Another fantastic, compelling and action-packed round of League Three Men’s competition has come to its close, with goals galore throughout the week.
In a catchup game from Wednesday, UNSW FC defeated South Coast Flame 5-2, before they drew against Parramatta FC on Saturday evening.
On Saturday night, three games took place, as Nepean FC and South Coast Flame defeated Western Rage and Camden Tigers respectively, while the points were split between Hawkesbury City and Fraser Park.
In the lone Sunday night game, Hurstville FC picked up a crucial victory over Prospect United at Blacktown City Sports Centre.
Altogether, there were 24 of goals across the week, an average of four per match.
UNSW FC 5 – 2 South Coast Flame
To begin the football for the week, UNSW FC prevailed against South Coast Flame in a Wednesday night makeup match.
In the pouring rain, UNSW opened the scoring in the 12th minute, with Kevin Lopes finding the back of the net off a header from a Mark Murphey corner.
The home side doubled their advantage three minutes later with Dylan Walz finishing after finding himself in behind from a through ball from Callum Fitzpatrick before South Coast Flame replied almost instantly with Dean Pender tucking away a strike at the far post after a freekick from Jack Balmforth.
The action in the first half continued as Lopes added to his tally in the 31st minute, with Fitzpatrick bringing down a cross before finding the striker, who converted comfortably.
Six minutes later, Flame responded with a wonderful strike-through Matthew Mazevski, as the midfielder unleashed a first-time half volley from 25 yards after a cleared cross to find the target spectacularly.
UNSW began the second half strongly with Mike Kenny finishing after a scramble inside the box before Walz rounded out the scoring with a cross-cum-shot finding the target.
Parramatta FC 1 – 1 UNSW FC
Parramatta FC has drawn against UNSW FC in the first match of round 18 on Saturday evening.
The home side made a blistering start and opened the scoring early in the 10th minute through Mubarak Saeed.
However, UNSW responded in the 34th minute, with Callum Fitzpatrick converting after a couple of shots on goal from the away team.
In the second half, both teams had chances to convert but neither could find the back of the net, and the match ended in a stalemate.
Parramatta will next look to their match on Tuesday against South Coast Flame, while UNSW will follow with a game against Western Rage on Friday night.
Camden Tigers 1 – 2 South Coast Flame
South Coast Flame have defeated Camden Tigers 2-1 to overtake their opponents and move into seventh on the League Three Men’s ladder.
The two teams traded chances in a frantic opening to the match, with South Coast eventually earning themselves the opener in the 32nd minute.
A cross from Sam Alston found its way to the far post, and Alexander Pappas – in his first start for Flame this campaign – controlled the ball and took a shot across the goalkeeper that went into the side netting and opened the scoring at Ron Dine Stadium.
Eight minutes later, a freekick from Zander Alston from 30 yards out found the back of the net, as the ball eluded a myriad of players inside the box, including the goalkeeper to extend the home side’s advantage to two goals.
In the remaining minute of the first half, Camden found a way back into the game, with Jarred Morley finding the target after a good cross across goal.
The second half brought more opportunities for both teams, but the home side defended resolutely to secure the three points.
Camden Tigers will next take on Newcastle Jets on Sunday night, while South Coast Flame will travel to Melita Stadium to face Parramatta on Tuesday.
Western Rage 1 – 4 Nepean FC
Nepean FC has moved up to fourth on the League Three Men’s ladder with a win over Western Rage away from home.
Nepean FC opened the score in the 37th minute, with Jack Hoban getting in behind on the left flank, cutting inside and slipping the ball past the goalkeeper.
On the stroke of halftime, Nepean doubled their advantage through a classy goal that involved Andre Cavallaro and Christopher Godoy Bascur.
Cavallaro slipped the ball over the top and Godoy Bascur took the ball under control wonderfully, before guiding it past the goalkeeper to convert.
In the second half, Western Rage piled players forwards and halved their deficit in the 83rd minute with Nikola Kremenovic scoring after a cross from a corner.
