With winter upon us, it’s time for the reverse set of fixtures in the League One Men’s competition and Round 12 did enough to warm the heart of competition fans with plenty of action.
Although there were no goals, there was plenty to like about our pick of the fixtures. While elsewhere Bonnyrigg scored a convincing win, Blacktown Spartans extended Northern Tigers’ league woes and both SD Raiders and St George FC scored vital wins.
Our pick: St George City 0 v Central Coast Mariners FC 0
St George City and Central Coast Mariners shared the spoils in a tight top of the table clash at Penshurst Park.
In what turned out to be a showcase of two of the league’s best defenses, it was perhaps the visitors who came away feeling the more disappointed after creating two clear cut chances around the half time whistle.
The first piece of action came five minutes in when Reuben Awaritefe was released by a Jordan Morfitis lofted through ball. Awaritefe reaching it just before the keeper with the ball squirting wide before a foul was called.
City were the team creating the chances early, with Morfitis and Paolo Mitry both having efforts before the 20th minute.
However, the momentum of the fixture changed soon after, with the young Mariners creating the better chances from there on out. The first of which came through Jackson Khoury who couldn’t get enough on his header to get it past the hosts keeper on twenty-two minutes.
I mentioned both sides defenses earlier, so this would be a good chance to say why. With every opportunity either side had, the other seemed to adapt and learn from their mistake quickly.
As such, it took a while for the next chances to arrive, and they fell solely at the Mariners attacking end. Brad Tapp, Lachie Bayliss and Sasha Kuzevski all having a go before the best chance of the half fell to Cameron Windust.
Windust’s shot going high over the bar from close range after Jackson Khoury found him with a low cross from the left just before half time.
While the first half was cagey with either side not willing to give an inch, the second half saw the game open up courtesy of some tactical tweaks.
City opening the half once again with the first chance which saw a Troy Danaskos corner from the right headed goalward by Nicholas Kalergou before Matthew Keremelevski nearly got a touch past the keeper five minutes in.
Mariners looking to respond a couple minutes later, created their second clear-cut opportunity. Harry Steele playing a piercing through ball past the defense for Kuzevski to run on too. Kuzevski forcing Mackenzie Syron into a good save when he probably could’ve squared it to Dor Jok in a better position.
With time ticking away, both sides then had an opportunity to win it in injury time. St George City first through an Alex Malfara shot which took a deflection on its way towards goal forcing the Mariners keeper into a good save down to his left.
Before Mariners had a chance with a Harry Steele shot going wide of the target soon after.
Ultimately though, both sides had to settle for a point after an absorbing contest. St George City face Northern Tigers next weekend while Central Coast Mariners host Bonnyrigg White Eagles at Pluim.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC 3 (Gauthier 23‘, Kadric 34‘, Peterson 90’) v Mounties Wanderers FC 0
Bonnyrigg White Eagles made it back-to-back wins with a comfortable victory over Mounties Wanderers at Bonnyrigg Sports Club.
Marie Gauthier opened the scoring for the hosts before Asmir Kadric and Aaron Peterson rounded it out in a comprehensive performance from Abbas Saad’s team.
Signs were looking ominous for the visitors early, with Bonnyrigg having a ball headed across the face from a set piece inside five minutes. Followed soon after by a chance for Aaron Peterson who couldn’t get his feet out of the way as the ball came from behind.
Whereas the chances were flowing at one end, the Mounties were struggling to create one of their own in the opening quarter hour.
While the pressure continued to build on the visitors with Marie Gauthier firing a warning shot just wide on twenty minutes.
I say warning shot because he opened the scoring soon after with a header from close range. Though a lot of credit has to go to Leonardo Belz who showed some pace to beat a defender to the ball on the right before sending a ball across the face for Gauthier to head home.
One became two ten minutes later through Asmir Kadric who scored a tremendous goal coming in from the left wing. Kadric receiving a Sam Gallaway pass before beating two defenders on his way into the box and curling the ball past the keeper on a night he and others celebrated their 100 game milestone.
This was followed up by an encouraging few minutes which saw the Mounties notch up a few box entries in the latter stages of the half. While Bruno Pivato tried his luck from distance for their first shot.
Now I’d love you tell you that things evened up after the break, but unfortunately that wasn’t really the case though Mounties did test out the hosts defense a little more notching up their first shot on target in the 54th minute. A Franco Scarcella header from inside the area making sure Michael Figueira was alert.
While a desperate challenge denied Gauthier a chance to double his tally after Aaron Peterson cut it across the box. Kadric nearly doing the same with a one-on-one opportunity.
