake Bradshaw, 5. James Coombes, 3. Daniel Di Ruocco, 7. Kyle Ewart, 6. Mitchell Farmer, 17. Daniel Fornito, 15. Perry Moustakas, 19. Hyams Tomohiro, 2. Domenico Tripodi, 11. Andreas Vais

Subs: 13. Yasser Al Taay, 21. John Dimitrakas, 9. Gavin Forbes, 16. Steven Drewery, 14. Julien Bittar

Player Coach: Perry Moustakas

Northern Tigers 0 Macarthur Rams 1, North Turramurra

Macarthur Rams pulled off a major upset when they beat Northern Tigers 1-0 at North Turramurra on Saturday.

The Rams snatched the winner when Argentinian import Marcelo Turdera scored in the 85th minute, his third goal in two outings.

For the second week in a row the Tigers have shown some vulnerability. Last week against Central Coast they led 2-0 with just four minutes remaining but somehow allowed the Mariners to steal a couple of goals and a share of the spoils.

Tigers coach Mark McCormick was disappointed with the outcome and he was desperate to have his side primed for the clash against a Rams outfit flying high after a 2-1 win over Hills Brumbies.

But the Rams didn't read the script and outplayed one of the Premiership favourites in a match that coach Eddie Briscoe suggested his side dominated from start to finish.

"We virtually controlled the game from the first whistle to the final whistle," Briscole told Football NSW. "We should've been three or four nil up at halftime and totally controlled the game. Everybody performed at their best and the Tigers struggled to contain us. We played really well."

Briscoe added that some of the footbal his side played was "fantastic and the whole team from the defenders to the strikers were on their game".

"The shape was really good and the Tigers couldn't handle us. I don't think they were expecting that from us last night."

After going through a rough patch, where they went winless for five consecutive weeks, the Rams have hit some form in the past fortnight, with wins against the Brumbies and Premiership contenders Northern Tigers.

When asked what has prompted the turnaround in his side's fortunes, Briscoe replied: "I've been seeing what we can do in training and how good we can be, and now we're doing it on match day. We should've been four or five up in the first half and in the second half we were even better. We hit the bar, we hit the post, their keeper pulled off saves; chances went begging. We just had a lot of movement. Our passing game and our movement was really on last night."

Briscoe also suggested that teams beaten by the Rams often used the excuse that they played poorly, but he was adamant that, "we made the Tigers look poor last night just like we did Hills last week. We just really worked hard off the ball and when we had possession we played some really nice football."

Meanwhile, Tigers' coach McCormick wasn't too concerned about the loss.

"This is one for us to learn from, we've only lost two of our last nine games so I'm not too worried about it," McCormick told Football NSW.

McCormick also revealed that the Tigers have lost ace striker Ryan Peterson and goalkeeper Harrison Devenish-Meares, who have accepted scholarships to play college soccer in the USA, opening up opportunities for others to step up to the Tigers' first grade ranks.

"Ryan and Harrison have taken up great opportunities for themselves by going to the States on scholarship," The Glaswegian said. "But we're integrating three new players into our squad, which is exciting, and they all got playing time last night, which was a big positive.

"We just need to play the game for 90 minutes. The players have been fantastic. They're learning and they're working really hard. They've been excellent."   

Spirit FC 2 Mt Druitt Town Rangers 1, Valentine Sports Park

 

Spirit FC extended their unbeaten run to four matches after securing a 2-1 victory over Mt Druitt Town Rangers at Valentine Sports Park on Saturday.

Andre Carle and Jake Harris scored for Spirit, while Kuag Reec grabbed one for Rangers.

"We clearly dominated the first half and (instead of just 1-0) should've been two or three up at halftime," Spirit coach David Perkovic told Football NSW. "Second half I expected a response from Mt Druitt and to their credit they got back into the game from a set-piece", when Kuag Reec equalised in the 54th minute.

Mt Druitt then played well for the next 10 minutes before conceding a penalty in the 67th minute, which Harris slotted home to give Spirit a 2-1 advantage. Mt Druitt threw everyone forward in an effort to scramble an equaliser but the home side hung on to take the spoils.

