The opening round of the 2018 National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s competition did not disappoint, with the seven matches producing no less than 27 goals – at an average of just shy of four per match – as well as the usual thrills and spills that accompany first day nerves.
Western NSW Mariners came from 0-2 down to grab a point off Fraser Park in a 2-2 draw in Lithgow; 10-man Gladesville Ryde Magic lead 3-0 at one stage before scrambling home to win 3-2 against a resurgent Camden Tigers; Hawkesbury City upset the applecart at Arlington Oval with a 2-1 victory away against the highly favoured Dulwich Hill outfit; St George City FA scored a goal in each half to account for a determined Dunbar Rovers; Inter Lions grabbed the spoils with a first half penalty doing the damage in a 1-0 victory over Granville Rage; and Bankstown City got their season off to a positive start by overcoming Sydney University 3-0 in the late game on Sunday evening.
FNSW ventured out to Ernie Smith Reserve on Saturday night to watch the match between SD Raiders and Stanmore Hawks.
Nicky Carle’s reign in charge of SD Raiders could not have commenced in a more emphatic fashion when his troops gave Stanmore Hawks an opening day lesson, courtesy of an 8-1 annihilation at Ernie Smith Reserve on Saturday night.
The game was over as a contest as early as the 18th minute with the Raiders storming to a 4-0 lead. The home side took their foot off the pedal for a period mid match, even allowing Stanmore Hawks a consolation, before a series of late subs gave the Raiders the impetus to replicate their first half effort with another four goals before the end.
The season was only 3 minutes old when we had our first goal. A series of quick fire short passes found Ben Welch in space inside the penalty area, and he let fly with an angled volley that flew into the near corner of the goal to give the Raiders just the start they were looking for.
Welch had his double on 8 minutes, racing on to a Sebastian Malfara through ball before slotting it past the Hawks’ keeper for 2-0.
Julian Rinaldi responded for Stanmore in the 10th minute, the tricky winger weaving his way past a couple of Raiders’ defenders before shooting weakly at Raiders keeper, Michael Rutherford.
But SD Raiders extended their lead to 3-0 in the 14th minute, with Marko Filipovic shooting home from close range when he got on the end of yet another Malfara cutback.
After some good lead up play from Julian Rinaldi and Neil Jablonski, Stanmore skipper Ian Hillier smacked a grass cutter from outside the penalty are that fizzed past the post in a rare reply from the visitors.
But SD Raiders kept at it, and incredibly it was 4-0 in the 18th minute, with Daniel Bittar racing down the right side, before cutting inside and cracking a low drive that nestled inside the far post, much to the delight of the home contingent.
Much like a boxer who had copped a flurry of punches in the opening rounds, Stanmore Hawks recovered somewhat to stay on the canvas, and stop the onslaught as they went in to the sheds bewildered with the opening forty five minutes.
Daniel Bittar almost added to the scoreline in the 51st minute, nodding inches past the Stanmore upright after Filipovic had headed back across the goal from Lucas Rossi’s centre.
Stanmore grabbed their goal on 65 minutes when Mark Mcalpine stabbed home from close range, but it was merely a consolation that served to only agitate and inspire the Raiders in a flurry of four more goals.
From a blocked Jablonski free kick at one end, the Raiders counter attacked with venom, sweeping down the field before Lucas Rossi found himself on the edge of the box, the wing back cracking his effort home to make it 5-1.
Two substitutes were involved with the 6th goal of the evening, with Jacob Boutoubia slipping Lucas Rossi in to space down the left, before Rossi squared perfectly for John Fahmi to tap in at the far post. It was Fahmi’s first touch of the football after entering the fray, with Boutoubia only getting on five minutes earlier.
Stanmore pushed men forward in vein, and were caught out on 88 minutes, with Daniel Bittar racing on to a long through ball before unselfishly squaring to give Fahmi an easy tap in for his double and his team’s seventh goal of the match.
An almighty scramble in the final minute saw Rutherford, the Raiders’ keeper, push a Neil Jablonki effort on to the post, but the Raiders went from that to yet another attack, and yet another goal.
John Fahmi played provider this time, beating his man down the right flank before squaring to the edge of the box. Jacob Boutoubia expertly took a touch to flick it past a hapless defender, before he unleashed a super shot in to the roof of the net to make it 8-1 in the 93rd minute.
It was an awesome performance by SD Raiders, the team showing plenty of energy as they chased in packs, and attacked similarly, always providing the ball carrier with plenty of options. A credit to their approach, as they could’ve relaxed the ante after such a commanding early lead, but they went on with it after the break to replicate their first half effort, producing a remarkable opening day scoreline whilst sending a clear message to their NPL 3 rivals.
