Sunday, Funday? The National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s competition took another twist in three crucial fixtures on a wet and wild day on the eastern seaboard.
Central Coast Mariners prevailed over NWS Spirit in a top six battle, while Hakoah dropped points against SD Raiders further down the coast. All ensuring things are nicely placed with six rounds remaining in the race for promotion/a finals spot.
Match of the Round: Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Chahine 33‘, Auglah 49‘) v Hills United FC 1 (Stewart 42’)
Western Sydney Wanderers earnt a valuable three points with a victory over Hills United at Wanderers Football Park.
I say “earnt” because they were made to work hard for the points in a high-quality contest in NPL2’s epicentre, Bilal Chahine and Ali Auglah scoring either side of the half time whistle.
For Hills United, there were a lot of positives to take from this one. Perhaps unlucky to not come away with a share of the points, Duncan Stewart proved the only player to get past Wanderer’s keeper Jack Warshawsky on the night.
Coming out of the gate quickly, it was the visitors with the first main chance after putting territorial pressure on the young Wanderers early on. With Jordan Parfait played through seven minutes in. Only for his effort to be saved sharply by Warshawsky.
In response, the Wanderers pulled themselves back into the contest. Their first chance through Ali Auglah who almost opened their account after he was found centrally by Jarrod Carluccio. Auglah’s effort just missing wide left.
It was a back and forth opening half hour, Hills once again going close fifteen minutes in. Duncan Stewart only needing to beat the keeper, through on goal. Or so he thought as Phillip Cancar came across and produced a goal saving tackle. Cancar was excellent throughout earning the high praise of the match commentator.
Anyway, back to the pitch, and you guessed it. The next chance fell at the other end, Awaritefe finding the back of the net just before the twenty-fifth minute. Only for the goal to be chalked off due to an offside in the buildup.
Despite that being ruled out, it was to be the beginning of the Wanderers best period of the match. Settling things down before landing the first blow. Issac Hovar playing a key role in the lead up down the left before finding Bilal Chahine with a short pass. Chahine then placing a shot right where the keeper doesn’t want it (bouncing in front of him) to open the score.
However, they were up against a tougher test then the table suggests. And as such, parity was restored with a few minutes left in the half. Adolph Koudakpo showing some great awareness to release Duncan Stewart with a quick throw in. Stewart then through on goal obliged, putting the ball in the far side netting to level the scores at the break.
Despite that set back, Western Sydney soon got back into their flow after the break. Rewarded with an Ali Auglah goal to take the lead once again fifty minutes in. Auglah on the end of a defense splitting through ball from Dean Pelekanos. Auglah then finishing to pick up his 13th of the season.
Yet once again, the visitors just wouldn’t go away. Pairfait having a chance shortly after when Koudakpo found him with a bit of space in the area. His effort with his weak foot off target. In saying that, they struggled for much of the second half to create a clear-cut chance.
That frustration possibly leading to Eoin Montford receiving his marching orders with twenty minutes remaining. Resulting in a couple of quick-fire chances for the hosts, Kosta Grozos and Allesandro Lopane both going close to put the game beyond reach.
And they oh so nearly needed it. Warshawsky producing a brilliant save with five minutes remaining to deny Alexander Vlismas who had cut in from the left. Warshawsky diving to deny the goal bound effort destined for the top right corner.
While Dean Pelekanos had to be alert to deny another opportunity deep into stoppage time. Producing a goal line clearance from a Rainer Smahel header.
The victory ensuring Western Sydney Wanderers stay in touch with league leaders St George City ahead of their meeting in a fortnight.
Western Sydney Wanderers travel to face Bonnyrigg White Eagles next Saturday night. Whilst Hills United take a trip up the coast to face Central Coast Mariners, next Sunday afternoon.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC: 20. Jack Warshawsky, 3. Phillip Cancar, 7. Jarrod Carluccio, 9. Ali Auglah, 10. Reuban Awaritefe, 12. Nectarios Triantis, 14. Allesandro Lopane, 19. Bilal Chahine, 21. Issac Hovar, 22. Dean Pelekanos, 23. Kosta Grozos.
Substitutes: 18. Oliver Kalac, 2. Lachlan Macdonald, 5. Jonathan Maras, 13. Aiden Mostofi, 16. George Antonis, 24. Peter Grozos.
