State League Two Round 6 Review


Wins to Roosters, Hurstville, Springwood and Prospect maintained status quo in the top four, while victorious Belmore and Luddenham jumped a losing Bathurst outfit to take equal-fifth place.
A feisty 20 goals for the round was also the second highest amount of the season, still short of round two?s 28 goal feast, but well ahead of the opening round?s dismal 13 returns.
Interestingly, home ground advantage doesn?t seem to equate for much with exactly half of the season?s 26 victories coming from teams on the road, Roosters being the main travelling assassins with three wins and a draw from four autumn outings. Bathurst and Hakoah are also undefeated away from home.
The results saw Roosters demolish Gazy Lansvale 3-0, Hurstville come from behind to pip Hawkesbury 4-3, Springwood hurt Bathurst 1-0, Prospect defeat Wanderers 2-0, Luddenham edge out Hakoah 3-2, and Belmore beat Fairfield Bulls 2-1. On the individual front, a goal to Michael Di Meglio and a double to Emmanuel Papageorgiou in Hurstville?s win over Hawkesbury has seen the Minotaurs team-mates shoot to the top of the goalscorers list with five apiece for the season.
Hurstville sneak past Hawkesbury
Hurstville City Minotaurs beat Hurstville City 4-3 in dramatic circumstances at Benson Lane Field on Saturday evening, coming from behind with two goals in the dying moments. The win returned the Minotaurs to the winners circle after three weeks but even The General, Hurstville coach Peter Sarikakis is bewildered as to how Hawkesbury are dead last on the table without a win. The Minotaurs sprang out of the blocks and Michael De Meglio pounced on a dismal clearance to slam home the opening goal on five minutes, Di Meglio?s fifth goal of the season.
But Hawkesbury showed they meant business and might have equalised when Ed George blasted from 25-yards out. His blistering shot beat the Hurstville keeper but cannoned off the post to keep the 1-0 scoreline unchanged. From the ensuing goalkick, the Minotaurs flooded upfield and Emmanuel Papageorgiou sliced through the defence to put the visitors 2-0 up by the ninth minute mark. But the celebrations were shortlived as Hawkesbury took less than a minute to return favour, Steven O?Dea turning and firing in a shot from 18-yards out to make it 2-1 inside the opening 10 minutes.
The fans knew they were witnessing something special and jumped out of their seats when the ball fell to Dane Smith on the six-yard line, but he could only look skyward after he blasted over the bar, keeping the one-goal deficit in tact at halftime.
Charged up by coach Gary Lewis at the break, the home side came out firing in the second term and could have grabbed an early equaliser when a Keiran Kerr rocket whistled past the post. And the pressure finally told on the hour-mark, Gavin Hartge playing an unorthodox one-two with Paul Cooper to level the scores. Hawkesbury almost grabbed the lead soon afterwards, with Tony Judge shooting past the opposition keeper only to see the ball roll on the wrong of the post.
With time ticking away, it was Hawkesbury which broke a tense 2-2 deadlock, Ed George winding down the left hand side and crossing low for Cooper to slice the ball in from in front of goal.
At 3-2 up, a Hawkesbury win for the ages was on the cards but, as usual, Sarikakis had a trick or two still up his sleeve. A couple of late changes had the desired effect as Hurstville surged forward and managed to win a penalty in the 89th minute after a tired collision inside the box. Papageorgiou stepped up and calmly converted to take the scores to 3-3 with his fifth goal of the year.
But if the Minotaurs thought they had just got out of gaol, Hawkesbury then gave them the keys to the city when they left Japanese star Ryuta Nambu with too much room on the end of an injury-time corner kick and his header nestled into the back of the net to lift Hurstville in front 4-3 and sink Hawkesbury hearts. It was a fitting final contribution for Nambu who turned in a man-of-the-match performance for the Minotaurs in what proved to be an incredibly exciting football game. He is the sixth Hurstville player to score a goal this year.
To add an interesting twist to the tale, Hawkesbury coach Gary Lewis was left with a confronting decision ahead of the last minute penalty to Hurstville. He had played reserve grade goalkeeper Robbie Connor in Hawkesbury?s thrilling midweek penalty shootout victory over Seaforth in round two of the McDonald?s Cup, Connor saving three consecutive penalties to win the day. Unfortunately, the chance to bring him on wasn?t an option and Lewis refused to blame his defence, which had tried hard all day.
