The wild weather across the state had a massive effect on Round 17 of Football NSW League Two Men’s, with only one side in the top seven getting a win.
Our match of the round saw Macarthur Rams and Dunbar Rovers fight through the conditions to share the points in an entertaining draw.
Elsewhere, Sydney University pulled off the upset of the round as they took down Inter Lions, Dulwich Hill snapped Central Coast United’s unbeaten run.
Rydalmere Lions returned to form against Inner West Hawks, as Bankstown City and Gladesville Ryde Magic shared the points at Jensen Park.
Match of the Round: Macarthur Rams FC 2-2 Dunbar Rovers FC
Macarthur Rams and Dunbar Rovers have lived up to the match of the round, playing out a thrilling draw in torrential rain at Lynwood Park.
The side’s went back and forth and couldn’t be separated by any stat, including red cards as both teams were reduced to ten men.
Fox Bengtsson opened the scoring for the visitors, shortly before Mitchell Brooker swiftly answered back.
Mark Symington’s penalty looked like the winner in the late stages of the game, but Dunbar answered back moments later as they forced the Rams to share the points.
The conditions were bound to play apart in the results, with both sides struggling to adapt in the opening period of the game
Both sides were dealt early blows with injuries as Andrew Alvaranga was forced off for the visitors, shortly before Kye Soares went down with an ankle injury.
It was a disastrous start for the hosts after Bengtsson got onto a misjudged back pass and found his way around the last man in defence to slot his chance into an open net.
After a fair spray from Brett Hewit on the sideline, the Rams regathered their footing in the game and began a back and forth affair with Dunbar.
Christian Torelli was sensationally denied of a world-class equaliser as not Luke Del Vecchio got his fingertips to his shot, denying the hosts of an opener.
Macarthur began to even out the game possession wise and were able to do the same on the scoreboard courtesy of a classy finish from Mitchell Brooker in the 29th minute.
As per the script, Dunbar went right back on the attack and put the Rams defence under immense pressure with a flurry of corners.
Macarthur were able to get plenty of balls through the high-line defence of Dunbar, but Del Vecchio proved he was up for the task and calmly defused their attacks.
Del Vecchio showcased his abilities as a sweeper-keeper and was the standout player in the game at the conclusion of the first-half.
Although the conditions were nearly unplayable, the visitors still enjoyed some success in attack and would consider themselves unlucky to not have gone into the break in the lead.
Dunbar were dealt a massive blow in the early stages of the second half, when Kyle Hozebroek was shown a straight red card.
Other than a notable missing man at the back, it was hard to tell that Dunbar were down a player as they took the fight to the Macarthur defence.
It was an even playing field in the 69th minute with Zubayd Allie being shown the second red card of the match, as the hosts were reduced to ten men.
The Rams had appeals for two handballs waived off as Jacob McDonald and Brooker both had close-range shots deflected away by the Dunbar defence.
In a near carbon copy of the first goal, Bengtsson once again capitalised on a back pass that fell into his path, this time his efforts narrowly went wide of the Steven Savicic and hit the side netting.
The Rams found themselves into the lead in the 84th minute after Angelo Kalamvokis was taken down in the box and awarded a penalty, Symignton stepped up for the hosts and powerfully converted the spot kick to send his side into the lead.
No more than 20 seconds after kicking off, Dunbar were back in the game through a sensational strike from Olivier Beltran-Woodward that levelled proceedings.
The sides could not be separated after 90 minutes, as the draw seemed a fair result for both teams.
Dunbar coach, Christian Soares admitted the conditions made it tricky, forcing his side to adapt.
“It was a very interesting game and obviously the weather conditions changed the way we played, as much as we would of liked to play with the ball around we had to adjust today,” he said.
“There was a moment where the game could of gone either with both teams fighting for the ball, but both teams would be happy with the draw and it’s not a bad result.”
Macarthur coach, Bret Hewit noted that his side has plenty to learn and will have to fight to play in the finals in 2022.
“We went 1-0 down because of a defensive error, again it’s a young team and we’re gonna mistakes, but we were 2-1 up with eight minutes to go and we conceded from something that was innocuous,” he said.
“We didn’t track the runners, so you take the good with the bad, but it’s round 17 and they’ve got to start learning about first-grade football, we should be clear and looking for a top-five spot and now we’re still in the battle”.
