At the end of Round 11 of the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s we see the top four begin to pull away from the pack.
Some gutsy wins keep the middle of the table extremely competitive and interesting.
Here’s a recap of the weekend’s action!
Match of the Round – North Shore Mariners v Blacktown Spartans
It was a competitive fixture on Saturday evening with both sides displaying entertaining attacking football. North Shore Mariners making the most of their chances to claim a win against a stubborn Blacktown Spartans side.
The Mariners began the fixture the more composed side, looking ready to rumble. It was a bit of a shock to the system when they would concede first.
A well placed free kick from Lachlan Rose found Josh Orchard in the box who headed into the bottom corner. The youngster was a menace in the first periods of the match and was the most promising outlet for the visitors. A minute later he was unfortunate to not have notched his sides second after steaking into the box and firing low, Ryan Wood making an incredible low save.
Spartans pressed forward again and really should have made it two to the good. Catching North Shore on the break, Connor Eldridge teed up Christian Torelli who missed a clear shot at goal from the middle of the box.
It swayed back and forth but slowly the Mariners found themselves dominating the possession again. That said, possession only pays off if you can use it and the hosts were having difficulties conjuring up chances, unable to really penetrate a solid Spartans defensive line.
Mitchell Smith popped up on the end of a corner aiming to level the scores yet directed his header wide and still the hosts searched.
Josh Orchard then came close to firing a second with a driven shot yet keeper made a fantastic save again.
The link up play for the hosts between Braden Cheng and Daniel Saric was proving to be fruitful and these two eventually began to find ways to slip through the Spartans defence.
Finally the Spartans defence cracked when Braden Cheng went close with a volley smashing into the post. Barley a minute later the possession was recycled and this time the ball in was nodded onto Daniel Saric who cleverly nipped his volley past the keeper and into the net.
It was a sucker punch that really knocked the wind out of the Spartans and only minutes later it got worse. A little lapse on defensive end created some free room in the midfield. Jesse Piriz ventured forward and with a delightful through ball found Mitchell Smith inside the box who headed home brilliantly over the keeper into the far corner to take the lead into half-time.
As play resumed for the second half it was a scramble for both sides to gain a foothold until Spartans were dealt another blow. Nicholas Tarasenko was given his marching orders for a second yellow now doubling the effort for his side to get back into the match.
Chris Lindsay was solid down the left flank in the second half and after a dazzling run he should have claimed an assist when his low cross met Ricky Woodward, only for his shot to fire over the bar.
It was time for a change and the Spartans utilised the bench bringing on Gatsby Gray and Zubayd Allie. Although the pair had barely touched the ball, the Spartans seem revitalised and fought their way back into the match.
It seemed the trick had worked and Spartans appeared to equalise when Connor Eldridge chested and fumbled the ball into the net. The visitors celebrations were cut short as the referee called it a no-goal due to handball.
Running down into the final minutes of regulation, Mitchell Smith had hands on his head in disbelief after he twisted free into space and curled one to the top corner. Michael Figuera at full stretch denied the shot palming it just past the post.
Braden Cheng just minutes later somehow squeezed into the box and one-on-one, Michael Figuera again called on by his side and made a great save to keep some hope alive.
Having kept up the press to get the equaliser, Spartans were running low on steam and when the Mariners countered in the dying minutes it seemed all but done, yet their shot on goal was skied high.
With the absolute last chance, Spartans were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box Garang Awac took aim, yet on this occasion there would be no dramatic end as the ball narrowly missed the target with the full time whistle following.
North Shore Mariners 2 (D. Saric, M. Smith)
Blacktown Spartans 1 (J. Orchard)
North Shore Mariners: B. Cheng, S. Eve, B. Jamba, C. Knight, C. Linsday, J. Mbakwe, J. Piriz, C. Rosano, D. Saric, R. Smahel, M. Smith, M. Smith, J. Tinker, R. Wood, R. Woodward
Blacktown Spartans: D. Akol, Z. Allie, J. Amadi, G. Awac, R. Blanco, H. Brown, C. Eldridge, G. Gray, A. Messina, J. Orchard, A. Pecora, L. Rose, N. Tarasenko, C. Torrelli, M. Ward, M. Figueira
Mounties Wanderers FC 1 vs. Northern Tigers FC 4
The Tigers and Joshua Swadling were too good for Mounties under the Friday night lights, putting away two goals in each half to seal the deal. Swadling was outstanding, collecting himself a neat hat-trick with Matthew Warner notching one for his account. It was an impressive display by the Tigers and moves them up into fifth position.
On the back of three consecutive draws, things finally fell into place for the Tigers who took their chances with clinical precision to stave off the always threatening Mounties.