"The good thing about the game was that we came out and dominated the first half, and even when the momentum shifted in the second half and the opposition were dominant, we were able to ride out those moments and find our feet once the game settled," Perkovic said. "It was good to know that while you can't dominate the whole 90 minutes, you can be nice and compact and ride the wave."

Perkovic added that his side had found a bit of form and credited newcomers Andre Schroeder and Ryan Johnstone as the missing pieces in his side's puzzle.

"But having said that, we're still not where we want to be (ninth equal on the table), so we've still got a bit of work to do, which continues against the Berries this Wednesday."

With a game in hand, Spirit travel to The Crest to face a Berries side high on a 3-2 win over Hills Brumbies, and with only two points separating the sides on the table, this matchup is critical.

"Now it's all about recovery and trying to put our best foot forward for the Berries this Wednesday," Perkovic said. "If we're able to have a positive outcome against the Berries - and we've been in good form and we want to continue that - we can be around the top six and that's where we want to be."

Meanwhile, Mt Druitt has hit something of a rough patch, with inconsistency and losses on successive weeks costing them crucial competition points.

Last week they suffered a last-gasp 2-1 loss to bottom-placed Bankstown City and after this week's setback, they'll need to regroup quickly as the NPL 2 merry-go-round continues when next week they host first-placed league favourites Marconi Stallions.

Coach Aidan Desmond is back from a month away overseas and he'll be hoping to have his side primed for their best against a Stallions team that has added consistency and stability to its galaxy of superstars who are looking ominously good as the season gathers momentum.

But despite their indifferent form, Rangers remain in sixth place on the table, a solid position from which to regroup and show their true potential. 

Blacktown Spartans 2 Western Sydney Wanderers 3, Blacktown Football Park

Western Sydney Wanderers returned to the winners' circle for the first time in eight weeks with a 3-2 victory over Blacktown Spartans at Blacktown Football Park on Sunday.

For the Wanderers, Mohamed Najjar scored two goals and Charles Abou Serhal one, while Ben Ansah and Alex Boyadijan hit back for the Spartans.

Western Sydney opened the scoring in the sixth minute through Najjar before Abou Serhal added a second in first half injury time, giving the visitors a 2-0 lead at the break.

Najjar struck home his second in the 64th and at 3-0 the Wanderers looked like they were cruising to an easy victory. But the Spartans had other ideas, with Ansah scoring with 12 minutes left on the clock, and Boyadijan sneaking home a second in injury time.

Clinging tenuously to fifth place on the competition table, the Wanderers needed a win to not only earn some much-needed competition points, but to also provide confidence to a team of youngsters that, results-wise, haven't had much to cheer about in the last two months.

But on Sunday, Trevor Morgan's band of merry young men displayed glimpses of their quality and showed that when on song they're still a force to be reckoned with, stroking the ball around with confidence and finishing with a precision that in recent weeks has been missing. 

Morgan was pleased with his side's effort and the confidence the win would provide.

"We played quite well, there were some very good patches early in the game, but we didn't finish off with the same quality," Morgan told Football NSW.

"I think the Spartans may have had a plan to sit back a bit in the early part of the game and hit us on the counter, but they certainly didn't press high and that allowed us to build up a bit more easily" and to race away to a 3-0 lead.

"We had several opportunities to score and probably should have done better. We also had an opportunity to keep a clean sheet, which is an area we'd like to improve on. But all in all, most of the performance was pleasing for us, and there were areas where we weren't up to our best. I think Spartans took advantage of that" by scoring two late goals.

"We've had our tough times lately so I guess we've got to be pleased that we've got a victory again because that's always good for everyone's confidence."

Meanwhile, Spartans coach Luis Contigiani paid tribute to the Wanderers.

"They play football the way it should be played," Contigiani told Football NSW. "They've got good, young technical players that choose to keep the ball and control the tempo of the game. And while they're very young boys, they've got good game insight and they're technically better than what we are.

"Towards the end we were chasing the game and I got my front line sitting a bit higher, pressuring the ball. That's how we got our goals. We put their defence under pressure but they still tried to play out from the back. They play the way I would like my team to play one day."

According to Contigiani, the Wanderers had opportunities to score more goals, "hitting the post three or four times".

