Match of the Round
DULWICH HILL SC 1 (Philippou 1?)
BLACKTOWN SPARTANS 0
Arlington Oval on Saturday evening was the venue for what promised to be a battle royale between Division One?s two remaining undefeated teams.
Blacktown Spartans were in town, and came into the match perched on the top rung of the competition ladder following a very productive and effective start to the season.
But they came into the match missing the services of Wand Jajaw, their prolific marksman, who has proven a handful for opposition defences thus far. Jajaw?s knee injury means he will miss up to a month of action for the Spartans.
Dulwich Hill were also without a loss thus far, but having drawn half of their matches meant they were slightly off the leading couple of teams on the ladder.
Coach Mark Strachan does have the luxury, however, of a wealth of riches in his squad, with established goalscorers Norman Tome and Nick Paradisis warming the bench, two players who would no doubt walk into any other Division One side.
For those fans that were still finding a seat when the match kicked off, they may have missed what proved to be the solitary goal of the game which came just 30 seconds after the start.
Dully skipper Harry James was quick to latch onto a loose ball in the Blacktown half, sending Mihajlovic away down the left flank.
The skilful striker raced towards the byline before whipping over a low cross behind the retreating Spartan defensive line.
Co-striker Neil Philippou was lurking at the far post, and duly cracked his low volley past a helpless Spartan goalkeeper, Saliadarre, to put the home side 1-0 up.
Mihajlovic should?ve made it two on 10 minutes, slicing his shot wide from a few yards, following a great run and cross down the right wing by the marauding Sam Messam.
Just three minutes later and Philippou almost grabbed his double, swiveling on the edge of the six yard box and shooting past the far upright, following a clever assist by Harry James.
Dulwich Hill had definitely come out to play in the early exchanges, and were quicker to the ball, stronger in the tackle, and smarter with their distribution.
Machado had the Spartans? first real opportunity on goal on 20 minutes, unleashing a 20 yarder that flew past the goal post following a clearance from a corner.
Spartan goalkeeper Saliadarre was busy again on 23 minutes, getting his finger tips to a Bove free kick to flick it around the post for a Dully corner.
For all of Dully?s early domination, it could?ve been all square on the half hour when Spartans? striker, Cornett, skipped away and sent a tempting ball across the face of the goal, defenders and strikers alike unable to get a touch to it.
Messam made another super run for Dully on 34 minutes, this time down the left flank, crossing firmly to the near post where a Mihajlovic flick was gobbled up by Saliadarre at the near post.
That was the last of the action as referee, Mr.Kevin Peddie, brought an end to a frantic first half period, with both sets of players eager to have a breather before coming out for more of the same in the second 45 minutes.
Dulwich Hill were keen to grab a second goal and put the Spartans to bed, and brought on Norman Tome at half time to try and assist in this endeavour.
Dully almost did just that on 54 minutes with a great piece of understanding between two of their other most experienced stalwarts.
Bove won possession in the middle of the Blacktown half, and ran at the Spartan defence.
Playing the ball into the feet of James, he received a beautifully weighted return pass, and took a touch before slipping the ball past keeper Saliadarre, but agonizingly inches wide of the upright.
The tackles had continued where they had left off just before the break, with the intensity at time spilling over into some over zealous challenges, keeping Mr.Peddie busy as the man in the middle.
In the 67th minute Blacktown spurned a great chance to equalize, when Cornett beat a couple of Dully defenders down the right wing purely with his blistering pace.
Racing along the goal line, Cornett cut inside, and seemed to half-hit a cross shot off balance, the ball evading the waiting Guirgis when a tap-in beckoned.
Paradisis was thrown into the mix on 71 minutes by Dulwich Hill coach Mark Strachan, adding some young legs to an already effective midfield, as Dully smelt the kill and went for the jugular.
Blacktown?s chances of squaring the ledger took a massive blow when their best player on the night till that point, Cornett, received his second yellow card for an indiscrepancy with Dully skipper, James, and was sent for an early shower on 76 minutes.
A couple of minutes later and Bove unleashed a 25 yard missile that was parried by the ever alert Saliadarre, hoping to put the game to bed, but the Blacktown keeper wouldn?t let up and kept his team in the contest.
The final few minutes fizzled out as Dully hung on for the win, using all their experience to take the sting out of the match, and condemn their opponents to their first loss of the 2009 season.
Blacktown Spartans captain and goalkeeper, Carlos Saliadarre, rued the absence of some of his team mates on the night ; ?We were missing some of our main players, with Wand (Jajaw) and Brown (Jason) both out, and it didn?t help losing Cornett to the red card,? lamented Saliadarre.
?We gave the ball away too cheaply tonight, and lacked direction going forward. But we are a young side, still learning and improving, and have been happy with our season so far, given this was our first loss. I?m sure if we can stay healthy and avoid major injuries, we?ll have every chance of success this season.?
Dulwich Hill coach Mark Strachan was delighted with his team?s result ; ?We have a habit of starting well lately, which shows we are focused from the outset, and once again kept a clean sheet,? stated Strachan.
