Marconi Stallions confirmed what everyone else already knew: they’re the best team in PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues’ 2 NSW by a country mile.
After winning the Premiership by a remarkable 18 points and also the Club Championship, Peter Tsekenis’ Stallions capped the perfect season with a comprehensive 5-1 victory over a brave Mt Druitt Town Rangers in Sunday’s Grand Final at Edensor Park.
Golden Boot winner (and Grand Final Man of the Match) Sean Rooney grabbed a double, including a brilliant volley that was so good, it would have been headline news anywhere in the world.
Marconi Stallions 5 Mt Druitt Town Rangers 1, Sydney United Sports Centre
Sean Rooney turned on a Man of the Match performance to lead Marconi Stallions to a comprehensive 5-1 victory over Mt Druitt Town Rangers in the PS4 NPL 2 NSW Men’s Grand Final at Edensor Park on Sunday.
Rooney, who won the 2017 NPL 2 Golden Boot, scored a double, including a stunning volley that was so good it wouldn’t have been out of place in any league anywhere in the world.
Rooney’s double complemented goals scored by Mirjan Pavlovic, Judah Cleur and Marko Jesic, while Daniel Rezo scored a late penalty for Rangers.
As expected, both sides adopted a direct approach from the opening whistle, especially Marconi, with Rooney and Pavlovic causing problems for the Rangers’ defence with their pace and physicality. Time after time, the ball was played behind the Rangers’ backline for Rooney and Pav to chase, making their intentions obvious from the first whistle.
As early as the second minute Pavlovic – sporting a brand new blue hairdo – sent in a dangerous cross, an effort that was dealt with easily by Rangers goalkeeper Carlos Saliadarre.
Despite Marconi’s long ball tactics, it was Mt Druitt that had the first shot of the game in the ninth minute, when a well-worked movement involving Lachlan Roberts and Luke Grima, created a good opportunity for Hiten Satoh. But the Japanese fired his shot wide, a disappointing finish that should have at least hit the target.
Two minutes later, the pro-Marconi crowd jumped for joy as Rooney scored the opener, clinically tucking home a corner from close range. The finish was decisive and typical of the quality Rooney has displayed all season.
Despite the early setback, Mt Druitt didn’t hide and go into their shell and three minutes later, missed a chance to equalise after Roberts set off on a fine solo run that didn’t quite get the result Rangers were hoping for.
Rangers were at it again in the 26th, when the outstanding Brian Griffin-Colls seemingly struck home the equaliser. As the Rangers players celebrated, referee Stephen Lucas disallowed the goal, awarding a corner instead. That decision would come back to bite Mt Druitt hard.
Luke Grima then fired a shot wildly over the bar from long range in the 34th, before the ever resourceful Pavlovic beat his man inside the box a minute later and from an acute angle unleashed a vicious shot at the target. Saliadarre stood solid to block the effort and the score remained at 1-0.
In the 39th minute speedy winger Lachlan Roberts used some fancy footwork to beat his man before flicking a pass to Grima, whose near post shot was well saved by Stallions’ keeper Nenad Vekic. Mt Druitt were still in the game and with a little luck on their side could easily have been level on the scoreboard. But it wasn’t to be and the two sides went to the sheds with Marconi leading 1-0.
The Stallions looked cool and composed with Rooney and Pavlovic a menacing combination up front; while skipper Chris Nunes’s leadership was superb, organising his backline with composure and aplomb.
Mt Druitt had some half chances but were unable to capitalise, with Rezo and Roberts causing a few headaches for the sky blues, especially Roberts, whose burning pace and tricky footwork kept the Stallions honest.
After the restart, Mt Druitt went close but Nunes cleared away the danger and just shy of the hour mark, Griffin-Colls again showed a clean pair of heels, ghosting past the sky blue defence, only to shoot wide.
Roberts continued to torment the opposition and after a great solo run the classy Number 23 was chopped down by a desperate Marconi defence. The guilty perpetrator received a caution for his troubles.
At the other end, Rooney was also causing plenty of grief with his pace, reaching balls that looked like they’d beat him into touch or over the goalline. And it was from one such ball that the Stallions grabbed their second goal of the match.
Rooney turned on the after-burners to chase down a long ball he had no right to get to; and after crossing into the box, the leather ultimately fell to Cleur – who had only just come on as a replacement for Troy Danaskos – rifling the ball into the back of the net from point blank range.
At two goals down, Mt Druitt needed to score quickly, but the complexion of the game was gradually changing as Marconi relentlessly pursued more goals. In the 65th minute Pavlovic set up Rooney, who brought out a brilliant save from Saliadarre.