"We played against a very good team. A very well-coached team with good players. As a coach you don't like to lose but when you can honestly say they beat us playing football, you can't complain."     

Marconi Stallions 2 North Shore Mariners 0, Marconi Stadium

Premiership favourites Marconi Stallions continued on their winning way when they beat North Shore Mariners 2-0 at Bossley Park on Sunday, a win that also exorcised the demons of the 4-0 drubbing they copped at the hands of the northside outfit earlier this season.

Mirjan Pavlovic opened the scoring in the sixth minute but the league leaders had to wait for the 73rd before Sean Rooney tapped home to seal the spoils.

Marconi coach Peter Tsekenis was pleased with his side's performance.

"We knew we were always going to be in for battle against a well-drilled team that were always going to be a tough opponent and were always going to give it 100 per cent," Tsekenis told Football NSW. "After a 4-0 result in the first round I was worried they had the edge on us.

"We started off very early with a good finish and were on top for most of the game but we just had to stay in the battle, stay in the arm wrestle and eventually our quality was probably the difference. We probably could have scored a couple more but credit to them, they kept coming and kept knocking on the door, but we held solid, got another clean sheet, scored another goal and I'm happy with the overall result."

When asked what impressed him the most about his side's performance, Tsekenis replied: "The boys mentioned that a while ago they would've buckled under the continuous pressure North Shore put on us. But we were patient, we kept competing and kept trying to find a way around them. We scored early and it took a while for us to get the second. But we kept focused, kept working away and knew that if we were patient, we would find a way to finish the game off and we did that.

"I think the win was comfortable but we had to work hard for it. We had to stay on our game, concentrate and focus because they wouldn't go away."

As always, the Mariners won respect for their tenacity and spirit but for some reason, they're struggling for form.

Coach Joe Haywood has developed a side that presses high and maintains a strict defensive structure and mindset throughout the full 90 minutes. The players knew exactly what their roles are and regardless of the pressure created by the opposition, they stick to their guns and ultimately come away with the spoils.

But, since beating Western Sydney a few weeks ago, the team's performances have been inconsistent and lacking the vigor of the early stages of the season when they were a force to be reckoned with and capitalized on any opportunities that came their way.

Haywood will need to do a bit of tinkering in the coming weeks in order to get his well-oiled machine humming along on all cylinders once again.

Mounties Wanderers 2 Bankstown City Lions 0, Valentine Sports Park

Mounties Wanderers beat Bankstown City Lions 2-0 at Valentine on Sunday, giving Lee Sterrey's side a much-needed win after some disappointing results in recent weeks.

Tai Smith scored both goals, the first in the 55th minute and the second 12 minutes later.

 

Despite their quality, Lee Sterrey's Mounties side has underperformed this season. They've struggled to score goals; they've struggled to deliver the killer blow when their opponent's are almost dead and buried; and they just haven't coped with the lofty expectations of a club with serious Premiership ambitions. 

But, led by the brilliant Neftali Gonzalez - who returned to the starting eleven to face Bankstown after a lengthy period on the sidelines - Mounties not only did enough to beat the Lions, they also showed flashes of their quality and potential.

"We probably played 70 per cent as well as we've been playing in recent weeks but we were able to score goals and come away with the points, which is unbelievable really," Sterrey told Football NSW. "Tai Smith scored both goals and has been a great acquisition for us. He scored a hat-trick first game and has probably scored six goals in as many games."

Sterrey added that Mounties dominated most parts of the game and probably should have led by two or three in the first half.

"In the overall game we probably had at least 10 chances and scored two," Sterrey said. "I made the boys aware before the game that we were sitting second bottom after the results last night, which was just ridiculous given the quality of football we've played this season. But you make your own luck in football and we put ourselves there.

"Intensity-wise we were up for the game and showed great character. There were still 20 minutes or so to go when we scored our second goal so we still had time to score more goals and we had more chances. We weren't at our best but Nefta (Neftali Gonzalez) came back into the starting lineup and he made the world of difference. To our team he's a great player, great leader, great bloke, he just lifts everybody around him."

Fresh from a last-gasp 2-1 win at Mt Druitt, Bankstown arrived at Valentine Sports Park confident they could rattle their hosts and take something out of the game.

