No need to check the VAR here. It’s pretty clear. The National Premier League 2 NSW Men’s reigns supreme when it comes to drama, goals and upsets.
Round 17 proved to be no different.
Match of the Round: Mounties Wanderers vs Parramatta FC
There was still 10 minutes left to play, but many Parramatta FC fans had seen enough.
They’d seen enough of their team give away possession, enough of their team fail to get a shot on target, enough of their team make an embarrassing error that led to yet another Mounties goal.
Their audible groans echoed throughout the stadium as they trudged back to their cars before the referee mercifully blew his whistle for full-time.
Perhaps the greatest frustration for the Eagles’ faithful, is that the 5-0 scoreline wasn’t a reflection of how good the Mounties were, but rather a reflection of how bad their team was.
The game started, showing little sign of the demolition that would eventuate.
After an early arm wrestle for possession, Anthony Schmidt threatened on the right flank as he continued to poke his nose in behind Parramatta’s Ryan Blakeley.
It was the adventurous runs of Schmidt that led to the opening goal.
The wide man delivered a dangerous cross to the back post, and in the time Abuzar Awaz and Stefan Giglio took to look at each other and decide whose responsibility the ball was, Tai Smith snuck in and slammed the ball into the back of the net.
The Mounties were finding acres of space in behind the Parramatta fullbacks who looked about as comfortable as a chicken in KFC.
As the half wore on, one scene continued to play out.
Juan Carlos Romero would pick up the ball, after yet another Parramatta attack breaks down; Romero spots the run of Tai Smith in behind the fullback; Romero plays a delightful ball through for Smith; Smith collects the ball; bears down on goal and unleashes a shot that Giglio springs down well to save.
Just put that scene on repeat and you’ve got your first half.
Having failed to turn their possession into any noteworthy chances, Leo Carle brought Jason Trifiro on at the break, looking to create a much needed link between midfield and attack.
However despite Trifiro’s presence on the pitch, the Mounties continued to create the best chances of the match.
Abdelrahman Kuku combined well with Raul Romero on the edge of the box, before slipping through the defence and curling an effort which forced a smart save from Giglio.
If you needed any evidence that Leo Carle was frustrated with his team’s performance, you didn’t have to look any further than the substitutes bench.
Carle made all three substitutes before the 60 minute mark.
However whilst the substitutes brought renewed energy, they offered very little chance of changing the score-line in the Eagles’ favour.
Minutes after Carle had completed his trio of changes, Parramatta handed the Mounties their second goal on a plate.
Jack Musgrave rolled a lazy pass across the middle of the pitch that was easily intercepted by Juan Carlos Romero, who collected it in his stride, raced through on goal and cooly slotted his shot past the keeper.
The goal drained all remaining confidence from the legs of the Parramatta players who now looked bereft of both ideas and enthusiasm in the match.
Their misery was compounded minutes later when Yahya Elhindi made a meal of a clearance following a cross from Andre Schroeder, which fell invitingly into the path of Bruno Pivato, who rolled his foot over the ball and then blasted his shot into the roof of the net.
Yahya Elhindi’s discomfort in filling in at right back summed up Parramatta’s afternoon as the typically classy midfielder fumbled his way through the match, looking nervous and bereft of ideas.
It was the space in behind an out-of-position Elhindi that Mounties scored their fourth of the match.
Juan Carlos Romero was the culprit again, this time requiring the assistance of the crossbar in helping his powerful effort over the line.
As the referee’s whistle mercilessly refused to blow, Mounties completed the rout with their 5th of the game.
This time it was Mitchell Davidson who benefitted from another Parramatta defensive mistake.
When the referee’s whistle finally did sound, it brought an end to 90 minutes of suffering for the Parramatta faithful.
For the Mounties, Terry Palapanis was pleased to see his team finally click after weeks of frustrating draws and defeats.
The question remains for the Mounties however, have they left their run to the finals too late? Or is there still time to make a last-minute charge.
Sunday 25th June – Sydney United Sports Centre
Mounties Wanderers 5 (J. Romero x 2, M. Davidson, B. Pivato, T. Smith)
Parramatta FC 0
Mounties Wanderers: D. Shaw, T. Mijic, A. Hess, A. Schmidt, J. Heras Romero, B. Pivato, T. Smith, M. Davidson, N. Chianese, J. Ott, A. Kuku, A. Schroeder, R. Beneit Romero, J. Ingle
Parramatta FC: S. Giglio, R. Coletta, J. Musgrave, J. Aguirre, C. Abou Serhal, N. Yalda, J. Trifiro, M. Lecce, Y. Elhindi, A. Awaz, R. Blakeley, H. Jasli, Z. Elrich, A. Elrich
Blacktown Spartans 0 vs GHFA Spirit FC 2
It’s the Matthew West show as Spirit FC continue their climb north up the competition table.
