We’ve seen dramatic draws and debut goals but Round 12 of the NPL 2 NSW Men’s will be remembered for one of the greatest upsets of the season in one unforgettable match of the round.
Match of the Round:
Mt Druitt Town Rangers vs Parramatta FC
“Are you going to write something positive about us this week?”
It was the throw away line from a group of justifiably proud Parramatta FC players as they basked in the glory of their stunning upset win over the league leaders.
Almost since the season began, Parramatta have been the target of concerned criticism.
And rightly so.
Despite strong performances in many of their matches this season, performances have not translated into results.
Although as quick as we are to condemn mediocre results, we are equally quick to praise positive performances.
And, right now, Parramatta deserve all the praise.
So hear you go Eagles’ fans – don’t say I never commend you.
From the early moments in this match, it was clear Leo Carle had set his team up perfectly.
The Eagles’ deep defensive line limited the space Mt Druitt had to run in behind; nullifying the efforts of Emmanuel Gonzalez and co who wanted to burst into pockets of vacant land behind their defence.
This forced the Rangers to shoot from distance.
9 minutes on, Hiten Satoh willingly obliged as his long range effort curled over the keeper and thumped onto the cross bar.
However as the half progressed and the Rangers’ frustration at their inability to penetrate the Eagles’ defence grew, Parramatta began to push further forward and fashion attacking chances for themselves.
On 17 minutes, Matthew Lecce fired a low shot on goal that forced Saliadarre into a sharp double-save – showing the agility of a much younger man to dive to the turf and scoop the ball clear of danger.
Just five minutes later however, Saliadarre was left red-faced as a defensive mix-up allowed Lecce to intercept a loose ball, and, seeing Saliadarre off his line, pulled out his pitching-wedge and lofted a shot over the keeper’s head and into the empty net.
Rangers players looked around at each other, unsure who to blame for their shock deficit.
Although they were left stunned once more when Parramatta doubled their lead moments later.
A short passing move on the left flank found its way to an Eagles’ player lurking unmarked on the edge of the box. He took one touch out of his body and fizzed a shot-turned-cross towards the far post. Rising highest was Julian Aguirre whose glancing header left Saliadarre stranded as the ball flew past him and into the goal.
The referee’s whistle for half-time woke many in the ground from the state of shock they had been fixed in for the final 15 minutes of the half as the reality of what was unfolding before our eyes began to sink in.
Mt Druitt emerged from the second half with renewed determination, but despite their effort, continued to struggle to threaten Giglio in the Eagles’ goal.
New recruits, Zak Elrich and Yehya Hindi were having debuts to remember for their new clubs.
Elrich, back in the colours of the club closest to his heart, played tricks with the Rangers’ left full-back all night, whilst Hindi bossed the midfield like a supreme general leading his troops on the field of battle.
Although for all their brilliance, it was Matthew Lecce who continued to hurt Mt Druitt where it hurt the most – on the scoresheet.
Lecce added his second of the night on 63 minutes as he followed up a fierce shot from Neram Yalda that Saliadarre parried right into his grateful lap.
Parramatta players showed no signs of tiring as the second period wore on, fuelled by a mix of relief and confidence in the incredible performance they were delivering for their faithful fans who had travelled to Poppondetta Park.
The Eagles could’ve extended their lead even further late on as a flurry of chances fell the way of Elrich and Serhal but they were unable to capitalise on each occasion.
For the casual observer, you would’ve been convinced that the team at the top of the table was Parramatta FC and not Mt Druitt as the Eagles won every loose ball, every tackle; every time an extra percentage of effort was required, three Parramatta players were on hand to offer it.
As the full-time whistle went and the majority Parramatta FC crowd celebrated, the Eagles players gathered together in a huddle in the middle of the field.
For all who were there to witness it unfold, the meaning of this moment could be felt as sharply as the icy wind that had begun to drift across the park.
Parramatta had found something they had been looking for all season.
An intangible quality that all successful teams have.
A blend of luck, confidence, and belief.
We may be halfway through the season, but something began here in Round 12 for Parramatta FC and fans can expect to see a very different team take the field for the rest of the campaign.
Match Stats: Poppondetta Park, Mt Druitt – Saturday 19th May, 2018
Mt Druitt: 0
Parramatta FC: 3 (Lecce x 2, Aguirre)
Mt Druitt Rangers: C. Saliadarre, H. Satoh, B. Griffin-Colls, K. Vlismas, D. Gullo, M. Clowes, D. Rezo, A. Vlismas, N. Trimble, L. Darkoh, D. O’Leary, E. Gonzalez, A. Singh, J. Veljovic, L. Grima, L. Roberts.
Coach: Aidan Desmond.
Parramatta FC: S. Giglio, Y. Elhindi, R. Coletta, J. Musgrave, J. Aguirre, C. Abou Serhal, N. Yalda, J. Trifiro, M. Lecce, A. Awaz, R. Perre, Z. Elrich, P. Ferrara.
Coach: Leo Carle.
GHFA Spirit FC 0 vs North Shore Mariners 3
The Christie curse continues.
Their misery can be summed up in one number.
Spirit FC now find themselves just four points from the bottom of the table after their fourth defeat in four games.
Fans of David Perkovic’s side must surely be asking for how much longer can this go on?
