At the conclusion of Round 10 in the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Mens, we can already sum up that in such a competitive league, you have got to be in it for the full ninety and beyond.
Late goals aplenty had tensions rising and fingers nails biting.
The battle for supremacy and race to the finish is only getting hotter, see how each team faired this weekend.
Match of the Round
St George City v Hills United
On a sunny Sunday afternoon at Seymour Shaw, Hills United put on a display of clinical finishing and quelled the threat from City to keep them within one win of first place.
The match began as a bit of scramble, neither side managing to find their feet and possession seemed to change over at will.
Just as the early match jitters settled, an early goal from the hosts caught Hills sleeping at the back. Just shy of ten minutes played, Matthew Mayor drove a free kick low and hard toward goal, forcing a diving parry from the keeper, with Kerim Kumsuz the quickest to react and tapped home the rebound.
The goal spurred the visitors to life and within a blink they were level.
Wade Giovenali created his own moment of magic, weaving through the defenders, into the box before firing from a tight angle into the far corner.
Following each side opening their scoring account the game began to settle and control over possession and chances now the task at hand.
Matthew Mayora was leading the City side and nearly had a goal to add to his early dominance up front. Shrugging off his marker and facing goal one-on-one it seemed his low shot would hit the net, yet Shaun Catlin reacted quicker and pulled off a superb low save. The follow up was pounced on by Kerim Kumsuz, aiming to repeat his earlier feat, on this occasion fired high.
Hills had the next best opportunity as Eoin Montford crossed in to find an unmarked Alex Vlismas, with his header and the goal to hit he nodded narrowly over the bar.
Each side continued the struggle through the midfield, yet drawing near the end of the first period, Hills would take the lead.
Bradley Robertson with his best Messi impression, curled his free kick into the top corner with absolute precision.
Then, with a snap of the fingers, Hills had doubled their lead before half time, a loose ball fell for Jacob Basden who then blasted home from the edge of the box.
City in disbelief their parity had been snatched away, entered the sheds with an uphill battle for the following period.
Back on the pitch for the second period and it was close to yet another Hills goal when Daniel Fogarty aimed to slide the ball into the back of the net. City keeper Christopher Marques was up to the challenge, getting low to make the save.
Matthew Mayora was yet again amongst the mix of things and seemed the most likely to pull one back for City. Again he lined up for goal and had Hills turning their heads when his shot from range lashed just over the bar.
Battling hard and competing well with Hills, City kept up their press for goals and on the overlap Riley Thomson-King shot was heading for the net until another save from Shaun Catlin.
Their efforts to get back into the match continued, Steve Kuzmanovski rocketed a free kick goal-ward forcing the save from Catlin, with no teammate on hand to bury the rebound.
As time ticked near the end of the ninety there was a flurry of opportunities for both sides, initiated when Wade Giovenali bent a shot from the edge of the box that beat everyone until it slammed into the crossbar.
The following minute up the other end of the park Alvaro Malmierca rifled a shot into the net, finally capitalising on the hard work for City. The race to the finish was on and tensions rose in the final nail biting minutes.
With one of the best chances of the match, Steve Kuzmanovski managed to squeeze in front of his defender to position himself one-on-one. Aiming across goal, his shot seemed certain to cap off an impressive comeback. Gloveman Shaun Catlin once again came to the aid for Hills and pulled off one more superb save to ensure his side maintained the lead.
Injury time remained, a depleted City switched off for a split second, that was all it took for Hills to sneak in to seal the deal. A quick free kick sent Nathan Rayner in behind, having out-muscled his marker, he cut back to Daniel Fogarty who fired home.
St George City 2 (K. Kumsuz, A. Malmierca)
Hills United 4 (W. Giovenali, B. Robertson, J. Basden, D. Fogarty)
St George City: R. Awaritefe, L. Burke, J. Busch, E. Davis, A. Duffy, K. Kumsuz, S. Kuzmanovski, G. Lino, A. Malmierca, C. Marques, M. Mayora, H. Morton, R. Thomson-King, B. Tsanidis, P. Turrin, R. Zenari
Hills United: J. Basden, J. Dodds, D. Fogarty, J. Geddes, G. Giovenali, W. Giovenali, G. Kelshaw, D. Merrin, E. Montford, J. Parfait, N. Rayner, B. Robertson, K. Sakurai, A. Vlismas, M. Zarantonello, S. Catlin
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC 2 vs. Western Sydney Wanderers 2
A match that was tense all the way to the wire as it seemed as table toppers Western Sydney would be wheeling away in celebration and another three points until an effort in the dying moments saved Bonnyrigg and split the points.
