The first week of the National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s Championship series is done and dusted, with two teams falling victim in the first week.
Week one spelt the end for Inter Lions and Bankstown United, whilst Bankstown City and Gladesville Ryde Magic secured their passage into the second week of the finals.
Let’s examine how the two finals matches played out. Jensen Park was the venue for the clash between Bankstown City and the visiting Inter Lions whilst Gladesville Ryde Magic hosted Bankstown United at Christie Park.
Elimination Semi Final
Gladesville Ryde Magic – Bankstown United FC 3-2 after extra time
A 10-man Bankstown United were on the wrong end of a 3-2 score line against Gladesville Ryde Magic, with extra time needed to separate the two sides at Christie Park on Sunday afternoon.
United were only a minute away from claiming their spot in the second week of the finals before a last-ditch effort from Magic saw them force the match into extra time.
A grandstand finish is always what the spectator crave for and that is what they were provided with when the game ended after 120 minutes of true finals football.
Nerves may have had a part to play in the opening quarter of an hour in this fixture, with the ball camped out in the middle of park as both teams tried to find that bit of creativity in the final third.
Bankstown’s Matthew Trotter manufactured the first opportunity of the match on 20 minutes when his free kick brushed the wrong side of the netting.
The visitors were at it again six minutes later, this time it was Lachlan Willmore whose shot blazed over the crossbar after Sean Robertson picked him out on the edge of the six-yard area with a pinpoint cross.
The breakthrough eventually arrived on the half hour mark through right winger Dalibor Malesevic.
The United winger’s searching cross from the top right corner of the 18-yard box fooled the Magic defence as it worked its way into the left-hand corner of the hosts’ goal.
Going a goal behind seemed to spur Gladesville on, and they closed the half strongly with two fantastic opportunities falling their way.
The first of those arrived from Adrien Jolly’s free kick from halfway, his ball into the area expertly picked out the head of Aaron Khan. The towering midfielder’s effort brushed the post before Billy Sherwin’s followed in and forced a corner for his side.
The resulting corner produced another chance, this time via their captain, Chris Gaitatzis. He flicked on Chris Triantis’ corner into the path of Bankstown goalkeeper David Hamilton, who palmed away the effort.
Malesevic’s effort gave Bankstown the upper hand as the two sides headed into the break. However, they were soon reduced to 10 men after defender Ryan Sadler handballed on his goal line in the 53rd minute.
The dismissal came as a double blow for Scott Belgre’s men after Triantis buried the resulting penalty to level it for his side.
The match remained at one a piece for only a matter of minutes with United next to be awarded a spot kick on the hour mark after Magic’s Cameron Newton handled in the box.
With Mitch Cross stepping up to take the penalty, it was never really in doubt as United’s leading goal scorer sent veteran goalkeeper Kiriakos Tohouroglou the wrong way.
Another Trotter free kick on 76 minutes almost sealed United’s position in next week’s finals after his effort rebounded into teammate Rocci Gabey before whistling just wide of the right post.
The men from Bankstown appeared almost certain to be playing into the second week of September, however in true finals fashion there was late drama as Sherwin popped up as his side’s saviour when he equalised in the dying moments of injury time.
The Magic striker was picked out by Edward Yoong’s cut back from the right wing before his shot bobbled past Hamilton and nestled into the bottom left corner of the goal.
So, on we went, another 30 minutes of football awaited as we looked to pick a winner out of the two evenly matched outfits.
Still buzzing from the dramatic equaliser, it was Gladesville who began extra time full of energy and determination.
They completed the turnaround in the 97th minute thanks to Charbel Haddad. The left winger calmly slotted his finish into the left-hand corner after he connected with Yoong’s piercing ball into the box.
With their hopes of finals football quickly fading, United put all their focus into finding the equaliser.
All their players were in the Magic half as they tried to penetrate the home side’s defence for the third time.
A miraculous header from Hamilton in the second minute of injury time almost caused jaws to drop around the ground as the shot stopper forced an equally impressive save from his Magic counterpart.
The defeat spells the end for United. However, they should feel more than pleased with the season they have had. A respectable 5th place finish in what was their first campaign in the NPL 3 is an amazing result for the club.
The victory for Magic sees them march on in the finals series, they will meet Premiers Stanmore Hawks next weekend.
National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s
Elimination Semi Final
Sunday, September 8, 2019
Christie Park, Marsfield
GLADESVILLE RYDE MAGIC 3 (Triantis 54’ pen., Sherwin 90+2’, Haddad 97’)
BANKSTOWN UNITED FC 2 (Malesevic 30’, Cross pen. 61’)
GLADESVILLE RYDE MAGIC; 2.C.Newton, 3.S.Tarazona(30.E.Yoong 79’), 4.A.Khan, 5.L.Harte, 8.P.Voukidis(18.C.Haddad 67’), 9.C.Gaitatzis, 11.C.Triantis(26.N.Pearson 116’), 12.A.Jolly, 14.A.Mickael, 28.B.Sherwin(6.Z.Kolundzic 97’), 33.K.Tohouroglou.
Substitutes Not Used – 1.G.Koliomihos.
Yellow Cards – 2.C.Newton 55’, 5.L.Harte 58’, 18.C.Haddad 97’.
Red Cards – Nil.
BANKSTOWN UNITED FC; 1.D.Hamilton, 3.L.Mesiti, 4.S.Wright, 6.L.Willmore(52.A.Salgueira 110’), 8.M.Trotter, 9.M.Cross, 12.S.Robertson(23.K.Bangura 76’), 17.M.Sadler, 21.D.Malesevic(10.E.Bergamin 83’), 27.M.Cook, 31.J.Spina(18.R.Gabey 61’).
Substitutions Not Used – 7.J.Miladinovic.
Yellow Cards – 3.L.Mesiti 14’.
Red Cards – 17.M.Sadler 53’.
Elimination Semi Final
Bankstown City Lions – Inter Lions FC 6-5
A frantic finale saw Bankstown City Lions hold onto the win as they escaped with a 6-5 victory in their battle against Inter Lions at Jensen Park on Saturday afternoon.
Inter were first to get on the scoresheet in this contest thanks to a Domenico Tripodi penalty on 10 minutes.
However, their lead was swiftly cancelled out and they found themselves behind by two in a blink of an eye as star captain Nikola Todoroski, Tommy Markovski and Ante Tomic all scored in the space of 15 minutes.
John Theo’s men pulled one back midway through the first half to make it 3-2 with Fikiret Berisha the scorer on this occasion after he was picked out by Tripodi’s inch perfect pass.
Another goal for Bankstown gave them a 4-2 lead as they headed into the sheds with Tomic grabbing his second after his left footed strike found its way into the bottom corner.
An onslaught in the second half saw City race to a 4-goal buffer with Todoroski scoring two goals in quick succession.
Down by four goals and with only half an hour to go, most would have expected Inter to roll over. However, the Inter players responded in the best possible manner as they incredibly swung the momentum in their favour by netting three goals in the short time that remained.
Tripodi and Berisha both registered another goal each whilst Nico Paras made it five to ensure a thrilling finale.
The men from Concord had the chance to make it six a piece however some heroics between the sticks from Bankstown’s Carl Mcmahon ensured that City held on to secure their passage into the second round of the Championship series.
A stunning fight back from Inter means that they can bow out of the finals series with their heads held high, whilst Bankstown live to fight another week as they prepare to face off against rivals SD Raiders.
-By NPL 3 NSW Men’s Chief Writer Samuel Greco Schwartz (Twitter handle: @SamuelGS97)