With just under a month to go in the NPL 4 Men’s competition. Moves needed to be made and indeed were made in Round 8 of the competition.
Highlighting the weekends action, a high scoring draw at Blacktown Football Park, a convincing win for Nepean FC and a bottom of the table shootout at Ron Dine. So, buckle up! Round 8 of the competition is quite a ride.
Nepean FC 5-1 Parramatta FC
When one of your players scores a hat-trick and another scores a brace, you know it is a good night. And so, it was for hosts Nepean FC who ran away with a convincing win over visitors Parramatta FC.
The hosts were overdue for some luck in front of goal after a frustrating few weeks. And they did not have to wait long in this one. Mitch Mclintock hitting a sweet left footed volley into the net following a Richie Stewart assist.
As so often happens in football, once a team scores one another is soon to follow and Nepean were clinical throughout, Majid Eslami scoring from a one on one opportunity.
With alarm bells already ringing for the visitors, a third Nepean goal was to be scored before the break. Mclintock getting his second of the night in superb fashion, standing up his defender before finding the top left corner from a Brendan King assist.
Up 3-0 at half time, you would forgive them for taking their foot of the pedal (like another team this week). But Nepean FC were out for blood, and three became four soon after the break. Eslami grabbing his brace with a volley to rival his compatriot.
Though, the best goal of the match came at the other end. Adrian Epifanino stepping up to a free-kick twenty metres out and finding the top corner in style.
However, hopes of a comeback were soon snuffed out. Instead Mclintock went and grabbed his hat-trick with minutes to go at the other end. A night to remember for both him and the club.
Prospect United SC 4-4 Western NSW FC
Pure, unadulterated footballing chaos. There is no other way of summing up the goings on at Blacktown Football Park on Saturday night as Prospect United welcomed Western NSW FC.
Eight goals, a 95th minute equalizer, missed penalties and a hat-trick yet both teams were forced to settle for a point.
It was the visitors who caught the hosts napping early, not only finding the net once, but three times within the first twenty minutes. Their first? A Damien Booth header from a Paul Long corner. Their second? A swift counter attack which saw a Matthew Hobby shot saved into the path of Daniel Baumgartner who finished off. Their third? Through Jesse Boness finishing off a move which saw passing involvements from Booth and Dillon Bell alike.
Ready to take a breath yet? Sorry this is not the game for you, as the hosts were to make a charge of their own before the break. And cometh the moment, cometh the man. Cristian Leiva Martinez breaking his goal drought with two finishes before the break. The second of which being the pick of the two, Martinez curling his shot into the top corner. However, Martinez was unable to convert from the spot to equalize before the break. Crazy, Crazy game.
Much like the half before, Western NSW saw themselves rewarded for a good start to the second period with a Boness finish from the top of the box. 4-2. Comfortable right? Nope, not on this occasion.
Twenty minutes later, hope was restored for the hosts when Martinez completed his hat-trick to make it just a goal the difference.
And just when it seemed like the visitors were to hold on five minutes into injury time. Nic Valjak was able to find some space inside a congested box before finishing low into the bottom corner. Game of the season anyone?
Hawkesbury City FC 2-1 Hurstville FC
Four games without defeat. Safe to say Hawkesbury City FC have readjusted to life in the fourth tier. This weekend, goals to Emmanuel Ponce and Brad Gibson were enough to cancel out a Paul Gagro equalizer for the visitors.
In an even contest, the home side were first to strike, Brad Gibson finding Emmanuel Ponce with a ball across the box, Ponce good enough to finish off from there. Credit where its due, the visitors responded well. Firstly, firing a warning shot, midfielder Pedro Almeida finding a team mate on the right wing who fluffed his lines. Before finding the net with ten minutes left in the half. Paul Gagro volleying home from the top of the box.
As the game progressed, the home side grew stronger controlling possession for much of the first half hour of the second half against a side prepared to sit back and strike on the counter. And they were rewarded with fifteen minutes to go, the hosts forcing the visiting keeper into two clever saves before Brad Gibson grabbed a goal of his own.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors, losing Daniel Maras to a late red card.
Fraser Park FC 2-0 South Coast Flame FC
Fraser Park were made to wait yet, eventually overcame a dogged South Coast Flame outfit on Saturday night.
The visitors were stoic in their defense throughout the first half, frustrating the hosts who went closest through Cam Philpot. Philpot hitting the crossbar and inside of the post on separate occasions. At the other end, the visitor’s major threat was Sandy Lowcock who pestered without luck at the other end.
Frustration turned to joy for the hosts on the hour mark, Anthony Musumeci playing a through ball into the path of Philpot on the right. Philpot then found Dominic Siu inside the area who found the back of the net via the inside of the post.
Philpot then got himself on the score sheet with fifteen minutes to go. Producing a one touch finish after combining with Shu Torihara to double the lead. Torihara finding Philpot after running the ball from halfway to the penalty area.
The win sending Fraser Park top although UNSW FC have the chance to strike back Tuesday night.
Camden Tigers FC 3-2 Granville Rage
Goal fest it is! In the preview, I suggested this fixture would go one of two ways, a goalless draw or free-scoring fixture. And thankfully for those who are not coaches, it was an entertaining goal fest with the hosts Camden Tigers coming out victors over Granville Rage.
They took the lead just after the quarter hour, Cornack Stevens making it back to back weeks in which he has found the net. Stevens again central in his team’s second goal, finding the head of Matthew Harvey from a corner.
In between those goals, the visitors were able to strike a blow of their own, Rylan Sadler converting from the spot. The teams going into the break with the hosts leading 2-1.
Overall, Camden Tigers coach Rod Henderson was happy with his team’s performance, noting they are playing well for longer patches as the season goes on.
Which made the second Granville Rage goal hard to swallow, Jayden Nakhoul finding the net after the ball was cut back from the byline just 45 seconds into the second half.
In the end however, it did not prove to be too costly, Cornack Stevens once again stepping up when his team needed him, finishing with half an hour remaining for the eventual winner.
UNSW FC – Bye
By Justin Smith (Twitter: @smiththejustin)
-Photo credit Pedro Garcia