Conference League Northern Round 5 Review


Balmain SC retained their spot atop of the Northern Conference League with a 3-0 home victory against Springwood.
Of late, Balmain goalscorers have a habit of grabbing hat-tricks, with Merlino this week being the star of the show with goals in the 42nd, 64th, and 70th minutes, helping to keep his club?s 100% start to the season with five wins from five matches.
Roosters FC are the third side in the Northern Conference to maintain a 100% record, along with Balmain (5 from 5) and Hawkesbury (4 from 4), as they won a tough encounter at Mona Park against Prospect United by the single goal. Mercurial captain, Topal, converted a 71st minute penalty to keep the Roosters in touch at the top of the ladder.
Gladesville Ryde Magic finally registered their first points of the season with a 3-1 home win at Magdala Park against Luddenham United.
Arima put the home side ahead just before half time, before second half goals by Lakiss (70?) and Bonsu (73?) finished off the game as a contest. Munemo scored a consolation goal for Luddenham on 75 minutes.
Penang had the rest this weekend due to the bye.
Top Goalscorers (as at May 4)
8 ? Buonavoglia (Balmain FC)
7 ? George (Hawkesbury City)
6 ? Topal (Roosters FC), Jones (Hawkesbury City)
4 ? Merlino (Balmain FC), Dowling (Bathurst ?75), Rashid (Roosters FC)
Conference League Northern Match of the Round
Hawkesbury City v Bathurst ?75
If they hadn?t done it already, Hawkesbury City stamped themselves as real title contenders for 2008, with a comfortable and resounding 5-1 victory against Bathurst ?75.
Surrounded by vast open fields, being part of a larger sports complex, Bensons Lane is a compact ground with a good surface for playing football, and the home side were looking to emulate their 2-0 Tiger Turf Cup victory over Bathurst just a few weeks ago.
A range of discrepancies forced coach Gary Lewis to re-shuffle his starting line-up, but the club?s depth meant that the end result was not affected in yet another polished display by the Hawks.
Bathurst top scorer Dowling showed his intention very early as his 3rd minute header from a corner bounced agonizingly wide, and nearly caught the home side napping.
But it was Hawkesbury who went ahead in the 11th minute, when a long throw-in down the right flank was flicked on the inside by Jones, and George continued his recent rich vein of scoring, by racing into the box unattended to crash a shot high past the advancing Moase in the Bathurst goal.
George almost returned the favour within a couple of minutes as he whipped in a low free kick from the left for Jones to hit a volley on the turn, a shot that was on target before being deflected over the cross bar for a corner.
In fact both teams were having a real go at each other in the early stages, with a corner count of 3-3 after just 13  minutes providing the evidence.
On 16 minutes, Hawkesbury?s Carle raced into the left side of the box , skipped past Short, before his low deflected shot was saved at the near post by Moase.
Big defender Lamberton almost pulled one back for Bathurst on 34 minutes when his free kick curled over the wall and just cleared the cross bar.
In the 39th minute Bathurst thought they were going to score, as a swift counter attack down the left wing saw a beautiful ball played in behind the Hawkesbury defence for Christie to run onto. He flicked a shot past the onrushing Alvarez, only for the ball to ooze across the goal and past the upright, with Dowling arriving a mere couple of seconds too late to get on the end of it.
Hawkesbury then made it 2-0 just two minutes later with a clinical piece of team work. Carle picked up a loose ball in midfield, and waited for his strikers to make their runs before slicing the Bathurst defence open for George to run onto. Once he picked up the ball, George stalled somewhat before speeding past Dean, moving along the goal line and then cutting the ball back for Jones, who cracked a low shot past the helpless Moase in the Bathurst goal.
Two minutes later and George could?ve finished the game as a contest when again he sped past a static Bathurst defence and chipped the advancing Moase, only for the ball to clear the cross bar by inches as it dropped over.
An arm wrestle of a first half ended there at 2-0, with clinical finishing from Hawkesbury the difference in a tight, physical contest.
The referee, Mr P.Apostolou, stamped his authority when needed, but allowed the game to flow with some real common sense decisions.
The second half was only 8 minutes old when Hawkesbury did grab their third goal on a counter attack. Carle instigated the move as he played a ball to George?s feet just on the edge of the centre circle in Bathurst?s half. With the Bathurst defence standing square, Carle sped through onto George?s return through ball and smacked a low shot into the bottom corner of the Bathurst net.
Bathurst made two substitutions within minutes in an effort to get back into the game, and subsequently pulled a goal back on 62 minutes. Clancy found Dowling?s feet on the edge of the Hawkesbury penalty area, and the striker turned and calmly pushed the ball past Alvarez as he came racing off his line.
Blayney then caused Alvarez in the Hawkesbury goal all sorts of trouble as his cross via a free kick out on the touchline took a dangerous spin, and nearly dipped over the keeper?s head before it was tipped over for a corner.
However any chance to salvage something from the game evaporated for Bathurst on 72 minutes, when Hawkesbury scored their fourth goal, and it was that man again, George, who was the thorn in the visitors? defence.
As Bathurst were pressing the Hawkesbury defence in an attack, a quick clearance upfield bounced awkwardly into the Bathurst half. George was onto it in a flash, firstly clashing with a defender mid air, flicking his header goalward, then changing gear as he raced away into open space. He rounded the Bathurst keeper, Moase, as he advanced off his line, before steadying himself, and cutting it back for Jones to slam into the net at the second touch.
Carle wrapped up proceedings with an absolute screamer in the 83rd minute, a 25 yard volley that flew past Moase and almost ripped the net off the goal posts.
Hawkesbury coach Gary Lewis was quick to praise his defence, ?We held firm in the first half, scrambled well, and our defence was strong. We felt a little lucky to be 2-0 up at the break, but really opened them up in the second half and I was very happy with the win,? enthused Lewis.
Two goal hero Robert Carle restated his side?s title intentions, ?Our defence was great tonight, and I am very confident that we have what it takes to win this competition definitely!? declared Carle.
For the visitors, Bathurst ?75, big defender Lamberton was a tower of strength as he battled the Hawkesbury tide, Blayney worked hard in the middle of the park, and Dowling made his presence felt in attack.
For the winners, Hawkesbury City, they really were solid all over, but the standouts were; midfielder Carle, scoring two great goals and whose silky touches on the ball created many an opportunity ; Jones up front, who also scored two goals, but had a great appetite for work and moreso, provided the Hawkes with a strong target man; and player of the match, George, who was an absolute menace for the Bathurst defence, scoring a goal, having a hand in three others, and a real entertainer for the small crowd with the ball at his feet.  
HAWKESBURY CITY 5  (George 11?, Jones 42?/73?, Carle 54?/84?)     
BATHURST ?75  1   (Dowling 62?)
Hawkesbury City FC; 1. Alvarez, 2. Vassilou, 3. Knight, 4. Chircop, 5. Larnach , 6. Gee (12. Vanderburg 54?), 7. Hartge ?, 8. McGregor (15. Cooper 60?), 9. Carle, 10. Jones, 11. George (14. Gozko 74?).
Subs not used;  RGK.O?Connor.
Bathurst ?75 ; 1. Moase ?, 2. Lamberton, 3. Dean, 4. Farrugia, 5. Blayney, 6. Porter (12. Woodward 57?), 7. Short (14. Burns 80?), 8. Rooke (13. Horton 62?), 9. Christie, 10. Dowling, 11. Clancy.
Subs not used; 15. Bestwick, RGK. Sexton.
-By Frank Speranza