It’s finally Winter!
Despite the drop in temperature, the action on the pitch continued to fire and produced another exciting round of football.
Find out who kicked off their Winter and second half of the season on a high.
Match of the Round
Rydalmere Lions v Hills United FC
Rydalmere found themselves in shock after conceding defeat to Canterbury last week and the result cements them in place. Having met the midpoint and turned a corner, the Lions are sure to be a side ready to pounce.
Hills recovered from an early goal to find their feet and took a typically measured approach to pick apart the Rams and claim victory. They have risen all the way to second on the ladder and are one good result from hitting double digits in the ‘W’ column.
It seems to be a match to favour Hills, yet it is now the task of backing up their first half run and striding home. Rydalmere however will be laying in wait to strike at any misplaced step and are capable of inflicting a deep wound.
Hills United once again worked hard and converted their opportunities to pick up another win, keeping the Lions at bay and beginning the second half of the season in style.
As soon as the ball kicked off the action kicked into overdrive with frantic first few exchanges which saw both sides score within the first five minutes.
A long throw by Alistair McKie was flicked on by Garang Awac which fell to the feet of new recruit Sam Perre who slid it home. Having notched one in the next minute his curling freekick was almost knocked into the back of the net, Shaun Catlin making a fine last ditch save.
Barely a minute later, Hills grabbed one back as Jordan Parfait battled past his defender before playing a perfectly weighted through ball for Daniel Fogarty who raced onto it and cleverly finished past the keeper.
The pace of the game kept up and it had all spectators gripped as the action flew from end to end.
Rydalmere had the next best opportunity after winning the ball back deep in Hills half, Felipe Zapata got around the keeper and slid the ball across the face of goal, with no teammate able to connect, the ball trickled safely into Hills possession.
Goal-scorer Daniel Fogarty was looking sharp and Rydalmere were struggling to contain him, particularly his dangerous darting runs in behind. As the game seemed to begin to settle, Hills struck again. Nathan Rayner’s cross was fumbled and who else but Fogarty was positioned perfectly to poach the ball and fire home.
The goal rattled the Lions and Hills took advantage with their midfielders picking passes out they were unlocking the Rydalmere defence. Both Wade Giovenali and Jacob Basden were influential in midfield for Hills, linking up play all over the park and unleashing attack after attack on the Lions.
Despite the wind being knocked out of them, Rydalmere had not given up and they continued to press on, Alistair McKie their most effective outlet down the right flank during the first half. He battled hard at both ends of the pitch and almost picked up a neat assist as he teed up Luka Zepina, only the front man just fired wide.
Now with both sides creating moments of controlled possession and building up their own attacking efforts, there was bound to be a flash and the game would change once again. Seemingly out of nowhere, Daniel Fogarty was on the ball again and his curling effort had the Lions with hearts in hands. Fortunately for the home side, there was no celebrations as the ball skidded inches wide from the target.
The match continue to excite with the action continuing at a high pace, the half-time seemed it would ring respite for the players. With the break moments away the Lions almost found a way back into the match as Garang Awac curled an effort destined for the back of the net. Hills man between the sticks Shaun Catlin was keen to keep his side’s lead and made another great save.
At the re-commencement of play, the Lions came out with some tactical changes and looked to press men forward and get themselves back in the match with another early goal.
The changes seemed to be working for the first few exchanges in the second period and Rydalmere produced several opportunities that signalled a goal was on the horizon.
Hills had other ideas and continued to maintain course and turned the tide on their opponents yet again. Finding their rhythm and composure yet again, the visitors began to take control in the midfield and it was paying dividends.
Jarrod Dodds was solid at the back and almost found himself on the score sheet with a giant leap to meet a ball from a corner, forcing Lions keeper Luke Cotton to make a finger-tip save over the bar.
With some more space in behind the Lions defence, Hills took aim, the plan working as it would lead to another goal.
A cross that was cleared fell to Daine Merrin whose first shot was deflected, only back into his path. On the second attempt the volley was true and crashed into the post on the way to the back of the net.
The home-side down another goal kept on in the game yet despite all their best efforts, Hills were confident in defence and able to repel anything threatening.
In the final fifteen minute, the action was a contrast to that of the first fifteen in the match as attacks were broken down more frequently and Hills guided the match with the advantage.
Ultimately there would be no more changes to the score-line as Hills picked up win number ten for the season and marched another step toward finals football.
Rydalmere Lions FC 1 (S. Perre)
Hills United FC 3 (D. Fogarty x 2, D. Merrin)
Rydalmere Lions FC: G. Awac, A. Awaz, A. Chiba, R. Coletta, L. Cotton, L. Frasca, M. Gibbs, D. Kahale, A. Mckie, S. Nicholas, C. Nunes, S. Perre, M. Pombart, E. Stewart, F. Zapata, L. Zepina
Hills United FC: J. Basden, J. Dodds, D. Fogarty, W. Giovenali, G. Kelshaw, A. Koudakpo, D. Merrin, J. Parfait, N. Rayner, B. Robertson, K. Sakurai, A. Vlismas, M. Zarantonello, S. Catlin
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC 1 vs. Blacktown Spartans FC 2
Blacktown Spartans have shaken off their recent form and picked up a much needed win, netting the same score line as in their first encounter with Bonnyrigg.
