Round 17 Review – League Two Men’s
Round Seventeen of the Football New South Wales League Two Men’s season saw two teams score five goals on their way to important victories as the top two battle continued.
The Match of the Round saw a rapid-fire succession of goals for UNSW FC as they showed their class against Hawkesbury City FC, while Nepean FC and Hurstville FC split the points in a physical game.
Following that, Prospect United SC came from behind to earn a draw away to South Coast Flame FC, before Inner West Hawks FC kept Bankstown United FC at bay for victory, while Gladesville Ryde Magic turned up the heat in a five-star performance against Fraser Park FC.
Elsewhere, a late goal helped Camden Tigers FC earn a draw at home to Sydney University SFC, while the next day the Newcastle Jets held off Parramatta FC late to secure an important victory.
The Western Rage had a bye this round.
Friday, 26th May 2023
Match of the Round: Hawkesbury City FC 1-5 UNSW FC
A clinical second half display from UNSW FC saw them power over Hawkesbury City FC with a 5-1 away win.
A chilly night at David Bertenshaw Field, close to the Nepean River on Bensons Lane, Hawkesbury started on the front foot with back-to-back corners.
They almost capitalised on them just two minutes in as Gregory Kondek headed the ball at the near post; the ball went just wide of the left-hand upright following the strong header.
UNSW looked to threated from set pieces, themselves, as Kevin Lopes got on the end of a free kick, but him tame header was calmly collected by Hawkesbury goalkeeper, Daniel Schwarzer.
“SHAPE” was the call from the Hawks early as they looked to remain solid across the pitch.
UNSW, meanwhile, were compact in defence and stepped up well to stop the Hawks.
Just after the 10-minute mark, UNSW earned a free kick outside the Hawks’ left-hand side outside the box, about 25 yards from goal.
Lopes lifted the ball over the wall from the free kick and forced a strong near-post save Schwarzer.
Hawkesbury defended strongly with numbers up front as they looked to pressure UNSW into turnovers.
Five minute later, following a strong run down the right flank from a Hawkesbury man, who beat his defender, the ball was slid across into the box for Zane Hickman.
He forced a strong near-post save from UNSW goalkeeper Luke Del Vecchio, who did well to his left.
Hawkesbury continued to fire shots at goal, some stronger than others, as they pressured UNSW.
The visitors, meanwhile, were content to hold the ball as they attempted to pull Hawkesbury out of their defensive shape.
UNSW’s patience with the ball was rewarded in the 22nd minute as they found the opening goal.
UNSW’s No.9, Jack Fulton, received the ball around the halfway line after a scrap for possession ended with Hawkesbury half-clearing the ball.
Fulton ran down the right flank and cut inside onto his left foot, then outside onto his right foot; he took a strong shot between two Hawkesbury defenders before the ball took a rough bounce off the pitch.
The deflection sent the ball further towards the left-hand corner of the goal than the initial trajectory as it went into the back of the net, past the outstretched arms of Schwarzer; UNSW had the lead they wanted, 1-0.
UNSW continued to step up well in defence to deny the Hawks any counters.
In the 29th minute, Matias Da Silva Santos was played in behind with a well-placed through ball over the top as he found the back of the net with a shot, but the goal was ruled out as Matias was offside in the buildup.
Four minutes later, UNSW continued their charge with another shot off a breakaway; Fulton ran down the right and in behind for UNSW as he hit the ball strongly with his right foot towards the near post, which Schwarzer saved well for a corner kick.
In the 45th minute, a half-cleared ball from the Hawks gave UNSW the chance to score, but the effort from 20 yards out rattled off the crossbar.
A last-ditch slide tackle from a UNSW defender in stoppage time kept Hawkesbury’s Vincent D’Ermilio from taking a meaningful shot.
UNSW enjoyed most of the possession in the first half, while Hawkesbury had their moments in attack without that final touch or shot as UNSW took a 1-0 lead into half-time.