Nepean responded instantly with Majid Eslami finding the back of the net off a powerful, low shot, with Ryan Dominici scoring a cracker two minutes later off a wide-angle from outside the penalty box.
Joe D’Ermilio, coach of Nepean, was proud of his players’ performances.
“It was a great effort across the park, with the game plan being executed well. A special mention goes to Brendon King for putting in an amazing shift. We came out on top on the night, but Western Rage is going to be a team to watch out for in the future.”
Hawkesbury City 2 – 2 Fraser Park
In the latest Saturday night game, league leaders Hawkesbury City were held by Fraser Park in an impressive performance from the away side.
Hawkesbury opened the scoring in the seventh minute with Marco Turpeinen finding the target after a cross from Harry Drew.
Fraser came back into the game well, however, with Benjamin Astudillo, Osama Zakout and Hayato Sadamori working well to play in between the lines and move the ball out wide to the wingbacks.
Alexis Wenzel scored a deflected shot in the 30th minute to equalise the scores in the first half.
In the second half, Fraser moved ahead with Shu Torihara finding the target after good build-up play from the backline and into the final third.
However, Daniel Morsillo equalised the scores for Hawkesbury off a header to see both sides taking home a point apiece.
Fraser coach Emanuel Pais was happy with his side’s performances, stating “Ben (Astudillo) and Jayden (Nakhoul) represented our team spirit and a display of character throughout the game, under the leadership of captain Alexis (Wenzel) who was playing despite being injured.”
Hawkesbury will next have a bye, while Fraser will take on Prospect United on Saturday night.
Prospect United 1 – 2 Hurstville FC
Hurstville FC has secured a crucial three points with a win over Prospect United at Blacktown City Sports Centre on Sunday night.
The match began intensely, as Prospect looked to play out from the defensive line with possession with Hurstville pressing up in attempt to win the ball in advanced areas.
Hurstville FC looked to attack in wide areas, with Paul Gagro often receiving the ball on the touchline and Samuel Barone making an underlapping or overlapping run as the left back to complement the wingers movement.
The away side had the first opportunity of the match from the left flank as Luis Ferreria played P. Gagro out wide.
The captain swung in a dangerous cross, which was just an inch too far for Jesse Gagro’s outstretched boot.
Hurstville had another good opportunity which began and ended with captain P. Gagro.
The left winger outmuscled his opponent to win back the ball before exchanging a one two with J. Gagro.
Off that, he found himself in behind the defence, but couldn’t gain sufficient power off a shot from close range.
Prospect had their first opportunity through fantastic work from Cristian Martinez.
He picked up the ball off a throw in, dribbled inside to beat the press and played a delicious ball through to Housam Sayour.
The striker found himself in behind, and took the ball around the goalkeeper, but couldn’t convert from a very acute angle.
Prospect had another chance from a set piece, which forced a good save from Hurstville Michael Rutherford.
The home side continued to create, with Poda Da winning the ball well in a 50 50 just outside the box.
He slid the ball across goal to Martinez, but narrowly overhit the pass, and Rutherford smothered well to prevent the ball from crossing the line.
Prospect, interestingly, moved away from their standard three at the back system, instead opting for something along the lines of a 4-1-3-2, at least out of possession.
Their back four was complemented by a single pivot in Alec Purves who often looked to drop in between the two centre backs to progress the ball, which in turn allowed their two fullbacks to move higher up the field.
Their two strikers often positioned themselves in wider spaces when their backline had possession, sometimes between the centreback and fullback and sometimes wider, and moved as a duo to support play when on their corresponding side.
The midfield three behind them was fluid and also often looked to expand to pick up the ball in wider spaces, although rarely coming to the touchline.
Da often looked to sometimes but often remained in the next line to supply an option further up the field, particularly as a sideways pass when their fullbacks picked up the ball when venturing from the defensive line.
Tallon Zahra was the central of the three and looked to make penetrating runs in behind, while also picking up second balls and being an option in between the lines, as he sometimes rotated with one of the two strikers.
