The second round of the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s competition had plenty of tight battles to keep the fans occupied, and the pair of Sunday games were particularly dramatic.
St George City FA & Blacktown Spartans are the pacesetters, but it’s still early days – plenty of time for the rest to catch up.
Match of the Round: Northern Tigers v Blacktown Spartans
Blacktown Spartans recorded their second consecutive 1-0 victory on Saturday evening, narrowly sneaking past Northern Tigers on a chilly evening at North Turramurra Recreation Area.
A fourth minute free kick from Spartans midfielder Andre Carle, easily saved by Elliot Carwardine, was the only effort of note in the opening stages as both teams looked to settle into the game.
Carle was also involved in his side’s next opportunity, playing the ball to Connor Eldridge, but Nicholas Kalogerou was able to get in the way of his long range strike. From this, the Tigers countered, and Ally Brown set up Lachlan Lloyd for a shot which was deflected wide of the target.
Northern Tigers were moving the ball well, but were then forced into an early substitution when Kalogerou had to leave the field – he was replaced by the returning Shervin Adeli. The Spartans took advantage, finishing the first half as the stronger of the two sides. Eldridge was denied by a strong covering tackle from Jamie Lobb, and Christian Nascimben was unlucky not to see a teammate get on the end of his wicked curling cross from the left.
Then in first half stoppage time, the away side scored what would prove to be the winner. Nascimben was on target with his crossing this time, setting up Dau Akol for a towering header that was too powerful for Carwardine to keep out.
Mason Ireland had the first attempt on goal of the second half, but he was unable to keep his 30 yard effort down. At the other end, Oliver Wiggin’s first time strike went just wide of the post.
As the game entered the final half hour, a short corner was played to halftime Spartans substitute Lachlan Rose, who curled an inviting cross just out of reach of three of his teammates. Then with just over 20 minutes left, Adeli unleashed one of his trademark long range free kicks, missing by a matter of inches. The Spartans responded, and Finley Hayhurst did well to pick out Joshua Orchard from the right flank, but his header was saved by Carwardine.
Despite some heavy pressure in the closing stages, the Spartans kept their defensive shape well and were able to hold out for the victory. The closest Northern Tigers got to an equaliser was an Adeli strike that was deflected wide, and a 90th minute effort from Rory Spiers that was ruled out for offside. In fact, it was the Spartans who had the best of the late chances, as Carwardine saved from both Eldridge and Rose in time added on.
Both sides are on the road next weekend: Northern Tigers are off to the Eastern Suburbs to face Hakoah Sydney City East at Hensley Athletic Field, while Blacktown Spartans will make the short trip to Lily Homes Stadium to play Hills United.
Northern Tigers 0 v Blacktown Spartans 1 (Akol 45+1’)
Saturday 14 March 2020
at North Turramurra Recreation Area
Northern Tigers: 1. Elliot CARWARDINE, 3. Jamie LOBB, 4. William FORISTAL, 5. Nicholas KALOGEROU (10. Shervin ADELI 32’), 6. Jordan FERRIER, 8. Alexander BROWN, 11. Oliver WIGGIN, 13. Sam WILSON (14. Rhys WILLIAMS 79’), 16. Lachlan LLOYD, 19. Joshua SWADLING, 38. Nikola KRLJAR (7. Rory SPIERS 69’)
Unused substitutes: 41. Riley STEPHENSON, 2. Zachary MORRIS
Yellow Cards: 14. Rhys WILLIAMS 86’
Blacktown Spartans: 1. Mitchell EVANS, 3. Dau AKOL, 6. Joshua ORCHARD, 7. Mason IRELAND (12. Lewis FRASER 67’), 8. Nathan SEPAROVIC (5. Trent SIERRA 79’), 9. Connor ELDRIDGE, 10. Finley HAYHURST, 14. Andre CARLE (15. Lachlan ROSE 46’), 17. Alex GOLLAN, 19. Malcolm WARD, 22. Christian NASCIMBEN
Unused substitutes: 40. Hugh BROWN, 11. Christian TORRELLI
Yellow Cards: 8. Nathan SEPAROVIC 66’, 17. Alex GOLLAN 82’, 8. Nathan SEPAROVIC 88’
Hills United 1 (Wade Giovenali 26’) v St George City FA 2 (Tarik Ercan 57’, Nathan Roberts 69’)
St George City FA showed plenty of character to come from behind at Lily Homes Stadium and make it two wins from two to start the campaign.
Hills created a lot of pressure in the opening period and were rewarded on 26 minutes with a goal from attacking midfielder Wade Giovenali.
However, some halftime tactical changes from Mirko Jurilj paved the way for City to get back into the contest. It was City captain Tarik Ercan who levelled the scores, heading in a corner kick at the near post. The winner came with just over 20 minutes remaining thanks to a couple of players who had impressive performances – Hiten Satoh playing a large part in the buildup and Nathan Roberts providing the finish.
