Round 8 Review – League Two Men’s
Round Eight of the 2023 Football New South Wales League Two Men’s season was as close as ever; a winner in every match, all but one match decided by one goal.
The Match of the Round saw two quickfire goals put Parramatta FC past Sydney University SFC, while South Coast Flame FC ended Camden’s three-match winning streak.
Meanwhile, Gladesville Ryde Magic claimed Stroke Recovery Cup honours over Bankstown United FC, as UNSW FC went back to the top of the table with a win over Prospect United SC.
Elsewhere, Inner West Hawks FC won their first match of the season at home to Nepean FC, the Newcastle Jets saw off the Western Rage in a tight affair, while Fraser Park FC held off Hawkesbury City FC late.
Hurstville FC had a bye this round.
Saturday, 25th March 2023
Match of the Round: Sydney University SFC 1-2 Parramatta FC
The Match of the Round this week saw Parramatta FC continue their hot streak courtesy of a 2-1 comeback win over Sydney University SFC.
It was the perfect start for University as they hit the front after twelve minutes.
From an attacking corner, the ball was played high in the air into the penalty area.
Parramatta’s Alhaji Bangura attempted to clear the ball as it flew his direction, but in doing so the ball hit the back of his heel and went into the goal; University led 1-0.
University almost capitalised in the 24th minute as they had a chance from a long shot to score, but the attempt hit the crossbar.
Four minutes later, Parramatta attempted to get some momentum back from a free kick; however, Youssef Badr’s right-footed effort flew over the crossbar.
Parramatta had another chance in the 33rd minute, this time along the ground, as Badr found himself in behind and with the ball from a clever pass.
He beat the defence before he took a right-footed shot at the near post, which hit the side-netting.
University made it a focus to battle in midfield, as Jethro Thornton won the ball in back-to-back possessions in the 35th minute.
The first time, he set himself up for a right-footed shot which hit the side-netting, while the second time he played the ball before the recipient of the pass was fouled in behind.
University continued to pepper Parramatta’s goal with shots, while Parramatta looked to play on the counter.
Badr was man Parramatta looked for in behind University’s defence, who cut out the opportunity each time.
Five minutes later before half-time, Dion Karapetian floated a shot over the crossbar from outside the box.
James Reed found space in between the lines for University a few minutes later as hit right-footed effort flew over the bar.
In the first half, University defended strongly in the air and along the ground, as they leapt and put in slide tackles to deny Parramatta.
University captain Daniel Barrett put in many well-timed tackles from right-back to deny Parramatta from getting in behind the University defence.
Sydney University won the midfield battle in the first half as they scrapped for possession and tried to win duels on every occasion; they were the first to second balls many times.
They had a slender lead at the break as they led Parramatta, 1-0.
Parramatta started the second half well as some tiki-taka passing almost opened the University defence, whose tackling kept them in good stead.
In the Parramatta goal, James Baker crowded out Brett Wilson in the box to claim a difficult ball ahead of the University player.
Immediately at the other end, Marco Sama tested Jasper Sarkies in the University goal at his near post after he took a strong right-footed low shot from outside the box.
However, University continued to pile pressure on the Parramatta goal, but either shot straight at Baker or shot wide.
Wilson received the ball in between the defensive and midfield lines for University, as he ran at and through the Parramatta defence.
However, his shot was fired wide of the near left-hand post.
Parramatta pushed as they won the ball in midfield through Sama, but he slipped as he took his shot, which made the save for Sarkies comfortable.
University searched for a second goal, but they did not shoot where they needed to, as Baker made simple saves for Parramatta.
The chances missed came back to bite University, as Parramatta levelled proceedings in the 60th minute.
A Parramatta counter-attack from within their own half led to Abdul Aljabery being played in behind down the left.
He played the ball back into the middle of the box for Sama, who slotted the ball home calmly on his right foot; scores were level at 1-1.
That goal gave Parramatta confidence as Muamer Mesanovic fired a shot over the bar on the next attack.
Then, Parramatta had their second goal in three minutes.
Sama had the ball up the field for Parramatta before he played it in behind for the pacey Badr.
He calmly beat the goalkeeper with an almost-identical finish to the first Parramatta goal as it was placed home low and calmly.
In a rapid-fire three minutes which changed the complexion of the match, Parramatta had gone from behind to being in the lead, 2-1.
Sama was the cog in midfield for Parramatta as he received the ball on multiple occasions to set his teammates in behind the University defence, just as he did for the second goal.
