The top two fell amid some big results in Round 19 of the Football New South Wales League Two Men’s season.
The Match of the Round saw both Prospect United SC and Hurstville FC surrender leads in a tight draw, which followed a big result at the bottom as the Western Rage beat Hawkesbury City FC.
Elsewhere, Nepean FC and Fraser Park FC’s defences held strong in a scoreless draw, before a six-goal affair ended level between Sydney University SFC and Gladesville Ryde Magic, while league-leaders UNSW FC fell away to Bankstown United FC.
Meanwhile, the Newcastle Jets fell away in a tough match against Camden Tigers FC, while a late goal earned a point for South Coast Flame FC away to Inner West Hawks FC.
Parramatta FC had a bye this round.
Saturday, 10th June 2023
Match of the Round: Prospect United SC 2-2 Hurstville FC
A tense match of the round saw late drama as Prospect United SC and Hurstville FC could not be separated at William Lawson Reserve.
A minute’s silence was held pre-match for legendary Australian coach Rale Rasic, who led Australia to their first ever FIFA World Cup Finals in 1974.
Prospect kicked off the match from left to right and within seconds earned a corner to signal their intent.
Jacob Micallef had the first chance of the match for Prospect with a curled effort over the bar, while at the other end Stipe Simundic delivered a cross into the Prospect box, where a tame header was caught by Prospect goalkeeper, Jackson Jarnet.
Strong forward pressing from Hurstville stopped Prospect from playing out of their own end.
However, Prospect broke the press in the 9th minute through Micallef’s strong run; he found James Pelletier who shot at Hurstville goalkeeper, Michael Rutherford.
He pushed the effort wide for a corner, which Hurstville defended well.
Prospect held possession well early but their crosses into the box did not lead to a goal.
The opening goal in the match happened in the 13th minute at the other end of the field in spectacular fashion.
Hurstville’s Mouhamed Hamdache made a driving run down the left flank into the box; he steadied himself and crossed the ball into the middle.
In miraculous style, Jesse Gagro put in an overhead scissor kick, which connected sweetly with the ball as it found the back of the net.
Shock from around the ground was heard as one of the goals of the season happened a William Lawson Reserve to put Hurstville in the lead.
A few minutes later, Prospect’s Tallon Zahra forced Rutherford to parry the ball to safety off a left-footed shot inside the box.
Zahra was the main man for Prospect early as he launches attacks and prevented counters with his defensive duties.
Prospect controlled possessions for the next five minutes but we’re unable to break Hurstville down.
Zahra had two shots rebound off the Hurstville defence; another shot was tipped behind by Rutherford for a corner.
A few minutes later, Prospect put two dangerous deliveries into the box which flashed across goal before a long shot went over the bar.
Hurstville hit well on a few counters but they were denied by the likes of Daniel Mihajlovic in defence.
In the 33rd minute, Zahra launched another attack for Prospect as he set up Rhys Osmond, who hit a low-driven shot across the ground, just wide of the right-hand post.
Hurstville worked their way into the match from a corner, where a scramble in the box resulted in the ball being cleared for another corner.
The visitors held the ball well in midfield as they continued to work their way into the match.
It was a stop-start final 10 minutes of the first half as fouls and injuries stopped any real flow; Hurstville took the 1-0 lead into half-time.
An even start to the second half saw no notable chances, but a goal popped up in the 56th minute.
Following a foul, Prospect were awarded a free-kick about 25 yards from goal on the right.
Prospect captain David Muller stepped up; his left-footed shot went over the Hurstville wall and into the bottom-left corner of the goal in a well-taken free kick; Prospect levelled the match.
Prospect gained ascendancy following the goal as they pushed for the lead, which they gained just three minutes later.
They pushed on well through the midfield as a ball was played over the top from Osmond for Zahra to chase; he shrugged off two defenders, controlled the ball and slotted the ball past the onrushing Rutherford to give Prospect the 2-1 lead.
Jacob Botic came off injured for Hurstville a few minutes after the goal with an ankle injury.
However, following the goal, Hurstville pushed and created more chances; it paid dividends in the 70th minute.
Simundic delivered a cross into the box, which took a deflection as it fell to Jesse Gagro; he slotted the ball home calmly to level the match at 2-2.
Prospect had the next shot a minute later, but the attempt was straight at the Hurstville goalkeeper.