Hills United FC: 21. Joel Tinker, 2. Rainer Smahel, 8. Eoin Montford, 10. Jordan Parfait, 11. Daine Merrin, 14. Adolph Koudakpo, 16. Gregory Giovenali, 17. Matteo Pandolfo, 19. Glen Kelshaw, 20. Stuart Gosling, 23. Duncan Stewart.
Substitutes: 42. Sam Westcott, 7. Wade Giovenali, 9. Alexander Vlismas, 22. Joshua De Rossi, 38. Patrick Bombala, 45. Jacob Basden.
Northern Tigers FC 2 (Brown 11’, Drummond 81’) v St George FC 0 ()
Northern Tigers celebrated Rhys Williams’ 100th Game in style proving too strong for St George FC at a blustery North Turramurra Recreation Area, Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers got off to a good start opening the scoring inside fifteen minutes through Alexander Brown before Nick Drummond made sure off it with ten minutes remaining. The Result see’s Northern Tigers continue to sit in a top four position with six rounds of the regular season to go.
In contrast, back-to-back losses for St George FC might just have put any finals/promotion dreams beyond reach. They return home for a round seventeen fixture next weekend.
For Northern Tigers, early goals are rare. But when they do come, it makes them extremely difficult to beat. They opened the scoring through live-wire Alexander Brown who was on the end of a team move down the right which saw Lachlan Lloyd, Bailey Rule and Jamie Glover combine. Glover playing the decisive ball into the middle of the box for Brown to finish off.
Exposed to the elements at a pretty open venue, both sides had their struggles in playing their game. But it was Northern Tigers who were to make sure of their victory before the final whistle blew. Bailey Rule the provider this time squaring it to Nicholas Drummond for the tap in finish with ten minutes remaining.
Northern Tigers face SD Raiders in our round seventeen match of the round next weekend. While St George FC return home for a different sort of test as they roll out the welcome mat for Mounties Wanderers.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC 2 (Peterson 82’, Pavicevic 90’) v Blacktown Spartans FC 1 (Carle 86’)
Late drama! There is plenty of it to go around in this league. And so, it proved once again as Bonnyrigg White Eagles claimed three points prevailing over Blacktown Spartans FC.
Three goals after the 80th minute were to decide the match at Bonnyrigg Sports Club. The hosts finding the back of the net through Aaron Peterson and Radovan Pavicevic, while Blacktown Spartans got their goal through Andre Carle.
But to limit the game down to that 10-to-15-minute period would be doing it a disservice as both teams had chances to score earlier in the match. James Chronopoulos having to be on alert to deny the Spartans the opener.
While Blacktown Spartans keeper Hugh Brown produced some high-quality glove work at the other end. Denying Mun-Soo Gil from point blank range and Goran Subura from a corner.
After the break, it was Ray Millers turn to be frustrated with his shot from a dangerous position saved by Brown.
Just as the game looked like it was heading for a draw, the goals began to flow. Two substitutes for the home side combining for the opener. Nikola Stegnjaic on debut finding Aaron Peterson to put them in the lead.
Before five minutes later, the visitors responded. A cross from a left-wing position finding Andre Carle in the middle to tap it home.
But there was one more twist in the tale and that was a goal from Radovan Pavicevic. Pavicevic capitalizing on a ball which fell back into his path, scoring his sixth of the season.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles will welcome Western Sydney Wanderers next weekend. While the Spartans will be looking to do the double over NWS Spirit when they meet at Blacktown Football Park.
Hakoah FC 1 (Sapsford 31’) v SD Raiders FC 2 (OG 8’, Prioa 90’)
SD Raiders claimed their fifth win of the season prevailing over Hakoah FC at Hensley Athletic Field in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.
In a moment which could well prove decisive come the end of the season. Anthony Prioa popped up to score in injury time for the visitors to throw the promotion race wide open with six games remaining.
That goal coming after an own goal saw the visitors go ahead and a Zachary Sapsford equalizer earlier in the fixture.
Coming out strong from the first whistle. SD Raiders took an early lead when a passing move from back to front resulted in a goal. Matthew Barkho in plenty of space down the left whipping in a ball which was flicked on by Noah Chianese at the near post for a defender to put in his own net off balance.
In difficult conditions, the hosts found a goal of their own. Luiz Lobo whipping in a free kick from the left which made its way to the back post for Zachary Sapsford to head home just after the half hour.
After the break, the chances continued to flow at either end, with the visitors doing a better job at controlling possession.