?This team has many wise heads and maturity, with no egos, despite the high levels some of the boys have played at. Combine this with a great work ethic, and we?ve got to be aiming to go one better than last year and hopefully be able to win the league?.but it is still very early days yet!?
For the visitors, Blacktown Spartans, best on a tough day at the office were ;
Daniel Cornett was a constant menace until his send off, using his pace and courage to probe in attack, often penetrating the Dully defence ; goalkeeper and skipper, Carlos Saliadarre, who has a real presence between the sticks, is a constant vocal support to his team mates throughout, and kept his side in the game with some great saves at critical times in the match.
Best for the victors, Dulwich Hill ; Rafael Bove was again at his domineering best, pulling the strings in the centre of the park with his telling distribution and high workrate, often winning possession for his team when the ball just simply had to be won ; captain Harry James was his usual effective self when in possession of the ball, his great vision and passes starting many attacks for his team ; Sam Messam proved a rampaging bull down the flanks, using his height and strength to great effect, often providing many crosses and assists to his team mates ; Rao was a rock in defence, strong in the tackle, often stopping many Blacktown attacks by reading and intercepting the play.
Saturday, May 9, at Arlington Oval, Dulwich Hill
Referee ? Mr.Kevin Peddie
Referee?s Assistants ? Mr.Chris Peck & Mr.David Ward
DULWICH HILL SC ;1.P.Sestak, 25.M.Chahine (7.N.Tome 46?), 15.B.Burrows, 20.A.Rao, 6.A.Scicluna, 8.S.Messam (19.N.Paradisis 71?), 5.R.Bove, 18.M.Frost, 11.H.James (capt), 10.D.Mihajlovic, 9.N.Philippou (38.M.Pinto 83?).
Subs not used ?28.D.Krstevski, 40.K.Perestrelo.
BLACKTOWN SPARTANS ; 1. C.Saliadarre (capt), 3.J.Awola, 8.J.Canessa(6.T.Seo 55?), 14.D.Cornett, 13.M.Guirgis, 15.A.Machado, 17..M.Malouf, 16.B.Semenikow, 7.M.Todd, 2.C.Townley-Jones , 9.M.Hubbard.
Subs not used ? 4.R.Wilson,5.A.Stevenson, 20.W.Cordina, 11.N.Haramis.
DIVISION ONE REVIEW ? Round Eight
Schofields Scorpions ? Inter Lions (postponed)
There was high drama at CSI Sports Ground on Saturday evening in what was an eagerly awaited clash between Schofields and Inter.
During the second stanza the lights went out, and amidst the confusion and delay, the officials had no choice but to postpone the match.
The home side had started the much brighter of the two teams, and were in front 2-0 when it all went dark.
So Inter Lions would be counting their lucky stars and will no doubt regroup and be ready for the re-scheduled match, on a day and date to be advised by Football NSW.
Sydney Wanderers ? Mounties FC 1-1
Hadjuk Stadium was the venue for what proved to be a tight tussle between Sydney Wanderers and Mounties FC.
The home side was eager to get back on their winning ways, and thought they had the points in the bag when Daniel Martinez scored on 77 minutes.
But Mounties came back to snatch a point when Tuan Cao converted an 84th minute penalty, keeping them on the brink of the top four.
Hills Brumbies ? Balmain SC 0-4
A late switch from Lambert Park to Second Ponds Oval on Saturday proved a master stroke for Balmain SC when they scored their first victory of 2009 to finally get that monkey off their back.
Hills Brumbies were no match for the rejuvenated Balmain, who scored two goals in each half to record a thumping 0-4 away win.
McPartling put Balmain on the scoreboard in the 15th minute, and veteran striker Merlino made it 2-0 right on the stroke of half time, kicking off his account for the season.
Balmain continued to dominate in the second half, with Andrews (57th) and Gothe-Snape (64th) rounding off the scoring, giving the visitors a much needed confidence boosting victory.
Stanmore Hawks ? Hurstville ZSC 2-0
Stanmore Hawks comsolidated their spot in the top half of the competition with a 2-0 win over Hurstville ZSC on Sunday at Arlington Oval.
Caltabiano put the Hawks in front on 19 minutes, and Theodosiou put the result beyond doubt with just eight minutes remaining, leaving Hurstville propping up the ladder and winless after seven matches.
Fairfield City Lions ? UNSW 5-1
Fairfield City went on a scoring rampage at Norford Park on Sunday afternoon, taking UNSW to the cleaners with a 5-1 thrashing.
The home side started brightly enough, with Oncu opening the scoring on 7 minutes, before a Mirwiss double (14? & 39?) gave them a commanding half time lead of 3-0.
Groth pulled a goal back for UNSW on 54 minutes, but that just sparked the Lions into gear once again, and they grabbed a further two goals to round off the afternoon?s proceedings.
Cetinay made it 4-1 on 57 minutes, before Sozer scored his team?s fifth in the 67th, sending the home fans into raptures.
-By Frank Speranza