Although after the early stages of the game, it looked like it would be the Spartans, rather than Spirit FC, who would be taking home the three points.
Nick Porreca has instilled a new-found confidence in his young Spartan side and it was with this confidence that they pressed high, looking to force a mistake from the Spirit FC defenders.
It was an astute tactic.
Spirit FC looked vulnerable with the limited time and space, affording the Spartans attackers several opportunities to take the lead.
However desperate defending, notably a goal-line clearance from Pasqualino Cappuccio, ensured the score-line remained at 0-0.
Just as Spirit FC were finding their feet in the match, two costly injuries forced David Perkovic into two first-half substitutes – the first to Cappuccio, the second to meant lights out to a typically bright, Bright Appiah.
However as the half from hell was drawing to a close, Matthew West was on hand to turn it into a half from heaven.
The Spartans’ defence failed to clear following a corner, and cruelly for Nick Porreca’s men, the ball fell into the path of the one man merciless enough in front of goal to make them pay, Matthew West.
Spirit FC’s collective frowns turned upside down as they bounded towards the dressing sheds for half-time; and David Perkovic was quick to praise his team’s resilience in not just overcoming a difficult 45 minutes, but to end it with their noses in front.
Unperturbed by going behind, the Spartans emerged from the break with the same aggression they showed in the first half.
With no Cappuccio on the field, Tomi Romic had to make his own saves, showing cat-like reflexes on multiple occasions to keep the home side at bay.
Although for all the Spartans’ endeavour and promise, it was Spirit FC who were next to score.
Andre Carle lead a counter attacking charge as he raced towards goal, Carle showed immense composure to slip a neat pass into the path of Matthew West who made no mistake in gobbling up a McDouble.
The comfort of a 2-0 lead never looked threatened as the clock raced towards full-time, earning Spirit FC their second win in a row, and equally impressively, a second clean sheet in a row.
David Perkovic’s men are now knocking on the door of the top six and if their form continues, it will only be a matter of time before it opens.
St George FC 2 vs Mt Druitt Town Rangers 0
For months the Rangers have ruled the NPL 2 with all the municipal authority one would expect from local law enforcement.
However recent results have shown that the once iron-grip the Rangers exerted over this league is beginning to loosen.
Two straight defeats in which Aidan Desmond’s side have failed to register a single goal has many throughout the competition salivating at the prospect of Mt Druitt mid-season collapse.
One team primed, ready to make the most of any potential collapse is St George.
Wally Savor’s men started the match with an intensity and desire to win that failed to present itself in the men wearing gold and green.
The Saints were rewarded for this intensity after just 15 minutes when Toby Noval unleashed a 25 yard screamer that sailed into the top right hand corner of the goals.
Just like a kiss from her promised prince, the goal seemed to waking sleeping beauty from her slumber as Mt Druitt began pushing players forward in search of an equaliser.
Fans at the Ilinden Sports Centre expected a tight match between two evenly contested teams, and that’s exactly what they got in the second period as both sides chased goals
Mt Druitt to get back into the match.
St George to put the result beyond doubt.
Although it was the latter who managed to have their wish granted as Anthony Morabito sent Carlos Saliadarre on a trip to collect the ball out of his net for the second time that night.
Mt Druitt pushed more men forward in a desperate search of a goal but none was forthcoming as the Saints held on to reverse the score from the two sides’ clash earlier in the season.
Hills United 3 vs Canterbury Bankstown 4
After a torrid few weeks in which Canterbury Bankstown have lost close to 10 players through injuries and departures, Branko Culina’s men get a crucial three points that gives them breathing space where it counts – on both the competition and Club Championship table.
Canterbury Bankstown opened the scoring courtesy of Gonzalo Paradanta, who maintained his goal every other game ratio, notching his third in just six matches.
Hills United have been involved in some high scoring affairs this season, and it became clear this was going to be another when Pete Cejka equalised just moments after going behind.
With neither side too concerned with or capable of defending, the second half turned into a feast of attacking treats.
First, Fogarty crafted an opening for Wade Giovenali who had the easiest of finishes from close range, before Alexander Becerra, a defender turned striker, struck back for Canterbury Bankstown.