And they were rewarded for their efforts into injury time. Scoring from a set piece of their own in which club captain Goran Ljuboja flicked on a corner for Lukman Ahmed-Shaibu to control with the chest with the sweeping finish coming from Anthony Prioa.
With little time remaining the home side couldn’t respond, a result which saw them drop out of the top four ahead of a trip to face the league leader’s next weekend. While SD Raiders host Northern Tigers in our match of the round.
Central Coast Mariners FC 4 (Miller 12’, McCarthy 41’, Reec 54’, Smylie 59’) v NWS Spirit FC 2 (Okuda 15’, Kokubo 59’)
When Central Coast Mariners and NWS Spirit meet at Pluim Park, goals are bound to flow! And this one was no different with Mariners eventually prevailing in a six-goal thriller at a wet and windy Pluim Park.
Coming into the fixture in sixth position. The Mariners scored four and jumped to fourth, scoring two unanswered goals after the half time whistle.
Though it seems a long time ago, NWS Spirit did take the lead in the fixture on the half hour. But their hosts were the ones to prevail jumping above them in the table.
For a competition that prides itself on late goals, this one surprisingly saw four goals in the opening half. Central Coast took the lead early through Lewis Miller who emphatically headed home from a corner.
However, a response was swift in coming. Luke Okuda combining with Michael Konestabo in the box before finishing from close range. A second for the visitors following ten minutes later, with Kota Odakura and Musashi Kokubo combining once again from a set piece. Kokubo finding the corner with his header.
But the Mariners perhaps won the game with an equalizer before the break. Harry McCarthy both winning and converting a penalty inside the final five minutes.
With that momentum behind them, the Mariners made it three ten minutes into the second half. Jing Reec continuing his scoring streak on the end of a Lewis Khoury cross. Before finding a fourth five minutes after that, Jordan Smylie scoring with a volley after an almighty goal mouth scramble.
NWS Spirit sit in sixth after sixteen rounds and travel to Blacktown Spartans next weekend. While Central Coast Mariners conclude their five-game home stand welcoming Hills United next weekend.
Mounties Wanderers FC 1 (Moric ‘) v St George City 3 (JC Romero 8’, Romero ‘, Keremelevski ‘)
St George City continued their hot run of form edging out Mounties Wanderers at Wanderers Football Park.
Second half strikes from Jason Romero and Joshua Keremelevski were enough to see the visitors prevail after Juan Carlos Romero found the net early.
Mounties Wanderers on the other hand were made to pay for one or two costly mistakes in the second half in an otherwise impressive showing. A first half penalty to Mark Moric was just rewards for their efforts.
Fresh from a St George derby victory last weekend. The visitors started the contest in fine form, opening the scores eight minutes in. Juan Carlos Romero the scorer after Nathan Roberts found him with a cross from the byline.
At the other end, Mounties Wanderers soon began to create chances for themselves, but they lacked a final finish.
And as they began to build confidence, they became more vulnerable at the other end, the Romero’s combining to nearly open the scoring before the 25th minute. Juan Carlos also having another chance just before half time, putting his effort just wide.
But the next goal was to come at the other end in a somewhat scrappy affair. Mark Moric both winning and converting a penalty after being released to the right byline. His spot kick finding the bottom left corner to level the scores going into the half.
The goal conceded prior to half time inspired a reaction from the table toppers as they looked to grab their second. Yet they were met by some stern resistance from the hosts, chances coming few and far between.
Their best chance early in the second half coming from a Jason Romero free-kick and Tarik Ercan follow up before the hour mark with a Matthew Marrum save sandwiched in between.
But they weren’t to be denied a second time around, a defensive mishap leading to Jason Romeo isolating his marker before applying a powerful finish into the net. 2-1.
Once again in response the Mounties bounced back and created some chances of their own forcing City keeper Mackenzie Syron into a couple of saves whilst also hitting the post. Franco Scarcella and Cole Mutton with the chances.
Yet as St George City do, they were to double their advantage in the latter stages. Joshua Keremelevski picking out the bottom corner from a left side position inside the box, the two-goal margin perhaps harsh on their hosts who could well have taken something.
Mounties Wanderers travel to face St George FC next Saturday night. Whole St George City kick off their run of games against the top six hosting Hakoah FC.
By NPL2 Men’s Reporter Justin Smith (Twitter: @smiththejustin)