Wish as we might, the rain still fell upon us as the football rolled on.
Round 4 of the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Mens has come to a close and each team has now notched up their first points for the season.
There was the usual intense matchup, another last minute winner and sides that found their groove. All in all a fantastic week of football was delivered once again, here is the recap of all the action.
Match of the Round: Spirit FC v Northern Tigers
As the thunder kept on rumbling and the lightning flashing, so did the roars of the Spirit faithful at Christie Park as they claimed first blood in the derby against the Tigers.
A fantastic crowd flocked in to spectate creating an impressive atmosphere, adding to the brooding storm overhead with all goals in the match you could watch again and again for their simple beauty.
The first half had plenty of action at both ends of the park with both sides trading blows in the quest for supremacy.
Spirit had a chance to get ahead early in the match, earning a free kick just outside the area. The in-form Louis Bozanic rifling his shot which deflected into the wall and out for a corner.
Shortly after, Tigers front man Liam McConaghy looked get his eye in and fired from long range, the shot not dangerous enough for Tomi Romic who made an easy save.
In the midfield it was a battle between the nonstop running of Futoshi Kondo and Luke Dawson, with the former going close to putting his side ahead, only just unable to find a good connection from a cross and putting his shot over the bar.
As the lightning began to crack and flash in the background, it seemed ominous signs for Tigers as defender Jordan Ferrier fell awkwardly from an aerial challenge. The battle hardened defender down for several moments before finally recovering, much to the relief of everyone at the ground.
Play continuing in competitive fashion, Spirit sending warning signs went close once again, this time Dominic Furness on the end of a well worked short corner, curling his shot jsut high.
With the sides still going toe to toe, finally the action resulted in a goal, and what a beauty. A short goal kick began the move for Tigers before firing out to the left flank, setting Josh Swadling on the run. His perfectly weighted ball across found the feet of Liam McConaghy who made no mistake and knocked the ball into the back of the net. A grand total of four passes in the move, tearing apart the Spirit defence.
Just as quick as the Tigers had grabbed the lead, the rain picked up again and Spirit struck back. Another wonderful goal which came from Louis Bozanic showing quick feet on the edge of the box to create space, fired a cross to the back post with Chris Ariditti heading home.
Chances for both sides now going closer and closer as Josh Swadling teed up from the area, his driven shot looked to be headed goal bound and had the Tigers support on their feet. The ball skimming over the crossbar on this occasion.
Seemingly still taking turns, Spirit had the next best chance and nailed it. Golden boot front runner Duncan Stewart netted once again giving his side the lead and what would be the winning goal. A well worked team goal, Lewis Beumie slid in a delightful ball for Stewart who having lost his marker curled his shot into the back of the net.
The sides would head into the sheds with no further change to the score line, Spirit holding a slim advantage.
Play in the second half had chances few and far between in comparison to the first period, neither side really able to get themselves into dangerous positions.
Tigers, aiming to get back into the match seemed to be the side who would next make a mark on the score sheet, pressed on. Despite building considerable momentum, they could not break down the Spirit defence and settled too often for options from range.
As the clock crept towards the final ten minutes, Spirit should have gained a goal to put the game to bed. Louis Bozanic once again influential finding Chris Arditti in space, whose cross would find Duncan Stewart but he could not get the proper connection from six yards and sprayed it wide.
With one of the last plays of the game Spirit had one final chance to end it once and for all. Tigers scrambling to get out of their own area coughed up possession on the edge of the box and Travis Cooper was slid in free in the area. One on one he fired at goal, Tonu Liiband up to the challenge made a fantastic save to keep the score unchanged.
Moments later the whistle was blown and that would be it, Spirit claiming yet another victory and solidify themselves on top the table.
GHFA Spirit FC 2 (C. Arditti, D. Stewart)
Northern Tigers FC 1 (L. McConaghy)
GHFA Spirit FC: C. Arditti, L. Beumie, L. Bozanic, P. Cappuccio, T. Cooper, G. Cornwell, S. De Oliveira, D. Furness, F. Kondo, E. Manos, M. Oates, A. Robertson, D. Stewart, A. Sweedan, L. Zacharopoulos, T. Romic
Northern Tigers FC: S. Adeli, A. Brown, J. Craig, L. Dawson, J. Ferrier, W. Foristal, J. Hardwick, N. Kalogerou, T. Liiband, L. Lloyd, L. McConaghy, Z. Morris, J. Swadling, B. Taylor, O. Wiggin, R. Williams
St George FC 0 vs. Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC 3
Bonnyrigg is finally on the board, with a solid win against St George through a superb Huss Jasli brace and the usual goal from Mark Symington, the White Eagles have their first win and points for the 2019 season.
It was not as smooth sailing as the score line might dictate, as St George looked to be in control through most of the first period.
The home side had a hold of possession but it was their lack of decisiveness in the final third that cost them.
Too many shots were wayward and not threatening enough to cast any doubt over their opponents.
Against a side like Bonnyrigg, you need to take your chances and despite having fewer opportunities the visitors showed their class by latching onto one just as the clock ticked to half-time.