Incredibly, the man who’s more adept at stopping goals rather than scoring them, scored his second of the game shortly after, giving Branko Culina’s men the lead, once more.
Whilst Becerra isn’t a name fans are used to seeing on the scoresheet, Jake Bradshaw certainly is. And, much to the delight of Branko Culina, the two-goal lead Bradshaw secured, was enough to secure the three points, despite a late goal from Daniel Rezo.
Hills coach Luke McGuire graciously admitted Canterbury Bankstown deserved the win, but lamented his side’s lack of intensity, which ultimately cost them three points and leaves them clinging desperately to their top six spot.
With the win, Canterbury Bankstown look to have almost ensured the dreaded wooden spoon won’t be headed to the Crest Athletic Centre this season, but Culina will be keen for his side to continue to fight for every point that remains in the season’s final weeks.
Central Coast Mariners 1 vs Northern Tigers 0
Like a game of snakes and ladders, the Northern Tigers look to be slipping down one long, demoralising snake.
Three games without a goal.
Two defeats and one draw.
They now sit in 9th place, 6 points behind an in-form Rydalmere Lions in 6th.
The finals look to be out of reach for season 2018.
And, if the Tigers do fail to make the finals, questions of ‘where did it all go so wrong?’ will ring out in the mind of all their supporters.
The answer is, in these last three matches.
Whilst the long journey to Pluim Park hasn’t been a kind one to many teams in the league this season, the Northern Tigers could very well have come away with a point or three in this game, if not for a horrible error from their goalkeeper.
On the stroke of a tightly contested first half, the Tigers keeper dwelt on the ball, allowing Charles William to steal in and poke the ball into the net.
It proved a costly mistake as the Mariners held on to close the gap on Mt Druitt to just two points.
Rydalmere Lions 4 vs Western Sydney Wanderers 2
Two sentences I didn’t think I’d be saying in Round 17:
Season over for the Wanderers.
Season just beginning for Rydalmere.
After countless players have departed the academy squad, in search of senior contracts, the Wanderers results have steadily declined.
They have now suffered their fourth defeat in just five games.
And, unsurprisingly, they’ve fallen right out of finals’ reckoning.
The opposite is true for Rydalmere.
Despite losing a host of players, the lion cubs of Tony Basha have gone from strength to strength, securing a string of remarkable results to cement themselves inside the top six.
Victor Anyimba’s dazzling feet have twisted defenders all season and he was up to his old tricks again as his weaved his way through a host of bodies to score the game’s first goal.
The Lions didn’t enjoy the lead for long though, as Perry Fotakopoulos hit a beautiful swerving shot that nestled into the back of the net.
It looked like the Wanderers would seize the advantage following the break, as Samuel Silvera continued to threaten in front of goal.
Although it was Victor Anyimba again who pounced to restore Rydalmere’s lead.
Michael Konestabo loves playing at Valentine Sports Park and you could see why midway through the second half when he scored a brilliant goal to double the home side’s lead.
There was no shortage of entertainment for the fans who braved the cold weather, and they were standing and applauding a fantastic goal from Mohamed Adam on 93 minutes.
The late drama didn’t stop there as Rydalmere ran back up the other end and restored their two-goal lead through Yasser Al Taay – who managed to seal bragging rights against his brother in the Wanderers team.
An interesting result that surmises the state of both teams at this stage of the season; Rydalmere on the rise, the Wanderers on the wane.
North Shore Mariners 1 vs Macarthur Rams 0
If there ever was a definition for ‘flying under the radar’, this would be it.
With all eyes on the battle between Mt Druitt and Central Coast at the top of the table, and the scrap for a top six place between Hills United, Rydalmere and Spirit FC, the North Shore Mariners have somehow snuck their way into fourth place.
They were greatly helped in this match by a self-implosion from Macarthur who had two players sent off; Scott Goodwin and Simon Valastro.
The Rams are in no position to be charitable; and after a largely solid performance, one in which new signing Emmanuel Ponce Farias particularly impressed, many felt that had the Rams kept all 11 players on the park, they may have gotten a tangible result from the game.
However football doesn’t deal in ‘if, buts, and maybe’s’, and the record will ultimately show that a brilliant Brian Jamba goal just 29 minutes into the match was all that was needed to hand the North Shore Mariners an important three points to continue their climb up the table, and ensure the Rams remained rooted to the bottom of it.
Source FNSW website - By Ryan Latty