Home is where the heart is but it was also where the points were, as 6 out of the 7 games played were won by the team playing in front of their own fans.
We also bring you a brand new segment in our Round Reviews with our NPL 2 NSW Men’s Team of the Week.
Match of the Round:
Western Sydney Wanderers vs Parramatta FC
No Majok, no Scott = no worries for Western Sydney Wanderers who claim their third win in a row and stretch their unbeaten run to seven games.
However whilst the horizon is filled with the promise of finals for the Wanderers, Parramatta FC walk away from another game, having played good football, but with nothing to show for it.
The Wanderers enjoyed the early possession in this game as they quickly settled into their passing rhythm.
Jordan, at left back, caught the Eagles off guard with marauding runs from defence, occupying the pockets of space vacated by Oliver Puflett who continued to tuck inside onto his right foot.
The fans at Sydney United Sports Centre didn’t have to wait long for the game’s opening goal as Mohamed Adam scored after just 16 minutes.
Adam showed blistering pace to pounce on a through ball from John Roberts before striking on goal.
The Eagles haven’t won a single game away from home this season, but Leo Carle’s players showed no signs of defeatism after the early strike.
In fact, Neram Yalda almost equalised a minute later.
The striker showed great strength and skill to control a bouncing ball, swivel and shoot on goal. However his strike sailed just over the bar.
John Roberts looked threatening all afternoon on the right wing and he had the chance to double his side’s lead in the 24th minute.
The electric winger fired off a shot from close range but Giglio scrambled well to deny him.
Parramatta grew in confidence as the half wore on, and looked comfortable in possession.
Jason Trifiro tried to mastermind a few attacks but the Eagles sorely lacked any pace to support Yalda up top.
The Wanderers, by contrast, zipped around the pitch with the pace and enthusiasm, only youth can bring.
Despite all the Wanderers dominance, it was Parramatta FC who scored the game’s next goal.
A defensive mistake from Russell in defence allowed Yalda to pounce.
The brawny forward found himself face to face with Mourdoukoutas but showed nimble feet for a man of his stature, skipping past a would-be challenge before rolling the ball as nonchalantly as you like past Axford in goals.
The crowd at Sydney United Sports Centre went wild with Yalda fever.
Despite it being a Wanderers home game, the stadium turned into a nesting ground for Eagles’ fans.
However their delight was cut short just a minute later when Kosta Grozos scored a sublime goal.
Fresh off an incredible double last week, Grozos, oozing with confidence, collected the ball in between the lines of the Parramatta midfield and defence, whirled around and struck a sweet shot that sailed into the top corner of the net – giving Giglio no chance.
The Wanderers deserved their lead at half-time but were certainly aware of the danger Parramatta posed on the counter attack.
Just moments after the restart, the Wanderers should have doubled their lead.
Mohamed Adam showed a clean pair of heels to spring upon a weak back-pass and dance around the onrushing Giglio, but his shot lacked conviction and was cleared off the line.
As the second period wore on, Yalda looked an increasingly isolated figure up front for Parramatta.
Their occasional spells of solid possession frequently amounted to nothing because they weren’t able to get runners alongside Yalda up front.
However with the Wanderers missing chances, first through Adam and then a pair of missed chances from the substitute Silvera, there was a growing sense that Parramatta could steal a point from the game.
They almost did just that when Musgrave rose highest to meet a corner delivery, but his header rose just over the crossbar.
Although all lingering Wanderer tension was ended when Roberts sealed all three points just four minutes from time.
Capping a wonderful performance, Roberts timed his run to perfection, capitalising on poor positioning from Musgrave who played him onside, to latch onto a through ball, round the keeper and pass the ball into the vacant net.
A well deserved win for the Wanderers who continue to climb the table, whilst Parramatta’s descent down towards NPL 3 sadly continues.
After the match, Parramatta coach Leo Carle was quick to note the effort of his players but also recognised the serious need for his players to start picking up points.
“Next week against the Berries is massive for us. We simply must win that game”, said Carle.
Arthur Dillos, the Wanderers coach, was impressed by the performances of his young side but gloomily looked ahead to the next few round where his side will be without some of the star names that have lit up their campaign so far this season.
Sunday 6th May 2018
Sydney United Sports Centre
Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Adam, Grozos, Roberts)
Parramatta FC 1 (Yalda)
Western Sydney Wanderers: D. Axford, T. Russell, M. Al Taay, O. Puflett, L. Constable, P. Fotakopoulos, S. Silvera, M. Adam, T. Kumsuz, A. Kuku, A. Valenti, J. Roberts, K. Grozos, T. Mourdoukoutas, G. Osinga, R. Jordan.
Parramatta FC: S. Giglio, R. Coletta, S. Dubocanin, J. Musgrave, J. Aguirre, Y. Al-Taay, C. Abou Serhal, N. Yalda, J. Trifiro, M. Lecce, A. Awaz, R. Blakeley, R. Perre, P. Ferrara.