?When we went 3-2 up I really thought we?d go on with it,? Lewis said. ?But I also knew five games in 14 days would have to take its toll and there were some very tired players at the end of the match. I really do feel for the boys. They let down their guard in the first five minutes and the last five minutes and they paid the price by letting four goals in. It?s one of those things; when your down on confidence, luck doesn?t go your way. A couple of inches with some of those shots and we could have been 4-2 up and not worrying about it. The spirit?s still there; it?s a great club, the boys get on well together, and we?re all feeling for each other. They?re hurting, but everyone?s in the same boat; no one?s blaming anyone.?
Even victorious coach Sarikakis was scratching his head at Hawkesbury?s lowly position. ?They are a pretty good side actually. I don?t know how they?re coming last to be honest. It just shows how evenly matched the competition is. Their shooting was incredible!? he said. ?We missed a few chances at 2-0 up that might have finished the game, but then we made a few mistakes and they came back. I?m happy with a win. I know that the lower placed clubs give 100 per cent and chase everything and can trouble a team that wants to play football on the ground. They were desperate for the points.?
Sarikakis held special praise for Nambu and returned club stalwart Sam Panagakis, who answered an SOS call from The General whose defensive playing stocks had dried up due to a run of injuries. ?He is the captain of captains for Hurstville,? Sarikakis said. ?He played with the club for 15 years and secures the ball very well. I?m struggling with players in the defence, so it is good to have Sam back.?
Hawkesbury City 3 (Steven O?Dea 10m Gavin Hartge 57m Paul Cooper 81m) Hurstville City Minotaurs 4 (Michael Di Meglio 5m Emmanuel Papageorgiou 9/89m Ryuta Nambu 91m)
Grade 20: Hawkesbury City 0 Hurstville City Minotaurs 0
Springwood sink Bathurst
It?s been a pretty good week for Springwood United, who beat St Josephs Rydalmere 2-0 in the McDonald?s Cup knockout last Wednesday and then dispatched Bathurst ?75 1-0 at Alec Lamberton Field on Saturday night. The home side was always in the match but they failed in front of goal too many times.
United had their own troubles on offence and Peter Henderson was kicking himself after heading over the bar from six yards out in the opening stages of the contest. Bathurst were also demonstrating over a turned-down penalty shout midway through the first term. The close calls continued throughout the game before Springwood?s Bryan Campbell rounded the ?75 keeper to slot home the winner inside the final five minutes to steal victory for the visitors.
United coach Errol Warwick-Day was relieved to be on the winning side of a tight game. ?It was close, and both teams had chances. I always though the first team to score was going to win,? he said. ?[Regarding their third clean sheet of the season] It is an area we have put in tonnes of practice; we?ve really worked hard on our defence and we had another [clean sheet] in the McDonald?s Cup game midweek.?
Bathurst coach Mark Rooke was understandably not in the best mood to talk about the loss. ?I?m pretty disappointed about the result, we really did come away from the game with nothing in the end,? he said. ?We didn?t pressure the ball enough, and they sat back and played men behind the ball and tried to pinch it on the break, which they did. I feel we dropped three points to be honest. We played some good football and didn?t come away with any points.?
Bathurst ?75 0 Springwood 1 (Bryan Campbell 84m)
Grade 20: Bathurst ?75 1 Springwood 2
Prospect down Wanderers
Prospect United won a great game of football against Fairfield Wanderers at William Lawson Reserve on Saturday evening, two second-half goals rounding off a game of fortitude and patience. Wanderers were at the sublime best on the ball, working it nicely between their players, while Prospect?s focus and determination to not get sucked out of position worked out very well for them in the end, and helped erase memories of a midweek 2-0 loss to Camden Tigers in the McDonald?s Cup knockout.
Both sides had chances throughout the game as the action went from end to end, but it was Prospect who broke through first, quick feet from Paul Curjak inside the penalty area eventually seeing him brought down by a Wanderers defender and Rob Portelli stepped up to convert the spot kick into the top left corner for a 1-0 lead on 60-minutes.
But the advantage was far from being decisive and Wanderers had some terrific opportunities of their own to equalise before a piece of magic from Prospect substitute Borak Sagol with five minutes remaining sealed the result. The nimble attacker wound his way down the right hand side and provided a pinpoint cross to Luis Freitas lurking at the far post and the striker made no mistake, snapping it briskly back across goal and hitting the post before ruffling the netting for a 2-0 win.
Prospect coach Tony Caruso was delighted with what he regarded as a solid win against quality opposition. ?It was a very good game and finely balanced throughout; we just managed to put away our chances in the second half,? he said. ?But up until five minutes from the end it could have gone either way. I?d really like to credit our substitutes; all three went on and didn?t miss a beat. They kept up the pace and we actually got a little bit more of a kick when they went on. It was a good win.?
