Another thrilling, defining week of Football NSW League Three Men’s action has come to a close on Sunday night.
To begin round 13, UNSW FC and Hurstville FC played out a tightly contested 1-1 draw, before South Coast Flame defeated Parramatta FC 2-0 the next day.
In a lone Saturday night game, Hawkesbury City beat Western Rage 3-2 with the match finishing in a crazy, dramatic style.
On Sunday night, Camden Tigers defeated Prospect United 3-1 while Newcastle put nine past Fraser Park to conclude the weekend of action.
UNSW FC 1 – 1 Hurstville FC
UNSW FC and Hurstville FC have split the points in a tantalising match to begin the round at Hensley Athletic Field.
The match began with high intensity and energy, as every loose ball was challenged with ferocity and every refereeing decision was challenged with vigour.
UNSW looked to press Hurstville’s defence from the off and gained a couple of chances in the opening five minutes off winning the ball within their attacking half.
The home side’s usual positive attacking rotations continued, with the two more advanced midfielders looking to make aggressive runs forwards to stretch Hurstville’s backline, with Kevin Lopes often dropping in and searching for the ball to feet.
UNSW found an early opener with their first real opening of the match.
Matias Da Silva Santos received the ball near the touchline on the left and used the decoy of an overlapping run to take a touch inside.
He curled a beautiful ball into the box and Lopes capatalised with a towering header to convert for UNSW.
Hurstville responded well to the opener, however, staying solid in their structure both in and out of possession.
Da Silva Santos was a consistent spark for UNSW in the opening stages of the game, taking up aggressive attacking positions on the left and often holding his width before advancing at his marker with space to run.
UNSW continued their positive start with a good move from no. 13 seeing the forward go around his marker before creating room for a shot, which was smothered well by Hurstville goalkeeper Michael Rutherford.
Yianni Nioplias went close for Hurstville FC, with the winger picking up the ball just outside the D and feinting his way past defenders to create room for a shot, before forcing an excellent save from UNSW goalkeeper Nicholas Croucher with a right-footed effort that was creeping inside the right post.
The sides were trading shots with Luke Burke hitting a long-range effort over the bar from the defensive line, as the match remained tense and tight.
Dylan Walz showed good pressing awareness and positivity during the first half, as he troubled Rutherford with a good low shot after winning the ball well in UNSW’s attacking third.
When having the ball in their defensive line, UNSW would look to draw in the press from Hurstville, before attempting to either play through or over it.
However, Hurstville pressed well as a unit, and rarely allowed UNSW’s two more advanced midfielders any time on the ball, often dispossessing them to win the ball back.
UNSW created the majority of their chances in possession in the first half through Da Silva Santos, with the winger looking to cut inside and switch play to open up Hurstville’s defence.
However, it was Hurstville who had the next chance of the match, with the away side going close to finding an equaliser with a well-crafted move.
Dario Borovickic switched the ball to Paul Gagro, who after stretching to keep it in play, played Jacob Botic the ball, with the right back behind his winger.
Botic swung in a deadly cross first time, which found Pedro Almeida who, in turn couldn’t find the target stretching from close range.
Hurstville continued to move forwards, with Luis Ferreria seeing a well-hit strike from range tipped over by Croucher.
Off the resulting corner, they continued in their dominant chance creation, with a fantastic ball in from Paul Gagro found Botic, who lanced the crossbar with his header.
A minute later, Hurstville had another chance to find the back of the net.
A direct long ball in behind found Nioplias, who advanced in on goal.
After dummying a defender to the ground, he saw a powerful low shot blocked fantastically by Noah Hunt to prevent Hurstville from finding their equaliser.
Down the other end, Da Silva Santos continued to trouble Hurstville’s defence.
The winger knocked the ball around his marker and swept in a dangerous cross to the far post, with Walz unable to convert what was in the end a tricky chance with a stretched shot.
After halftime, in the first real threatening attacking move of the second stanza, Hurstville found their equaliser.
Jesse Gagro did well to use his strength to shrug off his marker before playing a fantastic low ball into the middle.
Nioplias found the back of the net with the goal gaping to bring Hurstville back into the match.
Following the equaliser, a quiet spell of five minutes ensued.
However, Hurstville was presented with a golden opportunity to go ahead for the first time in the match.
Gagro latched onto a long ball behind the defensive line and found himself in a one on one against Croucher but didn’t find the right contact on the ball to convert.
Five minutes later, Hurstville again went close to finding the target.
A clever one-two between juan Esteban Puentes Botero and Gagro released the former in behind, but he couldn’t find the back of the net from a tight angle with Croucher making a strong save to deny the substitute.