St George FC 6 vs Blacktown Spartans 1
Savor’s Saints are back on track.
After a mid-season stumble, losing two games in a row, St George have hit the struggling Spartans for six as the boys from Blacktown continue their free-fall towards NPL 3 football.
The scoring got underway in just the 5th minute when Juan Carlos Romero and his trademark left foot sent Spartans’ keeper, Domenic Nascimben, on a trip that has become far too familiar this season – picking the ball out of the net.
Any success St George have tasted this year has come courtesy of their Spanish Bandidos.
Juan Carlos Romero and Raul Romero have combined for 21 of the Saints’ 31 goals.
The pair combined again for the second of the game on 15 minutes – this time it was Raul who sent Nascimben on his dismal journey.
The home fans at Blacktown Football Park hoped for a reaction from their team in the second half but all chances of a comeback evaporated just 3 minutes after the resumption.
On 58 minutes, Juan Carlos showed just why he’s considered the ‘Special Juan’ when he completed his hat-trick after again linking up with his Spanish counterpart.
Jordan Morfitis became the first name other than ‘Romero’ on the scoresheet when he made it 5-0, benefitting from the assist king – Raul Romero.
Incredibly St George weren’t done there.
Raul Romero scored his second of the game on 72 minutes after a sublime team passing move.
The Saints were knocking the ball around with ease and each pass was met with chants of ‘ole, ole’ as St George fans rubbed salt into the Spartans’ wounds.
Blacktown Spartans scored a late consolation when Alex Boyadjian prodded home and the ball crossed the line despite a desperate St George clearance trying to preserve their clean sheet.
An emphatic win for St George, highlighted by the Spanish Bandidos, but a collectively superb effort and one Wally Savor would be proud of.
It’s another worrying result for the Spartans who now sit alone at the bottom of the table and the dark clouds of relegation seem to be hovering closer and closer towards Blacktown Football Park.
Canterbury Bankstown 3 vs GHFA Spirit FC 2
Three straight losses to start the season.
Zero points, looking like zero chance of avoiding relegation.
So the club turn desperately to a wise, experienced head.
A man who’s ‘done it before’.
Hoping he can steer them clear towards safety.
I am of course talking about Roy Hodgson and Crystal Palace. Although it’s a narrative so similar to what’s taken place at Canterbury Bankstown this season, it’s a story that seems to fit so well.
As Branko Culina’s men collect another three points, this time with three victories across all three grades against Club Championship rivals, Spirit FC, fans of the boys in blue and gold will be hoping Culina can steer the club to a similar fate as their English Premier League counterparts.
The 3-2 scoreline suggests a tight, hard fought match.
However, the truth is not as kind to Spirit FC.
The Berries led 3-0 after goals to Domenico Tripodi, Jake Bradshaw and Perry Moustakas.
They could’ve have extended their lead even further if it wasn’t for a sudden profligacy in front of goal.
Unfortunately for the Berries, experienced keeper Chad Townsend was forced off with a groin injury and it served as the catalyst for a mini-Spirit FC fightback.
Bright Appiah sparked things for David Perkovic’s men when he nabbed a goal back on 84 minutes, before Louis Bozanic scored again just two minutes later.
Spirit FC surged.
The momentum was totally with them as they pushed hard for an equaliser, however the Berries defence held firm to claim all three points.
An important win for the Berries in the context of the competition and Club Championship table.
Sadly for David Perkovic, his team weren’t able to back up their midweek win over the Wollongong Wolves, and have now endured their 5th defeat in 6 matches.
“The team has to show more consistency. It’s a shame we waited until the last 10 minutes to play effective football”, lamented Perkovic.
Unfortunately for Spirit FC, things only get harder next week when they take on league leaders, Mt Druitt Town Rangers.
Hills United 3 vs Mounties Wanderers 1
Despite fans across the NPL 2 waiting with anticipation for their bubble to burst, Hills United just keep on winning.
A comprehensive 3-1 defeat against a resurgent Mounties side has enabled Hills to firmly entrench themselves in the top 6.
This is Hills’ 6th win of the season, just three short of their total for all of last season.
Their incredible run has been highlighted by the form of Daniel Fogarty, and the wizardry winger helped create the first goal of the game as his mazy run and shot was handled by the Mounties’ keeper outside the box.
Brad Robertson stood over the ensuing free-kick and curled an unstoppable shot past the wall and into the back of the net.
Fogarty got his name on the scoresheet minutes later when he was fed through by Greg Giovenali and made no mistake, firing his effort past the keeper.
A renewed Mounties side emerged from the break and found reward for their effort when Tai Smith muscled his way around a cluster of defenders to head home from close range.