National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s Match Stats
Saturday, March 10, 2018
SD RAIDERS 8 (Welch 3’ / 8’, Filipovic 14’, Bittar 18’, Rossi 71’, Fahmi 73’ / 88’, Boutoubia 90’ + 3’)
STANMORE HAWKS 1 (Mcalpine 65’‘)
Referee – Danny Horstead
Assistant Referees – Wayne Crab and Darrin Richards
SR RAIDERS; 1.M.Rutherford, 2.S.Irwin, 3.D.Marjanovic, 4.G.Ljuboja (capt), 7.D.Bittar, 9.B.Welch (11.J.Boutoubia 68’), 12.L.Rossi, 15.S.Malfara, 16.M.Filipovic (24.M.Barkho 75’), 19.L.Mesiti, 13.A.Khannara (10.J.Fahmi 72’)
Substitutes Not Used – 25.M.Massarotto, 18.J.Mensah.
Yellow Cards – Nil
Red Cards – Nil
STANMORE HAWKS; 6.M.Mcalpine, 7.I.Hillier (capt) (15.D.Ventimiglia 59’), 8.S.Awad, 9.N.Jablonski, 11.R.Alassmi,14.M.Nicolaou, 16.C.Kolistasis, 17.J.Rinaldi (5.H.Brown 24’), 18.S.Georgiou, 19.M.Skourtis, 24.T.Purcell.
Substitutes Not Used – 12.A.Caragher, 10.P.Stefadouros, 31.D.Vaccaro.
Yellow Cards – 11.R.Alassmi 77’.
Red Cards – Nil
Western NSW Mariners – Fraser Park 2-2
Western NSW Mariners showed some fighting spirit at Marjorie Jackson Field in Lithgow on Saturday afternoon, coming back from 0-2 down to draw 2-2, and in fact, could’ve taken all the spoils at the death if it wasn’t for some wayward finishing.
The opening half of the season was fairly even, although it was the home side that looked likely to score.
Kenny McCall broke the Fraser Park defensive line on the left but put his shot right of the goal on the quarter of an hour mark.
Minutes later Jaiden Culbert burst in to space after a scramble in the middle of the Fraser half, but put his shot over the bar.
Fraser Park started the second half much better than the first, and were rewarded with a couple of goals to put the them in the driving seat.
Michael Guse netted five minutes after the break, and Pietro Nigro doubled the advantage to give Fraser Park a 2-0 lead.
But the Mariners responded when Jaiden Culbert made a burst into the Fraser penalty area and was brought down, with Kenny McCall stepping up to convert from the spot.
Minutes later the home side had their equaliser. Matt Corben played a ball from our defensive line into midfield where he received a return pass, put on the burners and went past their last defender before slotting it home for the equaliser.
Jaiden Culbert scored what the Mariners thought was the winner towards the end, but he was ruled offside.
A point each is better than none, and Western NSW Mariners and Fraser Park shared the spoils to open their respective campaigns.
Dulwich Hill – Hawkesbury City 1-2
A depleted Hawkesbury City came to Arlington Oval on Saturday night to take on Dulwich Hill, and took home all the Club Championship points, including a 2-1 triumph in first grade.
It was a fiercely contested match, especially across the midfield, with neither side giving an inch throughout.
Hawkesbury edged themselves in front on the half hour mark when youngster, Daniel Zahra, found the net with a header at the back stick on his debut for the club.
Dully equalised with a near post header on 50 minutes, Jovan Blagojevic doing the damage – himself on debut also – after he connected with a Sean Burke free kick.
Daniel Morsillo was the hero for Hawkesbury, scoring with a back post finish in the final ten minutes to give the visitors all three points.
There was drama of sorts towards the end, with Dully having a late claim for a penalty shout that went unheard, whilst Prasheel Sharma hit a pearler for Hawkesbury that cannoned off the inside of the upright before being cleared.
Three valuable points on the road for Hawkesbury, whilst Dulwich Hill will lick their wounds in time for next week’s match versus Bankstown City.
Gladesville Ryde Magic – Camden Tigers 3-2
Gladesville Ryde Magic survived a spirited comeback from Camden Tigers on Saturday night at ELS Hall Park, holding on to win 3-2 after leading 3-0 at one stage.
Both teams started the game full of energy but it was the Magic who took control of the first half with their accurate passing game.
The opening goal arrived on just 7 minutes, with Chris Tomaras starting the movement on the right-hand side, sending over a cross that new signing, Michael Gaitatzis, did well to control and shoot in the one movement.
Camden’s keeper, David Harris, did well to parry the effort, but the rebound fell to Magic skipper, Chris Gaitatzis, who volleyed into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead to the home side.
