Round 5 Review – NPL 2 NSW Men’s

Is it Winter already?!

The matches on the weekend faced the brunt of a cold snap, chilling to the bone.

Round 5 produced another fine display of competitive football, the action keeping supporters warm on the sidelines.

Find out which teams were able to fire up their way to victory this week in the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Mens.

Match of the Round: St George FC v Mounties Wanderers

It blew an absolute gale on Saturday evening at Ilinden Sports Centre as St George and Mounties matched up for the first time since the 2018 Grand Final, on this day, Mounties got their revenge.

Another old tale of two halves as St George coughed up a comfortable first half lead, Mounties storming their way to the finish line, running rampant in the second half with four unanswered goals, winning back some pride and the all-important three points.

The cold chilly weather was freezing all in the stands, yet it was delight to see it didn’t affect the action on the park, as it heated up immediately and kept on flaming bright until the final whistle, evident as out of the blocks, the hosts took the lead.

In only the second minute of the game, a simple recovery in possession allowed St George to get onto the front foot and counter, sending winger Marcus Beattie into space. He drove hard and fast towards the box before cutting back to Hussein Akil, who positioning himself pretty at the top of the box, cracked a first time curling shot, striking it into the underside of the crossbar and over the line.

Minutes later, Mounties had struck back. A free kick wide of the box was sent in towards the six yard box causing danger for the Saints, as Sean Rooney challenged keeper Anthony Costa for the ball, forcing an error as it dropped kindly to Tomi Mijic who tapped it in.

Had you turned your head away you would have missed more action as St George went close to taking the lead again with fantastic build up between Marcus Beattie and Kevin Lopes, seeing the latter, nod a ball into space in the box, with Beattie firing off a free shot but sending it over the bar.

It would be positive signs for the hosts as they did take the lead once again. Hussein Akil bent a free kick up and over the wall, dipping dangerously towards goal, Mounties keeper Dion Shaw looked to palm it clear, however, didn’t get enough on it and the ball settled into the back of the net.

Again the action would not relent as almost immediately from the restart Mounties should have levelled up. Tai Smith controlled a long ball, then cut it for Sean Rooney who looked to strike but deftly dropped it for the free run of Bruno Pivato, the midfielder firing a clear shot at goal too high.

Then in the blink of an eye, St George had bagged their third with Hussein Akil completing his hattrick. Stuck in a bit of trouble on the wing, Ali Nasreddine whipped the ball to Akil who cleverly flicked it past his marker and into the box before emphatically thumping home.

Mounties were still in the game, however they seemed to be only just holding on as St George continued to pepper their defensive resolve. The remainder of the first half, neither side could string together clear cut chances that had kept all spectators on the edge of their seats, the half ending with no further change to the score.

The return of the players to the field was welcome after the half-time break as it bore more waves of wintery air, again the action lightning up from the outset.

St George were aiming to keep themselves composed with their two goal advantage, however, that lead would be wiped away in a flash as Mounties brought the thunder.

It seemed a switch in mindset from the Mounties, with Jacob Poscoliero moving into the heart of defence and Theo Kofinas taking up a role in midfield, moving another imposing figure forward. With only five minutes into the half, Mounties subbed on Matthew West and the change brought immediate impact as he scored with his second touch of the game.

A long ball out from Dion Shaw found the head of West and he nodded on for Tai Smith who attacked the space ahead and cut back for the darting run of West who slid the ball into the back of the net.

Only one minute later the scores were tied up when Sean Rooney curled in a dangerous cross, beating the first man and finding the run of Theo Kofinas, the big man making no mistake and heading home.

Mounties kept up the attack and their clear sign of intent to get forward was proving beneficial to the side. Having played link up man for most of the match, Tai Smith went close to giving his side the lead, only for his clear chance to be fired straight at the keeper.

Still in the ascendancy, Mounties went dangerously close again as Sean Rooney got in behind the defence and one-on-one. Nervous tension filled the home side as he drew nearer to goal, thankfully for the Saints, keeper Anthony Costa came up with a massive save to deny the shot and ensure the scores remained even.

There was not much Costa could do only minutes later when Mounties did take the lead. Peter Triantis knocked a simple ball in behind, with Matthew West racing to the ball first, knocked it past the oncoming rush of Costa and into the net.

The goal seemed to knock the wind out of St George, who could barely believe they had given up their lead. They continue to compete and make waves towards goal, but Mounties kept on pushing back harder and harder. With five minutes left to play Mounties sealed their win when Sean Rooney whipped a deep curling corner to the back post to find the rising Tomi Mijic who headed into the path of Mitchell Davidson, and with a free header puts it in the back of the net.

There was one last push from St George but the match was already done. Simply blown away by the wind and the rampaging Mounties, the visitors dominant with four unanswered second half goals, claimed victory.

St George FC: H. Akil, S. Ali, J. Bandur, B. Bartels, M. Beattie, C. Jeong, M. Kokubo, B. Kubecka, D. Loe, K. Lopes, A. Nasreddine, T. Norval, M. Paz, A. Costa

Mounties Wanderers FC: N. Chianese, M. Cklamovski, M. Davidson, J. Groeneveld, J. Ingle, T. Kofinas, T. Mijic, B. Pivato, J. Poscoliero, S. Rooney, A. Schmidt, A. Schroeder, D. Shaw, T. Smith, P. Triantis, M. West

Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC 0 vs. Rydalmere Lions FC 0

A freezing cold fixture that ended in stalemate with neither side heating up enough to get themselves on the score board.

There were moments in the match that had the supporters off their feet as Bonnyrigg went unbelievably close to scoring, crashing a shot into the crossbar.

Rydalmere created a bunch of good opportunities and will be ruing that they were unable to beat Bonnyrigg shot stopper James Chronopoulos who put in a fine display.