Hurstville continued to search for a winner, with Croucher again saving well off a good long-range strike from Botero.
Meanwhile, UNSW had a number of chances themselves to find the leading goal, namely off a tantalising freekick from Da Silva Santos, with Hurstville blocking the original shot before the home side struck wide.
Both sides continued to push for a winner, with three points invaluable in the context of the table.
In the dying stages of the match, P. Gagro cut inside and shot a powerful effort, but UNSW got bodies in the way to block.
“We started poorly and to UNSW’s credit they started at a very high tempo and deserved their early goal,” said Hurstville captain Paul Gagro.
“After about 20 minutes the game turned and we took control.
“We were frustrated not to get the goal before halftime, but credit to the boys for coming out in the second half and getting the goal we deserved.
“Overall, we are frustrated with just the point given all the chances we created – we missed two one on ones but that’s football.
“We were able to nullify UNSW’s attack for majority of the game as they resulted to playing long balls.”
“It wasn’t our prettiest game but some of these guys haven’t trained in weeks and are digging deep to play for which we’re really proud of,” said UNSW coach Gabe Knowles.
UNSW FC will next take on South Coast Flame on Friday night, while Hurstville will host the Jets at home.
South Coast Flame 2 – 0 Parramatta FC
South Coast Flame have continued their strong run of home form with a 2-0 victory over Parramatta FC.
Parramatta came out of the blocks strongly and had numerous chances to take the lead, but couldn’t put them away, and South Coast Flame punished their opponents with a goal in one of their first chances of the match.
Parramatta pushed again in the second half but were diminished by two red cards, which allowed Flame to steal in and gain their second goal of the match.
The away side found the back of the net, but it was disallowed for a handball in the lead-up to the goal.
South Coast Flame will next take on UNSW on Friday night, while Parramatta will have a bye.
Hawkesbury City 3 – 2 Western Rage
In the second Saturday game, Hawkesbury City defeated Western Rage 3-2 to go outright top of the League Three Men’s table.
Hawkesbury opened the scoring early in the first half, with Daniel Morsillo converting after a good square ball by Harry Drew.
The home side struck in the second half with two goals in two minutes to Marco Turpeinen, with the striker converting two tap ins to extend his side’s advantage to three.
Western Rage almost made an extraordinary comeback in the last ten minutes.
With nothing to lose, they threw central defender Jason Najdovski forwards to see what he could do, and he responded in style, netting two world-class goals within a minute.
He came close to completing a stunning hat-trick in the last minute to net the equaliser for his side, but couldn’t convert as Hawkesbury finished the match with all three points.
Both sides will now look to regroup for next weekend, with Hawkesbury and Rage hosting Nepean FC and Prospect United respectively.
Prospect United 1 – 3 Camden Tigers
Camden Tigers have defeated Prospect United 3-1 in an impressive display at William Lawson Reserve in one of two Sunday night matches.
Both sides had chances in the opening forty-five minutes, but Camden opened the scoring through Dean Mugridge before Andrew Head doubled their advantage to secure a two-goal cushion at halftime.
Camden came strongly out of the blocks in the second half as they scored a third through Bailey Simpson.
With Prospect United looking to advance in search of a lead way back into the match, Camden looked to attack on transitions, with coach Gary Seymour proud of his side’s defensive effort.
Prospect United grabbed a consolation goal in the dying stages of the match off David Muller from a corner, and coach Darren Camilleri is hoping they will be back to their best soon with more match sharpness.
They’ll have the chance to respond early with a fixture against Parramatta FC midweek, while Camden will wait until the weekend to play their next match, as they take on Fraser Park away from home.
Newcastle Jets 9 – 0 Fraser Park
Newcastle Jets have secured a statement win in the for the top spot of the League Three Men’s table, prevailing 9-0 over Fraser Park at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility.
The Jets opened the scoring in the second minute through Black Archbold, before Peter Grozos made it two for his side ten minutes later.
Archie Goodwin added to the advantage with a quickfire brace, before Lachlan West and Finnegan Todhunter netted to make it 6-0 going into halftime.
After a break of goals, Taylan Unal restarted action with a finish in the 78th minute for the Jets.
Within the last six minutes, Janni Rafty and Angus Hugh Muddle added to Newcastle’s tally as the Jets flew away with the result.
Newcastle will next take on Hurstville FC in a nailbiting encounter, while Fraser will host Camden Tigers with both games on Saturday night.
By Football NSW League 3 Men’s Reporter, Jack George (@JackGeorge0004)