Bonnyrigg weren’t to be denied a third goal though scoring in injury time through Peterson. Peterson winning the ball with a sliding challenge before finishing past the visiting goalkeeper.
Bonnyrigg travel up to face Central Coast Mariners next weekend while Mounties Wanderers face Hills United.
Blacktown Spartans FC 2 (Lamberton 46’, Gonzalez 47’) v Northern Tigers FC 1 (Rule 54’)
In a weekend where the new season of Stranger Things released on Netflix, it was only fitting that the League One competition provided some strange results with Blacktown Spartans overcoming top four side Northern Tigers at Blacktown Football Park.
Two early second half goals to Hamish Lamberton and Emmanuel Gonzalez ensured their victory over their visitors who could only manage a solitary goal to Bailey Rule.
This one took a while to get going in terms of chances, with both sides happy to try their luck from distance early on as they felt each other out.
With confidence flowing after a positive cup result midweek, it was the Tigers who created three good chances in the second quarter of the match.
Kai Denton with the first hitting a volley from just outside the area which deflected off target for a corner.
Before Jack Fulton had a chance from the penalty spot. The striker sending the ball into Wanderers Football Park if not for the fence behind the goal.
While Denton once again had an opportunity on the half time whistle, heading over the bar from close range after a free kick was into the area from the right.
And they would be made to pay for their lack of efficiency in front of goal as the Spartans started the second half on fire. Firstly, scoring within the first sixty seconds through Hamish Lamberton who found himself on the end of a swift counterattack. Lamberton applying the finishing touch after Gonzalez squared it to him from the left wing.
That one goal lead became two shortly after the kickoff to resume play. Gonzalez this time adding himself to the scoresheet putting it into an open net after Elliot Wheeler palmed a Suley Bangura shot into his path to double their advantage.
The two goal advantage would be cut in half eight minutes later. Bailey Rule finding the net through a cross-cum-shot from the right wing, the ball sailing into the far corner of the not over the head of Spartans keeper Hugh Brown.
Chasing the game, the Tigers went oh so close to an equalizer just inside seventy minutes. Jack Fulton hitting the left hand post which a low shot which seemed goal bound after being played through by substitute Shervin Adeli from the right.
While Mason Ireland had the chance to bring the lead out to two again with ten minutes of regulation left. However, they would have to withstand late pressure after Alex Gollan saw red shortly after.
From there, Ally Brown had the Tigers best chance, but it wasn’t to be as the Spartans held on.
Blacktown Spartans host the NWS Spirit next weekend, while Northern Tigers face St George City at Penshurst Park.
NWS Spirit FC 2 (Ilitch 4’, Kokubo 22’) v Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Wilmering 10’, Mostofi 84’)
Western Syndey Wanderers had to come from behind twice to take a point from their clash against NWS Spirit, Saturday evening.
The home side looked to start the fixture positively creating the first opportunity just three minutes in. Spirit releasing Dominic Johns down the left whose ball into the area almost resulted in an own goal with it taking a deflection off Natta goal wards which Jack Gibson turned around the post.
However, the resulting corner, they weren’t so lucky Spirit opening the scores through Blake Ilitch who finished with his right foot past the Wanderers keeper. Musashi Kokubo with the assist heading it back across goal from the back post.
As you would expect from a team like Western Sydney, they bounced back and didn’t have to wait long for the equalizer. Daniel Wilmering finding himself on the score sheet one again with his shot at the back post sneaking past Christopher Marques in the Spirit net, Badolato getting the assist with his ball across the face.
The game was being played at a hectic pace in end to end fashion. And Spirit were next to find the net shortly after the twentieth minute with Musashi Kokubo showing some good desperation to reach a free kick which came in from the left-hand side. Kokubo beating Mark Natta to the ball with his desperate header which couldn’t be stopped.
A lead which they nearly doubled on the half hour mark, the hosts only being denied by a desperate challenge after Michael Konestabo combined with Geoffry Lino and Dominic Johns.
After the break, the Wanderers had the first opportunity of the second half through Mark Natta who headed over the bar from a set piece.
The Wanderers were searching for an equalizer and went close again with twenty-five minutes left via Jarrod Carluccio who couldn’t steer his volley on target from a Badolato cross.
While Konestabo tried an audacious finish at the other end shortly after. The hosts looking threatening on the counter throughout the second half despite being put under pressure.
Still searching for an equalizer, the returning Jordi Swibel wasted no time creating his first shot, hitting the side netting on seventy minutes.
Eventually an equalizer did come for the visitors with six minutes left. Aiden Mostofi claiming the goal at the back post after Jesper Webber sent a ball across the face from the right.
