The drought is finally over!
But who’s left singing in the rain and who’s left out in the cold after Round 6 of the NPL 2 NSW Men’s competition?
Match of the Round:
Spirit FC vs Central Coast Mariners
Central Coast Mariners continued their undefeated start to the National Premier Leagues 2 season as they swept aside GHFA Spirit FC 3-0 on a cool Saturday evening at Christie Park.
The coastal side looked much improved from last week’s effort, thanks largely to getting their ‘Smylie’ back. The local hero returned after making his debut in the A-League last round and it looked to give his side renewed optimism in the opening stages.
Both sides looked to assert their dominance in the opening period, as the two sides fizzed the ball across the fresh synthetic pitch at Christie Park.
However, it was the visitors that landed the first jab when Matias Paz scuffed his shot right into Spirit FC custodian, Tomislav Romic’s, grateful hands.
They wouldn’t have to wait long for the opener, though.
From a well flighted corner, it created, as Ned Zelic coined, ‘chaos in the box’, as the ball pin-balled around obstinate before Alec Vinci turned it home for the 1-nil lead.
On the touchline, Perkovic urged his Spirit side to be patient with the ball and get it moving. Their slower approach opened up space for Mason Ireland, as the winger constantly found a pocket of room out wide in the first half.
Ireland had a trio of chances in the first half, but was each time denied by the cat-like reflexes of the keeper or by the post.
The Mariners looked to play on the counter, using newly minted A-League player, Jordan Smylie and Paz as focal points. In the centre of the park, Charles William was pulling the strings for the academy side to find the pair.
After the break, Spirit continued to push the ball around quickly. Some tiki-taka play prised open the stout Mariners defence, but crucially, the final touch evaded Spirit all night.
Down the other end, the Mariners found their second of the game from the spot.
After a foul in the box, Kyle Johnson stepped up and sent Romic the wrong way for a 2-nil Central Coast lead.
And the Spirit FC misery was compounded moments later when the Mariners broke quickly and added a third.
An inch perfect pass found Paz in wide open space, the striker rounded Romic, before sliding an effort home to confirm the three points.
For Spirit FC, they never gave up the fight. Andre Carle forced the Mariners keeper into a diving save in the 69th minute in their best chance of the second half.
Frustratingly, it was the tale of the home side’s night – getting into the right positions but failing to find the cutting edge.
After the match, Mariners boss Ken Schembri was delighted to take the spoils against a tough Spirit FC side.
“It was good to win against such a strong side. Today’s performance was accomplished, working in a good direction and playing some good football,” said Schembri.
“In particular I think it [3-nil] is a good scoreline. To come here and win is great. I think our youngsters, in particular, Charles William were fantastic tonight,” said a bullish Mariners’ boss.
Spirit FC coach David Perkovic lamented three regrettable mistakes that cost them tonight but overall remained positive about their start to the season.
“It was three defensive errors that cost us. We gave them three goals tonight and you can’t do that and win games in this league. Now we move forward with the FFA cup and a game on Saturday to fix those errors”, stated a defiantly optimistic Perkovic.
Saturday 7th April 2018
Christie Park #1
Referee: Roberto Mattei
Assistant Referees: John Garcia and Shoryu Doas-Zaman
GHFA Spirit FC 0
Central Coast Mariners 3 (Vinci ‘8, Johnson ’55, Paz ’58)
GHFA Spirit FC: 1. ROMIC Tomislav, 4. STREETER Michael (6. SHERLOCK ’64), 7. HARRIS Jacob, 8. CORNWELL Grant, 10. BOZANIC Louis (12. APPIAH ’57), 14. CARLE Andre, 15. MALHOTRA Sidhya, 20. MANOS Emilio, 21. JOHNSTONE Ryan, 22. DE OLIVEIRA Samuel (9. LOPES ’45), 23. IRELAND Mason
Subs not used: 17. SWEEDON Ahmed 80. JONSSON Jade
Yellow cards: Carle ’72, Romic ’89, Johnstone ’56 Sherlock ’93
Red cards: nil
Central Coast Mariners: 2. CHENG Quentin (12. BELKADI ’84), 4. GLASSCOCK Michael, 5. KULPERS Jack, 6. NISBET Joshua, 8. SMYLIE Jordan, 9. PAZ Matias (3. MILLER ’70), 10. WILLIAM Charles, 15. JOHNSON Kyle, 19. ABDULLAH Amer (7. PETERS ’56), 20. PEARCE Adam, 23. VINCI Alec
Subs not used: 16. HATCH Matthew 30. MUMFORD Aidan
Yellow cards: Smylie ’35
Red cards: nil
-By Justin Davies
Canterbury Bankstown 4 vs Mounties Wanderers 2
Berries’ fans – the wait is over!