All in all a match that entertained but deserved goals, the sides leaving with a point each.

Blacktown Spartans FC 2 vs. St George City FA 1

Spartans fought hard and got themselves back in the winners circle, notching a win at home against City.

Connor Eldridge put his side ahead early in the match and midway through the first stanza the Spartans had doubled their lead. The second coming off the back of a great cross from Lachlan Rose who found Shun Tokuno at the back post and fired home with a tidy volley.

Spartans would hold their two goal advantage into the second half, but City turned up the heat from the restart and found a way back into the match. Looking sharp in attack, City were led by Steve Kuzmanovski once again who netted to claw a goal back for the visitors.

With the momentum, City gained an air of superiority in the match and went in search of an equaliser. Building up as much as they could, they lacked the cutting edge to really drive home in moments when it mattered most.

The home side still had opportunities to seal the tie but went wayward in front of goal. Fortunate for the Spartans there was no further goals scored and they wrapped up another three points in front of the home crowd.

GHFA Spirit FC 1 vs. Macarthur Rams FC 1

It was almost the smash and grab story of the season when Macarthur rolled in to face Spirit. Scoring early and holding their lead until the final ten minutes, when the league leaders finally found the net to equalise.

There was shock and silence around the home crowd when Anthony Haddad smacked one into the back of the net for the Rams, only ten minutes into the match. It then seemed to be all defence for the Rams who held tight and compact fending off the league leaders.

Surprisingly Spirit were the side finding it difficult to find their groove, with a bit of the wintery wind playing its part in disrupting their flow. Macarthur made life uncomfortable for the home side and a few of their counter attacks looked to be showing signs of danger for Spirit.

At the return of play, it was another deep block from the Rams, their defensive resolve holding steady despite Spirit beginning to make headway towards goal.

It seemed time was going to run out for Spirit yet they finally found a way through the Rams defence with substitute Travis Cooper coming to the rescue. With the momentum heading into the dying moments it seemed another win was on the cards for the home side, yet Macarthur defended well denying the hosts, the match ending with the scores locked at one a piece.

Northern Tigers FC 3 vs. Canterbury Bankstown FC 0

Tigers put in the hard yards and defeated Berries at home, capturing three points, the perfect response to last week.

The home side began the match with an intensity to get on the front foot and take it to their opponents, only to find frustration staring at them in the face. During the first period, Berries found ways to continually repel the Tigers efforts, even going close to taking the lead themselves. Tigers had debutant keeper Benjamin Taylor to thank, making his mark with some strong saves.

As the halftime whistle was about to be blown, Joshua Swadling finally lashed one in, giving the hosts the lead.

A response was clearly needed by the Berries and in the second half the visitors began to go on the offensive, seeking a way back into the match.

Their tactical change in combination with the gusts of wind weening down seemed to favour the Tigers as the game opened up. With the lead already intact, the home side were able to find players in pockets of space and kept on the attack for goals.

It proved profitable for the Tigers and they grabbed another goal through Shervin Adeli midway through the second half. Now with a comfortable lead, the game seemed to be out of hands for the Berries. The Tigers added salt into the wound in injury time as Matthew Warner fired home a third, the home side claiming three points.

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 4 vs. Hills United FC 1

Two teams that came into the fixture on a run of two wins each, left it all on the pitch with the Wanderers arising victorious.

Hills seemed to be the side that got the better of the chances in the first half, striking the crossbar and going close in a one-on-one.

The second half, the Wanderers were the better team and broke through just as play had resumed, Dan Wilmering the fastest to react from a deflected shot, scoring the opening goal.

Hills would strike back and levelled up through Daine Merrin, setting up a thrilling final third of the match. Their goal was quickly cancelled out when the Wanderers broke quickly with Wilmering turning provider for Mohamed Adam who finished off the cross.

Again the visitors rallied and pushed hard, mixing it up and pressing on they were dangerously close to finding the equaliser on several attempts, leaving hands on heads instead.

With the game still in their hands the Wanderers made more strides towards goal and Marley Peterson found the back of the net as injury time loomed, essentially knocking off the last of the Hills attacks.

In injury time, the Wanderers capped off the strong performance as Mohamed Adam completed his brace, a long range effort taking a slight deflection and hitting the net.

North Shore Mariners FC 2 vs. Central Coast Mariners 1

As the referee called a close to play, North Shore raised their arms and voices in jubilation as they were triumphant in the Mariners derby.

In a fiery fixture, there would be no crashing of the homecoming party at Northbridge Oval, as the home side maintained a level of dominance throughout the first half. Their physicality too great for the Central Coast, as the young side got sucked into the battle and straying from their typical style of play.

North Shore were gifted the lead mid-way through the first half when a clearance deflected into the path of Mitchell Smith who fired easily into the open goal. They almost doubled their goal tally yet, Central Coast keeper Joe Gauci made a fantastic save.

The second half continued to be a battle for supremacy between the sides and Central Coast will be regretting that they were unable to put away a penalty to level up the tie. North Shore recaptured their momentum and struck the post sending clear sign that a goal was imminent.

Not yet out of the match, Central Coast conjured up their chances and were also unfortunate to strike the post.

The final fifteen minutes proved to be a frantic race to the finish. Mitchell Smith displayed immense power, pace and poise, breaking free on goal and calmly firing home to double the home side’s lead.

It finally shook awake the Central Coast and with time running low they finally pulled one back through Dylan Ruiz-Diaz. Press as hard as they could it was too little too late from the visitors, losing Jordan Smylie to a second yellow card and eventually the match.

NPL 2 Chief Writer – Marcus Flottmann

Twitter – @MarcusFlottmann

Source FNSW website