Spartans came into the match with four players returning from injury, a huge boost to the side and it showed as they opened the scoring just shy of fifteen minutes. A corner was whipped in dangerously and not fully cleared, Josh Tanner the man on the spot firing home.
The goal kicked off the action and Bonnyrigg soon responded with a goal of their own. The build-up play for the goal was excellent and after getting behind the lines and cutting back, Richie Darko was on hand to fire home.
It was at times an even contest and the game opened up with each side testing the other’s defensive resolve. Bonnyrigg however, picked up their efforts and were beginning to dominate the affair, just lacking the finishing touch to get them into the lead.
With time running short, Spartans new signing Finley Hayhurst broke through midfield and played in Lachlan Rose who got in on goal and slotted home, securing the win for Spartans.
Macarthur Rams FC 1 vs. Northern Tigers FC 1
It was an even share of the points at Lynwood Park on Saturday evening, a relatively fair result with how the match played out.
Macarthur got straight into the swing of things, Chris Sheerin scoring on the stroke of ten minutes to put the hosts in control during the opening exchanges. In response the Tigers kept about their game plan and worked into the match, having a slight greater share of chances during the remainder of the first half.
In the second period, the match continued with the hosts attempting to repel the visitors advances, time and time again the Tigers pressed and were rewarded with a goal as the game settled after the restart. Alexander Brown notching his name on the score sheet for the travelling team.
The match began to pick up as each side pushed on to find a goal that would give them the lead, opening up spaces on the park it was end to end and exciting for the spectators.
So many matches this year have ended in dramatic fashion, yet, there would be no twist in this tale and the points shared as the game was called to a close.
St George City FA 0 vs. GHFA Spirit FC 2
A second half brace from Duncan Stewart saw Spirit pick up a clean sweep over City for the season and solidify their place in the top four.
Inside the first fifteen minutes it was the hosts who took charge with Geoffry Lino and Steve Kuzmanovksi looking sharp and threatening. Spirit struggling to adjust in the opening exchanges and were delighted to head into the sheds with the scores locked at even zeroes.
A return to the pitch and it would be Spirit who broke the deadlock as the injection of Ahmed Sweedan did the trick, firing a ball across the face of goal to Duncan Stewart to finish.
From there the visitors maintained composure and sealed the deal in injury time, Lewis Beuime this time firing across for Duncan Stewart who netted to cap off a good performance.
Mounties Wanderers FC 1 vs. Canterbury Bankstown FC 0
Noah Chianese sole goal with less than fifteen to go, secured the win for Mounties in a stark contrast to the crazy 5-5 draw this fixture produced earlier in the season.
The match had a little bit of hype with the fans eager to see more goals on show similar to the last encounter, however, each side had other ideas and intended to assert a dominant defensive display.
Evident as the sole goal in the match came late on as the clock ticked toward the final ten minutes. Mounties victory has them maintain their spot in fifth on the ladder whilst Canterbury continue on as favourites for the wooden spoon.
Central Coast Mariners FC 1 vs. St George FC 1
It was a close and tense match up the coast on Sunday afternoon and a share of the spoils at the end of the ninety.
Each team knocked on the opponents door during the first stanza, asking questions and seeking to break the deadlock. The close game was gripping and despite each sides best efforts, the first period ended nil-nil.
Out from the sheds the tides turned in the Mariners favour as St George were reduced to ten men, Aleksander Lekoski sent off with plenty of the second half to play.
The hosts would eventually capitalise having the extra man as they were awarded a penalty midway through the second half. Kyle Johnson keeping composure and tucking away to give the hosts a huge boost heading into the final stages of the match.
St George had other ideas and whilst the Mariners gave every effort to repel the visitors, the Saints sunk a dagger into the hosts hopes of another win. In the final ten minutes Juan Carlos Heras Romero was once again the hero and scored to level up the tie and ensure the Saints earned a point for their efforts.
North Shore Mariners FC 2 vs. Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2
A cracker match to cap off the round pitted the top two sides going into the fixture and the action did not disappoint.
Whilst North Shore had claim to the majority of chances in the first period from Mitchell Smith and Chris Lindsay, it was Western Sydney who broke the deadlock. Snapping up the ball off a defensive error, the ball was played into none other than Mohamed Adam who calmly slotted home.
The hosts continued to hunt down a goal and were threatening from any set piece whether long throw or corner, Wanderers keeper Jack Greenwood though up to the challenge making numerous saves.
From the restart it seemed the switch was flipped and the Wanderers were more dominant, able to break and run free through the lines of North Shore. That would soon be short lived as out of nothing Marquin Smith popped up to fire on the turn on the edge of the box, levelling up the scores.
The front man soon had his name in highlights again as he cracked an incredible volley from the edge of the box to propel the momentum in favour of the hosts. North Shore then went about doing their job to ensure they maintained a lead and the Wanderers rose to the occasion pushing hard back.
It was an entertaining last quarter of an hour with some end to end action and the youngsters in red and black did not relent in searching for the equaliser. With time still spare, they made the most of some good fortune in a bit of scramble in the box, Jarrod Carluccio in the right place to tap home.
The goal set up a frantic finish as the game opened up and each side looking to grab the winner. There were some nervy moments at both ends of the field however, time, would be the first to the finish line as the points were shared.
NPL 2 Chief Writer – Marcus Flottmann
Twitter – @MarcusFlottmann
Source FNSW website