State League Two Round One Review

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Round one of 2010 State League division two gets underway
Bathurst, Hurstville and Springwood enjoyed winning starts to the 2010 State League division two season, as round one action got underway on a very hot weekend. Three first-up draws has also indicated that, one, the competition looks pretty tight this year, but that Hurstville has already emerged as the team to beat.
Bathurst scrape past Hawkesbury
Bathurst ?75 took the spoils in their match against Hawkesbury City at Alec Lamberton Field on Saturday night, beating the visitors 1-0. But it was a match easily swayed by three forced substitutions on Hawkesbury, through injuries, in the opening half-hour. A brave City effort was finally put down with a Jarrad Portgies goal with 10 minutes remaining.
Bathurst coach Mark Rooke was understandably happy with the first-up result. ?I was a bit unsure on how we would go with no pre-season games under our belt, but the boys came out well and the young boys stepped up to the mark. I was certainly pleased with the effort,? he said. ?They had to make three subs in the first half-hour of the match and that probably put them on the back foot, but we also missed some good chances to put them away.?
The goal came from an exchange of passes between Bathurst?s James Christie and Portgies, who drew in the Hawkesbury goalkeeper and slotted it into the back of the net. City responded with a late flurry of chances, but their tiring legs enabled Bathurst to close out the game 1-0.
Hawkesbury coach Gary Lewis praised the bravery of his side and lamented their horrible start to the match. To say he was disappointed is an understatement. ?We went up there missing a few key players and only carried two fresh reserves. The we lose three players [two strikers and a stopper] before halftime. All credit to them; they played a smart game. They knew we would tire, and with 10 minutes to go we ran out of puff. We had enough chances ourselves, though,? he said.
?Bathurst will be hard to beat up there. The ground is very heavy underfoot, and they will be hard to break down. In all fairness, it was good courage from the boys. They really battled through the situation. Now it?s onto next week. [In regards to the injuries] Three or four look long-term, but the few weeks off over Christmas should help. It?s not all gloom and doom.?
Bathurst ?75 1 (J Portgies 80m) Hawkesbury City 0
No goals for Prospect or Lansvale
Prospect United and Gazy Lansvale played out a scoreless draw at William Lawson Reserve on Saturday evening. Gazy was without coach Phil Pavela on the sidelines and played well to create several chances, but Prospect too will feel like they missed a great opportunity to steal all three points.
Prospect United 0 FC Gazy Lansvale 0
Minotaurs devour Wanderers
Hurstville City Minotaurs demolished last year?s champions Wanderers 3-0 at Parkes Reserve on Sunday afternoon. It was a polished display from Peter Sarikakis? Minotaurs, who scored a goal through Nick Mezanakis 10 minutes out from halftime, and then went on with the job in the second term, sealing the victory behind a brace from Michael De Meglio.
Sarikakis was at his vocal best. ?The Wanderers are a pretty good side, but there?s only one General,? he said. ?We had good preparation and beat teams from higher divisions. Today, it took a while for the boys to wake up and get going, but they played well in very, very hot conditions. I knew what to expect from Wanderers, they are a skilful team, but we did what we had to to beat them.?
Wanderers coach Walter Alvarez commended Hurstville?s suffocating style of football. ?I thought they played a good game in terms of neutralising us. They stopped us from playing football around them by putting a lot of people in the middle of the park and at the back, and couldn?t find a way to get our rhythm going in terms of the passing,? he said.
?It was even in the first half, but we had to play catch-up after they scored, so it was even better for them. We couldn?t convert the chances we had, and I thought their goalkeeper did a couple of very good saves; and there were some we didn?t finish properly. All credit to them, they played to get that the result. But this is just started. The boys did not appreciate losing in the first game to Hurstville. The pride is hurt, so they will want to turn it around next week.?
Sarikakis reiterated his team?s title hopes this year, and pointed to a 5-1 victory from Hurstville?s reserve grade outfit as a sign of great depth at the club. ?A strong reserve grade will always help first grade perform, and it also gives the incentive to reserve grade to play well knowing that they have opportunities in first grade if they do. I am very excited about the season for us.?
