The Tigers find their bite, the Lions restore their roar, and the Rams show lightning can strike twice.
No, this isn’t the zoo; just another memorable weekend in the NPL 2 NSW Men’s.
Match of the Round:
It’s a tale of two very different teams.
The woeful Wanderers and the terrific Tigers.
Two teams whose fortunes this season are heading in opposite directions.
The Wanderers wobble.
The Tigers tower.
Although this game started in almost complete contrast from how it finished.
In the absence of Kosta Grozos, Lachlan Scott and Abraham Majok, Samuel Silvera has stepped up to be the leading light in the young Wanderers’ side.
So it came as little surprise, that the opening goal in this game, came courtesy of his lethal left boot.
‘Silky Skills’ Silvera collected a pass just outside the box, quickly shifted it out of his feet, and fired a low shot into the bottom corner of the goals, beyond the keeper’s desperate glove.
Although before a pocket of Wanderers’ fans could get through the first verse of, “Who do we sing for?”, the Tigers were level.
Teenage sensation, Oliver Wiggin, weaved his way through a cluster of defenders. Standing on the edge of the box, Wiggin served an inviting pass for Liam Mcconaghy, who stabbed a leg at the ball and guided it into the top right hand corner.
Ten minutes after their equaliser, the Tigers hit the front.
Aram Tayebi Derazkala, whose photo has frequently featured on the various articles published by Football NSW for the NPL 2, nipped in front of the Wanderers’ keeper to head home from a corner.
Derazkala was quick to fix his hair following the goal, hoping the FNSW cameras would catch a snap of his latest feat.
What the cameras did capture however, was a moment of brilliance from Liam Mcconaghy on the stroke of half time.
Pouncing on a long ball, Mcconaghy’s pressure forced a defensive mix-up, allowing the striker room to poke his toe at the ball and steer it into the corner of the goals.
The Wanderers didn’t even have time to kick-off, as the referee’s whistle blew for half-time with the Tigers enjoying a healthy 3-1 lead.
If the Wanderers were going to find their way back into the match, it was going to come from Samuel Silvera.
The talented midfielder continued to find pockets of space in the Tigers’ defensive zones, and just minutes into the second period, it looked as though Silvera had delivered his side their second goal of the match.
Picking the ball up on the right flank, Silvera squeezed between two defenders, skipped towards the by-line, and then squared a pass into the path of Joshua Gulevski. Unfortunately, with the goal at his mercy, the Wanderers’ striker blazed his shot high over the bar.
Silvera screamed in frustration.
In that moment, he realised something the crowd had known for 55 minutes; as good as Silvera is, the Tigers are too good for the midfielder to win this game on his own.
The victory looked sealed as the minutes ticked by in the second half, with the Wanderers offering very little resistance besides the increasingly lethargic runs of Silvera.
Although on 67 minutes, the Tigers added an exclamation mark to one impressive performance.
Alexander Brown, who had been giving the Wanderers’ keeper problems all night with his corner deliveries, fired in another rocket, this one rising rapidly before dipping late, crashing into the far post and nestling in the back of the net.
The win leaves the Tigers outside the finals’ places, only by goal difference, as they chase down Hills United in 6th.
The Wanderers’ season looks over as they set their targets, not on finishing in the top six, but avoiding the wooden spoon, as they find themselves only 8 points above bottom of the table, Rams.
Saturday 14th July, 2018 Sydney United Sports Centre
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (S. Silvera)
Northern Tigers 4 (A. Tayebi Derazkala, A. Brown, L. Mcconaghy x2)
Western Sydney Wanderers: D. Axford, O. Puflett, L. Constable, J. Gulevski, P. Fotakopoulos, S. Silvera, N. Pagden, M. Adam, T. Kumsuz, T. Aquilina, M. Peterson, J. Bartolotto, H. Davies, S. Monahan-Vaiika, J. Greenwood.
Northern Tigers: T. Liiband, W. Foristal, J. Hardwick, M. Glanville, L. Mcconaghy, L. Dawson, M. Stewart, O. Wiggin, Z. Morris, N. Kalogerou, A. Tayebi Derazkala, J. Tanner, A. Brown, B. Taylor, L. Lloyd, M. Warner.
GHFA Spirit FC 0 vs Macarthur Rams 2
If a cat has nine lives, how many does a ram have?
The Macarthur Rams have looked dead and buried as wooden spooners for 2018, but two victories in a row have forced the executives at FNSW to hurriedly scribble out “Lynwood Park” as the address for the dreaded spoon this year, and consider its destination might lie away from the Macarthur home ground.
Despite the possession stats being heavily in the home side’s favour, David Perkovic’s men were unable to carve open a genuine chance to take the lead.
So, the Rams did.
On 67 minutes, Simon Zahra scored his first goal of the season from the penalty spot; and the small band of travelling fans dared to dream of hearing their melodious team song for the second weekend in a row.
Spirit FC pushed hard for an equaliser but lacked the quality in the final third to warrant a goal.
The Rams sealed the upset on 87 minutes when Eli Squillacioti converted past a despairing Tomi Romic in goals.
A result that dints the finals’ ambitions of Spirit FC, who fall four points outside the top six.
The Rams were singing all the way home to Macarthur as another three points sees them close the gap on the Spartans on the league table, and pile immense pressure on the relegation-threatened Eagles on the Club Championship.