Although with their next two matches coming against teams in the top 6, it may be a little while before Spirit turn this horrible form around.
The North Shore Mariners by contrast, found the cure for their temporary blip in form rather swiftly, scoring three fantastic goals to secure three crucial points to hold firm to their precious place in the finals’ calculations.
Goals to Frederick Ankumah-Sey, Lee Jones and Marquin Smith, was enough to stifle the spirit of David Perkovic’s men and matters only got worse for the home side when Louis Bozanic saw red with 15 minutes to go.
After a promising start to the season, Spirit FC look bereft of confidence at the moment.
The addition of Matthew West from Mounties should help them in their efforts to turn their frown upside down but they need to focus on stopping goals at the other end if they are to stand any chance of breaking the Christie curse.
St George FC 0 vs Central Coast Mariners 1
Once again, the Central Coast Mariners prove why many are labelling them as ‘the team to beat’ in the NPL 2 NSW Men’s.
After overcoming Mt Druitt just two weeks ago, the Mariners have now conquered another top of the table rival, ousting St George in a tight clash on Saturday night.
The only goal of the game was scored in the 22nd minute, as Charles William kept his cool from the penalty spot.
St George tried to respond but looked fatigued following their midweek FFA Cup match.
And, against the relentless running of a youthful Mariners side, fatigue is anything but a desirable quality.
The second half fared better for the Saints as they went in search of an equaliser.
However each time they carved open a chance in front of goal, Mariners’ keeper Adam Pearce was literally on hand to deny them.
A close match but one the Mariners always looked in control of as they maintain their undefeated streak as we approach the halfway mark in the competition.
Hills United 1 vs Northern Tigers 1
It’s been a season of attacking brilliance in the NPL 2 NSW Men’s this year.
With goals flying in from all angles, more often than not games have been decided by moments of superb attacking skill.
Although in this Round 12 clash between Hills United and the Northern Tigers, it was the defenders of either side that really stole the show.
Hills eventually opened the scoring when Wade Giovenali got on the end of a Daniel Fogarty cross, heading in from close range.
The Tigers went in search of an equaliser and as the game drew closer to full-time, their attacks became both more frequent and more desperate.
And in the last minute of the match, the Tigers found the equaliser they so desperately craved.
A free-kick out wide was delivered into the box and John Bachelard rose above the pack to slam his header into the back of the net.
After the match, both managers graciously admitted a draw was a fair result; acknowledging that neither side offered enough to deserve all three points.
Canterbury Bankstown 3 vs Western Sydney Wanderers 3
Twice in two weeks, Canterbury Bankstown have scored a late goal to rescue a point from the jaws of defeat.
After heading into the break trailing by two goals, courtesy of an Oliver Puflett 10th minute strike before Tass Mourdoukoutas double the Wanderers lead five minutes later, the Berries needed to score an early goal in the second period to ensure their hopes of a comeback could be fully realised.
That’s exactly what Branko Culina’s men got.
Jake Bradshaw was the man of the moment as he scored two goals in just three minutes to level the scores before the second half had really even started.
It looked like the Berries could run riot as a host of chances fell their way following the equaliser.
However it was the Wanderers who scored the next goal of the game, Oliver Puflett notching his second of the game, blasting his shot past Chad Taylor in goals.
Although four minutes from time, the Berries would draw level once more as Goncalo Paradanta’s effort found the back of the net – much to the delight of the home fans at the Crest Athletic Centre.
Mounties Wanderers 1 vs Macarthur Rams 1
It seems you can sign all the players in the world but unless players perform on the pitch, results cannot be bought.
This match was supposed to be the game that kick-started the Mounties’ season.
The game where all of Palapanis’s new signings shone.
Where merciless attacking raids against a vulnerable Rams’ defence was meant to yield an innumerable amount of goals.
In reality, almost the opposite transpired.
The Rams created plenty of opportunities against the soft defensive underbelly of the Mounties team.
Even though they took the lead after just 10 minutes when Onana ‘what’s my name’ scored to stun the home side.
The Rams held their lead to the break, defending stoutly against an attack boasting the Romero Bandidos and Bruno Pivato.
However finally the second worst defence in the league – second only to the Mounties – cracked.
Raul Romero scored his first goal for his new club, sparking fresh belief Palapanis’s side could go on to snatch all three points.
Although it wasn’t to be.
The Rams held on for an important point – made even more important by the result of the teams around them over the weekend.
The Mounties may have ambitions of making a late charge to the finals, but unless they start picking up wins soon, these ambitions may be nothing more than wishful daydreams.
Rydalmere Lions 0 vs Blacktown Spartans 1
It’s been a tough week for the Lions.
Losing star man Zak Elrich, plus his cousin Ahmad to Parramatta FC, and now defeat to cellar dwellers, Blacktown Spartans.
Garang Awac scored the only goal of the game, making the most of some slack marking from a corner, thumping his effort home.
The Lions had a fantastic chance to equalise late in the game when Amaury Gauthier found himself one-on-one with the keeper but scoffed his effort wide of the post.
In a game that lacked notable moments, the Spartans grabbed the crucial goal to move off the bottom of the table and above the Macarthur Rams.
Source FNSW website -By Ryan Latty