We learnt three things in Round 19 of the NPL 2 NSW Men’s:
- Draws are dangerously infectious.
- Don’t bother trying to predict the outcome of a match in this competition.
- And the Premiership crown is edging ever closer to being decorated in gold and green for 2018.
Match of the Round: Rydalmere Lions vs Mt Druitt Town Rangers
Mt Druitt were the winners on the night but they were also the winners for the round as they benefited from an unprecedented amount of draws and dropped points, to kick clear of their closest rivals.
The Mt Druitt Rangers were the only team in the top six to claim victory over the weekend, but they were made to work hard for the three points by a resilient Rydalmere side.
Aidan Desmond’s team cruised to a 3-0 victory the last time these two teams met in Round 6, however there seemed no chance of that score-line repeating itself in this match.
What did seem likely to repeat itself though, was the performance of Hiten Satoh.
The last time these two teams met, Satoh scored twice and had a hand in the third, and it looked as though the Japanese playmaker was up to his old tricks again, mesmerising the Rydalmere defence on numerous occasions early in the match.
Satoh is a key figure in the Rangers’ side – when he plays well, so do the rest of his teammates.
The Satoh-effect was working its magic on Luke Clifford.
The Rangers’ number 7 had the game’s first real chance, muscling his way through defenders before firing a shot off from the edge of the 6 yard box which the Rydalmere keeper managed to parry away.
Clifford will not want to see the replay of the chance, as the footage shows an unmarked Emmanuel Gonzalez standing unmarked, metres away, screaming for the ball to be squared so he could tap it into the empty net.
To Clifford’s credit, it was a mistake he wouldn’t make again.
On 35 minutes Hiten Satoh rode a challenge in the centre of the park before slipping a delicate pass through the high defensive line. Clifford burst onto the pass, but this time, instead of shooting from an acute angle, he squared a pass into Emmanuel Gonzalez, who tucked the ball away.
Clifford’s confidence soared following the assist and, if it wasn’t for an acrobatic finger-tip save by the Rydalmere keeper, the winger would have added his name to the scoresheet.
On 43 minutes, Clifford sent the Rydalmere defender one way before stepping the other and firing a powerful 5-star weak foot strike on goal.
The ball looked destined for the top corner of the net before the Rydalmere keeper sprang from nowhere to touch it onto the crossbar and out for a corner.
Mt Druitt fully deserved their lead as both teams trudged off for half-time.
Although early in the second half, Rydalmere should have struck level.
Duncan Stewart poked his nose through a hole in the Rangers’ defence and then, seeing Saliadarre anticipate a low driven shot, Stewart tried to lift the ball over him, but Saliadarre was sprightly enough to push the ball over the bar.
This sparked a period of domination from Rydalmere.
They forced 4 corners in the space of 10 minutes but every time there seemed to be an opening on goal, it was blocked by a desperate Mt Druitt defender.
That was until the 89th minute when Stewart peeled off the back of his defender, and then rose through the air to glance a headed shot on goal. But his effort lacked any real conviction and the golden chance to snatch a late draw went begging.
After 6 minutes of injury-time, the referee finally brought the match to an end as Mt Druitt reflected on three points earned courtesy of clinical finishing, and three points that extends their lead at the top to 4 points.
Rydalmere maintain their position in the top six thanks to the Mounties, Northern Tigers and Spirit FC being held to draws.
Saturday 7th July – Valentine Sports Park, Glenwood
Rydalmere Lions 0
Mt Druitt Town Rangers 1 (Emmanuel Gonzalez 35’)
Rydalmere Lions: D. Ortega Roman, A. Sayan, M. Gibbs, V. Anyimba, A. Mckie, F. Kondo, E. Stewart, B. Cook, A. Fofanah, H. Sinpraseuth, Y. Al-Taay, D. Stewart.
Mt Druitt Town Rangers: C. Saliadarre, H. Satoh, B. Griffin-Coles, K. Vlismas, D. Gullo, L. Clifford, M. Clowes, O. Edosomwan, A. Vlismas, N. Trimble, L. Darkoh, D. O’Leary, E. Gonzalez, J. Veljovic, J. Mamone, L. Grima.
Blacktown Spartans 3 vs Western Sydney Wanderers 3
3 goals for each but 3 points for neither, as the points are shared between the Spartans and Western Sydney Wanderers.
Wanderers’ fans had been pleading with the coach to start Samuel Silvera in recent weeks – the youngster’s form has been a shining light in an increasingly dark sky for the red and black.
And Samuel Silvera repaid the faith of those championing his name after just 5 minutes, combining with Adrian Valenti to set up Marley Peterson for an easy tap in.
However less than 5 minutes after scoring, the Wanderers were picking the ball out from their own net after super Spartan Alex Boyadjian beat the keeper with an exquisite finish.
Two goals inside 10 minutes and this game showed no signs of slowing down as both sides came within inches of taking the lead.
The Spartans would eventually take the lead to the break however, when Dau Akol made the most of an opportunity to convert past Greenwood in goals.
Determined to not taste defeat for the fourth time in a row, the Wanderers emerged from the break with tangible motivation.
And they were rewarded for this intent on 53 minutes when Samuel Silvera got on the end of a through ball and slid a shot past the keeper.
Although again, the Wanderers would concede shortly after scoring, this time Peter Crevani was on hand to make it 3-2.