With a standout crowd watching and cheering on, Bonnyrigg fuelled by the additional motivation, were on the board after just six minutes when Mark Symington netted, sending the home crowd into roars of celebration.
It certainly rattled the Wanderers and despite looking a little shaky in the first fifteen minutes, they would find their feet and equalised through the in-form Mohamed Adam.
Following the opening goals, each side continued to seek for another and take the lead, a contest back and forth to appease the spectators.
Finally, as time drew to a close, Noah Pagden slotted home for the Wanderers much to the despair of the home side. Western Sydney had a chance to secure following their second, but a slip at the final moment saw it fall begging.
Having matched blow for blow with the league leaders, Bonnyrigg pushed in a last ditch effort and were rewarded as Bradie Smith scored in injury time to cap off a thrilling encounter.
Blacktown Spartans FC 1 vs. Canterbury Bankstown FC 0
It was a battle of determination, Spartans came into the fixture depleted to bare bones against a Canterbury side that began to find some of their classic grit. Ultimately it would be a sole goal to split the sides as the tension rode all the way until the final moments.
Canterbury seemed more a side of old, displaying a steely resolve to hold their hosts at bay with some fantastic defensive efforts keeping their spirits high and well within the game.
With the visitors creating chances to snatch a goal, Spartans needed to remain at full focus despite being unable to find a way through.
The pivotal moment would fall for Spartans with less than ten minutes to play. Once again it was Connor Eldridge on the score sheet who hammered home a header to give his side the lead and decide the match.
GHFA Spirit FC 1 vs. St George FC 0
In comparison to last week, Spirit were off to a flying start, as Andy Robertson streamed down the left wing and found Travis Cooper awaiting in the box. With a deft touch, he lined up and thumped home a volley to put the hosts up with only two minutes on the clock.
The sole goal would be the decider between the sides, as a battle for supremacy over the ball, reigned supreme for the remainder of the match.
Spirit continued to pin down the Saints and could claim winner of the first half. Yet, as the game played on, St George found ways to nullify the hosts play and pushed hard for an equaliser.
On another day, perhaps the sides would have found the net again. Goal box scrambles, rattling of the post and chances that skewed off the boot, went begging.
Having pressed to create the chances, the Saints could not find the clinical edge to get back into the game. A stern Spirit defence proved the difference and the home side earned a hard fought three points and their first clean sheet of the season.
Mounties Wanderers FC 2 vs. Central Coast Mariners 3
Mounties were looking red hot to begin the match, however, their early goal would prove little good, only hitting the net once again late and as consolation. Either side Mounties goals from, Matt West and Theo Kofinas, the Mariners put away three and that would be enough to seal the deal.
Having conceded early, the Mariners fought back and were rewarded mid-way through the first period, the influential Joshua Nisbet made his presence known by scoring to get the visitors going.
Out from the restart, the Mariners kicked into gear quickest and made an almost immediate impact when Michael Glassock made a rare appearance on the scorers board.
It was soon double trouble as Alec Vinci capped off the third goal for the visitors, piling the pressure on Mounties and forcing them to chase the game.
Mounties went in search of a way to reduce the two goal deficit however, the Mariners held strong and despite coughing up a late consolation, secured the win and switched spots on the ladder with Mounties for the second week running.
Rydalmere Lions FC 0 vs. Macarthur Rams FC 0
The two sides could not be split on Saturday evening, neither side clicking into right gear in the final third with chances going wayward.
Macarthur on the road, set up to try and pinch one from the Lions, yet their advances were short and made little headway to hitting the net.
The hosts were the stronger presence for the entirety of the match, conjuring up multiple chances. It seemed the hunter bearing down on prey as they peppered the Rams defence.
All their efforts proved fruitless and there were too many moments of hands on heads for the hosts, everything that came their way went begging.
A split result with zip on the score line, each side in dire need of goalscoring.
North Shore Mariners FC 1 vs. Northern Tigers 1
Sunday afternoon was treated to a fantastic competitive spectacle and each side produced a fine display of football.
North Shore had the most clear cut chance of the first half, yet they could not convert their penalty.
Neither side took a real stranglehold on the match yet as time continued to wheel over, Tigers took the lead with less than twenty to play. Shervin Adeli was on hand yet again to steer one into the back of the net.
How the match was playing out it seemed the sole goal to the visitors would be enough to secure the points.
North Shore had other ideas and when they were awarded a penalty in injury time, there would be no mistake. Daniel Saric converting from the spot to save North Shore and spread an even share of the points.
NPL 2 Chief Writer – Marcus Flottmann
Twitter – @MarcusFlottmann
Source FNSW website