Two minutes later Grima sent Roberts away with a perfect pass with the outside of his boot, only to see the Stallions defence close in and clear the danger.
Grima then glanced a header onto the bar from a corner and it just didn’t look like it was going to be Rangers’ day.
Indeed, that turned out to be the case when a simple pass from Rooney to Pavlovic saw the robust Number 7 slot home superbly, leaving Saliadarre no chance and extending the Stallions’ lead to 3-0. This was the goal that virtually killed off any hope Mt Druitt had of somehow stealing the spoils. Against as talented a team as Marconi, coming back from a three-goal deficit just wasn’t going to happen.
Penalties to Rezo and Jesic completed the scoring, enabling Marconi to cap a fantastic year where they won every piece of silverware on offer, the Grand Final victory a fitting reward for such a dominant season.
As expected, Stallions’ coach Peter Tsekenis was delighted with his side’s performance.
“At the end of the day we thoroughly deserved it,” Tsekenis told Football NSW.
“We were good value the whole game and probably left it a little bit late to score all our goals, but we’ve been doing that all year.
“Mt Druitt kept in the game without really creating much but our boys stuck to the plan. They played it to a tee and I’m very proud of them.”
When asked if he had a message for his side before they took the field, Tsekenis replied: “It’s easy to be distracted by the hype surrounding a Grand Final but before the game I told the boys not to do anything different to what we’ve been doing all season. There’s no use changing what’s been successful. They stuck to that game plan and that’s what got us home in the end.”
When asked to name his standouts, Tsekensi replied: “Sean Rooney was superb and scored two clinical goals; while I also thought our captain Christopher Nunes and the whole back four stood up. (Goalkeeper) Nenad (Vekic) was also very good, it’s just a bit unfortunate we conceded a goal but that’s football.”
Meanwhile, Mt Druitt coach Aidan Desmond was bitterly disappointed with the loss and while he rued a few decisions that went against his side, he was gracious in defeat.
“Full credit to Marconi, they’ve done well all season,” Desmond told Football NSW. “They had four half chances and they took them. We had a couple of half chances and we didn’t take them. If we do better with our chances, anything can happen in the game. But I’m super proud of my boys and a few tough decisions could have gone either way today but unfortunately they didn’t go our way.”
Desmond added that despite being a goal in arrears at halftime, his players were upbeat and still believed they could win the game.
“We were confident when we came out for the second half but when Marconi scored their second goal, that hurt us a bit. Even at that stage we thought that if we could pull a goal back we could put them under some pressure. But the third goal broke us, they got their tails up and our heads dropped.
“As always, the boys worked hard for 90 minutes and getting this far will give us a lot of confidence for next season. I’m so proud of our achievements. Making the Grand Final for the first time at this level was huge for the club and while we played our best, unfortunately, today wasn’t our day.”
Marconi Stallions 5 (Sean Rooney 2, Mirjan Pavlovic, Marko Jesic, Judah Cleur)
Mt Druitt Town Rangers 1 (Daniel Rezo)
Sydney United Sports Centre
Sunday 17 September 2017
Referee: Stephen Lucas
Assistant Referees: Andrej Giev and Nick Backo
Fourth Official: Ben Abraham
Marconi Stallions: 1. Nenad Vekic, 5. Michel Beauchamp, 4. Troy Danaskos (12. Judah Cleur 57′), 10. Marko Jesic, 23. Chris Nunes, 7. Mirjan Pavlovic, 14. Peter Pelekanos, 8. Sean Rooney (24. Richard Darko 73′), 18. Peter Triantiis (19. Eros Bergamin 82′), 22. Brandon Vella, 9. Shane Webb
Unused Subs: 2. Stefan Dubocanin, 21. Kristian Sekutkovski
Yellow Cards: 9. Shane Webb, Nenad Vekic, Peter Triantis, Mirjan Pavlovic
Coach: Peter Tsekenis
Mt Druitt: 1. Carlos Saliadarre, 8. Matthew Clowes, 3. Brian Griffin-Colls, 16. Luke Grima (18. Jamie Dib), 11. Daniel Rezo, 23. Lachlan Roberts, 2. Hiten Satoh, 7. Trent Sierra, 12. Nick Trimble, 6. Alex Vlismas (13. Lord Darkoh 80′), 5. Kris Vlismas (Daniel McCann 53′)
Unused Subs: 21. Alex Gornall, 10. Nathan Ralph
Yellow Cards: 5. Kris Vlismas
Red Cards: 12. Nick Trimble
-By Derek Royal, Football NSW Reporter