Mt Druitt has coms within a whisker of securing the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s 2018 Premiership.
Further down the table, tragedy would strike.
Plus the race for the finals has now become as congested as peak hour traffic.
All in a weekend’s work for the game of football.
Match of the Round:
Who would have seen this result coming?
Especially after how the game started, the final result tells a very different tale.
It was an atmosphere that screamed excitement as Pluim Park was a packed house on Saturday afternoon. The locals skipped on down, getting away from afternoon chores to spur on the young lads and there was a wave of yellow and green everywhere you looked from the travelling fans from Mt Druitt.
The result was perhaps foretold as smoke still lingered in the air from local burn-offs.
A bright start from the home side saw them take an early lead within 15 minutes much to the delight of the home supporters.
Displaying the power of youth, Kekeris was released down the left wing, beating his man for pace he drove hard into the box, cutting inside his defender then rifled his shot into the bottom left corner.
It seemed to be an ominous sign for the visitors as they coughed up possession immediately from the kick off and looked to be in trouble as the Marines played in William, who got inside the box and fired a low shot. Reacting fast to keep the game alive, Saliadarre got down well and made a great save.
The momentum continued in the home-sides favour making several chances however they couldn’t capitalise on some great build up play.
It seemed to come almost out of nowhere but the balance of power would shift to favour the Rangers.
Up top Gonzalez’s presence and threat on goal grew throughout the first half, having several shots on goal saved and firing a wicked volley only just wide into the side netting.
Back and forth the game would roll until the visitors began to trouble the Mariners with some direct play. Pressing the home side deep into their territory, consecutive crosses were fired in, with the last looked to have been headed clear.
Controversy would strike.
Despite a call of play on, the linesman flagged for an infringement. The play was stopped and on referral the referee awarded a penalty for handball.
With his eyes firmly set on goal, Gonzalez stepped up and neatly tucked away the spot kick levelling up the tie.
5 minutes later it was a case of double trouble for the Mariners.
After the home side clear the ball short, Rangers launched an immediate counter catching them off guard. Vlismas battled his way past his defender and was pulled down.
Worse for the Mariners, captain Glassock was shown a red card and sent for an early shower.
With mind games at play, Gonzalez converted again sending the keeper the wrong way and giving Rangers the advantage as half-time beckoned.
Then a saying you often hear as a football fan became reality.
Football is a funny game.
You wouldn’t believe it, but as the first half injury time looked to be up, another penalty, contentious yet again, was awarded to Rangers completing the hattrick.
Up stepped the now giant shadow of Gonzalez. He showed nerves of steel and pulled off the cheekiest of finishes, firing a Panenka into the net and sent the travelling fans absolutely wild.
It would now be a mountain to climb for the Mariners to get back into the game and within 10 minutes of returning to the field, they found themselves only tumbling further and further down.
After a collision with his defender and a referral from the linesman, Peters was given his marching orders, shown a red card for endangering the opposition player.
9 men. It seemed game was done.
It almost was when Gonzalez, having a match and a season to remember, was wheeling away celebrating number 4 for the day when he curled a free kick into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
The cheers were cut short as the referee called the play back and ordered a re-take.
Pearce would not be beaten this time, he parried the second attempt and the follow up shot to ensure some sliver of hope for the yellow and navy.
Now a numbers game, the Mariners couldn’t maintain their usual periods of possession and looked to get back in the game on the counter.
The never give up attitude instilled in the history of the club shone through in the young side, as they pressed on never giving up the fight. Close they would come, however covering the extra space, tired legs began to take a-hold and the Rangers stood firm.
In cruise control the league leaders found acres of space and kept up the threat on goal dominating the remainder of the match.
With less than 10 to go, the deal was well and truly sealed. Vlismas latched onto a parried shot and tapped in number 4 for Rangers, completing the demolition job.
Saturday 4th August, Pluim Park
Central Coast Mariners 1 (P. Kekeris)
Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC 4 (E. Gonzalez 3, A. Vlismas)
Central Coast Mariners: Q. Cheng, M. Glassock, M. Hatch, K. Johnson, P. Kekeris, J. Kuipers, L. Miller, J. Nisbet, A. Pearce, E. Peters, J. Smylie, A. Vinci, C. William, A. Munford
Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC: M. Clowes, C. Coskerie, O. Edosomwan, J. Gomez, E. Gonzalez, B. Griffin-Colls, L. Grima, D. Gullo, D. O’Leary, L. Roberts, H. Satoh, N. Trimble, J. Veljovic, A. Vlismas, K. Vlismas, C. Saliadarre
Blacktown Spartans 0 vs. St George FC 2
Blacktown Spartans came into the game just a singular point above last place and needed to find a win to give them some breathing room whilst the Saints have been in sublime form and keep marching towards the finals.
The home side however found themselves behind early as the Saints netted after just 2 minutes. Romero fired a ball over the top catching Spartans sleeping, Lekoski always a threat on goal, got in behind and made no mistake slipping the ball past the keeper and into the back of the net.
A team struggling to pull all the pieces together and with injuries taking hold, Spartans regrouped and fought their way into the contest.
On a day where things just didn’t seem to fall into place, Spartans could have been back in the contest as chances from Donatiello and Boyadjian missed the mark.
St George were looking the more composed side and kept any threats at goal to a minimum as they headed into the sheds for half time.
The second half seemed to turn in favour of the Saints who began to win the little battles over the pitch and the match itself. Spartans keeper Brown making his debut made some fine saves to deny Romero and Lekosi as the pressure began to build on the hosts.
Finally with 10 minutes to go St George doubled their lead and effectively ended the contest. Good build up play from Paras and Da Silva lead to a neat finish from Akil.
