Round 1 Review – NPL 2 NSW Men’s

The National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s 2019 season has finally commenced and boy did it kick off with a bang!

Whilst some teams are still finding their best combinations, others have made most of their pre-season and had no troubles hitting the target.

A healthy dose of competitive football and plenty of goals to savour, find out who hit the ground running and grabbed points to go.

Match of the Round:

On a beautiful Saturday evening the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s kicked off for the 2019 season.

It was a celebration of football down at Blacktown International Sportspark as football codes also went head to head.

Just finding a park to the ground was proving to be a case of chaos and this transpired on the pitch during the first stanza.

The match was attended by a healthy crowd, home supporters out in numbers to see their side fresh and make their mark early this season.

The travelling Bonnyrigg supporters were eager to see their team back in the fray and winning games.

Let the battle commence!

Boy was it a battle, with clashes of bodies across the park, supporters could feel the physical intensity from all the way up the hill.

It would be Bonnyrigg who worked their way quickest into the game, earning a penalty after sliding Bradie Smith into the box who was clipped late as he looked to cut back to a team mate.

Up stepped new recruit Hussein Jasli who took aim opting for more precision, fired towards the bottom corner. Spartans keeper Michael Figueira read it will and dove hard to his right, palming away the shot.

Whistle blows. Encroachment is the call. Referee says take it again!

Looking to make good of his first chance, Jasli again stood at the top of the run-up.

Mind games now at play.

He strode in and fired for the same corner, yet incredibly, Figueira dove the same way and denied him once again to the roar of support from the home crowd.

The penalty saves kicked Spartans into life and their first chance came soon after, off the back of a quick counter Connor Eldridge was played into the box and fired his shot only inches wide into the side netting. It should have sparked signals of danger for Bonnyrigg as only minutes later, Spartans had the lead.

After being squeezed tight, Spartans were forced to hit long and with a touch of fortune, the second ball landed back in their possession eventually finding the feet of Eldridge. This time he made no mistake, firing his shot low and with too much power for the keeper, the ball found itself rippling the back of the net.

Play resumed and it would be Bonnyrigg who would begin making the most of the change in score-line. Finding more rhythm to their game they grew in confidence and with a delightful diagonal ball for Mark Symington, whose first touch set him up perfectly, snapped a volley on the turn. The crowd gaped as the ball sailed towards goal, the final destination however was the clang of the crossbar and out.

The intensity would rise once again and neither side could really make many clear cut chances with both sides midfield battling for supremacy. It looked as if the score-line may remain the same heading to the break however, Spartans were given a glorious chance and pounced.

A free kick on the edge of the box was taken by Lachlan Rose who cleverly disguised the shot, curling low through the wall and clanging off the inside of the post. Christian Torrelli reacting fastest strode in and tapped in the rebound to give the hosts a healthy 2 goal advantage.

Returning to the field for the second period, Bonnyrigg needed to find the extra gear to get themselves back in the match. Surprisingly, this would come from the back end of the field rather than magic from further up.

Only a few minutes into the second half had passed and Spartans reclaimed possession high up the field with Garang Awac surging forward and fired across a devastating ball for Rose, who unmarked at the back post had the goal to aim for.

It would have surely been 3 for the hosts if not for Bonnyrigg’s illustrious keeper James Chronopoulous who scrambled across and made a fine last ditch save to deny the shot.

The save gave the visitors a sense of purpose once again and began to take more control in the game. They were assisted when Spartans striker Eldridge was sent for an early shower after a second yellow with a third of the game still to play.

Never seeming to lose composure, Bonnyrigg maintained poise and began mounting attack after attack on the Spartans defence. The extra man advantage meant the Spartans were forced to work doubly as hard as Bonnyrigg would not relent.

The tension rose around the ground and the intensity flared once more as Bonnyrigg inched closer to a way back with Spartans starting to tired.

Finally, after periods of long possession and numerous attacks, the visitors got their goal. It would come off the back of yet another dangerous ball into the box as Spartans keeper Figueira misread the cross and unable to clear the lines.

Amongst the scramble in the box, Richard Darko managed to squeeze a shot through the bodies and into the net, 2-1 with just over 15 to play.

Nervous energy from the home support could be felt all around as Bonnyrigg only ventured harder in the quest for an equaliser.