Rydalmere Lions 2 vs North Shore Mariners 1
At the beginning of the season, Tony Basha described a mid-table finish as a pleasing finish for their first season in the NPL 2.
However after losing Amaury Gauthier, Zak and Ahmad Elrich, as well as club captain, Matthew Mayora, surely the Lions’ coach would have to modify his predictions to a more realistic target.
How wrong we were.
Tony Basha’s lion cubs secure another prized scalp, taking down 3rd place, North Shore Mariners.
Duncan Stewart made up for his missed chances from last week, opening the scoring after being expertly set up by Dillan Kahale – a promising young footballer previously of Quakers Hill High School.
North Shore came out with fiery determination in the second half, eager to overturn the 1-0 deficit.
And they made the best possible start in achieving that objective, Aaron Davis scoring following an intelligently-worked set-piece move.
Both sides fought fervently for a winner, knowing that three points would go a long way to securing their place in the top six.
The winning goal came – albeit with a bit of luck – Rydalmere’s way, after Victor Anyimba’s impressive build up forced an own goal from the unfortunate Mariners’ defender.
Content with their slender lead, the Lions’ defended stoutly for the final quarter of the game, securing a vitally important three points to maintain their unlikely push for the finals.
Mt Druitt Town Rangers 2 vs Mounties Wanderers 0
How do you stop the Rangers?
The Mounties believed they had the answer as Terry Palapanis sent his team out with a palpably defensive structure, looking to sit deep and restrict the space the Rangers’ forwards have to wreak havoc.
And it worked for 45 minutes as a frustrated Mt Druitt side wasted possession looking for a miracle pass to unlock the stubborn Mounties’ defence.
Aidan Desmond urged his team to be more patient with the ball in the second half and it was a message that generated instant results.
On 55 minutes, Emmanuel Gonzalez navigated his way through traffic before teeing up Hiten Satoh whose shot hit the crossbar before rebound off Dion Shaw and into the Mounties’ goal.
A stroke of luck – but in the context of a season – a balanced one.
Mounties never truly threatened Carlos Saliadarre in goals as their counter attacks amassed to only half chances.
The Rangers sealed the win on 85 minutes when Emmanuel Gonzalez notched his 17th for the season from the penalty spot.
A clear message from the Rangers that perhaps the top six is a step too far for the defensively frail Mounties team this season.
Canterbury Bankstown 3 vs Blacktown Spartans 3
Regardless of opponent, you cannot afford to lose your concentration in this league.
Teams will punish you.
And that’s exactly what the Spartans did to Canterbury Bankstown in the first half of this match; racing to a 3-0 lead courtesy to an Alex Boyadjian double and a goal from Adam Voloder.
Branko Culina’s men gave themselves a glimmer of hope in first-half stoppage time, when Richard Darko scored a wonder goal, swivelling around a couple of opponents before unleashing a wicked left foot shot into the back of the net.
Suddenly a faint light could be seen at the end of a once darkened tunnel.
Spurred on by their first-half goal, Canterbury Bankstown emerged for the second period a new team.
The mistakes of the first 45 minutes were replaced by assured touches, precision passing and insatiable intensity.
Unsurprisingly, the goals followed.
David Mcmurray reduced the deficit to one goal when he bundled the ball home on 60 minutes.
Before, arguably Canterbury Bankstown’s player of the season, Jake Bradshaw, secured a precious point for the home side on 85 minutes.
A frustrating result for both teams as they continue their fight against the wooden spoon and relegation on the Club Championship table.
St George 4 vs Hills United 2
Since Round 6 Hills have occupied a spot in the top six.
Although after their third defeat in four games, Luke McGuire’s men are on the verge of dropping out altogether.
Hills started the better of the two sides in this match, taking the lead through Kelshaw, after the St George defence forgot the rule taught to all juniors learning the game, “play the whistle”.
The Saints recovered however, equalising just 10 minutes later as Matias Da Silva Santos scored his first goal since his mid-season switch from the Spartans.
Any coach will tell you that scoring a goal just before half-time is key, and that’s exactly what Patrick O’Shea did, rising high to head home, much to the delight of Wally Savor.
However the pattern of the second half was a mirror image of the first.
Hills came out firing and scored first through Daniel Fogarty; but the Saints scored two in reply to snatch all three points and push the Brumbies to the brink of finals’ extinction.
Parramatta FC 0 vs Central Coast Mariners 3
Three goals and three points for the Mariners who journey back up the M1, satisfied with another emphatic performance to keep the pressure on Mt Druitt in the race for the Premiership.
The joy on the faces of the Mariners’ players in stark contrast to the dejection etched on the faces of the Eagles’ players, who – courtesy of Macarthur’s win against Spirit FC – face the grim reality of NPL 3 football next season.
It’s almost impossible to believe. Parramatta FC playing in the third tier of NPL football in NSW.
But after matches like this, in which a young Mariners’ side completely dominates possession and chances, it’s hard to see a way out for the once-proud club.
A final word:
Thank you to Football NSW for the opportunity to cover NPL football – the heartbeat of football in this country.
Thank you to the fans of the NPL 2 who read my writing every week; you make it all worthwhile.
Thank you to the players; after all, if you didn’t provide the show, there would be no audience.
A final signing off…
Source FNSW Website - By Ryan Latty