Five minutes after the break, half-time substitute Alexander Murrell yelled out in pain after went down in a hefty challenge with a UNSW player when he tried to keep the ball in the UNSW half.
He was replaced two minutes later by Brad Gibson in unfortunate circumstances for the Hawks, who had used two substitutes by the 52nd minute.
In the 55th minute, Hawkesbury continued to attack in a strong start to the second half as they had a deflected cross cleared off the line in attack.
The Hawks’ strong second half continued with another corner; following the set piece, a long shot went wide as they looked to pressure UNSW.
With the heat from the Hawks turned up, they also defenced the UNSW long balls in behind well as they forced UNSW to try and find a way through them, while they were strong on the ball and in attack.
However, following the 17-minute period of Hawks’ strong play, UNSW doubled their lead.
Lopes got on the end of a ball played to him before he took a shot against the onrushing Schwarzer, who saved well at the striker’s feet.
However, the ball deflected up and onto the head of Lopes, who looped a header over the goalkeeper into an empty net to double UNSW’s lead, 2-0.
That goal sparked UNSW, who showed their devastatingly clinical and ruthless edge following it.
Just two minutes later, in the 64th minute, UNSW found their third goal through Matias.
They made Hawkesbury pay for a lapse for their third goal following a long ball down the field, which found Matias, who powered his shot home on his right foot past Schwarzer to give UNSW a 3-0 lead.
The pressure did not stop there, however, as UNSW picked up a fourth a minute later.
From kick-off, UNSW pressured Hawkesbury and won the ball back again.
Callum Fitzpatrick got the ball from a header back following a long ball for him; he sized up the situation with defenders in front of him and found the back of the net emphatically; that four-minute period of the second half ended with three goals for UNSW, who had completely switched up a gear.
Leading 4-0, UNSW had punished the Hawks with press and precision; the goals were a result of their quality across the pitch.
Following that, Del Vecchio was forced into a strong save to his left to deny the Hawks, who had an attack of their own.
UNSW continued to pressure the Hawks as they showed their ruthlessness in attack.
In the 69th minute, Mathias threatened again for UNSW with a strong right-footed show following a run down the field, which forced the Schwarzer into a strong save to his left.
Hawkesbury tried to fire back through long shots to no avail before they did find a goal in the 75th minute.
The Hawks pulled a goal back from a direct free kick; the right-footed strike from substitute Brad Gibson went over the UNSW wall and into the back of the net as the score read 4-1 to UNSW.
However, UNSW found their fifth just five minutes following that goal in stunning style through Fitzpatrick once again.
He received the ball in space about 25 yards out from goal; with no pressure on him, he had time to line up a powerful shot, which arrowed towards the bottom-left corner of the goal.
It bounced along its way at pace and found the back of the net as the players ran to celebrate and the crows ooo’d in disbelief; it was a cracking goal for UNSW.
Hawkesbury continued to fire long shots at UNSW in a search for a goal late, which UNSW almost added a sixth late on through Lopes, who got on the end of a low cross played for him; he ended up in the back of the net, the ball hit the crossbar, before the offside flag went up – it was all happening!
Both sides deployed their tactics well; UNSW’s quality across the pitch and ability to make their moments count with clinical finishes separated the two sides.
UNSW’s Marcus Ang fired a shot straight at Schwarzer in the 88th minute, as the ball was sent over the crossbar following a save.
Declan Cotter had a chance for Hawkesbury in the 90th minute following a lobbed ball over the top which found him; he fired a shot low and hard at goal, which was pushed wide by Del Vecchio to his right.
There were tame efforts for both sides late, but the result was sealed.
After four minutes of stoppage time, the referee blew his whistle for full-time.
UNSW showed a lot of fight for every second-ball as they held off periods of Hawkesbury pressure and ball possession; they punished the Hawks in a clinical display, where their quality and verve to fight hard was on display.
UNSW championed their way into the second half and punished Hawkesbury in a clinical display.
Speaking post-match, UNSW assistant coach Andrew Harb credited Hawkesbury for a tough match.
