Round 20 of League Two Men’s gave us one of the most dramatic weekends of the season, as now seven sides have punched their ticket to promotion.
Inter Lions dealt Gladesville Ryde Magic a massive blow in their promotion push, Bankstown City secured another win over Sydney University, Dulwich Hill became the latest to get promoted as they defeated Dunbar Rovers.
Macarthur Rams produced a dominant second half to defeat Inner West Hawks, as Central Coast United took down Bankstown United.
Inter Lions FC 2-0 Gladesville Ryde Magic
Inter Lions now have one-hand on the premiership as they secured a third straight victory over Gladesville Ryde Magic.
This game had added importance for both sides with Inter looking to wrap-up first spot, as the Magic were hanging onto their promotion hopes.
With one of Dulwich Hill and Dunbar Rovers guaranteed to drop points this round, the Magic could control their destiny and move one step closer to a dream promotion.
The game started on a disappointing note for the visitors, as Inter flexed their muscles and found the majority of attacking chances.
Although Inter dominated to opening stages of the game, the hosts struggled to find the finishing touch and were frustrated by the Magic defence.
Inter finally cracked their opponents defence in the 19th minute as Daniel Georgievski neatly converted on a set-piece play.
The Lions continued in their pursuit for goals and pushed the Magic defence to their limits throughout the remainder of the half.
Gladesville Ryde went into the break down by a goal and had plenty to work on if they were to be in with a chance for a desperately-needed result.
The second half couldn’t of started any worse for the visitors as they saw the deficit doubled just seconds after the restart.
Ollie Green slotted home his chance after some quality build-up play from the Lion’s skipper Sam Armson.
With everything to play for in the final stages of the game, the Magic were unable to find any luck in front of goal.
Inter remained solid throughout the rest of the game and looked very calm in defence as they held on for their third-straight victory and clean sheet.
The Magic were left frustrated once again as they let slip another golden opportunity to jump into the top eight.
Inter Lions coach, John Theodoropoulos noted his pride in the dominant performance that has given them so much-earned breathing room in first place on the ladder.
Inter enter next week with a chance to secure first-place when they make the tough trip to Lynwood Park to face Macarthur.
Gladesville Ryde head into the most important game of the 2022 season next week when they play Dunbar Rovers, with the winner becoming the favourite for promotion heading into the final round.
Sydney University SFC 1-3 Bankstown City FC
Bankstown City have gone back-to-back as they tallied their 11th win of the season against Sydney Uni on Friday night.
With seemingly nothing to play for on Uni’s side, the pressure was on City to get a win and put themselves in prime position for a spot in the top five.
It was the hosts who capitalised on some early momentum as Thomas Quiligan continued on his good form with his eighth goal of the season.
The first half was controlled by the hosts as the short turnaround and chilly conditions seemed to hinder City’s performance.
It was a tale of two halves however, with City coming out of the blocks with an added flare of intensity thanks to a couple of changes during the break.
In just his second game of first-grade, Antonio Chiavaroli made his presence felt with a goal and an assist in the final 45 minutes.
Chiavaroli set up the first goal for City’s skipper, Nikola Todoroski, shortly before the imposing forward secured his brace minutes later.
Todoroski’s double puts him on 14 goals for the season, as he continues to chase Ahmed Taleb at the top of the golden boot race.
With the momentum of the game firmly in the corner of City, the visitors capitalised with a late strike from Chiavaroli that put the result beyond doubt.
The win for City now sees them five points clear of the Berries in sixth who have a congested schedule to finish the season – with two games in hand.
City enter another massive match-up next week as they play Bankstown United in the local derby, as Uni make the daunting trip up the coast to face the Pirates.
Dunbar Rovers FC 0-1 Dulwich Hill FC
Dulwich Hill have secured promotion in League One after an incredibly intense contest with Dunbar.
It was arguably one of the most important games of the season, with the winner securing promotion for 2022.
Dunbar entered this game with a long list of injuries that have depleted their playing stocks in the backend of the season.
The Rovers injuries woes worsened in the 9th minute when Kyle Hazebroek had to be subbed off.
After already being down a man on the bench, Dunbar had all the odds stacked against them and were met by a quality Dulwich Hill attack.
Dunbar had their chances in front of goal but were unable to convert in the first half as both sides were held goalless.
Dulwich Hill had the upper hand in the second half and found themselves on the front foot in attack.
After 77 minutes of no scoring, Daniel Fornito stepped up for the visitor and netted the most important goal of the season to send Dulwich Hill into the lead.
Dunbar had one last surge in the final stages but the desperation of the Dulwich Hill defence ensured they would secure victory.
Dulwich Hill held on for the win and have completed the ultimate goal of promotion to League One.
Dunbar head into an even bigger match-up against the Magic next week, as Dulwich Hill face Rydalmere in an interesting clash.
Bankstown United FC 0-1 Central Coast United FC
Central Coast United have done the double on their old rival Bankstown United after a 1-0 win at Jensen Park.
There is no love lost between these two sides who have had some entertaining battles since both of their inceptions in 2017.
Dubbed by many as the ‘Justin Smith State League Cup’ the two old rivals had another classic match, that was full of action on both sides of the field.
It was the visitors who were in control of the first half, limiting United’s chances in attack and eventually opening the scoring in the 43rd minute.
Yuki Morikawa setup Cade Mapu for the opener after catching the hosts off guard from a quickly taken throw-in.
The second half was a much more even contest, as United came alive in attack but still had to remain solid defensively.
United were denied by Jack O’Mally on a few occasions, whilst their inability to finish off on some good build-up play came back to haunt them.
The Pirates created their fair share of chances as well, making the 1-0 score line even more surprising.
United have been strong in defence lately, but will be up against it in the Bankstown Derby next week with a few injuries and skipper Steve Wright out due to suspension.
Central Coast return to Pluim Park for the final time this season when they face Sydney Uni, where they’ll hope to keep their home winning streak intact.
Inner West Hawks FC 1-3 Macarthur Rams FC
Macarthur have put behind a below average second half to hold on for another important victory as they took down Inner West.
The hosts were in the midst of their best form all season, winning two in a row at Arlington Oval and showing plenty of signs of improvement.
It was the Rams who started off the better of the two with Amir Ajaj opening the scoring for the visitors in the 13th minute.
The remainder of the half was an even affair, with the Rams unable to find their groove in attack resulting in the Hawks having a few chances just before halftime.
Macarthur turned the game around in the second half and despite being ahead on the scoreboard, they took firm control of the game.
Mark Symington doubled the Rams lead in the 58th minute, as Macarthur began to run away with the result.
The Rams third and final game came in the 83rd minute through Christian Torelli, but their clean sheet was taken away in the final minute after an own goal.
It was a classy showing from the Rams who will take plenty of confidence into their final two games where the battle first and second place on the ladder to finish the season.
The Hawks will be aiming to avoid the wooden spoon when they face the Berries next weekend.
Washed Out: Canterbury Bankstown FC vs Rydalmere Lions FC
By Football NSW Men’s League Two Writer, Dominic Criniti @DominicCriniti