The National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s competition kicked off with a derby, plenty of close contests and a lot of late goals (eight after the 80th minute across the six games). This league is notoriously hard to predict, but one thing is certain: we’ll have a lot of fun following this league over the next six months.
Match of the Round: Western Sydney Wanderers v Hills United
Western Sydney Wanderers prevailed in our featured match, defeating Hills United 3-1 in an open contest at Lily Homes Stadium. Strikes from Kosta Grozos and Mohamed Adam, combined with an early Bradley Robertson own goal, took Arthur Diles’s side to victory, with Hills skipper Daine Merrin netting late on from the penalty spot.
There was goalmouth action in the opening seconds. A clearance from United fullback Glen Kelshaw was charged down by Rory Jordan, however Adam couldn’t capitalise. The Wanderers didn’t have to wait long though, and took the lead when Jarrod Carluccio’s cross took a heavy deflection off Robertson, leaving Harrick Sinpraseuth stranded.
Western Sydney could have doubled their lead on six minutes when Grozos intercepted Sinpraseuth’s underhit clearance and tried to catch him out of position, but the goalkeeper did brilliantly to recover and tip the shot over the bar. Hills were then inches away from equalising when Merrin smacked a first time shot off the frame of the goal.
The chances kept coming. Sinpraseuth made another good save, this time from Jordan, and Grozos also had another opportunity, gliding past three opponents only to shoot over from just inside the area. In the 17th minute, Wanderers goalkeeper Nicholas Suman was equal to an effort from Yusuke Maruyama after a nice passing move.
After such a frenetic start the contest had to settle down. The next notable moment came on 40 minutes, Grozos firing just wide of the post after getting on the end of Lochlan Constable’s excellent cross.
The second half began in the same vein as the first, with both sides racking up the attempts on goal. Hills forward Adolph Koudakpo charged through the middle and tested Suman from 25 yards, while Constable knocked the ball down for Adam, but the ball bounced at a difficult height and his volley was off target.
Western Sydney made it 2-0 in the 64th minute. Grozos had deserved a goal after threatening all evening, and he got his reward for an outstanding performance when he raced onto Ali Auglah’s through pass and coolly dinked the ball past Sinprasueth.
Hills United kept going and Robertson could have halved the deficit when Maruyama’s corner kick fell to him at the far post, but he couldn’t keep his effort down. Grozos then created a one on one chance for Wanderers substitute Dauntae Mariner with a wonderful pass, however Sinpraseuth was able to make a one on one save.
There was an unfortunate clash between Suman and Koudakpo on 83 minutes which led to the Wanderers goalkeeper being substituted, and the youngsters in red & black seemed to lose momentum. Hills found a way back into the contest when Thomas Aquilina was penalised for holding Kelshaw at a corner. Merrin kept his head with the spot kick, slamming the ball into the net for his fifth goal in five appearances against the Wanderers.
That was as good as it got for United, and the Wanderers made the game safe in stoppage time. Noah Pagden won possession and played the ball to Mariner, who atoned for his earlier miss by setting up Adam for the clinching goal.
Next up for Western Sydney is a Saturday night clash with Spirit FC at Christie Park. Meanwhile, Hills United return to Lily Homes Stadium to face St George City FA.
Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Bradley Robertson og 3’, Kosta Grozos 64’, Mohamed Adam 90+2’) v Hills United 1 (Daine Merrin 89’)
Sunday 8 March 2020
at Lily Homes Stadium
Western Sydney Wanderers: 1. Nicholas SUMAN (20. Oliver KALAC 85’), 2. Thomas AQUILINA, 4. Mohamed AL TAAY (c), 5. Noah PAGDEN, 7. Jarrod CARLUCCIO, 10. Kosta GROZOS, 11.Lochlan CONSTABLE, 14. Mohamed ADAM, 17. Dean PELEKANOS, 19. Rory JORDAN (24. Peter GROZOS 72’), 21. Ali AUGLAH (9. Dauntae MARINER 77’)
Unused substitutes: 3. Mark NATTA, 16. Yousef SAWALH
Hills United: 24. Harrick SINPRASEUTH, 6. Bradley ROBERTSON, 7. Wade GIOVENALI (16. Greg GIOVENALI 78’), 8. Eoin MONTFORD, 9. Alex VLISMAS (23. Sam PERRE 72’), 10. Samuel DE OLIVEIRA (13. Joshua MBAKWE 65’), 11. Daine MERRIN (c), 14. Adolph KOUDAKPO, 17. Yusuke MARUYAMA, 18. Nathan NISKI, 19. Glen KELSHAW
Unused substitutes: 32. Jordan GEDDES, 3. Jarrod DODDS
Yellow Cards: 18. Nathan NISKI 48’, 7. Wade GIOVENALI 57’, 11. Daine MERRIN 65’, 23. Sam PERRE 75’
Blacktown Spartans 1 (Mason Ireland 26’) v Mounties Wanderers 0
Brett Hewit’s stint as Spartans head coach got off to the perfect start at Blacktown Football Park.
With St Patrick’s Day about a week away, the appropriately-named Mason Ireland scored the first Spartans goal of 2020. The home side passed around a high press from Mounties, and when Nathan Separovic’s shot was saved Ireland was positioned well to score from the rebound.
