The National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s competition is the closest it has ever been, with the bottleneck near the summit becoming even more clogged following the completion of Round Seventeen on the weekend.
The top 7 sides are only separated by 8 points – with two of those sides in Bankstown City and Dunbar Rovers having a game in hand on the others.
Furthermore, there are only 3 points between the top four sides, with Bankstown City, Gladesville Ryde Magic, and Hawkesbury City all equal on 33 points, just three points away from league leaders, St George City FA, who are on 36 points.
Fraser Park cracked it for their maiden victory of the 2018 campaign when they overcame Stanmore Hawks 3-2 in a thriller at Arlington Oval; SD Raiders grabbed the spoils at Ernie Smith Reserve with a 3-1 win over Granville Rage on Saturday night; Sydney University made very light work of Camden Tigers with a 5-1 thumping at the Uni Football Ground; Inter Lions knocked over Dulwich Hill 4-1 on Sunday afternoon; Gladesville Ryde Magic came from behind twice to defeat Hawkesbury City 3-2 at Christie Park on the back of a Michael Gaitatzis hatrick.
The Western NSW Mariners – Dunbar Rovers match scheduled for Proctor Park in Bathurst on Saturday was postponed – stay tuned to the FNSW website for details of the rescheduling.
Football NSW took our seats at Fraser Park on Saturday evening to watch the eagerly anticipated heavyweight bout between league leaders, St George City FA, and Bankstown City.
MATCH OF THE ROUND ST GEORGE CITY FA – BANKSTOWN CITY 0-1
Ante Tomic produced a sublime free kick in the 89th minute to give Bankstown City Lions all three points in a tense Round Seventeen fixture against St George City FA at Fraser Park.
The match was billed as one the highlight clashes of the season, with St George City FA perched at the summit of the competition ladder on 36 points, whilst Bankstown City Lions were six points behind on 30 points in 3rd place, with a game in hand on St George City.
Like two heavyweight boxers lumbering around a boxing ring, both sides traded ineffective jabs during the first half and looked more like they were frightened of losing rather than going all out for the win.
Although credit in that opening stanza must go to both sides for the way they regrouped and scrambled defensively when the opposition did have possession of the ball, fiercely protective of their back third, and willing even to earn a caution if need be.
Having said that, Bankstown almost took the lead in just the second minute.
Ante Tomic swung over a corner that whizzed across the face of goal, with Alexander Do Pao stretching to connect at the back stick, but alas, the ball sliced wide of the St George City upright.
Lawrence Hanna was looking quite zippy early on for Bankstown in the front third with some neat touches and quick turns, but they were amounting to little due to St George’s resolute defence, lead by skipper, Bill Tsanidis.
St George City manufactured an opportunity in the 21st minute, with Kyoji Mori sending over a deep diagonal cross from a free kick near the sideline in the Bankstown half. Musashi Kokubo got his head to the ball, but his downward knock was well saved by Carl McMahon in the Bankstown goal.
Lachlan Willmore brought the Bankstown City fans to their feet on 30 minutes when he unleashed a 25 yard grass cutter that fizzed across the surface. St George City FA keeper, Chris Marques, was equal to the task, flinging himself to his right to snatch the ball at the second attempt.
The teams went in for a drinks break shortly after, with neither being able to grab the ascendancy. Both backlines were holding firm in their defensive thirds, and neither keeper had had too much to do thus far.
However seven minutes after the break, St George City FA had a wonderful opportunity to take the lead.
A piercing ball down the middle was met by St George City striker, Geoffry Lino, who – under pressure from Bankstown’s Nathan Lopino – managed to round the advancing Bankstown City goal keeper, Carl McMahon, as he entered the box, only to strike his effort in to the side netting with the goal beckoning.
On 64 minutes it was the turn of Kerim Kumsuz, the St George City midfielder hitting a snapshot from the edge of the box that went down the throat of Carl McMahon in the Bankstown City goal.
The Lions replied within a minute, when central defender, Nathan Lopino, headed a Damian Jakimovski free kick downwards at the back post, only for St George City keeper, Chris Marques to block the effort down low.
Lopino had a strong game in central defence, keeping St George City’s livewire striker, Geoffry Lino, in check for the most part with some fierce and timely tackles.
Steve Kuzmanovski had shown the Bankstown City defenders a clean pair of heels a few times on the night with some close ball skills in tight spaces. One such dribble near the halfway touchline saw Kuzmanovski create a yard of space for himself before knocking a sublime ball over the top and down the wing for Geoffry Lino to run onto.
Lino raced in to the Bankstown City penalty box at speed, before cutting back on his right to fire a low effort in to the side netting.
At this stage St George City FA could smell blood in the water, and lifted in tempo with the hope of finding that elusive goal.
