Every match counts in the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s competition and although we didn’t get the usual goalscoring exploits of weeks previous. Round Fourteen provided plenty of drama.
Our match of the round saw Hakoah FC jump into the coveted top four. While elsewhere the table condensed with just five points separating second from seventh. Game on!
Match of the Round: Hakoah FC 3 (Cox 47’, Mendes 51’, Koton 55’) v Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC 1 (Pavicevic 34’)
Hakoah FC secured a come from behind victory over Bonnyrigg White Eagles in this week’s match of the round.
It’s an important win for the hosts who move to equal second on the table with eight rounds of the season remaining. Dominic Cox opened their account, before Bruno Mendes and Jordan Koton both found the net shortly after.
The result all but ends Bonnyrigg’s chances of a top four finish as they now sit three games outside the top four. Radovan Pavicevic opened the scoring in the first half with his third in two, but they couldn’t deal with the hosts fast start to the second half.
After featuring in the cup midweek, the home side struggled to get into their usual flow opening stages while their opponents seemed content to work their way into the contest.
In saying that, Hakoah had the first chance around the quarter hour mark, the ball falling to Bruno Mendes inside the area after a cross from the right. Mendes then seeing his shot blocked by a recovering defender.
But it was the visitors who were having the majority of entries into the final third. With their front four of Asmir Kadric, Anthony Costa, Aaron Peterson and Radovan Pavicevic combining well.
Peterson and Pavicevic combining to creates the majority of their chances down the right in the absence of James Baldachinno. Peterson with their first shot after a give and go with Pavicevic saw him break the line. Loe keeping his feet to save his shot.
But Pavicevic wasn’t to be denied from the next clear-cut chance as he found himself in space before placing his shot into the far side netting. Peterson with the assist.
With the scoring opened, the half ended with a flurry of chances. Hakoah going close from a set piece through Marco Arambasic who didn’t get enough contact on his header at the far post.
While Peterson and Pavicevic combined again. With Loe having to be sharp coming off his line to deny the latter from a right-hand side position. As the half time whistle arrived, it was Bonnyrigg who were firmly in control of the contest with the hosts needing a response.
And the response came in quick fashion. Dominic Cox equalizing two minutes into the half from a Bruno Mendes corner. A point-blank header proving too hot for James Chronopoulos to handle despite his best efforts.
The hosts smelt blood, and they didn’t have to wait long for the second. Luiz Lobo finding space between the lines before feeding Bruno Mendes. Mendes using some tricky feet to find some space before placing the ball bottom right with his shot. Advantage Hakoah.
One, two and three came shortly after. Jordan Koton next to find the net after Marco Arambasic showed tenacity to get to the byline in the lead up. Koton heading home from close range.
Shellshocked, Bonnyrigg had to then chase the game. And they went close through Radovan Pavicevic who snuck in between defenders. However, his shot went high over the target. This was followed shortly after by Ray Miller free kick which was blocked from behind the wall.
But try as they might, Bonnyrigg couldn’t match the hosts second half efficiency in the attacking half.While Hakoah were still hungry at the other end. Paul Araullo and Lobo going close for them.
With the final whistle, Hakoah move to third on the table ahead of their visit to Christie Park next weekend. While Bonnyrigg visit Hills United.
Hakoah FC: 1. Nikolas Loe, 2. Jacob Esposito, 4. Connor Shaddock, 5. Yianni Spyrakis, 6. Harry Jones (43. Daniel Alessi), 7. Jordan Koton (29. Zachary Sapsford), 8. Dominic Cox, 9. Bruno Mendes (20. Paul Araullo), 11. Luiz Lobo, 18. Marco Arambasic (10. James Demetriou), 40. Tristen Van Rhoon.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC: 1. James Chronopoulos, 2. Jack Kuipers, 3. David Vrankovic (24. Nikola Krljar), 5. Goran Subara, 9. Radovan Pavicevic, 11. Asmir Kadric, 15. Raymond Miller, 16. Sam Gallaway, 17. Robert Eremugo (13. James Mckenzie), 19. Aaron Peterson (25. Maksim Jez), 21. Anthony Costa.
St George City 1 (Romero 70’) v SD Raiders FC 0
They all count! St George City opened up a gap at the top with a victory over SD Raiders FC, Saturday evening.
Coming in with a perfect home record, it took a piece of Jason Romero magic for the hosts to take victory over a stubborn SD Raiders defense, who at the other end went closest through Matias Toro Suazo who didn’t return after the half time whistle.
It was described as a good contest with chances for either side in the opening period. Juan Carlos Romero and Jason Romero having a chance each in the opening half.
But having focused on defense during the week, the hosts were pleased to come away with the clean sheet come the final whistle. That wasn’t to say the Raiders didn’t threaten, going close through Matias Toro Suazo who uncharacteristically spurned a one-on-one chance before the break.
As with the half preceding it, key chances were at a premium to open the second half. And it took a piece of Jason Romero magic to open the scores. Romero dancing his way into the box from a left side position before finishing into the net. But once one chance came, several shortly followed Juan Carlos and Steve Kuzmanovski both going close to doubling the lead.
And they were so nearly made to pay for missing those opportunities, Noah Chianese forcing Mackenzie Syron into a save low down to his left late on as the visitors piled on the pressure late.
St George City host their neighbors in our round fifteen match of the round. While SD Raiders travel up to face Central Coast Mariners at Pluim.
Northern Tigers FC 1 (Adeli) v Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (Auglah)
Northern Tigers and Western Sydney Wanderers shared the points in a high tempo contest on a cold night at North Turramurra.
Having once again conceded the first goal of the match, the Tigers pulled themselves back into the contest through the familiar route of a Shervin Adeli goal.
