Round 2 of The National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s provided yet another weekend of highly competitive and entertaining football.
A few surprising scorelines to throw in the mix and perhaps some trends beginning to show their face.
There is never a dull moment in this competition and some teams learned you’ve got to be in it beyond the ninety minutes to win it.
Match of the Round:
The glum and grey sky transformed into a brilliant evening glow as the match that played out from Valentine Sports Park had entertainment written from cover to cover.
Berries came into the fixture looking to halt the goals from last week yet in the space of twenty minutes they had been torn apart by a Spirit side looking sharp early on in the competition.
From the outset Spirit took control of the game with their confidence in possession being displayed all across the park. The visitors heated up and got themselves on the score sheet before even ten minutes had hit the clock. Catching the Berries out, they won the ball back and countered towards goal, cutting back for a shot which ricocheted off bodies and the referee spotting the infringement of an arm, awarded a penalty.
The tall figure of Duncan Stewart, off two steps banged the ball into the bottom corner to set himself up on scoring spree for the night.
Minutes later he was wheeling away again in celebration, as a Spirit caught Berries out again. A delightful ball in behind set up Louis Bozanic, who squared the ball for Duncan Stewart, this time cleverly sliding it under the keeper.
Berries were setting themselves up to take down the two goal deficit from the restart but yet again Spirit kept on coming and found their third. A well-constructed team goal, Spirit recycled possession before firing up the right wing. Intuitive interplay at work, and Louis Bozanic was in on goal who fired a clinical finish across the face, into the far post and nestling in the net.
Three goals for the visitors in what seemed the snap of fingers.
It was going to take some brilliance to get back into the match for the Berries and they continued to search for a way back into the match, breaking down the right wing on several occasions raising the confidence of the home side.
Despite already having three goals past him, Berries keeper Enol Ordonez Suarez was doing everything he could to keep his side in the match and made a fantastic one-on-one save to deny Duncan Stewart from claiming his third.
His save seemed to be a foretelling of promise for the Berries as they were awarded a penalty minutes later. However, Spirit keeper Tomi Romic made a fantastic save diving low and forcing the ball out.
Yet what seemed to be a chance gone begging, turned into a glimpse of hope. The resulting corner for Berries was executed brilliantly, deep into the box, heading back across goal for Gino Cerasoli, who snuck in behind the defence to nod home.
Spirit, who had been playing with a level of comfort now faced a re-energised Berries. Their sole goal however, would not slow down the visitors and they would seemingly put the game to bed just before half time with a bang.
Duncan Stewart was on the end of another precise ball in behind and in one-on-one. In what seemed to be slow motion he lined up and thumped home a volley in empathic fashion.
The game began to play out end to end in the second half as Berries fought to find a way through and despite already having the lead, Spirit chased more goals.
Berries had to come up with something and it looked as though the towering figure of Scott Millar coming off the bench was the solution. The tall timber made an immediate menace of himself in the Spirit box, going achingly close to clawing one back for the Berries, but his header drifted just wide of the post.
The signs of something brewing were still in the air for Berries and they again had keeper Enol Ordonez Suarez to thank for providing the save of the night to keep some hope alive. At full stretch he dove for a curling shot, getting a strong palm to knock the ball away.
End to end the match continued with both sides creating chances yet leaving too many begging.
Eventually Spirit sealed the deal with less than twenty minutes to play. Again exploiting space out wide, the ball was sprayed across the park to switch the ball then into the pat of substitute Travis Cooper, who dropped a shoulder turning inside firing his shot low and taking a deflection into the net.
Another three points for Spirit who have set an early pace and tone for the rest of the league, claiming top spot on the ladder.
Saturday 9th Match 2019, Valentine Sports Park
Canterbury Bankstown Berries 1 (G. Cerasoli)
GHFA Spirit FC 5 (D. Stewart x 3, L. Bozanic, T. Cooper)
Canterbury Bankstown Berries: C. Andricopoulos, N. Andricopoulos, R. Blakeley, J. Bradshaw, G. Cerasoli, A. D’Mello, D. Dias, S. Drewery, J. Hronopoulos, L. Mailey, D. McMurray, S. Millar, J. Nicolaou, T. Saikawa, A. Sopina, E. Ordonez Suarez
GHFA Spirit FC: C. Arditti, L. Beumie, L. Bozanic, P. Cappuccio, T. Cooper, G. Cornwell, S. De Oliveira, J. Forster, D. Furness, J. Harris, D. Johns, F. Kondo, E. Manos, A. Robertson, D. Stewart, T. Romic
Hills United 4 vs. Bonnyrigg White Eagles 2
Bonnyrigg, playing visitor once again, seemed to have an aura of dominance in possession yet will be ruing they could not make more of their control with the ball. The side still working their way into the competition have no need to be worried yet but are still in search of three points to get themselves running.