A scramble in front of the Bankstown goal following a St George City corner resulted in a quickfire snapshot from St George City striker, Sam Messam, but Bankstown goal keeper, Carl McMahon reacted brilliantly to parry the effort.
Alex Euripidou was a forceful presence all night in midfield for St George, and on 76 minutes, he made a strong run in to the box, darting along the goal line before blasting his angled effort inches over the Bankstown City goal.
Bankstown City keeper, Carl McMahon, had to be at his best yet again in the 80th minute, springing up to finger tip the ball just over his crossbar following Geoffry Lino’s looping header.
Once Bankstown City had weathered St George City’s storm, it looked like the match was headed for a stalemate.
Although on 89 minutes, and against the run of play in the second half, Bankstown City were awarded a free kick a few yards outside the St George City penalty area.
Top goal scorer, Ante Tomic, had been barely noticeable during the evening, but he showed the importance of having a set piece specialist in your team.
Tomic casually stroked the ball over the St George City wall and in to the top corner of the net, leaving St George City keeper, Chris Marques, helpless, as Bankstown City took home all three points.
The final outcome has drawn a number of teams closer still to the summit, with that congestion I spoke about in the Preview becoming even more of a bottleneck.
St George City can count themselves very unlucky not to have taken something from the match. The loss is their second in three weeks, sandwiching a draw in between, and the league’s top goal scorers have failed to find the net in their last two matches.
St George City still sit on top of the ladder on 36 points, and will regroup during the week to try and steer themselves back on track in time for next week’s clash against Inter Lions.
For Bankstown City, this win could not have been more valuable, having now completed the double over St George City FA this season. The three points has seen them move to second place on 33 points, just three points behind St George City, and they do have a game in hand against Stanmore Hawks yet to play.
Round 17 National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s Saturday, June 30th 2018
ST GEORGE CITY FA 0
BANKSTOWN CITY 1 (Tomic 89’)
Fraser Park, Marrickville
Referee – James Lewis
Assistant Referees – Nathan McOrist and Amir Hosnani
ST GEORGE CITY FA;
1.C.Marques, 11.A.Euripidou, 6.M.Kokubo, 16.K.Kumsuz, 17.S.Kuzmanovski, 18.G.Lino, 7.S.Messam, 3.K.Mori, 2.S.Thomas, 5.B.Tsanidis (capt), 20.P.Turrin.
Substitutes Not Used – 26.E.Davis, 8.A.Malmierca, 10.J.Spanoudakis, 28.M.Trajkovski, 9.E.Koumis.
Yellow Cards – 18.G.Lino 13’, 6.M.Kokubo 32’, 20.P.Turrin 40’.
Red Cards – Nil
1.20.C.McMahon, 39.T.Boutoubia, 31.A.Do Pao (4.J.Press 46’), 10.L.Hanna, 7.J.Issa (capt) (18.J.Douglas 80’), 24.D.Jakimovski, 15.N.Lopino, 17.A.Savetta, 16.M.Sehic, 11.A.Tomic, 32.L.Willmore.
Substitutes Not Used – 1.A.Markovic, 26.M.Williamson, 42.M.Edmunds.
Yellow Cards – 39.T.Boutoubia 36’, 24.D.Jakimovski 86’.
Red Cards – Nil
Western NSW Mariners – Dunbar Rovers P-P
Proctor Park at Bathurst was deemed unplayable so this fixture will need to be rescheduled – stay tuned to the Football NSW website for details.
Stanmore Hawks – Fraser Park 2-3
Fraser Park have well and truly got the monkey off their back, winning their first match of the season on Saturday night against Stanmore Hawks at Arlington Oval.
It’s been a long time coming, and Fraser have shown positive glimpses in recent weeks, but it took an almighty come from behind effort to snare all three points against the Hawks with a 3-2 win.
After a tense and scoreless opening stanza, Daniel Fornito got things going for Fraser Park on 53 minutes, netting after facing Stanmore keeper, Nicholas Carosi, in a one-on-one.
Jonah Caragher replied almost instantly for Stanmore, connecting with a cross in the 56th minute to head past Fraser keeper, Mark Villaescusa.
Stanmore Hawks then edged themselves in front in the 69th minute, Jackson McMenamie tapping home after a cross, with the home side confident at this stage of going on with it.
Although Fraser Park weren’t about to roll over this week, and they restored parity in the 79th minute when Gerbe Magela lobbed Stanmore keeper, Carosi, from distance, to make it 2-2.
Just as the game seemed to be strolling towards a draw, up popped Daniel Fornito in the final minute to score his second, a header from a Nicholas Mouzourakis corner, sending the Fraser contingent in to raptures.
The win gives Fraser Park three points to climb to 7, and they are now just one point behind second last placed Western NSW Mariners.
SD Raiders – Granville Rage 3-1
SD Raiders grabbed all three points on offer at Ernie Smith Reserve on Saturday night when they defeated Granville Rage 3-1 in a feisty encounter.
