The afternoon belonged to Rydalmere Lions FC after a late goal saw them crowned the NPL 3 NSW Men’s 2020 Champions.
It was Rydalmere Lions who were left celebrating on Saturday night after a late goal sealed the championship in what has been a memorable season for the club both on and off the field.
RYDALMERE LIONS FC – BANKSTOWN CITY FC 1-0
A goal in the dying moments of the clash proved to be decisive as Rydalmere Lions edged out Bankstown City 1-0 in the showcase event at Valentine Sports Park on Saturday afternoon.
In true grand final spirit, both sides were at each other’s throats from the offset as they looked to stamp their authority on the game from the first whistle.
It was Bankstown who were first to threaten as Ante Tomic’s shot from the right edge of the box forced Lions’ goalkeeper Charles Samushonga into action for the first time on the 11th minute mark.
Fast forward seven minutes and it was the reigning premiers who carved out an opportunity of their own through Matt West after his effort from just outside the 18-yard-area was dealt with by Bankstown shot stopper Ahmed Ismail.
In a first half that lacked that creative edge, it was Bankstown’s Chris Triantis who produced the final effort of the half when his shot was convincingly saved by Samushonga just past the half hour mark.
A half time team talk by Rydalmere’s Gavin Rae seemed to have done the trick with the Lions taking control of proceedings after the break.
They thought they had cause for a penalty on 51 minutes when Jake Chidiac was brought down in the box, however it was waived off as play continued and the score remained locked at 0-0.
Both sides appeared to be missing their shooting boots with a host of promising ventures in the attacking third resulting in straightforward saves for both goalkeepers.
Gurang Awac was proving a handful for the opposition’s defence down the right wing with the Lions attacker testing Ismail twice, however the Bankstown shot stopper was up to the task on both occasions.
With the minutes ticking away, the players and spectators were bracing for extra time and possibly a penalty shootout.
But it was in the final 10 minutes of the fixture that all the action arrived, beginning with Chidiac’s long-distance strike which rattled the crossbar in the 86th minute.
The second and most pivotal moment in the clash came three minutes later when Ismail was dismissed for a last ditch challenge on West who was clear on goal.
Bankstown were now down to 10 men and had to call in the trusted Carl Mcmahon to do the job between the sticks for the eight minutes of allotted stoppage time.
A barrage of Rydalmere pressure ensued for the final stages of the match and they were eventually rewarded with that crucial decider on 96 minutes.
It was Jamie Craig who broke Bankstown hearts when his half volley from near the penalty spot sailed into the net after he was picked out by Awac’s expert cut back from the right.
And so, it ended as the Lions claimed the championship to put the icing on the cake of what has been a highly successful campaign which also saw them take out the minor premiership.
Congratulations to Rae and his men as they celebrate the championship while Sash Tirovski and his Bankstown outfit can look back on this season positively after they finished in 2nd place and pushed the Lions to the very end in the showcase event.
National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s
Saturday, October 10, 2020
Valentine Sports Park
RYDALMERE LIONS FC 1 (Craig 90+6’)
BANKSTOWN CITY FC 0
RYDALMERE LIONS FC; 1.C.Samushonga, 2.A.Mckie, 3.J.Craig, 4.N.Trimble, 6.R.Woodward, 7.J.Chidiac, 8.M.Clowes, 9.S.Tonkin(11.D.Kahale 78’), 21.G.Awac, 36.L.Jones(16.L.Frasca 65’), 99.M.West(18.J.Delnido 97’).
Substitutions Not Used – 5.L.Zacharopoulos, 14.D.Allan, 32.M.Beeston.
Yellow Cards – 3.J.Craig 24’, 36.L.Jones 39’, 4.N.Trimble 71’.
Red Cards – N/A
BANKSTOWN CITY FC; 2.C.Newton, 7.J.Issa(3.T.Kofinas 59’), 8.C.Triantis(1.C.Mcmahon 90’), 9.N.Todoroski, 11.A.Tomic, 14.J.Grozdanovski, 18.R.Di Meglio, 19.L.Gomez Castro, 23.A.Ismail, 26.P.Triantis, 34.A.Farkas.
Substitutions Not Used – 10.A.Al Hafith, 12.D.Bakrdanikoski, 40.J.Kuzmanoski, 46.A.Dehsabzi.
Yellow Cards – 34.A.Farkas 51’.
Red Card – 23.A.Ismail 89’.
-By NPL 3 NSW Men’s Chief Writer Samuel Greco Schwartz (Twitter handle: @SamuelGS97)