Hubbard’s men were really put to the test in their first competitive hit out, and were holding on by the skin of their teeth as Figueira made yet another fine save late in the game to deny Amar Adilovic from close range.

Almost unbelievably Bonnyrigg did not have their equaliser in stoppage time when Peterson could not hit the target after holding his defender off superbly, firing over the bar from inside the 6 yard box.

With the majority of the home crowd aching in anticipation for the final whistle, the referee called a halt to proceedings.

A huge sigh of relief and cheer in celebration from the home crowd, the Spartans battered left the field victorious.

Match Stats:

Saturday 2nd March 2019, Blacktown Football Park

Blacktown Spartans 2 (C. Eldridge, C. Torreli)

Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1 (R. Darko)

Blacktown Spartans: D. Akol, G. Awac, R. Blanco, H. Brown, C. Eldridge, J. Orchard, E. Patramanis, A. Pecora, L. Rose, S. Tanaka, N. Tarasenko, S. Tokuno, C. Torrelli, M. Ward, M. Figueira

Bonnyrigg White Eagles: J. Chronopoulos, S. Gallaway, B. Smith, G. Subara, D. Vrankovic, J. Armson, H. Jasli, R. Miller, M. Rodic, R. Darko, M. Symington, A. Adilovic, G. Kondek, J. Mckenzie, A. Peterson, S. Savicic

Round 1 NPL 2 Match Summaries

GHFA Sprit FC 3 vs. St George City 1

Coach David Perkovic’s words of making Christie Park a fortress again ran towards becoming reality as his Spirit side kept their composure throughout the game to seal their first 3 points of the season calling it a “professional performance”.

In truly odd circumstances, St George City parted ways with coach Manny Spanoudakis just days before the season began with assistant coach Adrian Webster stepping up to take proceedings on the day.

The managerial change did little to effect Spirit who grew into the game and would take comfort in scoring first mid-way through the 1st half through Louie Bozanic.

It seemed it was all Spirit through the 1st half until an equaliser from City on the stroke of half time gave the visitors a spark to fire themselves up in the sheds via Steve Kuzmanovski.

Naturally, the visitors came out into the 2nd half with a re-energised and intense purpose to find another goal however couldn’t capitalise on their immediate threat.

Spirit would hold steady and were rewarded with a goal from Duncan Stewart after some nice build up play to get in behind the defence.

City needing to grab one back went on the offensive however it was Spirit’s own positivity that earned the best response as they grabbed their third after another ball in behind forced an own goal by Luke Burke.

St George FC 1 vs. Central Coast Mariners 1

The only stalemate from round 1 was an old arm wrestle between two competitive sides. Saints with experience and the Mariners with youth went head to head that played out right until the dying moments with both sides having chances to grab the winner.

Central Coast on the road for their first fixture made their intentions clear from the outset, dominating most of the first half and grabbing the opening goal through young gun Jordan Smylie. Getting on the end of a good through ball he took his chance well to heap the pressure on the Saints.

Following the goal it would continue a tense affair and for all their tenacity and hard work, the Saints were rewarded just after half time through sharpshooter Kevin Lopes who banged one into the roof of the net following a long throw.

As the sides dueled, the Mariners made it harder for themselves having a man sent out with just over 20 to play. To their credit, the young side kept up their work rate maintaining well within the game.

In the pursuit for a winning goal, both sides had late chances but were unable to find their mark as the game finally concluded at 1-1 a result that given the circumstances can be seen in a positive light for the Saints and the Mariners.

Hills United 0 vs. Rydalmere Lions 2

Not the ideal start Hills were after as the Lions came bounding in, took apart the hosts in the opening minutes and claimed their first win of the season.

In the very first minute of the game the Lions grabbed their first from the back of some great build up play. Finding Hassan Jalloh in space, he drove at and dazzled his defender before crossing to Gibbs who smashed it home.

Hills had barely caught their breather when the Lions scored the second goal just 5 minutes later. Jalloh again the provider hitting a cutback for Mitchell Gibbs again who placed his shot into the corner with just enough power to parry past the keeper’s gloves.

Rydalmere maintained their sharp start to the game creating good chances and keeping the momentum with them into the sheds.