It was a high intensity fixture played out between the two sides and fans were treated to another goal scoring spectacle.
A double from Nathan Rayner and goals from Glen Kelshaw and Daniel Fogarty all but cancelled out Ray Miller’s brace.
Macarthur Rams 1 vs. Blacktown Spartans 0
The Rams have opened their account for 2019, claiming three points in the dying embers of the match thanks to man of the moment Sam Onana Awono who gave Claudio Canosa his first victory of the 2019 season.
Despite the scoreline, it was another hard fought and good spirited fixture between the sides with each creating their chances and threatening the goal.
On another day the fans attending could have witness yet another goal scoring spectacle.
Macarthur holding on until the last, and catching Spartans in transition. The home side bagging the winner in injury time and with it, a lift off the bottom of the ladder.
Northern Tigers 2 vs. St George FC 1
Another tense battle between the sides played out at North Turramurra, with the hosts claiming first honours of the year with a last ditch effort.
Throughout the first half, both sides built up chances on the back of periods of possession however, neither really able to find their mark.
It was on the stroke of halftime that the deadlock was broken as Tigers put away a penalty, giving them a slender lead heading into the second period.
As tense contests often go, the match began to open up and the Saints would get themselves back into the match, pinching one back midway through the second half.
Another arm wrestle between the sides and as the clock ticked down it seemed the match would be locked at one a-piece.
At a dangerous time, in a dangerous place the Saints gave away a free kick. It would prove their undoing as the Tigers whipped in and got their goal with nothing to spare on the clock.
Mounties Wanderers 2 vs. North Shore Mariners 6
What is going on at Mounties?
The side, that on paper had words flying around the league, seemingly capitulated as North Shore ran riot on their way to three points.
Joshua Mbakwe was the star of the show for the Mariners bagging a hat-trick while a brace from Marquin Smith and a goal from Sean Eve sent the visitors into raptures.
Rydalmere Lions 3 vs. St George City FA 1
Straight out from the blocks, the Lions were on the attack and just like last week bagged the opening goal and early too.
The home side kept up a high intensity yet the visitors responded in kind by holding their hosts at bay. Despite being newcomers in the league, City, through their experienced players mixed with young quality found their rhythm and managed to get themselves back into the match midway through the first half by levelling up the tie.
As the sides butted heads and seemed to be locked even at the half, the Lions popped up and bagged another, giving them the mental edge heading into the sheds.
A return to the fray and the match continued in competitive fashion swaying from one side to another with City aiming to level it up then take it all themselves.
Alas, it would not be as the Lions had Mitchell Gibbs to thank, midway through the second half sealing the deal with a wonder strike to add to his first half goal. Once again edging his team toward victory and his name in highlights.
Central Coast Mariners 2 vs. Western Sydney Wanderers 1
After the tough A-League result against the Wellington Phoenix on Saturday evening , the youngsters in Yellow and Navy earned some redemption for the club, knocking off the Wanderers late in their encounter.
A typical intense and competitive affair between the sides that heated up on the field with players giving it their all to claim the victory.
The hosts who had controlled the majority of the first half, earned themselves momentum by breaking the deadlock just before the half to put pressure on the Wanderers.
Not wanting the hoodoo at the coast to continue, the Wanderers returned to the field with purpose and wrote off the first goal within five minutes and then went in search for a winner. The lads in Red and Black took it to the Mariners and were looking the more dominant side.
Despite both sides creating chances the hot Sunday afternoon began to take a toll on the players. The Wanderers losing a player to injury with no substitutions remaining were forced to battle it out for the last ten minutes.
It would be their undoing as the Mariners claimed the winner from a corner in injury time, sending the Wanderers back home once again without a victory on the coast.
-By NPL 2 Chief Writer – Marcus Flottmann
Source FNSW website