Spirit FC are ready to claim the PS4 NPL NSW Men’s 2 title, after a 5-1 hammering of Bankstown Berries all but sent the trophy to Christie Park. The Premiership could arrive as early as Tuesday night with Hakoah Sydney City East needing a goal in the remaining twenty three minutes to be played in their match against Mount Druitt Town Rangers to prevent an official handover.
The final five is all but a formally with Bankstown City cementing their position with a narrow result over Central Coast. Northern Tigers moved into third with a 3-0 win over St George.
Hakoah Sydney City East and Central Coast make up the five, the Eastern Suburbs based club also claiming the Club Championship with a clean sweep of results at Mounties, coupled with Central Coast’s first grade loss.
Match of the Round
Bankstown Berries v Spirit FC
Spirit FC have two hands on the Premiership trophy, but they cannot yet hold it aloft, until Hakoah Sydney City East have completed at least one of their final two fixtures, following the big success by trailblazers Spirit in beating Bankstown Berries 5-1 at The Crest on Saturday night.
The lead Spirit has established in the competition, which it’s held for most of the season, is unassailable, other than mathematically, with the goal difference enjoyed by the boys from the Gladesville-Hornsby district realistically well beyond the reach of their only rivals, Hakoah.
Spirit coach, John McLafferty, was as pleased as punch at the way his players went about their business in dispensing with the strong challenge presented on Saturday evening by a Berries side determined to cling onto their place in the Top Five.
But the host’s fighting first-half showing against a fired-up Spirit fell away after the break, as the visitors moved into top gear.
Spirit were able to take a two-minute lead and while the Berries came back to draw level, just nine minutes later, they fell behind again another nine minutes later and the 2-1 lead that hot title-favourites, Spirit FC, enjoyed at the break, set them up nicely for the run home.
Spirit were without top striker, Abraham Majok, who has been trialling with Central Coast Mariners, and quickly lost key marksman, Kuag Reec, to injury, just eight minutes into this contest.
But coach McLafferty already had contingency plans in place and as soon as it became clear that the injury-plagued Reec could not continue, he summoned old-hand, Tim Simpson, to take over up front.
Simpson didn’t disappoint, rattling in Spirit’s second with a clever finish in the 20th minute, following a Ryan Johnstone free-kick that had the Berries’ defence at sixes and sevens.
The high cross proved beyond the capabilities of the Berries defenders in the goalmouth and when the ball was cleared as far as the edge of the area, Simpson struck it, delivering his finish with one or two bounces and beyond home-team keeper, Michael Frost.
The Spirit lead was therefore restored, after the Berries had come back strongly to draw level with a similarly opportunistic strike of their own, Nick Paras collecting a partially-cleared ball, following an eleventh minute corner, and sending a low shot through a sea of legs past a possibly unsighted Spirit keeper, David Lowery.
It was the first start for Paras, after some time off the scene and following a late, cameo substitute’s appearance the week before against Hakoah at Hensley Athletic Field.
Striking the top-two teams in the competition in successive weeks had done the Berries no favours, as they tried hard in both games, only to find a superior opponent each time.
Spirit began like a house on fire, highly effective wide player, Jacob Harris, returning to the starting eleven after a few weeks on the bench and making the most of his opportunity.
Harris, operating on the left, got on the end of a ball played through to him by Ryan Johnstone and Harris soon had the ball on its way to the handily-placed head of Gosue Sama, for the opening goal of the game, with little more than a minute played.
That early goal boded well, but the Berries are a good side these days and soon came back.
The first-half was full of near-misses and Spirit would have probably been delighted to emerge with a one-goal lead to take to the sheds, as there’d been little between the two sides in that frenzied first-half.
After the break, however, Spirit really turned on the taps and with wide men Henry Wells on the right and Harris on the left, they tore into the Berries, wreaking havoc down either flank.
Five minutes after the restart they had already beaten the Berries for pace down the right channel, any fears of an offside call soon dismissed, as Wells sped away and crossed smartly for Harris to notch his first goal for a while, with a first-time volley, as no defenders came into sight in the goalmouth to arrest his momentum.
