A game of snakes and ladders rounded out an epic SELECT Futsal Premier League!
It was a bedlam-finale as Campbelltown-Dural had their round-13 match postponed a second time due to a leaky roof on Wednesday night, before a controversial penalty handed Dural a 5-4 win in the eight-minute Thursday-night follow-up to their insane round-10 match against Inner West, who also had three points deducted for fielding an illegible player versus Easts last weekend.
In round-14 Saturday matches Campbelltown Quake shocked leaders Mountain Majik 3-1, Inner West Magic hit a playoff banana peel in a risky 3-2 slip-up against Mascot Vipers, Enfield Allstars edged UTS Northside 2-1 before Dural Warriors smacked Eastern Suburbs Hakoah host 6-1 to steal the premiership in a dramatic day of action.
The Warriors underlined their first-past-post finish with a 4-0 defeat of Quake in their Sunday-morning meeting.
The table showed Dural (31) head Mountain (28), Enfield (25) and Mascot (20), who capitalised on the penalty to Inner West (19), ahead of Northside (14), Easts (13) and Campbelltown (13) – Hakoah also trading on Magic’s misery as they were handed full points from a round-13 meeting they lost 2-3 to leave Quake at the bottom.
It was the closest men’s comp of all time as 18 points separated top from bottom, and while Inner West (192 points) celebrated a massive club-championship win ahead of Mascot (165), Mountain (153), Campbelltown (135), Easts (133) and Northside (121), it was heartbreak for Dural (111) as they fell three points short of Enfield (114) and will be relegated from premier league.
The scorers chart shows Majik’s Jordan Guerreiro (17) ahead of UTS’ Mason Ireland (16) and Allstar Shervin Adeli (16), followed by Warrior Greg Giovenali (14), Magician Daniel Fornito (13) and Allstar Luiz Lobo (11) as the only double-figure scorers.
Mountain Majik 1 (Jordan Guerreiro) Campbelltown Quake 3 (Harrison Bagot, Danny Martinez, Shannon Fielding)
Inner West Magic 2 (Daniel Fornito, Matthew Lecce) Mascot Vipers 3 (Paulo Rogerio, Leonardo Pinto, Jayme Alves)
UTS Northside 1 (Mason Ireland) Enfield Allstars 2 (Luiz Lobo, Shervin Adeli)
Eastern Suburbs Hakoah 1 (Guy Lee) Dural Warriors 6 (Greg Giovenali, Wade Giovenali 2, Brandon Vella, Bruno Pivato)
Rd 13: Campbelltown Quake 0 Dural Warriors 4 (Greg Giovenali 2, Nathan Niski 2)
Quake rattle Mountain
Campbelltown Quake claimed a high-end scalp following a 3-1 upset of second-placed Mountain Majik at Blacktown Leisure Centre on Saturday-afternoon.
With all the rescheduled mumble-jumble the results fell Dural’s way and left Mountain with an exercise run against a ramped-up Campbelltown, who struck through Shannon Fielding and Harrison Bagot to take a 2-0 halftime lead.
Majik superstar Jordan Guerreiro hit back after the restart to halve the deficit, but Danny Martinez ensured Campbelltown victory, Guerreiro scoring in a 10th fixture for Mountain this season (bettering Corey Bizco’s nine-game contribution in 2013/14).
It’s the first finals dance for the senior Mountaineers and club-man Adam Barbera wanted to look forward.
“From the outset we knew we’d have a tough game on our hands; Quake have some experienced players and were able to score two goals in a few minutes,” he said.
“We came back into the game later in the half and played the footy we know we’re capable of, but poor decisions and finishing stopped us from pulling them back.
“We started the second half much the same, missing many opportunities until Jordy [Guerreiro] finished off a good team move, but another mistake allowed Quake a goal against the run of play.
“Credit to Quake, they showed what everyone already knew and that they should be higher on the table,” Barbera said.
“It’s disappointing not to finish the season off how we wanted but we know we’re a strong team and we can still shake things up come finals time.”
Vipers stun Magic
Mascot Vipers pulled off their most memorable victories in a 3-2 triumph over Inner West also stealing Magic’s playoff place in dramatic Saturday-afternoon scenes at Valentine Sports Park.
Mascot hadn’t beaten Inner West since September 2011 but sniffed something in the air when Magic’s three-point penalty for fielding an illegible player against Easts last weekend suddenly gave them a playoff opportunity.
Inner West only needed a draw to finish fourth and following a tight first half doubled-down on their fortunes when they hit the front via Matthew Lecce tapping in a Daniel Fornito freekick.
Mascot wouldn’t let go and Paulo Rogerio and Leonardo Pinto goals thrust them ahead with 13 minutes remaining and force Magic into a fifth-man powerplay in a desperate bid to equalise.