Badr was full of confidence as he had a powerful shot on target in the 67th minute, but it flew straight into the arms of Sarkies.
Parramatta continued to close University down well in their third of the field as they denied University many attacks.
In the 70th minute, University had a header from an attacking corner which deflected off a Parramatta player before it hit the outside of the post.
Wilson was found in space in the box for University from a cutback from the right, but his powerful strike was saved well down low to deny the hosts the equaliser.
The match opened up in the final fifteen minutes as the teams traded counter-attacks back-and-forth.
Wilson again found space in the box for University but shot his effort wide of the goal.
The Parramatta bench was vocal with instructions the whole match, both on how to defend and attack against University.
University were inches away from finding the equaliser in the 87th minute, as a ball put into the box found the head of a University player.
The headed-on effort flew just out of reach of an outstretched University player who could not redirect the ball into the net.
Parramatta attacked again, however, as Aljabery played Blake Scurr in behind before he fired his right-footed shot straight at Sarkies.
In the 90th minute, a cross-turned-shot from Barrett landed just on top of the Parramatta goal net as the crowd gasped.
In the third minute of stoppage time, Blake Steward played Scurr in behind for Parramatta, but he could not seal the match as his right-footed effort flew over the crossbar.
University hit on the counter straight away as Baker was forced into an important save from a corner in the dying embers of the match.
However, late drama arrived as in the fifth minute of added time, Thornton was sent off with a straight-red card for University after he retaliated following his late challenge on Steward while in attack.
The full-time whistle blew after the match restarted following the red card.
Parramatta FC earned back-to-back wins for the first time this season, while Sydney University SFC lost back-to-back matches for the first time this season as the match ended 2-1 in Parramatta’s favour.
Sydney University SFC Assistant Coach Steve Crawford said it was a game of two halves and moments of lapses of concentration cost them.
“If we had of put our chances away in the first half with all the possession we had, [it] would’ve been a completely different outcome,” Crawford said.
“Credit to Parramatta, they dug deep and overran us and took their chances.”
Crawford also said they missed having their captain Liam Thomasin at the base of midfield.
“He was a big miss today… just that vision he has and breaking [the play] up.”
Parramatta FC Head Coach Luis Contigiani said he was happy with the win.
“[It was] a poor first half, too many individual errors, couldn’t deal with their cross-field balls,” Contigiani said.
“After we made the required substitutions, the game changed [and] we were able to push higher up the park and create chances; that led to two goals.
“[I’m] happy with the win but we can perform a lot better.”
Earlier in the week, Sydney University progressed to the next round of the Australia Cup courtesy of a 4-0 win away to Oran Park Rovers Football Club, where a Mathew Weeks own goal, a Brett Wilson double and a Jackson Fredericks goal saw them through.
Sydney University SFC will look to bounce back away to Fraser Park FC next week, while Parramatta are unbeaten in four matches and will look for a third-straight win as they host Inner West Hawks FC.
South Coast Flame FC 3-1 Camden Tigers FC
South Coast Flame FC won back-to-back matches and ended Camden Tigers FC’s three-match winning streak with a 3-1 win at home.
The Flame took the lead early in the 17th minute, as a long ball played in behind was misjudged by Michael O’Rourke in the Tigers’ goal.
He came out to claim it but was unable to, as it fell to the Flame’s Jacob Gjorsevski who tapped the ball home to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Ten minutes later, Bailey Simpson ran past the Flame’s back four and scored; however, he was ruled offside in the build-up.
Just before half-time, in the 44th minute, quick and positive forward ball movement saw the Flame double their advantage after some interlocking passes in midfield.
Midfielders and attackers for the Flame made their way into the box; Gjorsevski was on the end of the play as he scored his double to put the Flame 2-0 up just before the break.
The Tigers, however, started the second half strongly and earned a penalty in the 51st minute.
It was converted by the Tigers’ leading goal scorer, Leandro Guzman, as the visitors halved the deficit.
The Tigers enjoyed some nice periods in the match following their goal as they searched for the equaliser.
In the 75th minute, calls for a Tigers penalty were waved away by the referee as they pushed for their second goal.
However, as they pushed forward late, the Tigers lost their shape, which allowed Adam Voloder to score the match-sealing goal in the 84th minute as he found himself unmarked; he cut inside and finished.