Mounties attempts to get back into the match came too little and too late. Theo Kofinas tucking away a penalty just as the match hit the last fifteen, yet it would be all she wrote, the Tigers comfortable victors.
St George FC 0 vs. Rydalmere Lions FC 1
Rydalmere emerged victorious from battle with St George and kept their fifth clean sheet of the season.
The first half was an average showing from the visitors and St George looked to dominant the affair with strong physical play.
With neither side striking the target in the first half, it was a wait until midway through the second for either defence to be pierced.
Young striker Adam Seyour sent warning signs to the St George defence having struck the post twice in his search for goal.
Ultimately, the youngster proved to be the difference in the match as his shot fired from wide of the box, crashed into the post and rebounded into a sliding defender then back into the net.
A more composed performance after the goal saw the visitors hold of any of the hosts advances. Having rallied the troops to arms they kept St George goal-less and earned another victory.
Macarthur Rams FC 1 vs. Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC 0
Macarthur picked up a big win on Saturday evening at Lynwood Park, the home side notching their third win for the season.
It began an even contest and each side built their way into the match. With both sides still not hitting their best form in the final third, the first period ended locked at nil a-piece.
The second half break proved the difference and the home side came out looking more dangerous. On the back of some good build up, the Rams broke through the rock solid line of the White Eagles. Just on ten minutes in the second period, Sam Onana Awono got onto the end of a through ball and hit the target.
Bonnyrigg would not be so easily pinned down and pressed at the Rams in quest for the equaliser.
The Rams were holding steady until the final few minutes when it became a scramble to maintain their lead, being reduced to ten men, cueing a nervous frenzy to finish.
Fortunately for Macarthur, they kept their composure at the back to fend off any last threats and claim the three points.
Canterbury Bankstown FC 0 vs. Hills United FC 6
Canterbury suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the high flying Hills, the visitors whacking six past their opponents in a dominating performance.
Hills executed a tactically sound performance scoring three in each half and proved they were a class above the lowly Canterbury side.
Despite the early onslaught from Canterbury it would not eventuate into any goals to the good. Once Hills were able to break through they settled and took rein over the match.
A few second half changes for the home-side aimed to mix up the flow of the match, yet on this day Hills were more than capable to deflect any attacks and turn them into plays of their own.
Adolph Koudakpo, Jordan Parfait, Nathan Rayner, Alex Vlismas all notched another goal to their accounts. Daniel Fogarty was the pick of the bunch securing a brace, the visitors running hot in the top two of the league.
Central Coast Mariners 1 vs. GHFA Spirit FC 3
Spirit were victorious on Sunday evening taking all three points with them back down the motorway meaning that the top four now pull at least two wins away from fifth and below.
Central Coast were the more dominant side in the first period and had a golden opportunity to take the lead. Dylan Ruiz-Diaz was unable to convert from the spot with Tomi Romic making a big save.
With Spirit forced to make some changes due to injury, they looked to only just be hanging on and trouble brewed when two more chances found their way at the hosts feet. Yet, on both occasions they just went wayward from hitting the net.
The goals however, flew in after the restart and in a flurry it was all action. Spirit having rode their luck a little in the first half were the quickest to score with a rehearsed corner finished by Louis Bozanic.
Their lead was cut short as the Mariners countered with a goal of their own minutes later. Kyle Johnson pulling one back for the hosts.
Barely after kicking off again Spirit had taken the lead once again. Having played through the lines of defence, the ball was played to marksman Duncan Stewart to cap off the move.
Late in the match, Spirit scored once again to close out the match. Christopher Arditti cutting back to Travis Cooper who made no mistake in hitting the net.
St George City FA 0 vs. Western Sydney Wanderers 3
City competed as best as they could against the Wanderers, yet the young men in red and black in the end were too strong, making the most of their chances to maintain first place in the league.
The first period produced numerous chances with each side exchanging effort after effort. As they neared closer, it was the Wanderers who would strike first.
Mohammad Adam was yet again leading the highlight reel after he fired home into the back of the net from a pinpoint Jarrod Carluccio pass.
City kept pace and battled hard, not relenting or willing to give in. On several occasions it seemed they would strike back yet the Wanderers defence scrambled well to make last ditch efforts to keep the hosts from scoring.
As time was running down the hosts task to get back into the match got even more difficult as they were reduced to ten men.
Jarrod Carluccio who was having an outstanding game finally got himself on the score sheet in injury time when he headed home from a Lochlan Constable cross.
The goal effectively ending the match but to top off his performance, Carluccio then notched a double as he fired in off the post from the edge of the area.
NPL 2 Chief Writer – Marcus Flottmann
Twitter – @MarcusFlottmann
Source FNSW Website