Harris almost grabbed another in the 53rd after a further free-kick from Johnstone, his touch not as precise on that occasion.
The hugely influential Sama also went close a minute later, his shot deflected for a corner by an overworked Berries’ defence.
Nick Trimble then nodded wide after another corner from Johnstone, one minute later, with the flood gates beginning to open.
A ball turned over by the Berries right on half-way, led to Spirit establishing a 4-1 lead in the 61st minute.
Johnstone, again, was at the centre of the action in releasing Wells, this time through the middle, with the speedy Spirit man lobbing from distance over an optimistically advancing Berries’ keeper, Frost, with the ball bouncing into an empty net.
In the 64th it was 5-1.
Wells was released again on the right and from his now inevitable cross, Harris was able to volley home from close-range, to ensure a comfortable cushion for his team for the remainder of the game.
The Berries continued to fight hard until the end, however, never throwing in the towel, despite the four-goal deficit and made sure Spirit kept working to the last.
There was much rejoicing in the Spirit camp at the game’s conclusion, even though the trophy will have to remain under wraps a little longer, before the formalities can be completed.
“We were beaten by the best side in the competition and they are worthy Premiers,” Berries’ coach, Wally Savor, acknowledged at the end of the match.
“Our Top-Five hopes are now out of our hands and we have to wait to see what happens on Sunday.
“Yes it was difficult having to play Hakoah and Spirit in these last two games, but if we want to qualify we know we have to beat these teams and we just couldn’t manage it this time.
John McLafferty naturally had no complaints at the outcome of the match.
“To their credit the Berries never stopped trying and they are a good team so we needed to be at our best tonight.
“We gave Jacob Harris a chance and he seized his opportunity with both hands. When Kuag Reec was injured I knew we could rely on Tim Simpson to take over.
“As for the title, we can’t celebrate immediately, though it looks like we’ve definitely won it now,” he said.
Bankstown Berries 1 (Nicholas Paras 11’) v Spirit FC 5 (Gosue Sama 2’, Tim Simpson 20’, Jacob Harris 50’, 64’, Henry Wells 61’)
Saturday 15 August 2015
at The Crest, Bass Hill
Referee: James Lewis
Assts: Raymond Osborne and David Haslett
Bankstown Berries: 1. Michael Frost 2. Andrew Vitucci 3. Liam McKenna 7. Kyle Ewart 10. Jun Kato (22. Jake Bradshaw 66’) 11. Joel Anscomb (4. Omar Saadi 85’) 12. Mitchell Davidson 14. Nicholas Paras 16. Milan Zoric 18. Matthew Trotter (19. Dimitri Zakilas 55’) 21. Peter Dimitropoulos
Subs not used: 42. Jake Senior
Yellow Cards: Mitchell Davidson 42’, Milan Zoric 45’
Coach: Wally Savor
Spirit FC: 41. David Lowery 2. Daniel Cunningham 3. Henry Wells 4. Nicholas Trimble 7. Jacob Harris (5. Andrew Robertson 76’) 8. Grant Cornwell 13. Lord Darkoh 14. Ryan Johnstone 19. Tom Lovell 21. Kuag Reec (9. Tim Simpson 8’, rep by 6.Ross Kethel 85’) 22. Gosue Sama.
Subs not used: 1. Murray Nelson
Yellow cards: Jacob Harris 42’
Coach: John McLafferty
Feature Report by Paul Green
Mounties Wanderers v Hakoah Sydney City East
It was another perfect night for Hakoah Sydney City East, who continued on their winning ways with their seventh straight victory, this time over Mounties Wanderers.
Goals to German Cabrera and Paul Orgad was enough to claim the win, but while the result mathematically keeps the title race open, few see anything but a Spirit FC premiership.
The loss by the Mounties, coupled with Sydney University’s win on Sunday, sees the Wanderers slump to the bottom of the table.