With less than 20 minutes remaining, it looked like the home side would hold on for the victory, but Marley Peterson blasted a shot past the despairing Spartans’ keeper to steal a late, but crucial point for the Wanderers.
St George FC 3 vs Macarthur Rams 4
At first I thought there was a problem with the app on my phone.
Macarthur Rams lead St George 4-0 after 44 minutes.
Surely that’s an error.
It must be St George, the team in 3rd place, not the team in last with only 2 wins to their name all season, who are winning by 4 goals.
But, the Rams prove once again why the NPL 2 NSW Men’s is unmatched when it comes to drama in NPL football.
After benefiting from two goal keeping errors that had many wondering if Fernando Muslera or Loris Karius was masquerading as Bailey Kubecka in the St George goal, and then two defensive errors to compound Wally Savor’s misery, the Rams looked like heading into half-time with an unassailable 4-0 lead.
However a late Anthony Morabito strike gave St George fans a glimmer of hope as the two teams emerged for the second half.
Thunder boomed during the interval, but the clear night sky showed no evidence of a present storm.
Suddenly it became clear the roar was coming from the St George dressing room as Wally Savor implored his players to wake from the slumber that was threatening to cost them all three points.
His players responded, piling immense pressure on the Rams’ defence.
The pressure paid off, as the Rams conceded an own goal on 69 minutes.
A nervy final 20 minutes ensued.
And when Jason Romero converted a spot-kick in stoppage time, belief grew that the Saints could steal a draw from the jaws of defeat.
Although the Rams held firm for a famous victory, one that doesn’t change their positioning on the competition table, but one that gives them new hope on the Club Championship one.
Northern Tigers 1 vs Parramatta FC 1
Tigers’ coach Jason Eagar cut a frustrated figure as the referee blew his whistle for full-time in this fixture.
Knowing the scores from around-the-grounds, the Tigers’ coach knew this was a massive missed opportunity to make up ground on the top six.
After a dominant first half, in which Liam Mcconaghy opened the scoring following a delightful team move down the left flank, Jason Eagar sent his players out after half-time with a simple message:
More of the same, please.
However his players delivered the total opposite.
Misplaced passes, lethargic legs too tired to press the opponents on the ball – the Tigers looked nothing like the team that owned much of the first 45 minutes.
Whilst the Tigers let their grip slip, Parramatta FC took full control of the second half.
Typically slick on the ball, the Eagles combined possession with pace in the final third, forcing the Tigers’ keeper into multiple sharp saves.
Although the Eagles would get the goal their second-half performance deserved when Zak Elrich added another to his burgeoning highlight reel, with a cracking effort that sailed into the goals from 25 yards out.
There was one final chance in the game for the Tigers to reclaim their lead and the three points, but Stefan Giglio grew wings to fly into the top corner and push a goal-bound shot wide of the post.
In the end, an important point for the Eagles considering Macarthur’s win.
Whilst the Tigers may well look back at this match if their season ends after 26 rounds.
Hills United 1 vs North Shore Mariners 1
After four wins in a row, the North Shore Mariners looked to be on their way towards a fifth successive victory when talisman, Mitchell Smith, opened the scoring in sensational fashion early in this fixture.
Although with 7 draws to their name this season, Hills United are a team that know what it takes to fight for a precious point.
Luke McGuire’s men wrestled back both the momentum and possession in this match, deservedly drawling level through Wade Giovenali on 30 minutes.
Unsurprisingly the goal came courtesy of a Daniel Fogarty cross, who should really open his own courier business due to the amount of goals and assists he delivers the Hills United faithful.
Despite the attacking talent on show, neither side were able to find the breakthrough, as the points were shared on Saturday night.
The result hurts Hills more than the Mariners as a cluster of teams hovering just outside the top six grow increasingly closer in the rear vision mirror of the Hills United bus.
Central Coast Mariners 1 vs GHFA Spirit FC 1
Spirit FC couldn’t have asked for a worse start after they made the journey up the M1 to Pluim Park.
Conceding to an Emmanuel Peters goal after just 6 goals.
However David Perkovic’s side were unperturbed by the formidable fortress that Pluim Park has become this season, working their way back into the game and finding the equaliser just 20 minutes later.
Andre Carle fired a shot that proved too hot for Munford to handle and the ball dribbled over the line and into the back of the net.
Surprisingly it was Spirit FC who dominated possession in the second half as they continued their search for a winning goal.
Although the best defence in the league dealt confidently with Spirit’s threat, never really looking like allowing David Perkovic’s side to head home with anything more than a solitary point.
A frustrating night for the Mariners as the Rangers slip out of their immediate reach in the race for the Premiership.
Mounties Wanderers 0 vs Canterbury Bankstown 0
It hurts for one.
Whilst it heals for another.
Mounties’ 0-0 draw against Canterbury Bankstown has put a dent in their top six aspirations, on a weekend that victory would have seen them overtake Rydalmere to occupy a finals’ spot for the first time since Round 4.
Even more frustrating for Terry Palapanis is the fact their next three games are against top four opposition, making their inability to collect three points against Canterbury Bankstown potentially season defining.
Branko Culina will see this game very differently.
There were moments either side could have won the game, but the important point continues to breathe life into the NPL 2 lungs of Canterbury Bankstown.
Source FNSW website - By Ryan Latty