Wanderers coach Walter Alvarez paid full credit to Prospect but said his team just didn?t compete well enough in the second half. ?We didn?t deserve anything, never the less, our second half was very average and they deserved to win,? he said. ?We have to get back to the basics and work hard for the result next week.?
?[In terms of the slow start] It may be still a bit of a hangover from last year. We have to realise that this year is a different story and we have to work hard all over again. Other teams know that we are a better team on the ball, so we have to be ready for the teams that come hard at us and ready to challenge the ball harder ourselves.?
Prospect United 2 (Rob Portelli 62m Luis Freitas 85m) Fairfield Wanderers 0
Grade 20: Prospect United 2 Fairfield Wanderers 2
Roosters smash Lansvale
Roosters FC continued to be the wind vane atop the division two hen house after a 3-0 demolition of Gazy Lansvale left everyone in awe at Cherrybrook Park on Sunday afternoon. Roosters stayed in first place with three first-half goals, and stretched their impressive for and against record to a juicy plus-10 after six untarnished matches. For Gazy, it was a fourth consecutive loss and a mountain to climb in front of them.
League leaders Roosters tackle Gazy Lansvale at Cherrybrook Park on Sunday afternoon (3pm) in a vital match for the visitors. Lansvale has been on a slide over the past few weeks, with injuries especially having an impact on their playing stocks. Coach Phil Pavela won?t be hitting the panic button just yet, but he will need to start scratching out competition points sooner or later. A good showing against the red-hot Roosters will be just what the doctor ordered. However, the Roosters are on fire. Enough said.
Roosters started with a flurry of chances and Ozsan Gogebakan opened their account by heading home a cross on 25-minutes. Gurbuz Aslan then produced a 15-yard screamer to double the advantage before African import Danny Matengo finished off a brilliant solo run by dummying a hapless Gazy keeper for the third goal five minutes before halftime. The second half was a real arm-wrestle affair as Lansvale came back into the match, but no further goals were scored with Roosters recording a 3-0 victory.
Roosters coach Juan Ortiz knew his team was running high on confidence, maybe buoyed by the fact that almost a whole team?s worth (nine players) have now scored a goal. ?We?re on a roll, but we?re taking it one game at a time,? he said. ?We have been challenged, it?s just last year we were more worried about everyone elses results, while this year we are focused only on ours. We have also had a lot of the young players step up and our decisions seem better this year. We are now bearing the fruit of some hard work.?
Gazy coach Phil Pavela said his young players paid the price of some silly errors in defence and couldn?t help but wander what might have been had a few of their many opportunities been converted. ?I felt we had a lot more chances, especially one-on-ones, but we just couldn?t take them,? he said. ?We?re still creating up the front, they?re just not going in. [The losses] does effect the confidence, but the second half wasn?t a bad performance. We have to change our luck a bit and we will win a game.?
Gazy Lansvale 0 Roosters FC 3 (Ozsan Gogebakan 23m Gurbuz Aslan 36m Danny Matengo 42m)
Grade 20: Gazy Lansvale 0 Roosters FC 1
Belmore edge out Bulls
Belmore Hercules maintained their consistent run with a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Fairfield Bulls at Blick Oval on Sunday afternoon. The Bulls are no slouches and bothered Hercules all the way, but Belmore had endured a tight penalty shootout McDonald?s Cup win over Dee Why midweek and held their nerve again on Sunday to hold off a strong Fairfield effort.
The game ebbed and flowed before a 12th minute strike from Fairfield new boy Nirian Kanoun put the Bulls in front. Kanoun is fresh from New Zealand and coach Michael Mamoo was glad to have the familiar face back in the side. But his joy lasted just 20 minutes when a 30-yard wonder blast from defender Billy Dimtropoulos restored parity for Belmore.
Hercules goalkeeper Frank Mikuletic was also in fine form after replacing Niccolo Colombo and made a number of saves kept the home side on the front foot and they also took the lead on the hour mark when they won a penalty and George Iliopoulos rammed home for a 2-1 advantage, which they held onto until fulltime.
Belmore coach Ernesto Meduri said both teams had control of the game at different times and was happy to see Hercules in front in the end. ?It goes very well for us and we are waiting for 2-3 players to come back from injury. I am very happy; we have a good team.?
Mamoo was less cheerful. ?Our defenders didn?t push on, and we had many chances,? he said. ?They played good soccer. The boys worked hard, unfortunately the result did not go our way. They are a tough side.? One thing in the Bulls favour is their grade-20 side notched up their sixth consecutive victory to bulldoze their way to a five-point lead over Springwood. That?s a lot of young players who are putting their hand up for inclusion in first grade.