But less than a minute later Hills regained their two-goal advantage, Greg Giovenali jigged his way past three defenders before laying the ball off to Fogarty. The winger sent his shot through a sea of bodies and it somehow squeezed through everyone and into the goal.
Another positive result for Hills as they maintain their push for finals football.
Whilst it’s a big blow for a Mounties side looking to make a mid-season push for the top 6.
Rydalmere Lions 2 vs Macarthur Rams 1
At the beginning of the season, Rydalmere Lions set a goal of a mid-table finish.
After seasons of progression and promotions, the Lions understood the weight of the challenge in front of them.
Surviving in the NPL 2 NSW Men’s is no easy feat.
However with each victory, survival becomes increasingly achievable.
Especially when those victories are against teams fighting for their own survival in the league.
A 2-1 win over Macarthur Rams won’t steal and weekend headlines, but at season’s end, Rydalmere fans may look back on matches like this and say, “those three points are the reason we can plan for NPL 2 football again in 2019”.
The game didn’t begin as planned for the Lions.
Macarthur took the lead after just two minutes following a well-worked corner routine.
Rydalmere wasted no time with their response.
Zak Elrich hit a shot straight out of the PlayStation FIFA 18 manual when he finessed the ball into the top corner of the goals from just outside the box.
There was a flurry of early chances and Macarthur should’ve taken the lead once more moments later, but the Rydalmere keeper denied the onrushing striker well in a one-on-one chance.
With very little to separate the two sides for large parts of the match, it looked as though both teams would have to settle for a draw.
However in the 84th minute, Mitchell Gibbs stepped up to score the winner, driving the ball into the bottom left corner of the goals, beyond the reach of the despairing keeper.
A tight match but one the Lions will be pleased to walk away with three points from.
Mt Druitt Town Rangers 1 vs Central Coast Mariners 4
Central Coast Mariners have sent a big message to the rest of the NPL 2 competition with an emphatic 4-1 victory over league leaders, Mt Druitt.
With both sides coming into this game undefeated, something had to give as the two heavyweights of the competition clashed at Poppondetta Park.
Mt Druitt have built a reputation for free-scoring football so far this season, and the Rangers looked to be on their way to another big victory when David O’Leary scored from a penalty spot after just 9 minutes.
But the young Mariners side showed maturity and resilience beyond their years, responding almost immediately through a bullet header from Amer Abdullah.
And, less than 10 minutes before half-time, the Mariners took the lead.
Emmanuel Peters latched onto a through ball, taking the ball in his stride he beat his defender and sent the ball into the back of the net.
The Poppondetta crowd were stunned.
Their side haven’t conceded a goal at home all year, and now they’ve conceded two in one half of football.
The stage was set for a miraculous Mt Druitt comeback as the sides emerged after half-time.
But the Mariners looked determined to not just hold onto their lead but build on it.
Having drawn their last four matches, the Mariners pushed hard to increase their lead and put the game beyond the reaches of the Rangers.
And they found a welcome third goal on 64 minutes.
Peter Kekeris squeezed his shot under the body of a diving Carlos Saliadarre who was clearly unhappy with the lack of defensive cover in front of him.
Mt Druitt’s attack has been lethal at times this year but it lacked any potency against a Mariners side who have dramatically improved their defensive structure.
At this stage last season, the Mariners had conceded 25 goals.
Right now, they’ve only conceded 11.
The proof is in the pudding.
And the icing on that pudding was sealed in the 70th minute when Charles William kept his cool to convert from the penalty spot.
At full-time, Mariners coach Ken Schembri praised the effort and execution of his team.
“We played well against a very decent side; we worked hard to apply pressure and took the opportunities that came from that”, exclaimed Schembri.
Mt Druitt coach, Aidan Desmond bemoaned his side’s performance, labelling it as “the worst we’ve played all year”.
The Rangers maintain their place at the top of the table but it’s the Mariners who look like the new team to beat in season 2018.
North Shore Mariners 3 vs Northern Tigers 2
Northbridge Oval is quickly earning itself a reputation for late drama.
After the nine-goal thriller between the Mariners and Mounties two weeks ago, North Shore have again scored a winning goal in injury-time en route to an important victory against the Tigers.
Two goals in the opening 10 minutes to the Mariners gave them a comfortable half-time lead.
However the Tigers responded well in the second period, scoring through a Jordan Ferrier header before Rory Spiers equalised on 69 minutes.
The match turned on 75 minutes when Luke Dawson received his second yellow card, reducing the Tigers to 10-men.
And the numerical advantage finally took its toll on the Tigers in the 91st minute when the Mariners scored a dramatic last-gasp winner from a cross-turned shot which sailed into the net.
The curse of Northbridge Oval strikes again on a visiting team as the Mariners leave it late to secure all three points.
Source FNSW website - By Ryan Latty