They found their mark when Jonathan Barzel hit the post and Fornito was on hand to smash home the rebound and intriguingly coach Steven Knight continued his high-risk, high-reward fifth-man overland to starve Vipers of possession and run down the clock.
But the plan backfired badly as a wayward pass saw Mascot counter and Jamie Alves score a match-winning goal that broke Inner West’s season.
“It was a heart breaking loss, to miss out on the finals, and more so on a technicality was even more devastating,” said club-man Matteo Maiorana.
“The boys are shattered but take nothing away from Vipers; they were given an opportunity and took it with both hands.
“I’m sure next season we will be back better and stronger.”
It was the ninth one-goal game Magic’s played (plus one draw) in a summer of dramatic events, unfortunately six close defeats (seven if you include their round-13 penalty v Hakoah) set them on a path to playoff oblivion.
Having said that, Magic only beat a top-four team twice this season (Majik and Vipers), losing the six other contests.
It was Inner West’s second-lowest points tally (one more than the 18 accumulated in 2011/12) even though their 32-goal concession is in the best-eight defensive outputs of any club of a dozen PL seasons.
UTS Northside vs Enfield Allstars
Enfield Allstars wrapped up the season with a tight 2-1 win against unlucky UTS Northside at PCYC Dee Why on Saturday afternoon.
Northside had little to play for while Enfield got a break via Inner West’s demise but it was a good contest nonetheless as the home side took 1-0 honours into halftime courtesy of a Mason Ireland strike.
It was terrific action for spectators as Allstars stormed back into it, overtaking UTS with Luiz Lobo and Shervin Adeli goals to underpin their 2-1 win.
Enfield have been solid in the close ones this summer, winning seven of 10 games decided by two goals or less (plus one draw) to show great composure under pressure. They face Mountain Majik in the second semi-final.
Eastern Suburbs Hakoah vs Dural Warriors
Dural Warriors steamrolled Eastern Suburbs Hakoah 6-1 at All Sorts Indoor Sports Centre on Saturday night and followed it up with a 4-0 Sunday-morning wipeout of Campbelltown to rubberstamp this summer’s premiership.
It was emphatic as it sounded after the Warriors went out on Thursday night to beat Magic 5-4 in an eight-minute conclusion to their interrupted round-10 match, led Hakoah 4-0 at halftime to already overtake Mountain Majik, and then cherried the cake against Quake.
Dural started at a whirlwind pace forcing an own goal after a very sharp transition attack, and they doubled the advantage on 20-minutes when high-court pressure led to a simple Brandon Vella finish.
Easts countered early the second term before Greg Giovenali nailed a 3-1 lead with an accurate shot from 10m out and some aggressive defence netted three more Warriors goals to Wade Giovenali (2) and Bruno Pivato.
It was even better versus Quake on Sunday as a rampant Warriors saw Greg Giovenali and Nathan Niski collect doubles as two goals in each half secured a 4-zip win.
It was Niski’s 50th goal in Dural colours while team-mate Pivato also reached a half-century of premier league goals over the weekend.
The double-result kept Hakoah’s noses in front of Quake in the wooden-spoon battle (separated by goal-difference only), and Campbelltown’s third clean sheet of the summer left them on 30 goals – only Sydney City Eagles (15 in 2012/13) and Phoenix (27 in 2013/14) have endured leaner summers.
But it was a week of heroics from a Dural side that won’t be part of premier league next summer following the club’s CC demise that set all the tongues wagging.
The men’s certainly leave behind a legacy to withstand the ages – a seventh premiership (they’ve contested 10 of 12 PL seasons) and a ninth finals campaign equaling Inner West and Campbelltown for most open men’s post-season appearances (Enfield’s next with seven, while it’s Mountain Majik’s first finals foray).
Dural overcame a mid-season slump by going on a travelling frenzy, five straight road wins only bettered twice in premier league (an epic 11-game Warriors away quest over 2014/15 and 2015/16 and six straight three summers before); and 29 goals conceded is the fifth-tightest on record (Dural’s miserly 20 leaked in 2012/13 the best).
“It was a solid performance and it was good to see that the boys coped very well with the pressure of having to stay in the race to defend their premiership,” Rob Varela said.
“I’m very proud of all the guys in what has been a season full of controversy and bizarre situations, but they proved once again that they have the necessary resilience to overcome some tough hurdles.
“Now we have a break and get back to work in the new year in preparation for what undoubtedly will be a very tough championship-title defence.
“Merry Christmas to all the Futsal family!”
Next year’s finals
SELECT Futsal Premier League takes a lovely holiday break for everyone, especially playoff-bound clubs, to recharge before semi-finals at Sydney Olympic Sports Halls on Saturday, January 19 (both matches start 5.30pm): Dural Warriors play Mascot Vipers and Mountain Majik meet Enfield Allstars.
– By Dan de Nardi