City host Mounties next weekend in the first ever NPL 2 game on Peakhurst Park’s synthetic field, while Hills return to Lily Homes Stadium for the third week in a row to face Blacktown Spartans.
Mounties Wanderers 2 (Tynan Diaz 43’, Sean Rooney 80’) v Bonnyrigg White Eagles 2 (Asmir Kadric 8’ 48’)
In a great contest for the neutrals, Mounties and Bonnyrigg shared the spoils at Valentine Sports Park.
The White Eagles, led as is so often the case by Ray Miller, made the early running and took the lead on eight minutes. Miller’s shot was saved by Shaun Catlin, but Asmir Kadric followed up and put the rebound away. Just before halftime, Tynan Diaz equalised with his first Mounties goal, tucking the ball away after a break down the right side.
The second half began in the same manner as the first: Kadric finding the net. This time he won possession, playing a one-two with Aaron Peterson before picking out the bottom corner. However, Mounties would earn a point with a late strike, Diaz turning provider by crossing for Sean Rooney to head home.
Theo Kofinas also drew a great save from Bonnyrigg goalkeeper Jimmy Chronopoulos late on, but with both teams creating their fair share of chances a draw wasn’t a bad outcome for either side.
SD Raiders 0 v St George FC 4 (Bruno Pivato 2’, Emmanuel Gonzalez 15’, Hussein Akil 35’, Anthony Morabito 57’)
St George FC showed there was no hangover from last week’s Derby defeat with a clinical performance at Ernie Smith Reserve.
The game was still in the opening seconds when Bruno Pivato scored his first goal since returning to the Saints. Spanish goal-getter Juan Carlos Romero was the provider on this occasion, winning the ball and setting up Pivato for a neat finish. Mani Gonzalez followed this up with his first Saints goal, converting from the penalty spot on the quarter hour.
In a reversal of last week, it was St George FC who led 3-0 at the break, skipper Hussein Akil heading home after a strong run and cross from Bradley Bartels. Long-time Saints winger Anthony Morabito rounded off the scoring in the second half, getting on the end of a Saints counter attack and finishing well.
To their credit, a Raiders side missing a number of first team regulars never stopped trying, and they had chances of their own. Mathew Barkho and Noah Chianese forced crucial saves from Saints goalkeeper Anthony Costa, and the home side also hit the post in a performance that was better than the scoreline suggests.
Central Coast Mariners 3 (Alou Kuol 17’ 44’ 80’) v Hakoah Sydney City East 2 (Bruno Mendes 27’ 65’)
Both sides had a forward in red hot goalscoring form, but Central Coast were able to edge out Hakoah at Pluim Park.
Alou Kuol sent the Mariners on their way with a nicely converted penalty, but they were only in front for about ten minutes – Bruno Mendes finding Hakoah’s equaliser with a first time finish following a short corner.
Kuol then grabbed his second of the afternoon just before halftime, finishing after good work from Matthew Hatch. However, Hakoah were stringing together some nice moves in the midfield, and they were level again after a second Mendes goal – the Brazilian winning a penalty off Adam Pearce and scoring from the spot.
In the end, it was Central Coast who would grab the three points – Kuol completing his hat trick with another clinically taken penalty. The Mariners travel to Bonnyrigg next weekend, while Hakoah are at home to Northern Tigers.
NWS Spirit FC 3 (Mitchell Davidson 6’, Emilio Manos 69’, Jason de Jong 84’) v Western Sydney Wanderers 2 (Ali Auglah 48’, Rory Jordan 58’)
A seesawing contest at Christie Park ended with Spirit FC earning their first win of the season.
Mitchell Davidson opened the scoring in the early minutes with a neat finish, and the hosts might have even extended their lead before the interval after decent chances for Duncan Stewart and Michael Konestabo.
The Wanderers came out for the second half all guns blazing, and were soon level after a fantastic strike from Ali Auglah – the winger cut in from the right side and fired an unstoppable shot into the top corner. Rory Jordan had been looking lively, and it was his turn to get on the scoresheet just before the hour mark with a mirror image of Auglah’s goal: Jordan ran in from the left wing, beat a defender and found the back of the net.
A point blank save from Jack Greenwood that prevented Jordan from extending his side’s lead may have been the turning point, as Spirit coach David Perkovic turned to his bench and within minutes had the perfect outcome. Emilio Manos had only been on the field for a couple of minutes when he slipped the ball past the goalkeeper, making it 2-2 after beating the defence to a long pass.
Neither side seemed content to settle for a point, with Mohamed Adam and Thomas Aquilina threatening for the Wanderers, but it was Spirit who would grab the decisive goal. Kota Odakura and Ahmed Sweedan were involved in the buildup before two players with experience plying their trade in the Philippines combined for the winner, Davidson picking out Jason De Jong for a first time left footed strike into the bottom corner.
By Eric Subijano (@eric_subijano)