Belmore Hercules 2 (Billy Dimitropoulos 32m George Iliopoulos 56m) Fairfield Bulls 1 (Nirian Kanoun 12m)
Grade 20: Belmore Hercules 0 Fairfield Bulls 2
Luddenham steamrolls Hakoah
The Luddenham United juggernaut continued its path of destruction with a 3-0 annhilation of Hakoah on a sunny Sunday afternoon at ES Marks Field. The win wasn?t quite enough to land a top-five position just yet (they are behind Belmore on goal difference), but many at the club are wandering when the last time they had a start like this in division two. Hakoah might be wandering the same after the loss kept them without a win second from the bottom.
Perhaps annoyed by their 1-0 loss to Mounties Wanderers in the McDonald?s Cup match midweek, Luddenham were a little unsettled early on against Hakoah and perhaps got a surprise lead when Chris Vella whipped it across for Daniel Farre to head into the top right hand corner of the goal. With the game still in the balance, a hamstring injury to Dejan Urosevski forced him to bring on Casey Johnson and his fresh legs rejuvenated United. With Angelo Martino pulling the strings in midfield, Luddenham won a free kick and a Steve Andrews bullet into the bottom right corner gave the visitors a 2-0 lead.
But Hakoah weren?t done with just yet and Josh Morgenstern returned fire on the counter attack to pull one goal back with 10 minutes still to play. However, some good work from Vella down the line opened up space for Daniel Iria and his 85th minute finish put United 3-1 up. Hakoah got a consolation goal when R Neumann benefitted form an injury time goalmouth scramble, but the whistle blew with Luddenham in front for the third successive week.
United coach Andrew Montgomery agreed things were looking up at his club. ?We were lucky to be 1-0 up at halftime, but we were a little more in control in the second half,? he said. ?I told the boys it was important to keep getting goals, and it?s good that we are getting the results for it. We?re starting to move up.?
Hakoah FC 2 (Josh Morgenstern 82m R Neumann 90m) Luddenham United 3 (Daniel Farre 42m Stephen Andrews 47m Daniel Iria 85m)
Grade 20: Hakoah FC 1 Luddenham United 3
Round 6 results
First grade
Hawkesbury City 3 (Steven O?Dea 10m Gavin Hartge 57m Paul Cooper 81m) Hurstville City Minotaurs 4 (Michael Di Meglio 5m Emmanuel Papageorgiou 9/89m Ryuta Nambu 91m)
Prospect United 2 (Rob Portelli 62m Luis Freitas 85m) Fairfield Wanderers 0
Bathurst 75 0 Springwood 1 (Bryan Campbell 84m)
Belmore Hercules 2 (Billy Dimitropoulos 32m George Iliopoulos 56m) Fairfield Bulls 1 (Nirian Kanoun 12m)
Gazy Lansvale 0 Roosters FC 3 (Ozsan Gogebakan 23m Gurbuz Aslan 36m Danny Matengo 42m)
Hakoah FC 2 (Josh Morgenstern 82m R Neumann 90m) Luddenham United 3 (Daniel Farre 42m Stephen Andrews 47m Daniel Iria 85m)
Grade 20
Hawkesbury City 0 Hurstville City Minotaurs 0
Prospect United 2 Fairfield Wanderers 2
Bathurst 75 1 Springwood 2
Belmore Hercules 0 Fairfield Bulls 2
Gazy Lansvale 0 Roosters FC 1
Hakoah FC 1 Luddenham United 3
Next week?s games
Round 7 of division two State League features Springwood meet Hawkesbury in the only Saturday night fixture at Summerhayes Park (7pm). On Sunday afternoon, Wanderers take on Bathurst at Knight Park, Fairfield play Prospect at the same complex, Roosters face Hakoah at Lidcombe Oval, Luddenham welcome Belmore to Luddenham Oval, while Hurstville and Gazy Lansvale play at Belmore Sports Ground (all matches at 3pm).
It will be yet another double up for Belmore Hercules, Roosters FC and Springwood United, who respectively take on Schofield Scorpions at CSI Sports Ground on Tuesday night, Illawarra premier league champions Dindaloo at Lidcombe Oval on Tuesday night, and Blacktown Spartans at Francis Park on Wednesday night in round two of the McDonald?s Cup. These three teams and Hawkesbury are the last division two representatives left in the knockout competition.
-By Daniel De Nardi