There was another lead change in the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s competition after an absorbing contest in Sydney’s Lower North Shore.
Elsewhere, a number of comebacks demonstrated that nothing can be taken for granted in this league.
Match of the Round: North Shore Mariners v Hills United
Our featured game took place on a blustery and chilly afternoon at Northbridge Oval. This top of the table clash certainly didn’t disappoint, with North Shore Mariners grabbing a late goal to defeat Hills United 2-1.
Both sides took their time to settle in the difficult conditions, and scoring opportunities were at a premium early on. North Shore top scorer Mitchell Smith had an awkward headed attempt at goal when Chris Lindsay’s volley flew towards him, and Lindsay whipped in a couple of dangerous in-swinging free kicks from the right side.
United’s main threat would come from Daniel Fogarty, and in the 24th minute the ball came his way following Jordan Parfait’s tackle on Brian Jamba, however he wasn’t able to hit the target.
The game was beginning to open up, and there were opportunities at both ends in the space of a minute. First, Braden Cheng was denied by Hills goalkeeper Shaun Catlin after racing past the backline to meet Mitchell Smith’s ball over the top. Fogarty then had another chance when he beat Mariners goalkeeper Ryan Wood to Glen Kelshaw’s through pass, but the speedy forward was forced wide, losing the ball while trying to beat a defender.
With ten minutes until the break, North Shore struck first, and no prizes for guessing who was involved. Lindsay found space and sent in a beautiful cross from the left wing, Mitchell Smith heading into the top corner to take his tally to 15 goals for the year.
The same two players nearly combined again from a corner as halftime approached, however Catlin was able to get just enough on Smith’s header to tip it wide.
North Shore had a few half chances early in the second half, then Hills started to impose themselves. Parfait’s deflected shot forced a good save from Wood, and a minute later Nathan Rayner slipped at the vital moment after Fogarty found him with a diagonal pass.
The Mariners didn’t heed the warning signs, and were pegged back in the 63rd minute. Eoin Montford’s long range shot was parried by Wood, Fogarty reacting quickest to poke the ball home at the second attempt for United’s equaliser.
Now that the scores were level, the match became increasingly stretched as the two sides pushed for a winner. Hills defenders got in the way of efforts from Lindsay and Ricky Woodward, while pacey winger Adolph Koudakpo came on as a substitute and made life difficult for North Shore.
The game’s decisive moment came in the 89th minute. Jesse Piriz began the move when he intercepted a pass and evaded a challenge, before finding Jamba on the right touchline. Jamba’s cross was awkward, and Jarrod Dodds was the unfortunate party, deflecting the ball into his own net.
Hills threw players forward in stoppage time to try and grab a second equaliser, but it was not to be.
North Shore’s second dramatic victory in two weeks takes them into first place, two points ahead of Hills. The next round sees both sides face A-League academies: North Shore travel to Pluim Park to face Central Coast, and Hills host Western Sydney Wanderers at Lilys Football Centre.
North Shore Mariners 2 (Mitchell Smith 35’, Jarrod Dodds og 89’) vs Hills United 1 (Daniel Fogarty 63’)
Sunday 23 June 2019
at Northbridge Oval
North Shore Mariners: 1. Ryan WOOD, 2. Rainer SMAHEL, 3. Chris LINDSAY, 5. Harrison QUIRK, 6. Ricky WOODWARD (c) (31. Tristan VAN RHOON 85’), 7. Hugo FORLICO, 8. Brian JAMBA, 10. Marquin SMITH, 12. Braden CHENG (15. Joshua MBAKWE 80’), 14. Jesse PIRIZ, 18. Mitchell SMITH
Unused subs: 21. Joel TINKER, 9. Claudio ROSANO, 11. Nathan SEPAROVIC
Yellow cards: 2. Rainer SMAHEL 20’, 15. Joshua MBAKWE 83’, 7. Hugo FORLICO 90+2’
Hills United: 1. Shaun CATLIN, 3. Jarrod DODDS, 5. Marcus ZARANTONELLO, 7. Wade GIOVENALI (22. Kento SAKURAI 71’), 8. Eoin MONTFORD (88. Nathan PHILIPS 80’), 10. Jordan PARFAIT (30. Adolph KOUDAKPO 76’), 11. Daine MERRIN (c), 19. Glen KELSHAW, 24. Nathan RAYNER, 44. Daniel FOGARTY, 45. Jacob BASDEN
Unused subs: 32. Jordan GEDDES, 9. Alexander VLISMAS
Yellow cards: 19. Glen KELSHAW 71’, 5. Marcus ZARANTONELLO 90+2’
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 4 (David Vrankovic 9’, Aaron Peterson 30’, Asmir Kadric 38’, Ray Miller 84’) vs St George FC 1 (Aleksandar Lekoski 63’)
Wayne O’Sullivan’s side now have three wins in a row after a convincing victory at Bonnyrigg Sports Club, and they move up into sixth place.
The home team looked up for it from the opening whistle, and it wasn’t long before David Vrankovic sent Bonnyrigg on their way with a sensational effort, volleying the ball in off the crossbar.
On the half hour it was 2-0 when Aaron Peterson finished well, and the White Eagles netted a third in the first half, Asmir Kadric chipping the goalkeeper from an acute angle.
St George FC briefly had some hope following Aleksandar Lekoski’s first goal of the campaign, a good strike from just outside the area. However, Ray Miller would come off the bench and put the game to bed with an incredible individual goal, dribbling past five opponents and placing the ball in the top corner.
Blacktown Spartans 1 (Christian Torrelli 75’) vs Mounties Wanderers 2 (Sean Rooney 81’, Theo Kofinas 89’)
There was an abundance of late drama at Blacktown Football Park as Mounties scored twice in the final ten minutes to keep their Premiership hopes alive.