The Spartans had other good chances but couldn’t convert, and it looked like that inability to score another goal might come back to haunt them. However, the young side were able to hold out against the Mounties pressure and some dangerous counter attacks, especially in the second half, for a valuable win.
Spartans play their first away game next weekend against Northern Tigers, while Mounties host Bonnyrigg White Eagles.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1 (Jack Armson 83’) v Northern Tigers 2 (Ally Brown 60’, Lachlan Lloyd 90+5’)
More late drama between these two teams! Adam Hett’s side exacted some measure of revenge for last year’s Elimination Final defeat to Bonnyrigg, Lachlan Lloyd netting the winner with almost the last kick of the contest.
The White Eagles had the better of the opening period, putting a number of dangerous balls into the penalty area. Chances for James McKenzie and Ray Miller were blocked by the defence, and Asmir Kadric unleashed a spectacular volley that flew inches wide of the post.
Northern Tigers were rewarded for their defensive efforts on the hour, taking the lead with a swift counter attack. Rory Spiers and Ally Brown combined to release Ollie Wiggin, who cut the ball back for Brown to finish from close range.
It didn’t look like it would be Bonnyrigg’s night when Kadric lobbed the ball over Tigers goalkeeper Elliot Carwardine but saw his effort bounce onto the crossbar, and less than a minute later Kadric was in again, only for Carwardine to make a smart save. They kept pushing, equalising on 83 minutes when Jack Armson finished coolly after being set up by Bradie Smith.
Both sides had chances to seal the win in a frantic end to the game, but it was the Tigers who would prevail. Once again Swadling and Wiggin were involved in the buildup, Wiggin laying the ball off for Lloyd to score with an unstoppable strike from the edge of the area.
NWS Spirit FC 2 (Michael Konestabo 24’ 88’) v Central Coast Mariners 2 (Louis Khoury 86’ 90+3’)
The points were shared at Christie Park in a match stacked with late action.
Spirit struck first, with Michael Konestabo showing he’s back to his best after 12 months out with an ACL injury. The move started with a break from halfway, former Central Coast striker Duncan Stewart had his shot saved and Konestabo followed up to score, capping off a strong first half performance from David Perkovic’s side.
Both teams had their chances over the course of the game – in particular, Jason De Jong and Mitchell Davidson were denied by excellent saves – but things really kicked off in the dying minutes. New Mariners signing Louis Khoury, who has spent time at Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers, equalised with a well-taken goal from inside the 18 yard box. However, that was only the start of the drama, as Spirit fullback Andy Robertson then broke down the left and set up Konestabo for his second goal of the evening.
When Jack Greenwood, returning to Spirit after a stint with the Western Sydney Wanderers Academy, saved a penalty in stoppage time the hosts looked safe. However, barely 30 seconds later Khoury pounced on another chance inside the area to rescue a point for Nick Montgomery’s young side.
Spirit are at home again on Saturday to face Western Sydney Wanderers, and Central Coast host Hakoah on Sunday afternoon.
St George FC 0 v St George City FA 3 (Troy Danaskos 2’, Jordan Morfitis 21’, Jason Romero 35’)
A fast start at Ilinden Sports Centre ensured that City recorded their first ever Derby win.
Troy Danaskos was making his City debut and he ensured it was a game to remember with a goal inside the first two minutes. He wasn’t the only debutant to find the back of the net, as fleet-footed winger Jordan Morfitis made it 2-0 just past the 20 minute mark.
City’s offseason recruitment is clearly paying early dividends, and American forward Jason Romero became the third player to score on his first game for the club, converting from the penalty spot to round off a convincing first half performance.
St George FC had their moments, hitting the frame of the goal twice before the interval, and Mani Gonzalez completed an unwanted hat trick for the Saints when he struck one against the crossbar in the second half.
City coach Mirko Jurilj will be pleased that his side kept a clean sheet after doing so only four times in 2019 – they face Hills United at Lily Homes Stadium in the next round, while St George FC are away to SD Raiders.
SD Raiders 2 (Noah Chianese 5’ 75’) v Hakoah Sydney City East 1 (Michael Vakis 89’)
The faithful at Ernie Smith Reserve saw their team start life as an NPL 2 club with a solid victory.
Noah Chianese got what every player dreams of when making a debut – an early goal to help settle in to their new club. The former Mounties forward broke through the defence in the fifth minute, finishing clinically.
In many ways, it was a night for the youth to shine – Raiders attacker Mathew Barkho stood out and troubled the goal a few times, while for Hakoah 16 year old Ben Fuchs was among the players that impressed.
Chianese doubled his tally and the Raiders lead with about a quarter of an hour remaining, racing onto a through ball and calmly slotting into the bottom corner. It was almost three soon afterwards, but Milan Parenta was denied first by a one on one save from Niki Loe and then by an acrobatic goal line clearance from Mitch Knight.
Hakoah youngster Michael Vakis ensured a nervous finish for the home side when he finished neatly from Joshua Da Silva’s free kick, but despite a late spell of pressure, Raiders were able to hang on for the three points.
By Eric Subijano (@eric_subijano)