No Easter break for us. The National Premier League 2 NSW Men’s competition stepped up a gear Saturday night with a full round of fixtures which saw statement wins, an upset or two and entertainment galore.
Sit back, relax as we recap round five of the NPL 2 NSW Men’s competition.
Match of the Round: NWS Spirit FC 3 (Lino 16’, Awaz 63’ 69’) v Central Coast Mariners FC 0
Statement made! NWS Spirit claimed victory for the first time over Central Coast Mariners at Christie Park, Saturday evening.
A first half penalty to Geoffry Lino and two Abuzar Awaz headers mid-way through the second half ensured the home side took the chocolates this easter weekend.
For the Mariners, who were without first team coach Nick Montgomery on the night. There is plenty to think about with a midweek trip to Sydney looming.
And it was the Mariners who indeed kicked off the game in terms of chances. Kuzevski playing a one two down the right before squaring it to Harry McCarthy who could not get enough contact to direct the ball goal bound.
After that early hiccup, the hosts then began to gain a foothold on the match and they so nearly opened the scoring on ten minutes. A Kota Odakura free kick finding a free man in the middle forcing Mariners keeper Zenden Hart into a tidy save.
In response, the Mariners created a set piece chance of their own McCarthy finding Jing Reec at the back post with his right foot delivery. But Reec was to be denied by Musashi Kokubo with the block and Grant Cornwell with the clearance.
Brian Jamba was proving to be a nuisance for the Mariners early and he would have his reward soon after, a direct ball finding him inside the area where he was brought down clumsily. Geoffry Lino stepping up to convert from the spot sending the keeper the wrong way.
Mariners looked to hit back with a goal of their own. They went closest just before 25 minutes, a half chance falling to Reec who could not control his header from a powerful Khoury cross.
But it was at the other end where most of the goalmouth action was to occur before the break. Mariners’ keeper Zendon Hart keeping his side in it with three key saves. Firstly, saving Gideon Arok’s blushes, before denying Jamba and Michael Konestabo respectively.
A reaction was needed from the visitors and a couple of chances in and around the hour mark nearly opened the visitors’ account. Jing Reec firstly heading the ball across the face before seeing the ball scrambled away. Before Jordan Smylie had his turn to fire it across the face just beyond Reec in the centre.
But just when it looked like the pressure was mounting on the hosts, NWS Spirit responded in the best way possible scoring twice from set-pieces. Odakura finding Abuzar Awaz at the near post to finish from a corner after Konestabo saw an effort blocked on the line just before.
Which was shortly followed by a free kick, finished by an onrushing Awaz run whose header was this time flicked to the far post.
Three goals down, the Mariners went close with fifteen minutes left through Smylie. But it was not their night and Spirit secured a convincing victory.
Both teams face off against Blacktown Spartans next. Central Coast Mariners in a midweek R3 clash, Spirit next Saturday evening.
NWS Spirit FC: 1. Jack Greenwood, 3. Musashi Kokubo, 4. Kota Odakura, 6. Abuzar Awaz, 7. Geoffry Lino (13. Pasqualino Cappuccio), 8. Grant Cornwell, 10. Louis Bozanic (22. Ahmed Sweedan), 11. Mitchell Davidson (15. Dominic Johns), 17. Luke Okuda (2. Luke Clifford) 21. Brian Jamba, 23. Michael Konestabo (16. Aaron D’Mello).
Central Coast Mariners FC: 1. Zenden Hart, 2. Sasha Kuzevski, 5. Lewis Miller (14. Dean Carson), 9. Jordan Smylie, 10. Damian Tsekenis (6. Bradley Tapp), 11. Harry Mccarthy (19. Jacob Vasiliou), 12. James Bayliss, 16. Maximilien Balard, 17. Gideon Arok, 29. Jing Reec, 33. Louis Khoury (7. Michael Katsoulis).
Blacktown Spartans FC 2 (Manos 18’, Cindric 78’) v Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC 0
Blacktown Spartans FC showed plenty of heart in claiming their first three points of the season over Bonnyrigg White Eagles.
Goals to Emilio Manos and Mark Cindric either side of half time gave the hosts something to cheer about after a tough opening month of the season.
Whilst Bonnyrigg will look upon the fixture as a missed opportunity having looked the better side for periods of the match.
Sometimes though, football is as much about heart and Spartan’s coach Brett Hewit was quick to pay tribute to his team after the match. Their first coming through Manos who coolly finished after Andre Carle cut the ball back to him.
In response, Bonnyrigg seemingly pinned their opposition in their defensive half, Aidan Taouil, Aaron Peterson and Asmir Kadric all going close on separate occasions. Yet still, they were to go into break scoreless.