During the first 20 minutes of the second half Hills found their mojo and began to beat down the Lions doors.

The young side held their nerve and kept their defence steady knocking back anything Hills could muster.

Eventually, there would no more changes to the scoreline and the Lions took all 3 points.

Northern Tigers 4 vs. Macarthur Rams 0

Tigers roared and took apart the Rams running rampant in the second half at home and signalling their intent to the league.

With 7 of their first 9 games at home, it was crucial the Tigers got off to a good start. The Rams were just as eager as the hosts to kick off the season with points, not wanting to relive the snail pace from last year.

Thus who would strike first?

It would be the hosts who drew first blood as Alexander Brown picked out the back of the net with a well taken volley after a nice cross in from Jaime Craig.

The home side continued their quick start with more chances on goal, but the visiting Rams did not let their guard down again and fought their way back into the affair looking to snatch an equaliser before the break.

Coming into the sheds for the half it was still a close encounter and both sides knowing there was still a lot to play for.

Returning to the field the action continued with the Rams on the attack trying to get a break through early into the second period.

Despite their every effort the Tigers managed to keep a level of control over the game and were rewarded for their patience by grabbing 3 second half goals to seal up the win.

Former Bonnyrigg White Eagles hot-shot Shervin Adeli picked up a brace and the discussion of which highlight was better after both his strikes a show of class.

Josh Swadling got himself on the scoresheet after being the fastest to react to his first shot attempt, tucking away the rebound.

Three points for the home-side who had the legs and firepower to put away the Rams, Tigers coach Adam Hett summing up his side’s performance with simplicity, “pretty happy on all accounts from last night.”

Western Sydney Wanderers 2 vs. North Shore Mariners 1

The youthful Wanderers side left it late to seal the win in their round 1 fixture against a North Shore side looking to smash and grab all three points.

North Shore’s physical play took the young Wanderers off guard as they tried to impose their will and control over the game.

A Wanderers side, coached by Arthur Diles, baring all bones in the players department, managed to weather the storm on numerous occasions and their resilience was proving to boost their chances in the match. The home would eventually take the lead through Mohamed Adam who showed a touch of finesse lobbing the keeper.

The Marines would quickly respond through Mitchell Smith who nailed the equaliser ensuring his side kept in the match and the pressure on the Wanderers.

As each side fought to find their chances, the result looked to be in the balance and remain deadlocked as the final whistle drew nearer.

Adam had other plans in mind as he got himself into a fine goalscoring opportunity and took full advantage to grab himself a brace and a later winner as all three points went to the lads in red and black.

It was a valuable three points for Diles’ squad who boost the youngest team in the NPL 2 NSW Men’s competition and having lost the likes of players such as Tass Mourdoukoutas, Kosta Grozos, Abraham Majok, Nick Suman, Tate Russell, John Roberts and Mark Tokich to the club’s senior A-League team, the signs are there that the coach has more hidden gems ready to be unleashed this year.

Canterbury Bankstown 5 vs. Mounties Wanderers 5

Ten goals, yes you saw correctly, ten and late drama.

Game of the season contender. Berries and Mounties we salute you.

For those who witnessed this match, you had better book in a quick check with the doctor this week.

This fixture provided an intense bout of stress which would have sent blood pressure gauges completely out of whack.

Who would have thought we would bear witness to one of the greats in round 1!

Mounties Wanderers, the punters tip to take out the title were made to work hard for their point but one man came to their rescue in the ever present Matthew West. West played an instrumental role in Brian ‘Bomber’ Brown’s side getting the point netting a hat-trick while goals from former Stallions Sean Rooney and Tai Smith assisted with the point.

It was a memorable night for Canterbury Bankstown who were kicking themselves at full time for not completing a famous victory over their highly fancied opponents but will look at this result as motivation for better things to come.

The Andricopoulous brothers Costa and Nikita got on the scoresheet as did club captain Aaron D’ Mello who banged in one of the goals of the round – his experience at this level will certainly be needed and he is one player that can do all the damage for Canterbury Bankstown’s side as they lead their own charge into the 2019 hunt for silverware. While the club’s Japanese import Toshi Saikawa bagged himself a brace.

-By NPL 2 Chief Writer Marcus Flottmann

Source FNSW Website