Coach Mile Todoroski was delighted with his side's win at Popondetta and he was hopeful they could repeat the dose and achieve something they haven't done all season - win two games in a row.

"We can't win two games (in a row)," Todoroski told Football NSW. "We're always hot cold, hot cold. So we'll see how we go against Mounties."

Unfortunately, it wasn't to be and Bankstown City FC remain on the bottom of the Premiership ladder, four points behind Blacktown Spartans. With each passing week the Lions' plight becomes more perilous but all Todoroski and his charges can do is take each game as it comes and strive to win their way off the foot of the table.

While Bankstown sit on the foot of the ladder, Mounties are currently in ninth place, on equal points with Hills Brumbies and Spirit FC.

St George 2 Central Coast Mariners 1, Seymour Shaw Park

St George proved beyond any reasonable doubt that they're genuine Premiership contenders with a 2-1 victory over Central Coast Mariners at Seymour Shaw Park on Sunday.

In a tale of two halves, Saints showed their intent from kickoff and stunned the Mariners when Juan Carlos Romero looped a header past young goalkeeper Adam Pearce in the fifth minute, before Bruno Pivato hit home a second in the 12th for an incredibly swift 2-0 lead.

Central Coast however, recovered from the early blow and started to find some rhythm, playing the football they've become renowned for and creating a few opportunities of their own.

The two sides went to the break with Saints ahead 2-0 but Central Coast fought hard in the second half, missing two golden opportunities before Duncan Stewart scored in the 65th minute to bridge the gap to 2-1.

Saints had tired visibly after the restart and the young Mariners swept forward, chasing the equaliser. Stewart nudged home his second goal from a Shelford Dais cross, but much to the ire and frustration of the visitors, the goal was disallowed after the linesman deemed that the ball had crossed the sideline.

Despite the young Coasters' efforts, St George held on to secure the spoils of victory, extending their advantage over third-placed Northern Tigers by five points on the Premiership table and sending a message to their rivals that despite being labelled unfashionable and despite being doubted by everyone but their most loyal supporters, they're the real deal and should be feared. Even by league leaders Marconi.

Saints coach Terry Palapanis was delighted with the win but admitted that his side tired badly after an energy-sapping first half.

"We had a brilliant first half and totally dominated the game but we should have been up by more than 2-0," Palapanis told Football NSW. "Everything seemed to work in the first half. We defended well, we pressed well. We moved the ball well, we got in behind them and we varied our tactics. We executed our game plan perfectly and that included stopping them from playing.

"But we just didn't show up for the second half, we were poor. The boys gave the first half all they had and we tired badly and weren't good at all. We were knackered.

"But I rate Central Coast very highly and I'm happy we escaped with the win." 

Meanwhile, Central Coast coach Ben Cahn said that his side were unusually nervous in the early stages of the game, mainly because he felt they showed Saints too much respect.

"I think we may have overestimated St George and our players were a little bit uncomfortable with the tempo from the start which is unlike us because we usually start games really well," Cahn told Football NSW. "We conceded two really poor goals and made it very difficult for ourselves in the first 20 minutes. In the second 20 minutes we gained a lot of momentum and took control of the game. We still didn't create as many chances as I would have liked but we showed encouraging signs leading into halftime.

Cahn added that "there was really only one team in it in the second half."

"St George tired very quickly and we wore them down with some really good football," he said. "Unfortunately, just before we scored we missed two golden chances from around the six yard box. Duncan Stewart came on and after three weeks out made an immediate impact, scoring a goal. It was only going to be a matter of time until we got the equaliser, which we did. But unfortunately the linesman made a call that the ball went out and the goal was disallowed.

"Ultimately we paid for a pretty poor first 20-25 minutes, but make no mistake about it, St George are a very good football team. They've got some excellent individual football players and I think that they have every chance of really pushing Marconi in this competition. All credit to them, I really think they try to play football the right way and they cpitalised on that first 25 minutes when we were poor and they were very good.

"I'm proud of our players and how we responded after halftime and we showed a very good level of performance in the second half. We were unfortunate not to come away with at least a draw."

-By Derek Royal, Football NSW Reporter