Mounties Wanderers 0 v Hakoah Sydney City East 2 (German Cabrera, Paul Orgad)
Mounties Wanderers: 30. Ali Akbal 3. Neftali Gonzalez 5. Aleksander Tomic 15. Shane Webb 18. Mark D’Alessandro 20. Reid Taylor 26. Jacob Carluccio 27. Gongjun Lee 28. Leon Faria 29. Jake Ingle 32. James Letta.
Subs: 1. James Stojcevski 11. Daine Merrin 14. Dragan Savic 16. Tiano Boutoubia 24. Mitchell King.
Red Card: Mark D’Alessandro
Hakoah Sydney City East: 1. Matthew Symes 2. Remy Wolanski 4.Bradley Walker 5. Michael McCrory 9. Neil Jablonski 10. Declan Gilmartin 11. Gavin Rae 16. Brad Paikin 17. Joseph Dingwall 19. Jacob Esposito 21. German Cabrera.
Subs: 8. Paul Orgad 26. Federico Kertscher 40. Matthew McKenzie 44. Nicholas Mouzourakis
St George v Northern Tigers
Northern Tigers moved into third spot on the ladder with a 3-0 victory over St George, the result a turnaround of the same scoreline inflicted by the Saints on the Tigers earlier in the season.
The Tigers had a number of chances in the first half, Liam McConaghy, Sherven Adeli and Tai Smith all going close but it was just after the break that the visitors took the lead. Matthew West collected a perfect through ball to slot under Aaron Liddell.
Wassim Hijazi then came close to an equaliser for St George with a header just skirting the post, but
two goals in the final ten minutes made sure of the result. Both came via substitutes with Braden Cheng scoring with eight minutes to go, while Samuel Ryder notched the third well into time added on.
St George 0 v Northern Tigers 3 (Matthew West 50’, Braden Cheng 82’, Samuel Ryder 90+4’)
St George: 1. Aaron Liddell 3. Emmanuel Elali 5. Daniell Zeleny 6. Ali Nasreddine 7. Matt Sadler 9.Tom Slater 13. Lenox Tweneboa 15. Peter Pelekanos (44. Thomas Menton) 16. Joseph D’Elia 18. Anthony Abi-Arrage (75. Billy Hatzinikolis) 19. Stevan Ilic (11. Wassim Hijazi).
Subs not used: 17. David Hamilton 24. Rodney Lewin
Northern Tigers: 1. Matt Nemes 3. Lucas Dawson 4. Michael Rolston 6. Paul Davies 7. Matthew West (2. Samuel Ryder) 9. Liam McConaghy (17. Braden Cheng) 10. Shervin Adeli (23.Julian Lim) 12. Russell Farrell 13. Jamie Craig 16. Steven Baveas 18. Tai Smith.
Subs not used: 21. Harrison Devenish-Meares 11. Mitchell Smith
Macarthur Rams v Mount Druitt Town Rangers
Mount Druitt Town fans finally had something to cheer about when the Rangers picked up their first three points since early June with a single goal victory over Macarthur Rams.
A goal to Nathan Ralph in the first half helped secure victory. Any comeback for the Rams was hindered by the send off to Gavin Forbes with eleven minutes to go.
Mount Druitt now head to Valentine Park on Tuesday night to play the final twenty three minutes of their re-arranged match against Hakoah Sydney City East, a game currently standing at 1-1.
Macarthur Rams 0 v Mount Druitt Town Rangers 1 (Nathan Ralph)
Macarthur Rams: 1. Christopher Becerra 2. Craig Cooley 3. Andy Matloub 4. Ben Cornish 8. Ryan Marchant 11. Aaron Farringdon (19. Daniel Willoughby) 12. David McMurray 13. Daniel Carrozza 14. Mark Symington (7. Sean Irwin) 16. Daniel Ramirez (17. Asmir Kadric) 18. Gavin Forbes.