Hurstville had a chance which went across the face of goal before Prospect had a header from a corner which went over the bar.
In the 77th minute, a legs save by Rutherford kept a dangerous ball from Zahra from getting into a dangerous area in the box.
The match fired up with chances late.
Prospect launched crosses into the box as they tried to find a way to retake the lead.
However, the golden chance to decide the match late came Hurstville’s way in the 80th minute.
Paul Gagro had a shot from outside the box which struck the underside of the crossbar and was mere inches away from crossing the goal-line as it bounced away and was cleared by Prospect.
Prospect’s Bradley Dollin stopped a dangerous Hurstville counter late, while Prospect continued to fire shots at Hurstville no avail.
Prospect continued their press and move the ball high up the field; smart interplay led them into the Hurstville box but they were unable to convert with a shot from inside the box.
Prospect pressured Hurstville into more turnovers as the match headed into stoppage time.
Abanoub Mickaeal put in a challenge high up the pitch and had a chance which was saved by Rutherford, before he had another chance with the next attack which went wide of the goal.
That was the final action of the match as the referee blew the whistle to signal full-time.
Speaking post match, Prospect United SC head coach Darren Camilleri said he was proud of his young squad and with the upcoming transfer window is hoping to improve his team to push for the top two.
“It is very slim, but while it is mathematically possible, we are going to believe and we are going to do our best.”
Hurstville FC captain Paul Gagro said he was pleased with the pace his team played with and hopes to continue that going forward.
“Today was about playing with a little bit more pace and going at teams and enjoying ourselves, playing with freedom; we did that, we looked a lot more dangerous going forward.”
Prospect moved to ten matches unbeaten, while Hurstville earned a fourth draw from their last five matches.
The result kept Prospect in 5th, while Hurstville dropped to 9th.
Prospect will hope to extend their club record-breaking unbeaten run as they travel to face Gladesville Ryde Magic in a fourth vs fifth clash, while Hurstville will hope to return to the winner’s circle when they host Camden Tigers FC.
Friday, 9th June 2023
Hawkesbury City FC 1-2 Western Rage
The Western Rage moved off the bottom of the ladder for the first time since Round Five, while Hawkesbury City FC took their place as the visitors earned a 2-1 away win.
It was a quick, fast-paced match where the Rage continued from weeks past as they had the ascendancy in the opening 20 minutes, where they applied high press won the ball and created half-chances.
However, the turning point in the match came early when Hawkesbury goalkeeper Daniel Schwarzer was sent off with a straight red card after he fouled the Rage’s Timothy Borg-Williams just outside the box in a one-on-one.
Substitute goalkeeper, 17-year-old Jai Whitton came on and made us debut for the club between the sticks.
However, the football Hawkesbury played for the next 70 minutes did not suggest they were down to ten men as they played good football.
The Rage had a chance with 10 minutes to go in the first half when Jason Najdovski forced Whitton into a save.
The ball parried into the air, Jarrod Carluccio got onto it and drove into the box before his shot was spectacularly cleared off the line from a Hawkesbury defender’s head.
Despite the performance, the Rage stuck in the match and were rewarded; a wonder goal from the Rage gave them the lead in the 45th minute.
Najdovski made a run with the ball down the right and crossed the ball back for Timothy Trainor outside the box; the midfielder took a first-time shot which gave Whitton no chance as he gave the Rage a 1-0 lead.
Hawkesbury tried to respond from kick-off as a volleyed strike went just over the crossbar; the Rage took a 1-0 lead into half-time.
The Rage settled after half-time and held possession against the ten men.
They created a few chances which did not trouble Whitton too much.
Borg-Williams set up Christian Brigo for a shot, but Whitton guessed the right way and saved the shot for a corner.
In the 56th minute, Harry Drew was the man that drew Hawkesbury level; he took a touch from a long ball for him and struck the ball from 30 yards into the top corner to level the match at 1-1.
Both teams pushed for the win late but it was the Rage who found the winner in the 81st minute.
Samuel Bortolazzo held the ball up well and had a deflected shot, Trainers had a deflected shot, before Borg-Williams headed the ball into the back of the net for a second goal in two weeks to give the Rage a 2-1 lead.
Hawkesbury hit the crossbar late but were unable to find an equaliser.