Both teams were able to threaten their opponents in attack, although it was the Spartans who came closest in the opening stanza. Connor Eldridge followed up on a loose ball and thought he had netted his third in three games, only to be denied by the assistant’s flag.
This pattern continued in the second half as both goals were under attack, and it was the home side who would draw first blood in the 75th minute. Christian Torrelli got his reward for some enterprising play, taking on a defender and driving the ball into the roof of the net, leaving the goalkeeper with no chance.
Mounties began their fight-back six minutes later as a good sequence of passes led to Mark Bridge sending the ball into the area. It wasn’t cleared, and Sean Rooney was well positioned to fire home the equaliser.
Just as it looked like the sides would share the spoils, Mounties won a penalty when the Spartans were judged to have handled a shot from close range. Theo Kofinas stepped up, and kept his cool to give his side a crucial win.
Mounties coach Brian Brown praised his side for bouncing back from last weekend’s loss to Bonnyrigg, and with five wins in six rounds they are slowly edging into contention for trophies this season.
Northern Tigers 2 (Liam McConaghy 46’, Lucas Dawson 49’) vs GHFA Spirit FC 2 (Christopher Arditti 7’, Duncan Stewart 16’)
A highly entertaining local derby at North Turramurra Recreation Area ended with a stalemate.
Spirit FC were the better team in the opening period, and they took an early lead following an excellent team move which started from the back. After neat build-up play, Duncan Stewart played a one-two with Ahmed Sweedan and then chipped the ball through the defence for Christopher Arditti to score.
David Perkovic’s side doubled their lead in the 16th minute. Futoshi Kondo won the ball in midfield and initiated a counter attack, releasing Stewart to score his 13th goal of the season.
There were chances for Spirit FC to extend their lead, the best of these coming when Arditti was one on one with the goalkeeper just before halftime, but he was unable to capitalise.
That miss proved costly as Tigers coach Adam Hett rung the changes during the interval, getting a reward almost instantly. In the opening minute of the second half, Jamie Lobb’s left wing cross caused havoc in the area, Liam McConaghy heading in to begin the Tigers comeback. Scores were level three minutes later when the home team got behind the defence and Lucas Dawson sidefooted the ball into the goal.
Northern Tigers now had the momentum, however Spirit would get themselves back into the game. As both teams searched for a winner, it would be end to end action in the final stages. No more goals were scored, and the points were shared.
Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Mohamed Adam 42’ 56’ 69’) vs Macarthur Rams 0
Mohamed Adam’s hat trick headlined this contest at Sydney United Sports Centre, as the Wanderers grabbed their first victory in six games.
Arthur Diles’s side had the majority of possession in the first half, but Macarthur looked fairly comfortable in defence, blocking shots as required and having a couple of long range efforts of their own.
The game swung a few minutes before half time when Jacob Vasiliou’s 25 yard strike was saved by Jacob Madden, as Adam was on hand to finish from the rebound.
Adam doubled his tally for the evening in the 56th minute, netting another one from close range after Marley Peterson’s cross caused havoc in the Rams penalty area.
With just over 20 minutes remaining, Bailey Rule was fouled inside the area, handing Adam the opportunity to complete his treble. The result was never in doubt: the young striker sent Madden the wrong way from the spot to make it 3-0, scoring his 18th goal of the season.
This result keeps the Wanderers hot on the heels of the top three, while it’s back to the drawing board for the Rams – they’ve now gone six rounds without a victory.
Canterbury Bankstown FC 1 (Zak Elrich 37’) vs St George City FA 2 (Alvaro Malmierca 46’, Matthew Mayora 80’)
It was a game that could have gone either way. In the end, St George City FA won their fifth game in six weeks thanks to a second half comeback at The Crest Athletic Centre.
Canterbury struck first as halftime approached, in-form attacker Zak Elrich grabbing his fifth goal in five weeks courtesy of a moment of brilliance. The ball was won in the middle of the park, and Elrich showed great vision to lob the goalkeeper from 35 yards.
City came out all guns blazing for the second period and were level almost immediately. Mirko Jurilj’s side were denied by a couple of saves in quick succession, and Alvaro Malmierca found himself in the right place to level the scores.
The teams would take turns to attack, with chances at both ends, and the three points were definitely up for grabs. It was the away side, aided by a good performance off the bench from new signing Nick Sullivan, who struck the crucial blow in the 80th minute.
Following a scramble in the area, Matthew Mayora reacted quickest to a loose ball, finishing on the half-volley to ensure that City are very much in finals contention.
Rydalmere Lions 1 (Garang Awac 48’) vs Central Coast Mariners 4 (Aidan Taouil 12’ 50’, Jordan Smylie 53’ 57’)
Central Coast found a much needed victory at Valentine Sports Park to move up one place to eighth.
Fielding a younger-than-usual side, the Mariners were out of the blocks quickly, Aidan Taouil opening the scoring with a low finish from 12 yards.
The rest of the first half was tight, and Rydalmere had a lot of the ball, but they had to wait until after the interval to equalise. From a corner kick, Garang Awac rose highest to score his first goal for his new club.
Rydalmere’s joy was short-lived however, as it took the Mariners only a couple of minutes to restore their lead. Taouil was on the mark again, meeting a cross at the back post and finishing well.
Jordan Smylie got in on the act soon aftwerwards, heading home to break a mini goal drought, and it got even better for the striker four minutes later when he found the top corner for his second and Central Coast’s fourth of the night.
The Mariners could even have had more goals after a dominant final 30 minutes, with some close calls as they looked to extend their lead. Nevertheless, it was a good win for Nick Montgomery’s young side, and it keeps them well in the mix for the finals.
By Eric Subijano
Twitter – @eric_subijano