Another stunning round of Football NSW’s League Three Men’s competition has come to a close, with some critical games ending in riveting results.
Western Rage gained their third win in four matches with a victory over Hurstville FC on Saturday night, with Hawkesbury City also overcoming opponents South Coast Flame by the same scoreline of 2-1, as both games ended with late winners.
In between, Camden Tigers drew 0-0 with Parramatta FC to extend their run of unbeaten games to four matches, while Newcastle Jets lost their first match of the season as UNSW FC defeated them 6-1.
Hurstville FC 1 – 2 Western Rage
Western Rage is fast becoming the form side of the league, as they picked up their third victory in four games with an impressive win over second placed Hurstville FC.
Western took an early lead to the match, opening the scoring within the first two minutes.
A beautiful set-piece was swung towards the far post, and Alessandro Tolomeo converted with a thumping header to give Western the opening goal.
Western Rage settled well in the few minutes proceeding their goal, playing directly in attempt to pressure Hurstville while remaining solid out of possession.
Hurstville had their first chance of the match in the 10th minute, with Paul Gagro – playing on the left rather than his usual right flank – putting in a good low cross towards the six yard box and forcing Rage to block a couple of shots from their opponents.
Gagro continued to create chances for his side, with another fast, low cross finding Sameul Barone, who missed in a good position from close range.
The Hurstville captain assisted another shot in the 6th minute, receiving the ball from Jacob Ritchie, before playing a well weighted ball back to the left-back after a clever run.
Ritchie fired a shot while converging in on goal but couldn’t find the back of the net with his effort.
Western Rage found themselves in behind after a good run from Daniel Bortolazzo, but the striker was unable to convert from close range in a quick one on one with Michael Rutherford.
The wingbacks within Western Rage’s system performed interesting roles off Hurstville’s deeper throw ins in the opening half.
When Hurstville were in the opposite corner, to the either wingback, they would move inside often beyond the centre of the halfway circle to try and trap their opponents in.
This left space out wide which the home side looked to exploit with their usual wide wingers with quick switches to try overload Rage’s three-man backline.
Hurstville remained dangerous down their left-hand side during the first half, as they often utilised Ritchie to progress the ball through his aggressive dribbling.
The energetic left-back combined well with P. Gagro, with his energetic running and ball carrying drawing in players to create space for the left-winger to pick out crosses with time to pick out teammates.
Meanwhile, Western Rage looked threatening from set pieces as the half progressed into its last ten minutes but couldn’t register a shot on target throughout the rest of the opening stanza after their goal.
Hurstville’s wingers swapped sides with Gagro moving to the right and Barone coming to the left flank in the 35th minute of the match as they looked to equalise.
Interestingly, perhaps in response, Western Rage switched their wingbacks’ sides, with Cristian Brigo moving to the right and Ogun Dullak coming to the left.
Off the second phase on a corner, a good ball in swinging ball by Gagro from the right flank was headed narrowly wide as Hurstville continued to pressure in search of an equaliser.
Great short passing instigated by Luis Ferreira saw Juan Esteban Puentes Botero with space to line up a volley after a bounce from just inside the box, but the striker couldn’t catch it sweetly enough, although forcing a good save from Samuel Bortolazzo.
With a few minutes to go in the half, Western Rage’s wingbacks resumed to their normal flanks.
When with possession, the one on the opposite side of the ball would again sometimes look to come inside, with the away side playing directly towards goal and looking to almost force it towards goal.
The narrow shape of the formation meant they could counter-press to win possession back after losing it, and pick up second balls to keep their intense, fast attacks going.
In the second half, Hurstville’s wingers switched back to their respective regular flanks, with Gagro on the left and Barone on the right.
The first chance of the half went to Hurstville – a good ball from Ferreira found Botero in behind, but the striker couldn’t find the target with a chip over S. Bortolazzo straying wide off a bouncing ball.
Seven minutes into the second half, Gagro won a penalty for his side after a 50 50 just inside the edge of the box on the left.
Maras stood up to take and calmly slotted the ball home.
In terms of chances, play was quiet following Hurstville’s equaliser, as both sides looked to react and adapt to the changing in the score.
Hurstville’s wingers once against swapped flanks, while Western Rage continued to look dangerous over their fast paced, mainly transitional attacks.
Off substitutions, Western Rage seemingly switched to a back four, adopting a 4-4-2 formation on paper as opposed to their 3-4-3.
For the away side, Julian Stojcevski struck a freekick well in a central area to force a solid save from Rutherford in the 70th minute.
In the 75th minute, Hurstville went close with a scramble in the box almost leading to a backheel finding the back of the net, but the home side couldn’t convert on multiple occasions in that phase of play.