The 3-1 victory for the Flame followed their 5-0 away win over Australian Catholic University Football Club in the Australia Cup midweek, where a Gjorsevski double, a Matthew Mazevski goal, a James Baldacchino goal, and an own goal from ACU’s Jeremy Malik saw them through.
South Coast Flame FC will hope to continue their form as they travel to play the Newcastle Jets, while Camden Tigers FC will hope to bounce back at home to Nepean FC.
Inner West Hawks FC 2-1 Nepean FC
Inner West Hawks FC picked up their first win of the season in a shock result as they beat the then-ladder leading Nepean FC 2-1 at Arlington Oval.
The Hawks opened the scoring early through Abdul Zahra after he took a low-driven shot from outside the box, which Justin Biega failed to control in the Nepean net as it fell into the goal.
Nepean fought back, however, and equalised off a quickly taken set piece.
The ball found the back of the net through Jack Hoban, who levelled the match in the 28th minute.
However, five minutes before half-time, the Hawks retook the lead.
Hesan Soufi smashed the ball into the back of the net at the near post after a Nepean defensive mistake, as he continued his form this season; the hosts led 2-1 at the break.
Nepean were unable to make the correct decisions in the final third in the second half.
However, Nepean did threaten from set pieces but were still not able to find the equaliser.
In the end, the Hawks defended well and held on to the lead to stun one of the form teams of the season so far with a 2-1 home win.
Inner West Hawks FC will look to build on their opening win of the season as they face the in-form Parramatta at Melita Stadium, while Nepean FC will hope to bounce back in their away trip to Ron Dine Memorial Reserve, where they will face Camden Tigers FC.
Prospect United SC 0-1 UNSW FC
UNSW FC responded after their loss in Round Seven with a 1-0 win away to Prospect United SC.
Tough rainy conditions with low visibility made for a match where the play was not pretty, and the victor had to dig deep to find a goal for victory.
Prospect had their periods in the first half where they created chances to score, including a shot from the edge of the box which was dragged wide.
They had another golden chance which they failed to convert.
Both sides took shots from distance in the tough conditions, hoping a ball would fall their way in attack.
The teams were even to start the second half as Kevin Lopes created a chance for UNSW FC as he squared a ball across the box for Callum Fitzpatrick before it was cut out by a Prospect defender’s last-ditch stretch.
However, the decisive moment in the match arrived in the 66th minute.
Matias Da Silva Santos sent a free kick from the right-side of the box into the middle.
Kevin Lopes was able to get on the end of it as he fired home the header to give UNSW the lead.
From there, UNSW defended well at the back as they held out a Prospect side who were playing with intent.
However, their inexperience relative to UNSW’s side showed as they were unable to find their way back into the match, as UNSW picked up the three points in a tough rainy encounter, 1-0.
Prospect United SC play in the Australia Cup on Tuesday, 28th March away to Fairfield Pats FC, before they travel to face Hawkesbury City FC in Round Nine; meanwhile, UNSW FC will look to build on this result as they host the Western Rage.
Gladeville Ryde Magic 4-3 Bankstown United FC
Gladesville Ryde Magic won the Stroke Recovery Cup once again as they held off Bankstown United in a seven-goal thriller at Christie Park.
The match started with high intensity and ball movement from both sides.
The first chance fell to Magic captain, Chris Gaitatzis, who’s powerful strike on target was saved by Mitchell Evans.
Then, in the 27th minute, Gaitatzis created space for himself and took a shot which was blocked by the Bankstown defence; however, the rebound fell to him as he scored with a left-footed strike.
Six minutes later, eighteen-year-old Stefan Baker rifled a shot into the back of the net from thirty yards to give the Magic a 2-0 lead.
However, Bankstown pulled a goal back in the 39th minute after a handball was spotted in the box by the referee.
Mitchell Cross calmly converted the penalty to reduce the deficit to one goal.
However, the Magic soon regained their two-goal cushion.
In the 44th minute, a defensive lapse from Bankstown allowed Yousuf Amini to make a run and put a cross into the box.
The cross was met by Kokhi Hiyaoka in the middle who restore Magic’s advantage, as they led 3-1 at half-time.
That goal brought with it a large applause from the crowd as the teams headed into the sheds.
Four Bankstown substitutions at half-time and a fierce team talk led to them having more purpose and energy to start the second half.
Both teams look to target their forwards with pace in attack as the intensity continued from the first half.
Bankstown pulled a goal back again as Cross grabbed his brace.
Cross fell on a loose ball inside the six-yard-box after the ball had been parried down from a Corey Freeman shot; Cross slotted the ball home as Bankstown hit back again.