Out of the sheds the Saints had to regroup, yet as quick as the second period began, they were behind by another. The game shifting in momentum to Bonnyrigg, they kept their composure and poise, nailing another one mid-way through the second half to put the game to bed.
Hills United FC 3 vs. North Shore Mariners FC 2
A dramatic finish in a tense contest, Hills netted a penalty with virtually the last kick of the game to win the match.
It was a hard and fast start in the first period as the hosts got onto the scoreboard after five minutes when Jordan Parfait was found from a cutback, kept his nerve and nailed his shot.
For Hills, it seemed to be going all smoothly until a lapse in focus cost them the lead. North Shore celebrating a quick fire double from Mitchell Smith, the visitors earning the advantage midway through the first period.
As the battle continued, the scoring subsided and along came the end of the first half. A return to the field saw Hills trying to regain their dominance in the match as the rain began to fall.
Still searching for the equaliser as reward for their patience, Hills coach Patrick Zwaanswijk again utilised his bench to great effectiveness with his changes once again proving beneficial. With a switch of play and getting in behind for yet another cutback, Nathan Rayner settled himself and fired home to even up the tie.
Now with the momentum, Hills went on the attack as the clock rolled on. North Shore holding ever defiant continued to hold the hosts at bay. As it looked to be heading for stalemate, it was an end to end finish that capped off the game.
North Shore had a dangerous free kick in enemy territory which was cleared with immediacy and Hills were on the break streaking for goal. A last ditch effort to deny the goal scoring opportunity resulted in North Shore losing a man and coughing up a penalty.
After moments of waiting for the dust from the tackle to settle, with nerves of steel, Daine Merrin placed the ball down and finished his shot into the top corner, sealing the win for Hills.
Macarthur Rams FC 0 vs. Western Sydney Wanderers FC 4
The Wanderers rode some moments of danger in their victory over the Rams, eventually finding the right gear and cruising through the end of the match to earn three points. Another odd performance from Macarthur which saw them go achingly close to taking the lead several times in the first half. The side however still showing signs of struggle that haunted them all of last year.
Having withstood the early onslaught from the Rams, the Wanderers got themselves goals from John Roberts and Thomas Aquilina before the first period ended, reward for their efforts and giving them advantage in the match.
It was more of the same from the Wanderers in the second half, with Marley Peterson netting with twenty to play. Only minutes later Mohamed Adam got his name on the score sheet to close out the match and secure the three points for the Wanderers.
Mounties Wanderers FC 1 vs. Blacktown Spartans FC 1
Mounties and Spartans butted heads for the full ninety minutes, eventually ending in a goal and a point a piece.
The scores remained unchanged throughout much of the match until suddenly after just passing the midpoint in the second half the game came alive.
Peter Triantis netted his first for the season, edging Mounties in front by tucking away a penalty. Mounties then seeking to then get on with it, were halted by the quick response from Spartans when Connor Eldridge grabbed a goal back to tie up the match.
As the match headed towards full-time neither side could capitalise and create the chance which surely would have been the winner. In stalemate the match would finish, neither side willing to relinquish a point.
St George City FA 1 vs. Canterbury Bankstown FC 0
City fans will be all in celebration after claiming their first victory and points of the 2019 season, defeating Berries at home.
Snatching a goal early in the contest through Steve Kuzmanovski, the home side grinded it out keeping their opponents at bay for the remainder of the match on their way to three points. A fantastic save from Chris Marques was a key moment for City, giving his side a huge boost of confidence after having just scored.
Berries kept on piling the pressure leading to a few nervous moments towards the end of the match, ultimately the sole goal was enough for City.
The result means the sides slide in opposite directions on the table with City climbing off the bottom of the ladder. Berries have now fallen to last place with only a single point to their name and look to be in some trouble.
Central Coast Mariners FC 1 vs. Rydalmere Lions FC 1
In a very competitive contest, it looked as if the Mariners would claim another victory at home yet the Lions late dash to the finish line levelled up the tie and the sides left with a point each.
The hosts got themselves on top in this one and with their usual presence at home, made things uncomfortable for the Lions. Jordan Smylie was up to his usual self, getting involved in the attack and threatening goal, just unable to make it count.
Neither side was able to break through and the first half came to an end with no change to the score line.
A return to the field and the match got its opener as the Mariners worked a free kick well to find Dan Hall who netted his first goal for the season, putting the yellow and navy in front.
Onward the Mariners would march, yet Rydalmere upped their defensive effort stalling their opponents attacking threats.
With time running out, the Lions went in search of the equaliser, making changes to press the attack. It seemed the Mariners had rallied enough to fend off the Lions until Hassan Jalloh popped up in the box and managed to pull one back for the visitors with a sharp finish.
It would eventuate as the last change to the score line, the Mariners will see it as game that slipped away, with Rydalmere pleased grabbing the point away from home.
NPL 2 Chief Writer – Marcus Flottmann
Twitter – @MarcusFlottmann
Source FNSW website