GHFA Spirit FC 1 vs. Canterbury Bankstown FC 0
It was a tight contest with both sides in the mix, and yet another case of one goal proving the difference.
With each side working hard and creating opportunities in both halves of the game, they just lacked the last touch to convert, thus the scoresheet could have read different.
Spirit had the presence of West up top and were finding some success with direct play to him causing concern for the Berries defence.
Berries were unlucky and reduced to thin pickings as their captain came off after 20 minutes into the game only making the visitors work harder.
The home side had a great chance to go up after the restart when Bozanic peeled off to the back post from a cross but fired over the bar.
Deep into the second half, the only goal of the game came from a case of the strangeness of football.
Berries thought they had taken the lead when a shot on goal from Bradshaw was heading in but slammed into the inside of the post, it fell to the Spirit defender who launched an immediate counter attack with a direct ball finding West in space then played to Carle who no mistake and fired home putting Spirit in the lead.
The hosts held on to the slim advantage and took the spoils on the day.
Macarthur Rams 0 vs. Rydalmere Lions 0
Sitting at the bottom of the table, the Rams back at home planned out how to prevent the Lions from raiding the herd.
Seal everything up and make it as difficult as possible for the Lions to make their presence known.
Early in the game it was proving to be quite promising for the home side as Symington snatched the ball off his defender and was in one on one. Rydalmere shot-stopper Sinpraseuth was aware and made a nice save to deny the hosts a lead.
It seemed to be one of the few chances that the Rams would have in the match as the Lions outfit found their feet and began to launch attacks forward.
Al-Taay was a menace for the Lions, racing up and down the right wing creating havoc throughout the match. The visitors were fuelled by his energy and fired off numerous shots at goal, it seemed it would only be a matter of time before they would break through.
Yet the Rams stood strong, with Fernandez in goal, he made sure his side kept a clean sheet, marking his territory and making save after save.
The game took an unexpected turn with just over 20 minutes left when the Rams were reduced to 10 men. It seemed they would be in dire straits leaving space all over the park for the Lions to press forward.
Smelling blood, Tony Basha’s young pride surged in for the kill.
This time, though, there would be no glory for either side. Holding out for the remainder of the match, the hosts held off the visitors and each side left with zero next to their name and a single point shared.
Northern Tigers 0 vs. North Shore Mariners 0
The North Shore derby may not have delivered on the scoresheet this time around, but it did cause some troubles on the ladder.
It was a game of few chances and on the day neither side could make good once the rare occasion popped up.
Tigers had arguably the best of the opportunities, twice from a corner they thought to have struck gold. However, North Shore kept their nerves clearing one of the line and another saved by the keeper.
Back to the drawing board for both these teams as the result only puts more pressure on themselves in the race to the finish.
Parramatta FC 0 vs. Western Sydney Wanderers 3
It looks like the inevitable is beginning to creep over Melita Stadium. Relegation.
The game started with both sides well in the contest, each side making some threatening chances through great wing play. The defence at either end of the park stood firm and kept to their duties keeping the score sheet empty.
Wanderers found the spark they desperately needed in the shape of Aquilina who was making his presence known all over the park. He caused havoc in attack and if not for a deflected shot or the keeper making a great save, he would have been wheeling away in celebration.
Just 5 minutes into the second half, the knock of relegation beckoned at Parramatta’s door. From a dangerous corner Peterson flicked his shot past the keeper and into the net.
Before you could get settled again, Silvera displaying his trademark flair, beat his defenders to float in a cross to Majok who smashed home.
Though they now found themselves behind by two goals, Parramatta almost got back into the game. A well struck free kick looked to be destined for the net and getting the hosts the boost to chase down the game. Wanderers keeper Axford had other ideas and dived full length to parry away the shot.
All in the space of less than 10 minutes the boys in red and black had a third goal and the win in the bag. Majok turned provider, firing a cross in for Peterson who connected well on the volley and netted his second for the match.
Silvera not wanting to be outdone by his teammates went on the attack and only just missed the mark on several occasions.
Finally, as if the match hadn’t rubbed enough salt into the wounds, Parramatta were reduced to 10 men with 10 minutes to play.
Mounties Wanderers 3 vs. Hills United 3
Mounties started the game strong and maintained the possession, finding their feet early they were able to conjure up some good chances. They were penetrating well down the left flank with Heras Romero looking sharp and it was from his boot that led to the opening goal.
Edging toward a quarter of the way through, he fired in a free kick that was headed in from Smith.
After the goal Hills began to take control of the ball and the match. Finding space in behind the Mounties defence, they launched their attack.
After releasing a ball down the left wing, it was cut back to Welch who struck it well to even up the score for the visitors.
The score wouldn’t change again heading into the sheds and with a point separating the sides on the ladder, each team wanted to get the result.
As play returned for the second half, it was more of Hills dominating the ball. 15 minutes after the restart they were in the lead. After a brilliant passing sequence, Kelshaw was on the end of the move to strike his shot into the back of the net.
Mounties didn’t wait long to respond. The visitors jubilation of just taking the lead was cut short just 2 minutes later. The Mounties set piece routines were proving deadly as another free kick fired in led to another goal, the scoreboard now reading 2-2.
The game was now wide open and all to play for.
Just 7 minutes later, Kelshaw was the man again, putting Hills in the lead. Another passing move found him one on one with the keeper, he kept his composure and bagged his second on the night.
The home side would not relent, making some changes they went after the game. Showing character and determination they scored as the game headed towards injury time. Chianese laid off the ball beautifully for Smith who made no mistake in hitting the net, levelling the score at 3-3 and making the race to the finals interesting for both sides.
Source FNSW website