Sunny Chang and Freeman pushed hard and caused problems in wide areas as Bankstown searched for the third goal.
Magic reacted by bringing on David Ustimenko as they hoped to use his speed to create chances.
The decisive goal in the match came in the 77th minute, as a diagonal ball from James Tsokos found Ustimenko.
He then played Hiyaoka in as he unleashed a shot to score his second goal of the match to make the score 4-2.
Freeman scored a consolation goal for Bankstown in stoppage time to make the final score 4-3 to the Magic.
In front of a large crowd, both teams put in good performances in the Stroke Recovery Cup.
The Cup Most Valuable Player, as voted by three long-term members of the Magic’s Under-15 youth squad, was Chris Gaitatzis.
The Cup was a success once more as many fans attended to watch the spectacle, as the Magic won the cup once again.
Gladesville Ryde Magic will look to build on their fifth win of the season as they travel to face Hurstville FC next week, while Bankstown United FC will hope to refocus for Round Ten after their bye in Round Nine.
Fraser Park FC 2-1 Hawkesbury City FC
Fraser Park FC went to four matches unbeaten as they held off Hawkesbury City FC late in a 2-1 home win.
The damp synthetic pitch caused problems for the players all match as both sides battled for control in difficult conditions.
The hosts fired from kick-off, as Shu Torihara combined with Daniel Bosnich out wide, who crossed the ball to Lazar Drakulovic; he flicked the header on and into the back of the net to give Fraser Park the lead after eighty seconds.
The match settled both ways from there before Fraser Park’s Christian Desa crossed the ball from the right side outside the box for Hayato Sadamori, who tapped the ball in at the back post.
Fraser Park had the lead 2-0 at half-time and looked to continue that momentum in the second half.
They went close to scoring a third goal as Torihara hit the crossbar, while Alexander Nicolosi forced a save from Hawkesbury’s goalkeeper, Daniel Schwarzer, in a one-on-one.
However, Hawkesbury never gave up as they threw all they had at Fraser Park in the second half.
They changed formation and committed numbers forward as they kept Fraser Park camped in their own half for large periods of the second half.
Hawkesbury pulled a goal back in the 82nd minute through Vincent D’Ermilio after he was played into the box.
His shot was deflected as it flew just over the outstretched reach of Patrick Ferrara in the Fraser Park goal.
Hawkesbury pushed for an equaliser with the remaining time as they forced Ferrara to tip a ball over his crossbar in the final minute.
However, Fraser Park held on in a tough-fought encounter to claim all three points courtesy of a 2-1 victory.
It was not the result Hawkesbury City FC wanted after their 4-3 win over East Gosford F.C. earlier in the week, where goals from Anthony Pedavoli, D’Ermilio, Alexander Murrell and Harry Drew helped them progress to the next round.
Fraser Park FC will look to build on back-to-back wins as they host Sydney University SFC next week, while Hawkesbury City FC will hope to win their first league match in five as they host Prospect United SC in Round Nine.
Western Rage 0-1 Newcastle Jets
The Newcastle Jets returned from their bye in Round Seven with a last-gasp 1-0 win away to the Western Rage.
In a match where there were few chances, whoever was able to be clinical enough with the chances they did get put themselves in an advantageous position to win.
In the first half, the Newcastle Jets hit the post through Moonib Adus after a strong save from the Western Rage goalkeeper.
However, both sides entered the sheds level at half-time, 0-0.
The Rage had a few half chances throughout the match but neither side were able to create much in a tough encounter.
Substitute Kierry James made the difference for the Jets, however, as the match neared its conclusion.
In the second minute of stoppage time at the end of the ninety minutes, James took a corner for the Jets.
His delivery into the box met Ben Van Dorssen, who powered the header home to win the match in injury time.
It was heartbreak for the Rage as the Jets continue to fight near the top of the table.
However, the Rage did claim a victory earlier this week, as they came from behind twice away to Kanwal F.C. in the Australia Cup to claim a 3-2 win after extra time; Jacob Carluccio and Daniel Cooper scored, while Jye Murray scored the crucial goal in the 102nd minute to send the Rage to the next round.
The Newcastle Jets will look to build on this result at home to South Coast Flame FC next week, while the Western Rage will face another tough opponent in the hopes of victory as they travel to face UNSW FC.
By Football New South Wales League Two Men’s Writer, Dylan Costa @_dylancosta