It took 11 rounds but we are finally able to crown our National Premier Leagues 4 NSW Men’s regular season winners in Fraser Park Football Club.
In a hectic final day, which saw more than a few upsets, Fraser Park triumphed over Nepean FC.
Elsewhere, Camden Tigers beat a finals bound side, Granville Rage picked up their first win of the season and South Coast Flame went out on a high.
Fraser Park v Nepean FC
Game. Set. Premiership. Fraser Park FC secured their second piece of silverware in 12 months with a victory over Nepean FC.
In a high-quality contest, which saw both teams have their chances, an unlikely goal scorer in Rodrigo Cataldi emerged for the home side.
Starting out, it was clear to see that the visitors came in with a plan adjusting their formation to play two men up front, Jayden Young lining up alongside Mitch Mclintock. And those two were to combine inside five minutes, Mclintock squaring to Young from the left, Young’s effort from the top of the box dribbling wide.
At the other end, the visitors adopted a noticeably high defensive line. And the home side begun to fancy their chances, the likes of Matteo Pandolfo and David Adjassou playing some neat through balls in behind.
The first clear cut chance of the fixture was to come through Fraser Park’s Cam Philpot, who found some space towards the left side of the box before forcing Nepean shot stopper Thomas Hamilton into a good save.
Nepean FC hit back, and then had their best period of the fixture in terms of chances with Young, Matthew Crossley and Mclintock all creating chances of their own. Of which, Mclintock went closest with a wicked left footed volley forcing Fraser Park keeper Patrick Ferrara to save it onto the post.
Still the fixture remained evenly poised at the break, although the hosts were encouraged by proceedings elsewhere.
The second half continued as the first finished, the visitors creating a few half chances for Crossley and Mclintock whilst the home side perhaps lacked a bit of patience.
However, with just under half an hour to go, the game changed courtesy of a Francesco Papalia second yellow putting the visitors on the back foot.
With that, the hosts began to control possession more effectively and were rewarded soon after. Jonathan Green finding Cataldi running into the box late, Cataldi finishing past the keeper with his head.
A man down, the visitors struggled to respond as the minutes ticked on. Instead the ball spending a good amount of time in the midfield.
Late on, Fraser did create another chance. Pandolfo breaking into a lot of space down the right. Although he then went for the audacious first-time volley which did not trouble the visiting keeper.
With the full-time whistle, it was time for the home side to celebrate after going through the eleven-round rebooted season undefeated.
Whilst the visitors will come away encouraged, potentially eyeing revenge in a fortnights time.
Fraser Park will host Hawkesbury City FC next weekend, whilst Nepean FC will travel to face UNSW FC.
Fraser Park FC: 1 (Cataldi)
Nepean FC: 0
Camden Tigers FC 2-1 UNSW FC
Finish as you mean to start, I know that is not how the saying goes. But it could well apply for Camden Tigers as they finished season 2020 with a victory over a finals bound UNSW FC.
In a first half which saw both sides have their fair share of chances, the home side took the lead on 35 minutes through an Anthony Haddad goal.
And they did not have to wait long for their lead to be doubled, a slick counterattack resulting in a Nathan Bertolissio goal early in the second half.
In response, the visitors put the home side under significant pressure for the remainder of the fixture. However, they were only able to pick up a consolation goal with five minutes left. Des Ford finding the net assisted by Abdul Kamara.
Following the clash, Tigers coach Rod Henderson described it as a “great result”, noting that “to beat an undefeated side in our last game shows everybody where we have come as a group”. Whilst also giving a special mention to Jack Haines who made his first-grade debut.
UNSW FC will face Nepean FC next weekend with the chance to qualify for the grand final the week after.
South Coast Flame FC 3-1 Hawkesbury City FC
A fast finishing South Coast Flame side overcame a travel weary Hawkesbury City, Saturday evening.
It comes as small consolation for the hosts, after what must go down as a disappointing 2020 season, missing out on the top four. Their goals came through a Sandy Lowcock brace and rare goal to Daniel Lucas.
For Hawkesbury City, it was always going to be tough for the visitors after one of the longer journeys in the league. Not helped by four players backing up from the 20’s beforehand. Joel Bayubahe gave them the lead 35 minutes into the contest before the visitors faded.
The first half saw the hosts control the majority of possession, but they were punished for their mistakes, City being a threat on the counter.
However, the game changed with half an hour to go, the pressure on the visitors telling when Lowcock got on the end of a Lachlan Morgan cut back.
One became two with seven minutes to go from a set piece, Lucas heading home from a corner before Lowcock sealed the three points, this time Alexander Pappas cutting it back to the striker.
Hawkesbury City will meet Fraser Park FC in week one of the finals.
Western NSW FC 2-3 Granville Rage
Not to be outdone by other upsets, Granville Rage ended their travelling roadshow season on a high, overcoming Western NSW FC.
The hosts were the quickest out of the blocks opening the scoring courtesy of Jesse Boness. Credit where it is due though, Granville Rage who have scored in their last five outings hit back. Rylan Sadler getting on the end of a Ben Black through ball (more on him later). But it was Western NSW who would take the lead again before half time, Dillan Ball hitting a volley from distance which found the top corner.
However, it was Granville’s day, and they managed to score twice in the second half through Luke Milic and Jayden Nakhoul who picked up his third of the season.
Notice a few new names there? Well you should. And Granville Rage coach Vic Zappia was quick to pay tribute to debutants Luke Milic, Benjamin Black and young Mitchell Walsh who all played their part in the Rage’s first victory of the season. A good morale boost leading into season 2021.
Hurstville FC 1-1 Parramatta FC
Hurstville FC and Parramatta FC could not be separated in the final fixture of the weekend.
The hosts took an early lead, scoring two minutes in through Costandi Fallas goal. But they could not hold on conceding a second half Clement Waoci free kick fifty minutes in.
The first half of the contest saw Parramatta hold a possession advantage throughout. However, a bit of complacency early saw them concede possession, which led to Michael Kotzambasis slipping in Fallas who slid it past the keeper.
Both teams then exchanged chances before the half time break but neither side added to the score.
After the break, Parramatta were given a free kick five minutes into the half. Waoci stepped up, bended it around the wall which caused the Hurstville keeper problems. The ball trickling into the net.
Any momentum from that goal was quickly snuffed out, a red card seeing Parramatta reduced to ten men.
As expected from that point. Parramatta sat back and played on the counter whilst Hurstville had their turn in possession. Neither worked though and the game finished in a score draw.
Prospect United – Bye
By Justin Smith (Twitter: @smiththejustin)