Alexander Gorgievski performed a similar role to Da but on the left-hand side rather than the right – he sometimes dropped in to provide an option to establish triangles with the fullback and centre back to play through the press, while usually remaining in the midfield line as part of the three.
The new tactic was an interesting move from Darren Camilleri and his coaching team and allowed them to look to play fluidly through the lines with an overload in central areas and also play a more direct style, with the strikers moving into wide areas and the midfield three able to support through compacting and counter-pressing.
They looked to often draw in the press from Hurstville before playing through or over it, but sometimes struggled with a lack of width in advanced areas to move the ball forwards when their opponents sat deeper.
However, when Hurstville did push up, they often evaded it cleverly particularly when forming triangles in their wide areas with their midfield three and front two shuffling along to support.
Towards the end of the first half, they did just that well to find Zahra in a central position inside the box.
Zahra turned well and dummied multiple times to create room for a shot, but his eventual effort went just wide of the post.
Hurstville responded with a chance of their own as J. Gagro went close when connecting with a ball swung in off a freekick.
The away side maintained their usual style of play that’s been consistent throughout their campaign.
They played with a stretched front four, as their two wingers remained, in general, on the touchline.
Tomas Medimurac operated as the attacking midfielder and looked to hold up the ball and weave through opponents before moving the ball wide again, while J. Gagro led the line, however often operating as a target man and looking to instigate short passing combinations in advanced areas before making runs into the vacated space.
Their double pivot looked to shift and provide central options, with the two fullbacks holding their position deeper before exploding forward to provide support predominately to the wingers when moving forwards with the ball.
Early in the second half, Prospect opened the scoring with a well taken goal.
Da picked up the ball in a wide area and drove inside, before sliding a nice outside of the boot pass through to Sayour.
With his first touch, the forward steered a finish in between the legs of Hurstville’s goalkeeper to give his side the advantage.
Hurstville almost equalised minutes after conceding off a set piece, but Adriano Cerasoli made a good save to deny the away side.
Following Prospect’s goal, chances stagnated for both sides, as Hurstville made two substitutes to regroup before coming back into the game.
Hurstville did well to bring themselves back into the game and equalised in stunning style as the half went on.
Medimurac picked up the ball from just outside the box after a square pass from P. Gagro, and curled home a beautiful strike into the top right corner with his right foot.
Following the equaliser, both sides often looked to play quickly on attacking transitions, with Hurstville looking to use the pace of Frank Puric to create direct opportunities after winning the ball.
The game turned into more of a scrappy, individual affair, as both sides looked to attack the free space given by each other’s fast-paced attacks.
It looked as if, considering the amount of open space, that the game was destined for another goal, and it came for Hurstville with another excellent effort.
After creating an attacking overload off a transition, the ball found Puric, who dispatched a shot from inside the box into the top left corner.
A few minutes after Hurstville took the lead, Puric almost added to his tally with a curling effort into the top corner, but the shot was just wide of the post.
Hurstville held out well to finish with the three points, and they picked up a crucial win in the finals race with their first victory over a month.
Prospect will next face Fraser Park, while Hurstville will take on South Coast Flame, with both games on Saturday night.
Preview: Parramatta FC vs South Coast Flame – Tuesday 8pm, Melita Stadium
In a Tuesday night clash, Parramatta FC will take on South Coast Flame in a postponed game from round two of the League Three Men’s competition.
Parramatta has drawn three matches in their last five games and has impressively taken points of Hurstville FC and UNSW FC within their last couple of matches.
New signings have been key for Parramatta, with coach Gert Disha happy with the performances of the new signings, who are beginning to understand the system and style of play.
Meanwhile, South Coast Flame has moved up to seventh spot with their last game ending in victory over Camden Tigers.
They’ll be looking to defeat Parramatta to swipe up consecutive victories for the second time this season.
Bye: Newcastle Jets
By Football NSW League 3 Men’s Reporter, Jack George (@JackGeorge0004)