Minutes later and the Gaitatzis brothers were at it again. A short passing interchange by the two opened space for Chris to score his and Gladesville’s 2nd goal of the evening.
Camden at this stage continued with some purpose but were restricted to long range shots which didn’t trouble Magic’s veteran keeper, Kiriakos Tohouroglou, in the slightest.
Shortly afterwards it was 3-0 to the home side, and this time it was Michael Gaitatzis who netted on debut, following some clever work on the right flank by Chris Tomaras and Johnny Gowdy.
Camden to their credit stayed at it, and after fine work on the left-hand side, Nicholas Mugridge got on the end of a great cross to tap home and drag the Tigers back in to the match.
The game was halted moments before half-time whilst for medical attention was provided to Sergio Tarazona, Gladesville’s central defender, who dislocated his shoulder in an unfortunate incident. An ambulance was called, during which credit must go to the medical staff of both clubs who combined their resources to assist Tarazona.
Gladesville reshuffled the pack as the teams went in for a deserved half time break with the home side well and truly in control at 3-1.
The second half lifted in intensity with yellow cards being dispersed at random, halting the fluency of football we saw in the first period. The cat was well and truly thrown amongst the pigeons when Gladesville’s new signing, ex-A League striker, Chris Triantis, was sent for an early shower following his second caution of the match.
The arm wrestle continued, especially in the midfield, with Camden stepping it up in search of another goal. That goal eventually came via a long range effort from Blake Booker that reduced the deficit to one goal.
But that was all she wrote as Gladesville Ryde Magic held firm during quite a few additional minutes of injury time to grab the spoils.
Inter Lions – Granville Rage 1-0 Fraser Park @ 7pm
Inter Lions grabbed a valuable opening day three points when they accounted for Granville Rage on Saturday night at Fraser Park.
Experienced veteran, Juan Chavez, did the job for Inter, netting from the penalty spot in the first half after Domenic Di Mento had been bundled over inside the penalty area.
Inter Lions were twice denied by the woodwork in a frenetic second stanza, whilst Granville Rage missed a couple of gilt edged chances late on to grab an equaliser.
St George City FA – Dunbar Rovers 2-0 Jubilee Oval @ 7pm
St George City FA started their 2018 season with a solid 2-0 victory over Dunbar Rovers at Jubille Oval on Saturday night.
The opening goal came on the half hour mark, with a quick transition on the right via Peter Yannopoulos who fed the ball through to Alexander Euripidou, who in turn played Sam Messam in to space and he slotted home for a 1-0 lead.
Dunbar Rovers looked particularly dangerous on the counter attack, on the back of some telling runs by Yoel Silvestre.
Three minutes after the break and Dunbar Rovers had a penalty, but St George City FA keeper, Chris Marques, guessed right, diving to his left to parry the kick.
Peter Yannopoulos then doubled the advantage for the home side after 75 minutes, latching on to a brilliant pass from Alexander Euripidou, before taking it around the Dunbar goal keeper to make it 2-0.
Dunbar’s fast and well drilled approach got them no reward on the day, but the Rovers will earn their stripes in coming weeks if their effort on day one is anything to go by.
St George City FA were thrilled to grab the spoils, on a night when they could’ve played better and were missing a few regular starters.
Bankstown City – Sydney University 3-0
Bankstown City made their intentions known nice and early, winning their opening round clash against Sydney University by 3-0 at Jensen Park on Sunday evening.
The first half an hour or so was very cagey, with neither side creating too much as the cobwebs were cleared.
But the home side did manage to break the deadlock soon afterwards when club captain Nikola Todoroski cut inside from the left flank before drilling a shot goalwards.
Sydney University keeper, Oliver Gibson, spilled the leather and Ante Tomic put away the rebound to make it 1-0 in favour of Bankstown.
Sydney University replied minutes later when Dale Howarth struck an effort which Bankstown’s keeper, Carl McMahon, dealt with at the near post.
A long goal kick from Carl McMahon found Todoroski through on goal in a one-on-one with Uni’s Oliver Gibson, but the keeper prevailed.
Uni came out with a lot more purpose in the second half but despite dominating possession they were unable to create much as Bankstown held firm. Just as it looked like the pressure may pay dividends a lightning quick break by the home side with ten minutes to go resulted in Tomic once again being on the spot to convert a low cross and double the home side’s lead.
Uni pushed numbers forward in the hope of pulling one back but we’re caught again on the break, and this time it was new signing, Mirza Sehic, who slotted home a through ball to end the contest.
Bankstown’s Carl McMahon kept out a late header to pleasingly keep a clean sheet on his debut for his new club – against his former club, Sydney University.