“They are strong, they are hard… they will put a lot of pressure on a lot of teams, and they will get results.”
Speaking on his side, Harb said the energy in his team changed following their second goal in the match, the first of the three in quick succession.
“The energy picked back up again to where it was in the first half… [Hawkesbury] came at us one hundred miles an hour and I think that flipped [following Lopes’ goal].
Kevin Lopes, UNSW’s and the league’s leading goal scorer, picked up another goal in the match and Harb had praise for him.
“He is smart, he was closing people down in injury time; people look at his goals… look at his running, look at his energy – that is Kevin Lopes.”
Hawkesbury coach, Dean Bertenshaw, said the five-minute period was the difference in the match.
“They lifted a gear and made us pay… I did not think the score really reflected the effort or the ability of the boys on the night, it was just a really poor five-minute period.”
However, he also gave credit to UNSW.
“Credit to them, they got the goals, and the score is the score.”
Speaking on Alexander Murrel, who came off early in the second half injured, he hopes the injury was not severe.
“All our thoughts go out to Alex Murrell, who copped an unlucky and nasty injury tonight, so fingers crossed for him.”
The win kept UNSW in 1st place ahead of the Newcastle Jets by one point, while Hawkesbury remained above the Western Rage at the bottom by two points in 14th.
Hawkesbury City FC will hope to welcome back more players and push for a response next week as they host Nepean FC in front of an expectant large crowd, while UNSW FC will hope to maintain top spot as they host Camden Tigers FC in Round Eighteen.
Nepean FC 0-0 Hurstville FC
Nepean FC and 10-man Hurstville FC could not be separated as the two sides chasing their own targets settled for a scoreless draw at Wanderers Football Park.
Nepean started the match fast with a few half-chances which they did not convert.
Hurstville controlled the ball a bit from there but were unable to create any meaningful chances, themselves.
The half was played a lot in midfield; Nepean were cautious while Hurstville kept the ball but were ineffective in the final third.
It was a tight first half where neither side could find the breakthrough, as the teams both entered the sheds level.
In the second half, Hurstville gave the ball away a few times early, but Nepean did not punish their mistakes.
Eight minutes into the second half, Samiel Shainfeld was sent off for Hurstville, which meant they played the majority of the second half with ten men.
From there, Hurstville dug in deep and played more direct, while Nepean were unable to break Hurstville down.
Nepean controlled possession well and fired a few long shots but could not find a goal to grab the win.
Hurstville played on the counter and had some good shots late but were unable to find a breakthrough, also.
In a physical match, both sides earned a clean sheet when both would have been hoping from more from the encounter.
Nepean FC moved down to 4th following the result, while Hurstville moved up into 7th place.
Nepean FC will hope for a response as they take on Hawkesbury City FC away at David Bertenshaw Field in front of an expectant large crowd, while Hurstville return home and will hope to fight for a first victory in four matches as they host Inner West Hawks FC.
Saturday, 27th May 2023
South Coast Flame FC 1-1 Prospect United SC
South Coast Flame FC went a sixth match without a win, while Prospect United SC went an eighth match unbeaten as the two teams played out a 1-1 draw at Sir Ian McLennan Oval.
There were few chances early in the gusty winds on the south coast, but the Flame were dangerous from corner kicks.
In the 18th minute, a long cross to the far post found Jayden Smileski, who headed the ball over the Prospect crossbar.
The Flame did take the lead in a bizarre way, however, in the 28th minute through Samuel Alston.
From a corner, Samuel Alston delivered the ball into the box; it alluded everyone and hit the back post and bounced into the back of the net – an Olympico!
Prospect responded well to going behind as they held possession more.
Rhys Osmond had a shot which went over the bar from 10 yards out following a Jacob Micallef cutback.
Tallon Zahra and Adam Fillipone both had strikes, Fillipone’s from the edge of the 18-yard-box, which forced saves from Flame goalkeeper, Seiya Miyamoto, as the Flame took a 1-0 lead into half-time.
