State League Two Round 11 Review


Rain forced the postponement of four matches, but Luddenham?s 4-2 win over Fairfield Bulls saw them leapfrog Hurstville into second position on the ladder, a point behind Roosters.
The Minotaurs how head a traffic jam of eight teams separated by just six points. However, there are now seven matches on the catch-up pile.
A weekend brace to Luddenham?s Michael Wood and a goal to Bathurst?s Jarred Portegies took both players to six for the year, equal with Hurstville weapon Michael Di Meglio and Lansvale?s Michael Amed, and just one behind current chart-topper, Roosters skipper Ercan Topal. Minotaurs forward Emmanuel Papageorgiou, Prospect?s Paul Curjak, Bathurst?s James Christie, Fairfield?s Khaled Elkerhani and Hakoah?s Josh Morgenstern have claimed five goals each.
Bathurst pump Hurstville
Bathurst ?75 have played their best football of the year in a convincing 4-1 win over competition heavyweights Hurstville City Minotaurs at Alec Lamberton Field on Saturday night. Bathurst?s three-goal win follows-up a solid 2-2 draw with league-leaders Roosters last week, showing there are some great signs ahead at the club. On the other side of the coin, it was back-to-back losses for Hurstville, who went down 0-6 to Belmore in their last outing, to give coach Peter Sarikakis a few headaches.
The home side started briskly and went 1-0 up on the quarter-hour mark when a neat diagonal ball over the top of the Minotaurs defence was headed home by Bathurst striker James Christie inside the far post. But Hurstville got there revenge inside the half-hour when Angelo Vagenas made the most of a free kick to blast home an equaliser. It was the third game in a row that Bathurst had conceded from a set piece.
But Bathurst were quick to respond, with Christie making a darting run down the left hand side of the park, beating 3-4 defenders to shoot it past the keeper from 10 yards out and rack up his fifth goal of the season. Bathurst were back in front and then tightened their grip on the game when Ricky Guihot smashed in a rolling ball from close to 25 yards out. His thunderbolt whistled through the air and crashed into the top corner of the net to establish a 3-1 lead before halftime.
Bathurst coach Mark Rooke was a little un-nerved in the dressing sheds because, for the first time this season, he had very little to say. ?I just wanted more of the same, and in the second half we probably missed another four good chances to score again,? he said. Hurstville had their own half-chances but the Bathurst defence was up to the task and they made sure of the win when Jarred Portegies finished off a sweet lob over the Minotaurs defence to make it 4-1 with just minutes left to play.
The goal took Portegies to six for the year, just one behind Roosters maestro Ercan Topal. The result had even better ramifications. It was Bathurst?s first win in six games and the first time they have cracked four goals in a game. They are now just a couple of points outside the top-five on the back of a terrific home record of three wins and three draws from eight matches at Alec Lamberton Field, which is just as well since they have not won away from home in three attempts.
?It was an important game for us to keep in touch with the top-five,? Rooke said. ?We knew Hurstville were second and had heard a few stories about what to expect from them so we prepared a little bit for that and we outplayed them on the night with some very good football. We got on top early and stayed on top. The boys showed a lot of confidence and we?re really starting to look positive in the right areas; I think we?re starting to get through to a few of the guys.?
Despite his side copping 10 goals against them in the last two matched, Hurstville coach Peter Sarikakis wasn?t showing any signs of being rattled by the result or his side?s recent poor run. After winning their first three matches, Hurstville have won just twice in eight weeks, and both of those victories came against bottom two sides Hawkesbury and Hakoah. They were also held 1-1 by third-last Gazy Lansvale during that period and the goal against Bathurst has been their only netted strike in three games.
?We lost 4-1, that?s it,? he said. ?I?m not going to sit here and be upset. The team?s not playing well enough, as simple as that. You can?t force players to put the effort in. I?ve signed a couple of new players but it is not the reason. Our guys were half asleep and the damage had been done by the time we switched on in the second half. The goals were just really soft. I need the players to wake up to themselves.?
Bathurst ?75 4 (James Christie 15/33m Ricky Guihot 35m Jarred Portegies 89m) Hurstville City Minotaurs 1 (Angelo Vagenas 27m)
Grade 20: Bathurst ?75 0 Hurstville City Minotaurs 2
Luddenham steamroll Fairfield
Four goals in 13 minutes lifted Luddenham United over Fairfield Bulls 4-2 in a dramatic conclusion to their match at Luddenham Oval on Sunday afternoon. Luddenham coach Andrew Montgomery said he never been involved in a game like it and Fairfield boss Michael Mamoo described it as like watching a skyscraper implode. In the end, the Bulls had blown a two goal lead with 20 minute to go to let slip another advantage late in the game.
The first half was all Fairfield as they jumped out of the blocks with a well-taken strike to Alaa Ali Khan, who lobbed the Luddenham keeper to give them a 1-0 lead after 13 minutes. The Bulls were unlucky to not go further ahead and it was just rewards when they awarded a penalty just before halftime when United defender Chris Vella made a rash challenge in the box. Nirian Kanoun stepped up to convert the spot kick and Fairfield led 2-0 at the break.