The officials were busy on the night, handing out 10 yellow cards, and one red – to Granville’s Andres Sanchez Bustos – as they tried to keep a lid on proceedings.
Daniel Bittar, John Fahmi and Damien Smith scored the goals for the home side, whilst Daniel Bortolazzo netted Granville’s consolation.
The loss sees Granville drop to 12th spot on 15 points, whilst the victory and three points has put SD Raiders right back in the mixer, moving them to 30 points and 5th position on the ladder.
Sydney University – Camden Tigers 5-1
Sydney University kept up their excellent form of late with a 5-1 thumping of Camden Tigers on Saturday night at the Uni Football Ground.
Camden were backing up following their midweek victory over Gladesville Ryde Magic, and were clearly felt the pinch, going behind early on after Jovan Blagojevic netted from close range in the 7th minute.
Michael Loupis doubled the home side’s advantage in the 38th minute, lobbing Camden keeper, David Harris, after a great solo run down the flank by Samuel Mehmet.
Loupis was at it again moments later, but Harris did well this time to repel the Uni attacker.
Camden then came back in to the match and made a fight of it, pulling a goal back through Jayden Russell – who else – finishing clinically in the 76th minute.
The woodwork came to Uni’s rescue moments later as Camden upped the ante, in search of an equaliser.
Although substitute, Panayoti Gotsis, put that to bed when he scored Sydney Uni’s 3rd goal in the 82nd minute after latching on to a through ball from Michael Loupis.
Scott Tonkin used his predatory instincts to make it 4-1 moments later, scoring when facing Camden keeper, David Harris in a one-on-one.
Loupis ended the game with his second and his team’s fifth in injury time, converting a cutback from Mehmet to round off proceedings at 5-1.
Camden Tigers remain in 6th spot on 28 points, and are very much still in the mix, whilst Sydney Uni continue their ascent, now moving to 8th position on 24 points as they carry on their march towards a top five place.
Gladesville Ryde Magic – Hawkesbury City 3-2
Gladesville Ryde Magic came from behind to defeat Hawkesbury City 3-2 at Christie Park on Sunday afternoon.
The match was a real six pointer, with three points separating the two sides going in to the clash. The win and subsequent three points sees Magic join Hawkesbury on 33 points, and the two, along with Bankstown City, are all just three points from St George City FA at the competition summit.
Hawkesbury’s Flavio Scarone went close early on when his shot from the edge of the penalty box was diverted by a brilliant save from Gladesville’s custodian, Kiriakos Tohouroglou.
Gladesville did not heed the warning, and Scarone went one better on 34 minutes, finding space outside the box before guiding his shot in to the net to give Hawkesbury City the lead.
Gladesville Ryde Magic hit back immediately with a text book goal – Chris Gaitatzs laying the ball off for brother Michael, who thumped it home for 1-1.
Hawkesbury edged themselves in front in the 64th minute, and it was the Uruguayan import, Scarone, who again found the mark to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead.
Although Gladesville Ryde Magic would not lie down, and a penalty was awarded on 83 minutes for a foul by Hawkesbury’s keeper, Daniel Schwarzer, on youngster Nicholas Ioannides.
Michael Gaitatzis converted to restore parity at 2-2.
The momentum at this point was all with Gladesville, and they grabbed what proved to be the winning goal just two minutes later in the 85th minute.
Michael Gaitatzis collected the ball in space, before dribbling around Daniel Schwarzer and stroking the ball home to give Gladesville a 3-2 win, earning a hatrick in the process.
Inter Lions – Dulwich Hill 4-1
Inter Lions recorded a valuable win at Fraser Park on Sunday evening, defeating Dulwich Hill 4-1 in an entertaining match.
Inter got off to a great start when recent signing, Nicholas Sullivan, struck home in the 6th minute following a goal mouth scramble.
Inter held that lead until the second half, but Dully came back into it via the penalty spot, with the experienced Gosue Sama converting in the 52nd minute.
The lead was restored only five minutes later in the 57th minute when Inter’s Julian Rinaldi darted down the flank before cutting the ball back for Hezio Silva Neto to strike home.
Dully’s Gosue Sama continued to pose the biggest threat for Inter, and he looked lively on a number of occasions, but Inter goal keeper, Robert Fanella, kept him out.
It was all over bar the shouting on 84 minutes when Inter made it 3-1.
Fanella knocked a long clearance down the park, and Domenic Di Mento let it bounce once before thrashing a volley in to the far corner for a ‘goal-of-the-season’ contender.
There was time for one more goal, and it came in injury time. Domenic Di Mento latched on to Julian Rinaldi’s pass before sending over a cross that was headed home by Sean Richardson.
The loss sees Dulwich Hill drop to 9th on 24 points, whilst Inter Lions jump 2 spots to 10th, moving to 16 points courtesy of the win.