For Wanderers, it was another frustrating evening after tasting defeat last weekend. Ali Auglah opened the scoring ten minutes before the break.
In truth though, it’s a match where you’d much rather be in attendance rather than be a match reporter as chances were few and far between (that’s not saying it was a bad game).
The first clear cut chance resulted in a goal and if there’s one thing you don’t want to do against Western Sydney, it’s make a defensive mistake with Ali Auglah waiting to pounce. Auglah finishing into the bottom left corner from a one on one.
In response, the Tigers came out for the second half firing, opening their account through Shervin Adeli who finished after an Alexander Brown cut back.
Back on level terms, the home side were then happy to sit and wait for their chance on the counter. With Western Sydney Wanderers having the more chances from there on in. The closest being through Aiden Mostofi who forced Elliot Carwardine into a great save with fifteen minutes left.
Northern Tigers travel to Blacktown Football Park next weekend. While Western Sydney Wanderers host Mounties Wanderers in the “which field do we play on” derby.
St George FC 5 (Lopez 19’, Gonzalez 22’, Bartels 37’ 82’, Pivato 52’) v Hills United FC 3 (Stewart 15’ 68’, Vlismas 90’)
St George FC secured victory over Hills United in a high scoring contest at Ilinden Sports Centre.
It was a performance where everything seemed to click in the front third for Jane Talcevski’s side. Scoring over three goals for just the second time this season. Gabriel Lopez opened their account before Emmanuel Gonzalez, Bradley Bartels and Bruno Pivato all found the net.
For Hills United, they started the game on the front foot and took a lead through Duncan Stewart who ended up with a brace on the night. Alexander Vlismas the other scorer with a late goal.
You would be forgiven for thinking Hills United were challenging the top four early as they started with something to prove. Wade Giovenali, Jordan Parfait, Duncan Stewart and Glen Kelshaw all looking dangerous. And they took a deserved lead on the quarter hour.
Stewart tapping home from close range after Gregory Giovenali put an exquisite ball into the box in the lead up.
But as so often happens when Hills take the lead, they were susceptible at the other end. St George FC responding in the best possible fashion. A cross from their right-hand side finding Gariel Lopez in plenty of real estate who never looked like missing from inside the box.
Tails up after the equalizer, St George made it two soon after from the spot. Bruno Pivato brought down inside the area, Emmanuel Gonzalez stepping up to convert.
Two then became three with their next endeavor forward, Bradley Bartels finishing from the top of the box on the right side. A goal which Hills keeper Joel Tinker will want to forget.
After the break, there was no let off for the visitors as St George fancied their chances to put on a score. Which was added to by Bruno Pivato. Pivato scoring the pick of the goals six minutes into the second half, holding off his defender with some bodywork before creating enough space to whip it into the top right corner.
Hills needed a response, and the hosts were perhaps guilty of looking to next weeks derby. And when Duncan Stewart scored from the spot with twenty-five minutes remaining, you could be forgiven for thinking a comeback was on.
But it wasn’t to be, Bartels quashing any chance of that happening with ten minutes remaining after Pivato slipped him in behind the Hills defense. A left footed finish always looking goal bound.
While Alexander Vlismas made the deficit look a little more respectable at the other end. With a good finish into injury time.
St George FC take the short trip to Poulton Park eyeing derby revenge. While Hills United host Bonnyrigg next Saturday night.
Mounties Wanderers 0 v NWS Spirit FC 0
Mounties Wanderers frustrated NWS Spirit in the other Saturday night fixture at Wanderers Football Park.
Back to basics. After a long winless stretch was ended a few weeks ago. The Mounties Wanderers have adopted a defense first approach. And as such, they were rewarded with a point this weekend.
In contrast, NWS Spirit were left ruing their inability to break down a set defense. They will look to return to the winner’s circle against Hakoah FC in what is sure to be an entertaining fixture next Saturday night.
From the outset of the contest, it was clear to see how this one was going to play out. With Spirit having the majority of possession, Mounties happy to sit back and look to pounce on an opportunity late.
And as such, Spirit struggled to create their usual chances. With only Michael Konestabo and Geoffry Lino going close either side of the break. Konestabo on the end of a move right to left across the box. Whilst Lino just couldn’t reach an Ahmed Sweedan ball across the face of the target.
Speaking afterwards, Mounties Wanderers coach Jerry Bilokapic summed it up nicely, paying tribute to his side’s concentration and defensive discipline throughout.
His side play Western Sydney Wanderers next weekend, while NWS Spirit play host to Hakoah FC.
Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (Cahill 54’) v Blacktown Spartans FC 0
No, this isn’t a copy and paste job! Central Coast Mariners made it back-to-back home wins claiming victory over Blacktown Spartans at Pluim Park, Sunday afternoon.
It was a controlled performance from the hosts who found the net through Matthew Cahill just ten minutes into the second half. But it wasn’t without a few nervy moments, as they missed a penalty in first half injury time.
For Blacktown Spartans, it’s another performance from which they can take encouragement from having gone down to two promotion challengers in consecutive weeks by the single goal. They face Northern Tigers next weekend.
The first half saw a competitive fixture play out with the main talking point being a penalty which was saved well by Spartan’s keeper Hugh Brown.
But the away side were to have no such luck in the second half, Matthew Cahill getting himself on the scoresheet after a breakaway down the left.
They then had several chances to double their advantage. While Spartans thought they had found an equalizer into injury time, only for it to be ruled out because of a shove in the buildup.
The Mariners sit three points behind the top four in sixth position and will welcome SD Raiders to Pluim next weekend. While Blacktown Spartans find themselves cut adrift from the top seven teams, languishing in eleventh.
By NPL2 Men’s reporter Justin Smith (Twitter: @smiththejustin)