Whereas Kota Odakura went oh so close to a late winner for the hosts with a long range effort into injury time.
NWS Spirit face Blacktown Spartans away from home next weekend. Whereas the Wanderers make the short trip to face Hills United.
SD Raiders FC 2 (Proia 84’, Maya 90’) v Hills United FC 0
SD Raiders secured a confidence boosting victory over Hills United at Ernie Smith Reserve, Saturday evening.
After a goalless first half, the hosts opened the scoring with ten minutes left through Anthony Proia before Franco Maya doubled their tally into injury time.
For Hills United, it’s another loss in a forgettable few weeks for Bomber’s side who have now lost five straight.
Returning to the side, Jordan Figon kicked off the game in terms of chances with a spectacular effort after a cross came in from the left which went over the bar.
It was an even start to the game as Hills themselves entered the front third on multiple occasions in the opening fifteen minutes. With Jordan Parfait adding a spark to the game eighteen minutes in, his pace taking him beyond the defense before forcing Mario Aleksik into a handy save at the near post.
As the game coasted along, it was perhaps the visitors who had the better of the opening half in a close contest devoid of good chances.
Coming out of the break, SD Raiders created the first chance of the second half through Anthony Proia who put his effort into the side netting after Charles Abou Serhal found him with a through ball. In fact, Proia looked lively in the early stages of the second half after coming on at the break rewarded with a goal later in the contest which we’ll get too.
While Eoin Montford had the visitors first shot on target of the half fifteen minutes into the second half after Wade Giovenali whipped in a free-kick from the right. Shortly followed afterwards by a Giovenali shot which went over the bar.
With ten minutes remaining, the game was in desperate need of a goal, and it came for the hosts. Anthony Proia converting on an Abou Serhal through ball, making no mistake with his one on one chance inside the area tucking it into the bottom corner.
A lead which was nearly doubled through a Franco Maya freekick just inside regulation. Maya then going on to double the advantage a minute later when he finished from inside the six-yard box from a Daniel Bittar cross.
SD Raiders face St George FC next weekend, while Hills welcome Western Sydney Wanderers to Blacktown City Sports Centre.
Hakoah FC 0 v St George FC 6 (Mcgowan 4’ 52’, Philpot 19’ 74’, Jones 45’, Morabito 90’)
Well, I referenced stranger things earlier in my review but there was no more strange result then St George FC putting six past Hakoah FC at Hensley Athletic (at least for those who haven’t watched them closely).
In a case of the scoring dam well and truly bursting, the Saints were marching scoring six with Jay Mcgowan, Cam Philpot, Harry Jones and Anthony Morabito all finding the net inside the ninety.
It was a huge result for the Saints who had their coach Mark Milligan away on A-League Grand Final media duties but assistant coaches Nick Stavroulakis and Daniel Zeleny filled in the role superbly.
It’s another disappointing result for Hakoah FC who will not have won in the league in over two months by the next time they take the pitch.
The visitors got off to a flier opening the scoring within three minutes, the ball worked out to the right before a Jordan Wang cross into the centre was headed home by Jay Mcgowan from close range in a goal which seemed all too easy for the visitors.
Hakoah in response thought they had one of their own a few minutes later with Mitchell Knight bursting down the right before finding James Demetriou in the centre. However, the offside flag denied them.
Wang was again involved in the lead up to the second winning his side a penalty seventeen minutes in with Cam Philpot stepping up to take. Philpot tucking it past Nikolas Loe into the bottom left corner to open his season account.
Two then became three right before the half time break, again down the right side as Harry Jones scored the third after Jay Mcgowan cut it back from the right. A lead which was a fair reflection on the opening half of play.
Confidence was flowing for the visitors under the stewardship of their assistant coaches for the night, with Jay Mcgowan picking up his second and his teams fourth inside ten minutes into the second period. The hosts defense failing to deal with a Harry Jones cross before Mcgowan pounced with his shot from outside the area to extend the lead to four.
Four became five before seventy-five. Philpot adding an open play goal to his earlier penalty with a tidy volley after making space for himself inside the six yard box to volley home a Yu Hasegawa cross from the left.
And the rout was complete late on with Anthony Morabito adding a sixth to their tally before injury time, picking the ball up in an advanced position before turning his defender inside out and finishing into the top corner.
St George FC return home to face SD Raiders next weekend while Hakoah FC host Mounties Wanderers in round thirteen action.
Good luck to all seven of our sides taking part in Round Six Australia Cup fixtures throughout this week!
By League One Men’s Reporter Justin Smith