Fairfield Wanderers 0 Hurstville City Minotaurs 3 (N Mezanakis 36m M De Meglio 66/92m)
Hercules rise to level with Hakoah
Belmore lived up to their name in a Hercules-like comeback from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Hakoah at Blick Oval on Sunday afternoon. Belmore flew out of the blocks and were made to rue a string of failed attacks when Hakoah pounced on a defensive mishap to go 1-0 up. Hakoah doubled their advantage soon after to take a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Belmore coach Ernesto Meduri couldn?t get his charges back into the dressing sheds quick enough, and whatever he said to them had the desired effect as Hercules dominated the second stanza to score twice from crosses ? the second coming five minutes into injury time ? to steal a dramatic 2-2 draw. Both teams finished the game with 10 men on the park.
?It?s a good game to have the scores finish like this, but we should have got more from the game,? Meduri said. ?The soccer is like that sometimes. The motivation was good from the players and I am very happy to get a draw in the end.?
Hakoah coach Paul Watkins would have loved for the game to finish 20 minutes earlier. ?I think the heat had a lot to do with us in the end,? he said. ?We have a slightly older squad, and we were slightly underdone from the pre-season, and that took its toll in the last 15 minutes. I?m reasonably happy with the performance? I probably would have taken a 2-2 draw at the start of the game.?

Belmore Hercules 2 (A Cacciotti 83m J Skufris 91m) Hakoah FC 2 (J Morgenstem 15/39m),
Bulls, Roosters all square
Fairfield Bulls stood tall in the face of a dominant game from Roosters FC to take a 1-1 draw at Knight Park on Sunday afternoon. The Bulls got the early breakthrough when they had a player brought down in the penalty area midway through the first half and Eddie Adams converted for a 1-0 lead. But disaster struck Fairfield when Joe Odisho was sent off for dissent five minutes into the second half. The Roosters ran rampant after that but couldn?t find an equaliser until the second minute of injury time when a long ball caught the Bulls keeper off guard and flicked it over his head for a late goal.
Fairfield coach Michael Mamoo applauded both teams for lasting in the conditions. ?The temperature was terrible for soccer, and we couldn?t find a rhythm,? he said. ?I wasn?t pleased with the way we controlled the game, and we lost our shape in the first half. Overall, I think it was a fair result, but it was one of those games that either team could have won. The Roosters are a good side to play against.?
Roosters coach Juan Ortiz had mixed emotions: ?We did dominate the game,? he said. ?Definitely, to get away with a draw, we?re happy, but we should have put them away in the first half. I?m absolutely ecstatic with the way the boys played and, going by the way they played, we should have a very good season ahead.?
Fairfield Bulls 1 (E Adams 15m) Roosters FC 1 (H Orhan 89m)
Springwood pip Luddenham
Springwood United ran away from Luddenham Oval with a 2-1 win over United on Sunday afternoon. In a topsy-turvy affair, the home side were in front after just nine minutes and could have scored again after they had a player brought down by the Springwood keeper. But the referee judged the foul occurred outside the box and gave the keeper a yellow card.
The visitors then responded with a goal to Peter Henderson just before halftime before an incident midway through the second term saw Springwood awarded a penalty after the Luddenham keeper brought down one of their players. Mick Haberman converted the spot kick and Springwood held on for the 2-1 victory.
Luddenham coach Andrew Montgomery knew the result could have been very different had one or two decisions gone the other way. ?We came out of the blocks firing and had enough chances to win the game, so I?m gutted, absolutely gutted,? he said. ?It is a good sign that we had chances, but the way we let them back into the game was not good. The players are gutted, too. Now we have to pick ourselves up for next week.?
Springwood coach Errol Warwick-Day was pretty chuffed with the way his players turned their fortunes around. ?It was hard coming back, but we were quietly confident,? he said. ?[Luddenham]  had some very good moments of play. It was a very physical game and there was a lot of bounce in the ground, so it was a pleasing win.?
Luddenham United 1 (D Farre 10m) Springwood 2 (M Haberman 40m P Henderson 75m)
Next week?s games
Round two of State League division two has three matches scheduled for Saturday night, Hawkesbury host Wanderers at Benson Lane Field (5pm kick-off), Gazy Lansvale travel to Alec Lamberton Field to take on Bathurst (7pm), and Springwood welcome Belmore to Summerhayes Park (7pm). On Sunday, Hurstville meet Fairfield at Belmore Sports Ground (3pm), Roosters tackle Luddenham at Mona Park (3pm), while Hakoah face Prospect at Wentworth Park (3pm).
-By Daniel De Nardi