A minute later, Yianni Nioplias found himself in behind in a one on one, but he miss hit his shot.
In the 80th minute, an energetic attacking move from Western Rage saw a shot deflect into the side netting, and he couldn’t finish off the resulting corner.
With seven minutes left of regular time, Michael Kotzambasis released a good curling effort from the edge of the box, but the shot was wide of the post.
Moments later, a good ball from P. Gagro found Nioplias inside the box, but Bortolazzo stood strong to make the save as Hurstville continued to push for a winner.
As the game moved into its final stages, the game seemed destined for a draw, but both sides continued to push in hope of getting an invaluable three points.
It was Western Rage who took their chance in to clinch their third win of the campaign, with Stojcevski stealing in behind and curling home a good strike into the bottom right corner with his right foot, to the ultimate jubilation of Western Rage’s players and bench.
Hurstville looked to reply straight away as no. 22 shot a freekick from the right of the box off a freekick but couldn’t convert as their three game drawing streak ended in the wrong way from the home sides point of view.
Western Rage coach Jarrod Carluccio was delighted with his sides’ victory: “It was a tough contest which is what we expected – Hurstville are a really good side and they’re at the top end of the ladder for a reason.
“The boys showed a lot of character tonight and we’ve seen that in the turn of results.”
Meanwhile, Hurstville FC captain Paul Gagro was disappointed, with Hurstville now going four games without a win: “When you have over 10 clear cut chances and the only goal you score is a penalty, you don’t deserve to win football matches.
“Fair play to Rage, they scored two goals from their limited opportunities and not much ball, but it’s not good enough from us.”
Hurstville will look forwards to their crucial match against Hawkesbury City next Saturday, while Western Rage will look to continue their good form when taking on Camden Tigers on that same night.
Camden Tigers 0 – 0 Parramatta FC
Camden Tigers have played out a tense with 0-0 draw with Parramatta FC to extend their unbeaten run to four matches.
Both sides had chances to open the scoring in the opening half, while Parramatta went close on numerous occasions in the second stanza off one on ones, with Camden also almost finding the target off opportunities of their own.
Camden coach Gary Seymour cited the four changes to his side due to sickness having an effect on the diminishing of his sides’ combinations and final third play, while crediting Parramatta goalkeeper Harrison Walsh for his efforts.
Camden will face Western Rage on Saturday night, while Parramatta will host Prospect United on that evening.
Hawkesbury City 2 – 1 South Coast Flame
Hawkesbury City have again extended their advantage atop of the League Three Men’s ladder with a last minute winner over South Coast Flame gifting them an invaluable three points on Saturday night.
South Coast Flame came out of the blocks strong against Hawkesbury, as they pressed with intensity from the off to disrupt the home sides’ rhythm.
However, Hawkesbury found their groove after twenty minutes, and opened the scoring with Harry Drew converting a powerful low shot into the net from the top of the box.
In the second half, South Coast Flame responded, with Matthew Mazevski unleashing a dipping shot off 25 yards that found the back of the net off the left upright.
The game remained even towards the end with both sides pushing for a winner, and it was Hawkesbury who capatalised with a theatrical winner late on, as Daniel Morsillo converted a tap in after a square pass from Drew.
Hawkesbury will next take on Hurstville FC on Saturday night, while South Coast Flame will have a bye.
Newcastle Jets 2 – 6 UNSW FC
UNSW FC have become the first side to defeat Newcastle Jets this season, prevailing 6-2 in a dominating match away from home.
The away side scored their first goal with Matias Da Silva Santos rounding the goalkeeper before finding the back of the net after a Kevin Lopes flick on.
Lopes then finished a penalty, before scoring a rebound off a Da Silva Santos shot.
Lopes found his hat-trick off another rebound – Da Silva Santos played a good ball through to Dylan Walz, and a block presented an opportunity for the striker to find his third of the match.
Walz added a goal of his own after chipping the onrushing goalkeeper in a one on one, before Lopes shot a powerful effort into the top corner from 30 yards out.
Newcastle’s two goals came as just consolation, with coach Ric Marchioli disappointed in his sides efforts, saying it’s an “embarrassing lesson for a group of young players who want to make the jump up to senior professional football”, while stating that the Jets has to be braver with the ball and trust the technical ability and intelligence they possess.
UNSW will next host Fraser Park on Friday night, while Newcastle will take on Nepean FC in the same 8pm timeslot.
Abandoned: Prospect United vs Nepean FC
By Football NSW League 3 Men’s Reporter, Jack George (@JackGeorge0004)