Canterbury Bankstown have finally broken the shackles that have held them down for so long, thumping the Mounties Wanderers in a classic match at The Crest Athletic Centre.
Branko Culina has promised that it’s a case of ‘when’, not ‘if’ his team could turn around their early season misfortune and the master coach is proving he can turn water into wine once more.
It truly was an incredible performance from the Berries who, in one game, scored double the amount of goals they have scored all season.
The scoring got underway through Jake Bradshaw, who skipped over to a loose ball on the edge of the area before hitting a sweet volley that blasted into the net.
But, in frustratingly Berries’ fashion, a defensive error allowed Mounties back into the game.
Mounties’ Matthew West capitalised on an inaccurate pass in the middle of the field to convert past the keeper to level the scores.
It seemed like the ghost of old Bankstown had come back to haunt the Berries when moments after conceding an equaliser, they conceded a penalty.
However, this time, on this night, things were different.
Veteran keeper Chad Taylor turned back the clock to leap low to his left, his desperate finger tips pushing the ball to safety.
That moment turned the game for the Berries.
“The boys lifted after that moment – we sensed it was going to be our night”, exclaimed Culina.
And it started to look like their night when Berries were awarded a penalty of their own and Domenico Tripodi stepped up to seize the lead for his team.
Not happy with a one-goal lead, Culina urged his side to press forward, looking for a killer blow.
And it arrived shortly after courtesy of cult-hero, Perry Moustakas.
All three points looked to be wrapped up for the Berries midway through the second half when Tomislav Mijic saw red and marched off for an early shower.
But despite their numerical disadvantage, the Wanderers would find their way back into the match courtesy of Tai Smith, who squeezed the ball between the keeper and his near post.
Mounties believed they could find an unlikely equaliser and pushed men forward in hope.
But all hope for the Wanderers evaporated when Huseyin Jasli converted a swift counter attack to sink the final nail into the Mounties’ coffin.
At full-time, a tangible release of tension and worry lifted from the collective shoulders of the Berries’ players as they embraced each other in celebration of their first victory of the season.
In the dressing sheds after the match, laminated copies of the team song had to be passed around for some of the Berries’ players, who had forgotten the words in the weeks and months since they had sung it last.
A proud day for the Berries players who have finally rid themselves of one very heavy monkey off a weary back.
For the Wanderers, their season of inconsistency continues. But their task doesn’t get any easier next week with a pivotal match against top-of-the-table Mt Druitt.
Macarthur Rams 0 vs St George 4
Better late than never for St George who remained patient in pursuit of three points against a stubborn Macarthur side.
St George would have to wait until the 54th minute to take the lead in this match after Christopher Arditti benefited from some beautiful lead up work from Raul Benit Romero who fizzed in a low cross for Arditti to slam home.
The lead settled the growing nerves of the St George fans who were beginning to wonder whether Macarthur would hold firm for the full 90 minutes.
But all fears subsided on 75 minutes when Aleksander Lekoski rose highest following a Juan Carlos Heras Romero free-kick to glance his header just inside the post to make it 2-0.
Macarthur looked deflated.
All the effort that had seen them match St George for large parts of the game had resulted in nothing.
The mental and physical fatigue of the Rams’ players became apparent in the dying moments of the game when Hussein Akil and Raul Beneit Romero added two further goals to their team’s tally.
Akil’s goal was a simply enough finish from inside the box after a cheeky dummy by Beneit Romero.
Romero would add his name to the score sheet two minutes from time when he cooly converted a penalty after Scott Goodwin had brought him down in the box – who received his marching orders following the challenge.
An important win for St George served up on a platter by the Spanish Bandidos.
Macarthur’s defeat is made all the more difficult to swallow following Berries’ first win of the season – meaning the Rams now sit bottom of the table, all alone.
Mt Druitt Rangers 3 vs Rydalmere FC 0
At this level, mistakes get punished.
Rydalmere learnt that lesson the hard way on Saturday night.
Two crucial defensive errors either side of half-time, allowed a clinical Rangers side to punish the Lions and secure three points to maintain their lead at the top.
The first goal arrived on 30 minutes after a merciless Mt Druitt press, reminiscent of a ravenous pack of lions hunting a vulnerable antelope on the open planes, pounced on a misdirected pass from the Rydalmere defence which afforded Hiten Satoh the chance to tuck the ball away.
Unfortunately for Rydalmere, they didn’t learn their lesson.
The second goal of the game came in similar fashion to the first.
This time, Brian Griffin-Colls swarmed on the Rydalmere defence, stealing the ball from the timid defender, before delivering the ball on a plate for Hiten Satoh to tuck into a delicious McDouble for the game.