Micallef chipped a ball inches wide of the Flame post a few minutes following the break.
Prospect made a triple change on the hour mark and applied pressure in midfield.
In the 73rd minute, this paid dividends as Cristian Martinez Leiva played a pass to David Muller, who was tripped in the penalty box for a Prospect penalty.
Muller sent Miyamoto the wrong way to level the scores, 1-1.
Prospect almost scored two goals in two minutes as Leiva curled a shot narrowly wide of the Flame goal.
Flame substitute Antonio Sansone slashed a shot wide late, while James Pelletier had a good chance for Prospect in the 88th minute with a header from around seven yards out, but he could not find the target.
Both defences were strong, while both sides found it hard to find that clinical edge, as the sides settled for a 1-1 draw.
The draw kept the Flame in 6th place, while Prospect remained a point above them in 5th.
South Coast Flame FC will look to fight hard for victory to keep in touch with the teams in the top five as they travel to face Fraser Park FC next week, while Prospect will hope for all three points in a Western Sydney clash away to Parramatta FC.
Inner West Hawks FC 1-0 Bankstown United FC
Inner West Hawks FC won their first match in four weeks as they defeated Bankstown United FC 1-0 at Arlington Oval.
The Hawks’ midfield of Tony Lo, Angelo Pezzano, and captain Florim Binakaj kept the ball well and distributed it to their forward players.
Their play paid dividends in the 27th minute as Peter Yannopoulos scored from outside the box after the ball fell to him following a corner.
His strike from 30 yards evaded everyone and found the back of the net; the Hawks had a lead to defend in the match.
The score remained 1-0 at the break, as the second half continued in the same way for the Hawks.
They controlled possession and were compact defensively with Sidhya Malhotra, Matthew Paras and Christopher Phillips at the back.
Bankstown came at the Hawks late in the match, but the Hawks’ defence held on strong to keep them at bay.
Bankstown fought hard but were unable to find a goal late, while the Hawks’ defence was strong.
However, Hesan Soufi received a second yellow card for time wasting in the fourth minute of stoppage time at the end of the match; the second yellow followed a first early in the second half for a mistimed challenge as the Hawks finished with 10 players late.
That did not matter, however, as the Hawks picked up a strong 1-0 win at home over Bankstown.
That win moved the Hawks up to 12th on the ladder, while Bankstown remained in 9th with the teams around them also losing.
Inner West Hawks FC will hope to build on the win as they travel to face a tough task in Hurstville FC next week, while Bankstown will have to stop a formidable Newcastle Jets outfit when they host them in Round Eighteen.
Gladesville Ryde Magic 5-0 Fraser Park FC
Gladesville Ryde Magic won their first match in four in emphatic style with a 5-0 win at home over Fraser Park FC, who fell to a fifth match without victory.
A fast-paced opening 20 minutes saw the Magic with the better of the play; the first chance fell to young Magic midfielder, Stefan Baker, who shot a long-range effort wide of the goal.
However, the Magic did take the lead in the 9th minute.
James Tsokos struck a free kick from the left edge of the penalty box with his left foot into the box; Baker was there in the box to slot the ball into the back of the net as the Magic took a 1-0 lead.
Baker continued his bright match with a second goal in the 11th minute.
From another free kick, which was delivered into the box by Ben Ansah, Baker put the rebound away to double the Magic’s lead.
The Magic had the better of field position and ball possession as a few minutes later, Chris Gaitatzis had a powerful low strike saved by Fraser Park goalkeeper, Nikola Bratic.
The Magic were tight in defence; they then scored a third from another set piece, this time from a corner in the 41st minute.
Kosta Kournakakis delivered the corner into the box which was sent into the back of the next with a powerful header by Magic captain, Gaitatzis; the Magic led 3-0 at half-time.
Fraser Park started the second half strong as Samuel Shepherd was found with a long diagonal ball; however, his shot flew wide of the target.