After the break, the game lacked the chances of the half previous. Although David Vrankovic nearly made Mitchell Evans pay for a mistake early on.
But where the chances lacked, the quality did not as evidenced by the Spartans second goal in which substitute Nathan Separovic played in Mark Cindric. Cindric then showing good intent, taking the ball to a position just outside the box, where he rifled a shot into the net.
Both these sides face a midweek fixture this week, the Spartans hosting Central Coast Mariners. While Bonnyrigg welcome Hakoah FC.
St George City 4 (JC Romero 2’, Jason Romero 17’, Morfitis 76’, Arditti 78’) v Mounties Wanderers FC 1 (Moric 50’)
St George City made it three victories in a week prevailing over a much-improved Mounties Wanderers side, Saturday evening.
After two late goals secured victory midweek over SD Raiders. City got off to the best possible start in the game through goals to Juan Carlos Romero and Jason Romero in the opening twenty minutes.
However, looking down the barrel of another heavy defeat, the visitors to their credit responded well. Jerry Bilokapic’s side showing plenty of heart having good periods of their own before and after the half time break. And they were rewarded for their effort with a goal, Mark Moric playing a one-two with Adrian Vranic before slotting it home.
But it was to be the hosts who walked away with the three points. Hitting the visitors with two late goals in as many minutes late through Jordan Morfitis and Christopher Arditti. Assists going to Jason Romero and Nathan Roberts, respectively.
St George City face a tough trip to Hakoah FC next weekend. Whilst Mounties Wanderers welcome St George FC, Sunday evening.
SD Raiders FC 0 v Hakoah FC 2 (Baldachinno 60’, Lobo 78’)
The streak is broken! Having not won on the road since a FFA Cup clash in 2019, Hakoah FC claimed a valuable three points with a victory over SD Raiders.
For the Raiders, it caps off a forgettable few days in which they have gone down to both St George City and Hakoah at home.
But this was Hakoah’s night, and they created the better chances of the first half. The most notable of which coming through Yianni Spyrakis who saw his header from close range saved well by the Raiders shot stopper.
After the break, the game opened up as both teams searched for the opener. Bruno Mendes went close hitting the cross bar, but it was James Baldachinno to find the net from a corner with a great header.
One then became two with just over ten minutes remaining. Luiz Lobo producing a memorable goal picking up the ball 25 metres from goal and launching a shot which flew into the top corner. Or in coach Luka Hrzina’s words “something you don’t see often on football fields, a piece of art”.
SD Raiders task does not get any easier, travelling to take on Northern Tigers next. Whilst a midweek catch up with Bonnyrigg awaits Hakoah.
Hills United 1 (Stewart 30’) v Western Sydney Wanderers FC 4 (Auglah 17’ 38’, Lopane 25’, Awaritefe 83’)
Most impressive win yet? Western Sydney Wanderers continued their hot run of form with a victory over Hills United at Lily Holmes Stadium.
Full of confidence, the visitors demonstrated what they can do early, moving the ball around quickly and penetrating the Hills United press. Rewarded for their effort just after the quarter hour, Ali Auglah cutting in from the right, beating his man in the process before launching an unstoppable shot.
Confidence flowing through their veins, they went on to double the lead soon after. Allesandro Lopane beating the keeper one on one before finishing into an empty net.
The lead would then be cut in half five minutes later, Duncan Stewart picking up his first for Hills with a headed finish, Glen Kelshaw with the assist.
That one goal deficit did not last long though, Auglah once again popping up before the halftime break to make it 3-1.
The win was then capped off late through Reuben Awaritefe who combined with fellow substitute Alexander Badolato to make it four.
Hills United face Central Coast Mariners next weekend. Whereas we will be at Western Sydney Wanderers game against Bonnyrigg, our round six match of the round.
St George FC 0 v Northern Tigers FC 1 (Glover 74’)
Despite once again leaving it late, Northern Tigers came away with the three points over hosts St George FC at Ilinden Sports Centre.
However, summing it up like that perhaps does a disservice to the home side, who put in a good performance across the park in Jane Talcevski’s second game in charge.
With a focus on being more aggressive, the host’s created several half chances in the first period. Whilst Jacob Madden produced a couple of great saves at the other end to deny their visitors.
After the break, the visiting Tigers grew into the contest. And where the hosts have been struggling to find the net, the visitors have not. And of course, their goal was going to be scored with less than twenty minutes left on the clock. Jamie Glover finding space between the home sides fullback and centre back before heading home.
Northern Tigers welcome SD Raiders to North Turramurra next weekend. Whilst St George FC travel west to face Mounties.
By NPL2 Men’s reporter Justin Smith (Twitter: @smiththejustin)