19-year-old Daniel Duarte came on up front late for the Rage to give him some aging experience late in the match.
The Rage held on in the end to earn an important 2-1 win away from home which lifted them off the bottom of the league.
Hawkesbury City FC will hope for a response and a positive result as they host Bankstown United FC next week, while the Western Rage will hope to keep their momentum up as they host Nepean FC.
Nepean FC 0-0 Fraser Park FC
Neither Nepean FC or Fraser Park FC could find the breakthrough as the sides settled for a 0-0 draw at Wanderers Football Park.
Nepean controlled large periods of the match and had plenty of opportunities to score but we’re unable to take them.
In the first half, Nepean controlled most of the possession and had a few good chances to score but did not convert them.
Fraser Park defended bravely to keep Nepean out and keep their clean sheet at half-time.
Fraser Park brought on Lazar Drakulovic and Daniel Bosnich at half-time for Samuel Shepherd and Samuel Paslis, respectively, which allowed them to control possession a bit more.
However, Nepean continued to create chances, particularly from set pieces.
Fraser Park goalkeeper Patrick Ferrara denied Nepean with some good saves, while other Nepean shots missed the target, in the end, a tense match ended level.
The draw moved Nepean to within two points of the 2nd-placed Newcastle Jets, while Fraser Park remained 7th, one point behind South Coast Flame FC.
Nepean FC will hope to move into second spot as they host the in-form Western Rage next week, while Fraser Park FC will hope for a victory as they host Parramatta FC.
Saturday, 10th June 2023
Sydney University SFC 3-3 Gladesville Ryde Magic
A six-goal thriller saw the spoils shared between Sydney University SFC and Gladesville Ryde Magic.
Following their week off, the students controlled the early exchanges well but went 1-0 down in the 24th minute through a Yousuf Amino strike.
Uni pulled a goal back in the 36th minute when Jay Hirschowitz was brought down in the penalty box; James Reed stepped up and slotted the ball home to level the score at 1-1.
Uni had good possession to end the half but a lapse of concentration allowed Chris Gaitatzis to put the Magic back in the lead in the 41st minute; the Magic led 2-1 at half-time.
Uni came out strong in the second half and the match was brought back level through Jackson Fredericks, who scored with a good finish to make the scoreline 2-2.
However, Gladesville took the lead back once again in the 55th minute through David Ustimenko.
The Magic had the chance to take a 4-2 lead after they were awarded a penalty; however, Uni goalkeeper Jordan Polyzos had the goals covered as the shot hit the post.
Uni dug deep and we’re rewarded with another equaliser in the 72nd minute when Fredericks scored his second to earn the hosts a point in a high scoring affair.
Both sides had their chances to claim all three points but has to settle for a point each in a 3-3 draw.
The result kept Uni in 13th, while the Magic remained in 4th.
Sydney University SFC will hope to earn an important win as they host the team above them in Inner West Hawks FC on a Friday night, while Gladesville Ryde Magic will hope to potentially move into 3rd when they host the team just behind them in Prospect United SC in a crucial clash.
Inner West Hawks FC 1-1 South Coast Flame FC
It was a game of two halves between Inner West Hawks FC and South Coast Flame FC as the sides settled for a 1-1 draw at Arlington Oval.
The Hawks started strongly as they pressed from the front and into midfield.
Peter Yannopoulos had a shot early which went straight into the arms of the Flame goalkeeper.
Angelo Pezzano had a good chance for the Hawks early with a volley from outside the box, which forced Flame goalkeeper Seiya Miyamoto into a good save.
Minutes later, in the 26th minute, Tony Lo gave the Hawks the lead from a similar distance after the ball fell to him from a corner clearance; his strike found the back of the net as the Hawks led 1-0.
The Flame had a chance just before half-time through Alexander Alston, but his effort was sliced just wide of the Hawks’ goal.
In the second half, the Flame were the better team with the better chances as they pressured high.
In the 58th minute, Samuel and Alexander Alston combined; the latter forced a strong save from Hawks goalkeeper Shunsuke Sugimura, who also denied Jacob Gjorsevski from the follow-up effort.
However, the Flame pressure eventually paid off.
They scored in the 80th minute when a cross into the box from Cody Waller found Jay De Gouveia, who slotted the ball home into the bottom-left corner to level the match at 1-1 late.