All three points were secured in the 70th minute when Mt Druitt scored their third, after a cruel and comedic bounce of the ball off the goalkeeper’s head trickled into the goal following a fiercely struck Emmanuel Gonzalez shot.
Rangers coach, Aidan Desmond, was extremely proud of his team’s performance, especially after their 120 minute marathon against NPL 1 side Manly in midweek.
For Rydalmere, the match will be reflected on as a painful learning curve.
If you’re going to make a mistake at this level, you can bet it’s going to be punished.
North Shore Mariners 0 vs Hills United 1
What are they putting in the water at Hills United?
The Brumbies have started the season in superb form and, after this away win over the North Shore Mariners, now sit comfortably inside the finals’ places on 11 points.
But, I’ve a strange feeling we’ve been here before.
A quick glance at the table from last season and you’ll see that, indeed, lightning has struck twice.
After Round 5 last year, Hills sat in 3rd place on 9 points.
But fast forward to the end of the season and Hills stumbled their way to 11th place, way outside the finals.
Luke McGuire is well aware of last year’s fall away and isn’t getting ahead of himself – despite their good start – this season.
“We’ve begun well and that’s pleasing but we need to remain focused on one match at a time”, stated McGuire.
Focusing our eyes on this match – Hills’ fans would be very pleased with the way their team rose to the challenge of an impressive North Shore team.
The Mariners started the stronger in the early exchanges, dominating field position and possession.
But Hills maintained concentration, refusing to relent under the weight of pressure from the Mariners.
This resolve can be largely attributed to the outstanding work of Luke Turnbull in goals, who swatted away the aerial barrage of the Mariners like swatting flies on a summer’s day.
And the Brumbies’ resilience was rewarded late in the match when substitute Chanhwee Jeong rocketed a low-driven shot that sailed into the net from 30 metres out.
Another late goal for Hills who have become the late goal specialists of the league.
It’s a tough defeat for the Mariners who have now lost 2 in a row and will be desperate to bounce back against Rydalmere Lions next weekend.
Western Sydney Wanderers 3 vs Blacktown Spartans 0
Let’s play a game.
I’ll give you a clue as to what happened in this game and you have to guess the rest.
A _ _ _ h a _ M _ j _ o _
L _ c _ _ a _ S _ _ t t
If you guessed Abraham Majok and Lachlan Scott then you’d be right.
These two super stars have been the standout performers for the Western Sydney Wanderers this season. And, in recent weeks, the duo have been truly unstoppable.
And, really, one has to wonder, where would the Wanderers be without these two?
Red & Black fans hope we never find out the answer to that question.
Lachlan Scott got the scoring underway in this match as he intercepted a sloppy pass before firing the ball past the despairing keeper.
And the Wanderers didn’t have to wait long before finding their second goal of the game, this time Abraham Majok converting after being teed up by Daniel Wilmering.
Blacktown Spartans could’ve found their way back into the match moments before half time when they won a penalty, but Wanderers keeper Nicholas Suman made a terrific save to keep his clean sheet intact.
A flurry of chances fell the Wanderers’ way before the break; most notably with Grozos hitting the crossbar and Scott firing just over from close range.
Shortly after the break, the Wanderers would find their third goal of the game, delivering a knockout blow to the struggling Spartans’ side.
John Roberts played in a delightful through ball to Majok who showed terrific pace and composure to finesse the ball into the back of the net.
The Wanderers could’ve extended their lead even further in the final moments of the match but were again denied by a stubborn crossbar.
An important victory for the Wanderers who now make it 3 wins in a row and surge right up the competition table.
For the Spartans, concerns grow over their side’s attacking quality as they again failed to trouble the scorers – incredibly, the boys from Blacktown haven’t scored a goal since Round 1.
Things need to turn around quickly for the Spartans if they are to avoid the slippery slope down to the depths of the competition table.
Parramatta FC 3 vs Northern Tigers FC 0
Three goals and three points for Parramatta FC who finally send their fans home with a smile on their face after the team’s first win of the season.
The rumoured curse of Melita Stadium had begun to be believed by many fans who had seen their team fail to secure three points in any of the four games played there this season.
But goals to Charles Abou Serhal, Abuzar Awaz and Aleksandar Najdoski secured a crucial three points for Parramatta FC who will be keen to utilise the momentum gained from this match to charge back up the table and into finals’ reckoning.
It was a disappointing match for the Tigers.
Their typically ferocious defence lacked any bite in this match, struggling to contain the relentless attacks of the home side.
And whilst their defence struggled to prevent the attacking onslaught of the Eagles, their attack struggled in equal measure to convert any of the chances they created.
At full-time, the Parramatta players bounded over to thank their loyal supporters who have endured tough times in the stands of Melita Stadium in recent seasons but are hoping this victory is a catalyst to a much improved season in 2018.
Source FNSW website -By Ryan Latty