The Magic scored their fourth from yet another set piece in the 69th minute; 18-year-old Christopher Guyot swing a corner onto the head of Gaitatzis, who flicked the ball on for Bailey Stevens who scored with his chin to give the Magic a four-goal lead.
The Magic wrapped up the victory with a fifth goal in the 77th minute.
Guyot played a ball from the left to Stevens in the middle of the field, who then played a ball to David Ustimenko on the right.
He powered into the penalty box and slotted the ball home to give the Magic a 5-0 lead and a 5-0 win.
The attack and defence were on show for the Magic, while Fraser Park were unable to stop them.
The win moved the Magic into 3rd place on the ladder as the teams around them all dropped points, while Fraser Park moved down to 8th following the loss.
Gladesville Ryde Magic will hope to build on the victory as they travel to face the Western Rage off their bye next week, while Fraser Park FC will search for victory at home to South Coast Flame FC.
Camden Tigers FC 1-1 Sydney University SFC
A chilly night in Camden saw the Tigers score a late goal to earn a 1-1 draw with Sydney University SFC.
Coming into the match, Uni had 12 fit first-grade players, which meant four of the under-20’s squad made the bench, while they also had no back-up goalkeeper.
The Tigers and Uni could not be separated in the first half despite chances to both sides where the goalkeepers were kept active.
In the second half, Uni hit the first blow in the 57th minute following a set piece.
The Uni set piece was played into the box and cleared away to Brett Wilson as the Tigers turned the ball over when they tried to dribble out of defence.
The ball was played back into the box for Jackson Fredericks, who rounded Tigers’ goalkeeper, Michael O’Rourke, in a one-on-one and slotted the ball into the back of the net to give the students a 1-0 lead.
Camden controlled the match from there as they held possession and pinned Uni back, as they forced Uni to play long balls.
Leandro Guzman had two chances to score; one was a header from a set piece which missed the target, but the ball did not fall for Camden.
Jayden Russell came on for the Tigers in the 79th minute and made an almost-immediate impact.
In the 86th minute, Camden played out of their own end of the field through their captain, Jack Harris.
He whipped the ball into the box for Russell, who volleyed the ball into the back of the next with his right foot; a few old Tigers combined for the equalising goal as the score became 1-1.
Despite the Camden pressure and possession, they earned a point; the Tigers have a plan to fight and finish as high as they can up the table.
The draw kept the Tigers in 11th, while Uni stayed in 13th.
Camden Tigers FC have a tough away assignment next week as they face ladder-leaders UNSW FC away, while Sydney University SFC will hope to welcome back some injured players following their bye next week.
Sunday, 28th May 2023
Newcastle Jets 3-2 Parramatta FC
The Newcastle Jets survived a scare late and kept the pressure on UNSW FC at the top of the table with a 3-2 win over Parramatta FC.
The Jets were out of the blocks quickly as Janni Rafty scored with a header in the 18th minute to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Less than five minutes later, the Jets were awarded a penalty which Ezra Palombini converted to double the Jets’ advantage.
However, the margin was cut to one in the 44th minute as Abdullatif Ghazal scored to give the visitors a way back into the match, as the Jets led 2-1 at halftime.
There was a lengthy period before the next goal, which fell the Jets way.
Lachlan West scored to give the Jets a two-goal lead once again in the 73rd minute as they fought for victory late.
However, Parramatta pulled the deficit back to one goal again late through Youssef Badr, who scored to make the score 3-2 in the 79th minute.
However, the Jets held on from there as they came away with an important 3-2 victory over a fighting Parramatta FC.
The win kept the Jets one point behind the first-placed UNSW FC as their battle continued, while Parramatta stayed in 10th place as the teams around them also dropped points.
The Jets have a quick turnaround as they play a Friday night fixture away to Bankstown United FC next week, while Parramatta FC will hope for success as they host Prospect United SC in Round Eighteen.
By Football New South Wales League Two Men’s Writer, Dylan Costa @_dylancosta