Dulwich Hill FC 4-2 Central Coast United FC
The streak is over, Dulwich Hill have put on an incredible bounce back performance to hand Central Coast their first loss in eight games.
After just two goals in their last three games, Dulwich Hill flipped the script on United and put on an attacking clinic at Arlington Oval.
After finding the front-foot in the wet conditions, it was the hosts who got on the board first after Jamie Dib picked out Nathan Samson at back post.
Dulwich Hill quickly doubled their lead with some nice team play that saw John Koch win possession back and set up Daniel Fornito with a near open net.
Harry Browell found himself in prime position to net the third goal for the hosts, as they went into the break with a comfortable three-goal lead.
Looking determined to fight their way back into the game, Central Coast put themselves within striking distance of maintaining their unbeaten run.
Thomas Lyons pounced on an unfortunate save from Ryan Wood to put the visitors on the board, shortly before Daniel McFarlane headed the second to secure his 11th goal of the season.
After seizing the momentum of the game, the Dulwich Hill defence was resilient and held off what seemed to be a likely equalising goal.
Jamie Dib sealed the game in the final minute of regulation to secure three much-needed points for his side.
The win for Dulwich Hill gives them a six-point gap on Gladesville Ryde in ninth and gives their matchup next week added importance – Central Coast remain at Arlington Oval next week as they face Inner West.
Rydalmere Lions FC 5-1 Inner West Hawks FC
Rydalmere have returned to the winners circle with a convincing 5-1 win over Inner West, on the back of four goals from Mitchell Gibbs.
After a period of games where they went three games without a win, Rydalmere returned to their best in a trademark performance.
Rydalmere looked assertive from the get go and began to put the Hawks on the backfoot, Gibbs opened the scoring in the 34th minute to cap off the successful period.
Ahmad Taleb scored at the halfway point of the game to give the Lions a two goal lead heading into the break.
The Hawks capitalised early in the second half to put themselves within a goal, but it wouldn’t be enough to match the second-half excellence of Rydalmere.
Gibbs restored the hosts two-goal buffer just moments later, before getting a quickfire double in the late stages to secure four goals.
With the win Rydalmere asserted themselves back into the second place and are now within five points of Inter in first.
The Hawks return to Arlington Oval next week to battle Central Coast, whilst Rydalmere travel to face Dunbar.
Inter Lions FC 1-3 Sydney University SFC
Sydney University have gained their second win in three game as they took down the top of the table Inter Lions.
Uni seemed to have added motivation in this matchup as they went up against their former teammate Anthony Costa.
It was a difficult first half for both sides, as the conditions halted any momentum and began to affect the flow of the ball.
Thomas Quiligan opened the scoring for the hosts after converting on a stellar free-kick in the early stages of the second half.
Uni extended their lead through Jethro Thorton, shortly before Quiligan secured a brace and put the result beyond doubt.
Alex Becerra got Inter on the board with ten minutes remaining, as an Inter comeback looked on the cards.
It just wasn’t Inter’s night as they fell to their second loss in five games – although they still maintained a five-point buffer at the top of the table.
With wins over Rydalmere and now Inter in the last three weeks, Uni have given themselves one last lifeline in the race for promotion.
Inter move onto a tough matchup with Bankstown City next week, as Uni travel to face Bankstown United.
Bankstown City FC 1-1 Gladesville Ryde Magic
Bankstown City and Gladesville Ryde have shared the points at Jensen Park to round out the weekend’s fixtures.
Both teams will have to consider this a missed opportunity with City missing the chance to go third, as the Magic slid in the race for promotion.
As advertised the weather had a massive effect on the play in the first half, but it was City who looked the likelier to score.
Abanoub Mickaeal opened the scoring for the visitors in the opening stages of the second half, finishing off a sensational bit of build-up play from the Magic.
After sitting back in defence after scoring, the pressure was put on the Magic as they were eventually cracked in the in the 81st after Conor Spurway powered his effort into the back of the net.
Kiriakos Tohouroglou saved the result for the Magic, as he denied Dimi Petratos in a one on one situation in the dying minutes of the game.
Gladesville Ryde were dealt another blow in the final minute of play as Karim Moursi received a second-yellow card and will miss next week’s crucial clash with Dulwich Hill.
Bankstown City go back on the road in round 18 as they face Inter Lions at Majors Bay Reserve.
Washed Out: Canterbury Bankstown FC vs Bankstown United FC
By Football NSW Men’s League Two Writer, Dominic Criniti @DominicCriniti