A few stern words from Montgomery at the break gave his troops the rev-up they needed and Luddenham were a different team in the second half. With an extra forward in the pack, after Steven Urosevski came on for an injured Bojan Radmilo, and led by a spritely Michael Wood performance, United broke the shackles inside the final quarter-hour of the match.
First Wood chipped the Bulls keeper to pull one back in the 70th minute and then Angelo Martino beat a couple of defenders to finish off in the same manner five minutes later and draw level at 2-2. Urosevski then pushed his side in front less than a minute later, striking the ball with the outside of his boot to find the back of the net in amazing circumstances.
By now, Fairfield had lost the plot and Wood drove the final nail into their coffin with a stunning free kick from 35m out, the ball smashing into the top right corner to set up a 4-2 advantage for Luddenham seven minutes out from fulltime. But the Bulls were a beaten side and the whistle blew with United ahead. It was Wood?s sixth goal of a dazzling campaign.
Luddenham have now gone eight weeks without tasting defeat to sit second on the ladder behind Roosters. It was the first time United has cracked in four goals, and it notched up their fourth home win, to go with one draw, from six fixtures at Luddenham Oval.
Montgomery was stunned. ?I?ve never experienced a game like this in my life ? it had everything,? he said. ?Fairfield absolutely dominated the first half, they killed us; the only bonus for us was that they were only 2-0 up at halftime. But the second half we showed our true potential and Michael Wood was just sensational.?
?Considering our start to the season, we?re now heading in the right direction and really looking forward to the next three games [top-five sides Springwood, Roosters, Hurstville], especially the Hurstville game. If we win that, the committee said we are all going to Croatia.?
After keeping three consecutive clean sheets, Mamoo was lost for words at seeing four goals slotted against Fairfield in a 13-minute Luddenham rampage. ?I saw it exactly the same [as Montgomery]. We won the first 45 [minutes] and they won the second 45 ? but our collapse was nothing short of shocking,? he said. ?I really can?t understand what happened during that [13-minute] period. To sum it up, it was like watching every level of a 13-storey building collapse.?
?There really are no excuses to cop four goals in 13 minutes. Luddenham showed plenty of character and took the game from us, but we lost discipline, we lost shape, we lost control of the game, and it?s now another game we?ve been 2-0 up and either drawn or lost it. We obviously need to score more goals to be safe. We need to be hungrier when we have built up a lead.?
Luddenham United 4 (Michael Wood 70/83m Angelo Martino 75m Steven Urosevski 76m) Fairfield Bulls 2 (Alaa Ali Khan 13m Nirian Kanoun 42m)
Grade 20: Luddenham United 1 Fairfield Bulls 2
Rain plays its damp hand again
Persistent rain saw the cancellation of two Saturday night games and two Sunday fixtures, with matches between Hawkesbury City and Prospect United, Springwood United versus Hakoah, Roosters and Wanderers, plus Belmore Hercules versus Gazy Lansvale, all called off. It was the second successive wash-out for Hawkesbury, Springwood, Belmore and Prospect heading into the long-weekend. For City, the scenario of going weeks without playing is in stark contrast to early on in the season when their midweek McDonald?s Cup knockout schedule made it very hectic for them indeed.
Round 11 results
First grade
Bathurst ?75 4 (James Christie 15/33m Ricky Guihot 35m Jarred Portegies 89m) Hurstville City Minotaurs 1 (Angelo Vagenas 27m)
Luddenham United 4 (Michael Wood 70/83m Angelo Martino 75m Steven Urosevski 76m) Fairfield Bulls 2 (Alaa Ali Khan 13m Nirian Kanoun 42m)
Hawkesbury City vs Prospect United washed out
Springwood United vs Hakoah washed out
Gazy Lansvale vs Belmore Hercules washed out
Roosters FC vs Fairfield Wanderers washed out
Grade 20
Bathurst ?75 0 Hurstville City Minotaurs 2
Luddenham United 1 Fairfield Bulls 2
Hawkesbury City vs Prospect United washed out
Springwood United vs Hakoah washed out
Gazy Lansvale vs Belmore Hercules washed out
Roosters FC vs Fairfield Wanderers washed out
Next week?s games
Round 12 of State League division two sees four games on Saturday night, Hawkesbury versus Bathurst at Bensons Lane Field (5pm kick-off), Hurstville meeting Wanderers at Belmore Sports Ground (6pm), Hakoah playing Belmore at Hensley Athletic Field (7pm), and Springwood facing up to Luddenham United at Summerhayes Park (7pm). On Sunday afternoon, Lansvale take on Prospect at Cherrybrook Park (3pm kick-off), while Roosters play Fairfield Bulls at Lidcombe Oval (3pm). Catch up games will also be played this week with Prospect meeting Hurstville at William Lawson Reserve on Wednesday (June 9, 8pm) and Belmore playing Hawkesbury at Bensons Lane Field on Thursday (June 10, 8.15pm).
-By Daniel De Nardi