Subs not used: 20. Corey Finch 21. Cameron Besgrove
Red Card: Gavin Forbes 79’
Mount Druitt Town Rangers: 1. Justin Biega 2. Brian Griffin-Colls 4. Robert Tribbia 5. Ryan O’Shea 6. Elsid Barkhousir 8. Nathan Ralph 9. Brian Soane 11. Kojiro Hori 13. Patrick Crane 14. Daniel McCann 15. Rainer Smahel.
Subs: 10. Daniel Vellonio 12. Osadolor Edosomwan 16. Daniel Embleton 17. Samuel Hawthorne 41. Declan Baker
Fraser Park v Sydney University
A goal fifteen minutes from time has helped lift Sydney University of the bottom of the table, a result all the more noteworthy as it came after Uni had been reduced to ten.
A send off to captain Nathan Sansom might have sealed Uni’s season but Tayfun Buyukkopru popped up with the vital winner, the result also ending Fraser Park’s chase for the semis.
Fraser Park 0 v Sydney University 1 (Tayfun Buyukkopru 75’)
Fraser Park: 1. Wayne Estavao 3. Davide Talone (Rocci Gabey) 4. Alexander Veljanovski 5. Nick Dimitropoulos 7. Kevin Oliviera 11. Stefan Jovanovic 13. Pat Cappuccio (8. Hussein Akil) 15. Marko Micevski 17. Nikola Todoroski 18. Aleksander Todoroski 20. Daisan Kim (10. Paulo Oliviera).
Subs not used: 12. Adem Kir 42. Ben Needham
Sydney University: 1. Marko Bozic 3. Nathan Sansom 4. Gyubeom Kim 8. Khushaba Khushaba (21. Patrick Ferrara) 10. Santiago Rodriguez 13. Alexander Sopina (32. Tayfun Buyukkopru) 14. Daniel Mifsud 17. Stefan de Jesus 19. Matthew Fsadni (23. Nathan Preston) 43. Marton Vass 44. Peter Crevani.
Subs not used: 6. Adrian Porcu 7. Brian Caulkner
Bankstown City v Central Coast
Bankstown City have all but made qualification certain for the finals after a 1-0 win over Central Coast on Sunday moved them three points clear of Bankstown Berries. With a goal difference of twenty better than their neighbours, the Lions can start planning for finals football.
A goal after just one minute fifteen seconds would have settled any nerves. After Chris Gomez’s early strike was saved by Blake Tuxford, only forty seconds having elapsed, the ensuing corner was knocked home by Grant Lynch.
The Coast’s best chance for an equaliser came just after the turnaround. Alexander Arbelo was brought down in the box and referee Ryan Shepheard had little hesitation in awarding a penalty. Arbelo dusted himself down and took the spotkick, but it was well saved by Dion Shaw.
Bankstown City were reduced to ten in time added on when Domenic Hudap received a straight red card for a tackle from behind on Brian Jamba, but the late freekick came to nothing.
Bankstown City 1 (Grant Lynch 2’) v Central Coast 0
Bankstown City: 1. Dion Shaw 2. Todd Halloran 3. Grant Lynch 4. Aaron D’Mello 5. Michael Beauchamp 6. Reuben Lagos 7. Brima Kamara 8. Dean Heffernan 9. Chris Gomez 10. Domenic Hudap 11. Huseyin Jasli (17. Gerard Ouffoue 87’)’.
Subs not used: 20. Alvaro Malmierca 22. Ko Kimura 30. Nicholas Carosi
Red Card: Domenic Hudap 90+4’
Central Coast: 1. Blake Tuxford 2. Liam O’Dell 3. Joshua Forbes 4. Nathan Verity 5. Brian Jamba 8. Joel Hardwick 10. Alexander Arbelo 11. Louis Bozanic (6. Matthew Crowell 62’) 12. Trent Buhagiar 14. Steve Whyte (16. Daniel McFarlane 7’) 17. Lachlan Wales (31. Tony Dolphin 75’).
Subs not used: 21. Mark McManus 40. Beyhan Irmako
by Peter Rowney, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 2 Reporter