A wet weekend couldn’t dampen the excitement in the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s competition.
One club stands alone at the top of the ladder, but the hard-fought nature of this league means we’re unlikely to see any team break away from the pack.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 2 (Aaron Peterson 5’, Jack Armson 44’) v Northern Tigers 0
Bonnyrigg are back to winning ways and have their first clean sheet of 2020.
Aaron Peterson sent the hosts on their way inside the opening five minutes, capitalising on a strong run from Jack Armson and picking out the corner of the net. It was almost two-nil on the quarter hour as James McKenzie rose highest at a corner, but Elliot Carwardine was able to tip his header onto the crossbar. Armson then found a goal of his own with halftime approaching (meaning he’s scored in his last three games against the Tigers), forcing the ball home from six yards after being set up by Bradie Smith.
The Tigers had a great chance in first half injury time. Shervin Adeli had two attempts blocked and then Nicholas Kalogerou’s shot was somehow deflected wide by Smith, leaving the Tigers defender in disbelief.
In the second half, Armson could have extended his side’s lead, but he blazed over from the edge of the area following a neat one two with Ray Miller. There was no need for him to worry though, as Bonnyrigg (led superbly at the back by McKenzie) kept their defensive shape throughout the ninety minutes. The away side’s best second half chances came when Ollie Wiggin flashed a 20 yard effort wide of the post, and when Lucas Dawson couldn’t beat Bonnyrigg goalkeeper Stefan Giglio from a tight angle.
Hills United 3 (Wade Giovenali 9’, Jordan Parfait 27’, Daniel Fogarty 74’) Central Coast Mariners 4 (Matthew Cahill 37’, Michael Katsoulis 39’, Kyle Johnson 48’, Harry McCarthy 72’)
They’ve done it again! Following on from their eight goal thriller in July 2019, Hills & Central Coast combined for seven goals amidst the fog at Lily Homes Stadium.
The Champions drew first blood with a moment of magic. Wade Giovenali took a corner kick from the left side, and instead of aiming for a teammate the Futsalroo curled the ball directly into the net for a stunning goal. Having scored off a set piece, Hills then doubled their lead with a devastating counter attack. The move started when Jordan Parfait cleverly headed the ball to Daniel Fogarty, another player who has recently returned to Hills. Fogarty’s return pass sent Parfait to a wide left crossing position, but the winger managed to catch out the goalkeeper, blasting the ball into the top corner from an acute angle.
Central Coast’s response was impressive, with Nick Montgomery’s young side drawing level before halftime. Matthew Cahill opened his side’s account for the evening when he found the empty net after a defensive mix-up. Two minutes later, Matthew Hatch’s left wing cross rebounded off the post straight to Michael Katsoulis, who finished from close range and celebrated by showing off his dance moves.
The interval did nothing to stop the Mariners’ momentum. Just after the restart, Jordan Smylie was fouled by Glen Kelshaw inside the area, Kyle Johnson converting the spot kick to make it 3-2. Max Balard then capped off an excellent midfield performance by setting up his team’s fourth goal – his through ball split the defence and Harry McCarthy made the most of his one v one with Harrick Sinpraseuth.
Hills would pull a goal back almost immediately when Fogarty raced onto Wade Giovenali’s pass and rolled the ball home, however despite some late pressure Central Coast hung on for their first victory of the season.
NWS Spirit FC 2 (Duncan Stewart 62’, Mitchell Davidson 68’) v Hakoah Sydney City East 0
Two goals on Saturday and two wins to start the campaign mean Spirit FC are the league leaders.
Both sides were inches away from scoring in the opening period. 14 minutes were on the clock when Jordan Koton found Bruno Mendes, Jack Greenwood doing brilliantly to tip the Brazilian’s shot onto the post. Seven minutes later Spirit winger Mitchell Davidson was the unlucky one, curling an effort onto the frame of the goal from just outside the area. Greenwood would deny Mendes again before halftime, positioning himself well when Mendes linked with Matthew Nezval, while Hakoah goalkeeper Niki Loe did just as well when faced with a shot from Michael Konestabo. The Mendes – Greenwood battle continued into the second half, with the Spirit custodian once again coming out on top after Mendes charged towards goal.
With the game finely poised, it was last year’s 19 goal striker Duncan Stewart who broke the deadlock, profiting from six yards out after nice play from Davidson and substitute Emilio Manos. Another substitute in Louis Bozanic then nearly made it 2-0, but the hosts wouldn’t have to wait too much longer as from the resulting corner Pat Cappuccio headed against the post and Davidson followed up from point blank range. Spirit had a couple of chances late on to make it three: Abuzar Awaz was denied by a wonderful save from Loe, and in stoppage time Connor Shaddock put his body on the line to prevent Manos finding an open goal.
St George FC 2 (Manny Gonzalez 25’, Bruno Pivato 57’) v SD Raiders 3 (Anthony Proia 18’, Matias Toro Suazo 43’, Adrian Valenti 75’)
It’s a role reversal for SD Raiders. After losing by the odd goal in five last weekend, Nick Carle’s side prevailed 3-2 at Ilinden Sports Centre.
Alvaro Malmierca scored a wondergoal last week, but this time he played the role of provider, sending a low free kick towards the near post for Anthony Proia to flick the ball home. The Saints were quick to respond: Juan Carlos Romero broke down the left side and when his effort was saved, Manny Gonzalez blasted the ball past Adrian Valenti’s desperate lunge on the goal line.
Those Malmierca set pieces were proving difficult to handle, and the Raiders midfielder created another goal just before halftime, picking out Matias Toro Suazo for a far post header. St George FC found their second equaliser when Bruno Pivato combined with Gonzalez to get behind the defence, rifling the ball into the net from the left side of the area.
The winner came via a move that was started and finished by Valenti. The Raiders left back won possession, continuing his run until he got on the end of Daniel Bittar’s pass and finished calmly. However, Nick Carle’s side then had to do it the hard way when their goalkeeper Michael Rutherford was sent off a minute later. St George FC were unable to score with the extra player, and the Raiders are now off the mark for this season.
St George City FA 1 (Jason Romero 82’) v Blacktown Spartans 3 (Connor Eldridge 17’, Lewis Fraser 45+4’, Lachlan Rose 85’)
The Sunday game saw the first ever NPL 2 NSW Men’s fixture at Arncliffe Park’s synthetic pitch, but the Spartans gatecrashed the party to grab their first victory of the season.
It was the away side’s top scorer from 2019 who opened the scoring, Connor Eldridge sprinting onto Andre Carle’s pass and tucking the ball into the bottom corner. City were then reduced to ten men following the dismissal of Tarik Ercan, and the Spartans took advantage to double their lead as Lewis Fraser put one up where the spiders live from 30 yards out.
Nathan Roberts put in a good second half performance for the hosts, and he crossed for Hiten Satoh from the left flank, but the Japanese midfielder’s header was blocked by the defence. At the other end, Carle had a headed chance of his own, sending the ball over the bar following good work from Christian Nascimben.
For a couple of minutes near the end, it looked like there could be a nailbiting finish: Leo Malfara’s cross after a twisting run in the box was handled, and Jason Romero placed his penalty kick in the top corner. However, the Spartans would have the last laugh when the ball was worked to Lachlan Rose, his pliedriver sealing all three points for the Rooty Hill outfit.
Bye: Newcastle Jets
By Eric Subijano (@eric_subijano)