Pezzano was dismissed for a second yellow card a minute later as the Hawks looked to hold on.
The Hawks had a chance to win the match in the final five minutes when Lo took a shot at Miyamoto, but he saved well to deny the Hawks the winner.
In the dying seconds of the match, Matthew Mazevski’s shot for the Flame from just inside the box whistles past the far post as both sides settled for a 1-1 draw.
The Hawks sit 12th heading into next week, while the Flame will hope to close the four-point gap to 5th.
Inner West Hawks FC will hope to avoid dropping a place as they travel to face the 13th-placed Sydney University SFC, while South Coast Flame FC have a bye next week.
Bankstown United FC 1-0 UNSW FC
Bankstown United FC claimed the scalp of 1st place a week after they beat the 2nd-placed Newcastle Jets thanks to a 1-0 win at home over UNSW FC, who failed to extend their four-point less at the top of the table.
With Kevin Lopes out sick, UNSW were missing their focal point in attack.
Josh Gersbach was injured in the warmup for Bankstown, which meant Nick Kaperos filled in at centre-half.
The breakthrough in the match came in the opening two minutes of the match in an unbelievable start for Bankstown.
Bankstown won the ball up the field before a ball was played to Mitchell Cross out wide.
He layes the ball off for Mitchell Edmunds, who crossed the ball to the back post.
Amarie Gauthier was waiting at the back post as he scored with a header to give Bankstown the early lead.
UNSW had a lot of possession following that, while Bankstown held the ball well in midfield.
UNSW headed over the Bankstown crossbar twice from two chances early through Keegan Bourke as they looked for an immediate reply.
Bankstown had a few half-chances to go 2-0 up as the midfield battle continued in the match.
UNSW had better field position but Bankstown repelled them and defended well.
Mitchell Mattison had a header for UNSW which was directed straight at Bankstown goalkeeper Mitchell Evans in the second half.
UNSW played well in the second half but in a match of limited chances, were unable to find the equaliser as Bankstown claimed the big scalp with a 1-0 home victory.
The win moved Bankstown into 8th, while UNSW’s lead over the Newcastle Jets in 1st remained at four points.
Bankstown United FC will hope to pick up a third-straight victory when they travel to face Hawkesbury City FC, while UNSW FC face off against the Newcastle Jets in a crucial clash regarding first-place and automatic promotion to League One come season’s end.
Camden Tigers FC 4-2 Newcastle Jets
Camden Tigers FC picked up a big scalp in the Newcastle Jets with a 4-2 victory, as the Jets failed to capitalise on UNSW’S defeat.
The Jets took the lead early in the 2nd minute with a transition goal; the shot was deflected before Lachlan West slotted home the rebound to give the visitors an early 1-0 lead.
From there, Camden were straightforward in their game plan.
They were physical and kept their shape well; the Jets were physical back but the Tigers held strong.
The Tigers levelled the match in the 17th minute through Jayden Russell; he shrugged off a defender and slid the ball past the Jets’ goalkeeper.
Two minute later, the Tigers took the lead following a ball from midfield, which was dispatched by Russell from the edge of the box; he whipped the ball into the bottom corner to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
Following a back-and-forth first half, the Tigers changed their shape at half-time to stop the Jets from playing through the middle.
The change paid dividends in the 56th minute when Camden scored their third goal.
Combination play through the middle from Aiden Quigley and Marko Filipovic led to a shot from the latter inside the box; the effort deflected off a Jets’ defenders leg into the back of the net as the Tigers took a 3-1 lead.
Bailey Simpson wrapped up the result for Camden in the 74th minute when he volleyed the ball first time into the back of the net from 22 yards out.
The Jets scored off a set piece in the 79th minute through a Jack Harris own goal after indecision led to him knocking a clearance into his own net.
The Tigers had more chances to score in the final seven minutes but could not add a fifth.
Camden held their shape throughout the match and that helped them claim an important 2-1 victory.
The win moved the Tigers up into 10th, while the Jets remained four points behind ladder-leaders UNSW FC.
Camden Tigers FC will hope to build on the performance and victory as they travel to face Hurstville FC next week, while the Newcastle Jets face off against UNSW away in a crucial clash towards automatic promotion.
By Football New South Wales League Two Men’s Writer, Dylan Costa @_dylancosta