Round 21 Review – League Two Men’s


Round Twenty-One of the Football New South Wales League Two Men’s competition saw shake-ups across the table as the battle for promotion took another turn.

The Match of the Round this week saw a hat-trick hero help Bankstown United FC run out strong winners at home over Hurstville FC.

Earlier, a 1st vs 3rd battle proved tense as UNSW FC and Nepean FC played out a draw, before Sydney University SFC ended a run of draws with victory over South Coast Flame FC, while Hawkesbury City FC defeated Parramatta FC away from home.

Following that, Camden Tigers FC put in a five-star performance as they defeated the Western Rage, before the Newcastle Jets broke their winless streak with a strong victory over Gladesville Ryde Magic.

Prospect United SC vs Fraser Park FC was rescheduled and will take place at a later date.

Inner West Hawks FC had a bye this round.


Saturday, 24th June 2023

Match of the Round: Bankstown United FC 3-0 Hurstville FC

Bankstown United FC continued their resurgence up the ladder as they picked up a third win from four matches following a strong 3-0 home win over Hurstville FC at Padstow Park.

The hosts were out and ready first before kick-off and their eagerness showed early as they had the first chance of the match.

After a midfield scrap to start the match, Bankstown earned a free kick near the right touchline, far from goal.

The ball was lifted into the box by Amarie Gauthier and bounced in the box as it evaded both sets of players.

Bankstown’s leading goal scorer and the competition’s second-top scorer, Mitchell Cross, was the quickest to react at the far post; he controlled the ball and slotted it calmly into the bottom-right corner of the goal with a cool right-footed finish to give the hosts an early 1-0 lead.

Hurstville threatened to get in behind Bankstown on a few occasions early, but Bankstown goalkeeper Mitchell Evans swept well at the back.

In the 13th minute, Bankstown earned a corner following a deflected shot on goal.

From the resulting corner swung in from the left, the ball ricocheted in the box and a handball was called against a Hurstville player; Bankstown were awarded a penalty and yellow cards were shown to Samuel Shainfeld and Stephan Perak for Hurstville amid protests.

Mitchell Cross stepped up almost four minutes later to take the penalty for Bankstown.

He calmly sent Hurstville goalkeeper Michael Rutherford the wrong way; he shot right while the keeper dived left, and Bankstown took an early 2-0 lead in proceedings.

Hurstville looked dangerous from a cross following without danger before Corey Freeman broke down the right flank for Bankstown in the 21st minute.

He made his way into the Hurstville box before he took a shot at the near post, which just missed the frame of the goal.

Bankstown’s Mitchell Edmunds went down for a prolonged period but was okay to continue.

The hosts had prolonged periods of possession following their two goals and threatened from set pieces as they looked to add a third goal.

Hurstville scraped to win the ball back and put in crucial tackles in their own half, while they also looked to press high when possible.

Another stoppage saw Pedro Almeida go down injured for Hurstville; the mass stoppages contributed to a lot of injury time at the end of the half.

In the 36th minute, Cross led a Bankstown break and turned well amid pressure to send Gauthier in behind, free of defenders down the left.

He settled himself but his right-footed effort went just over the crossbar.

Bankstown had further opportunities to break to end the half, but the final pass let them down.

Hurstville pressed higher up the pitch to end the half and forced mistake from Bankstown.

Hurstville were unable to create danger from a late free kick before Bankstown looked to press the visitors high to contain them from creating other chances late.

However, in the 45th minute, Hurstville had their best chance of the half.

Mouhamed Hamdache got on the end of a cross put in from the left which evaded multiple Bankstown defenders.

He fired a shot at goal, but his effort was partially blocked before Evans claimed the ball for Bankstown.

A few minutes later, Gauthier continued to be a threat for Bankstown as he launched a dangerous high cross into the box from the left, but the ball just evaded the head of a Bankstown attacker in the middle.

In the fifth minute of stoppage time, the last chance of the half arrived for Hurstville.

Hamdache and Jesse Gagro combined for good one-two’s down the right flank before Hamdache got in behind the Bankstown defence and fired a low cross into a dangerous area.

However, no Hurstville player was able to get on the end of it as it went out for a free kick.

After five minutes of stoppage time, the referee blew the whistle to signal half-time; Bankstown won a lot of second balls in the first half and generally the better of the play as they took a 2-0 lead into the break.

Bankstown showed their intent as they were out ready first in the second half, too.

Early in the second half, Hurstville made four changes as they looked to build their way back into the match.

Among the substitutes were new signings; Andre Guzman who was signed from Inner West Hawks FC and Alberto Gitierrez Gallardo, who signed as a Visa player.

In the 52nd minute, Bankstown had a corner from the left which was swung into the middle.

Cross got on the end of it and took a shot towards goal, which deflected a few times and fell into the grateful arms of Rutherford.

In a contrasting second half to the first, no clear-cut chances happened for large periods as battles continued up and down the field.

In the 64th minute, the next shot arrived from Bankstown’s Mitchell Edmunds, whose 25-yard sighter went over the crossbar.

The next chance arrived in the 75th minute when new signing Guzman had a header which went just wide of the right-hand post.

Lengthy periods of no shots and midfield battles occurred up and down the pitch; Hurstville built some momentum as the match fired up a bit, but both sets of players remained cool.

Then, in the 85th minute, the lull in the match ended as the hat-trick hero stepped up to seal the result.

From a Bankstown corner taken from the left by Edmunds, Cross rose at the back post and headed the ball back across goal; the ball was on target and deflected off a Hurstville plater and into the back of the net.

Mitchell Cross had claimed his hat-trick and capped it off with a good celebration to match as he was substituted to teammate applause; Bankstown took an unassailable 3-0 lead into the final five minutes of the match.

In the 89th minute, Bankstown substitute Jack Slane almost added a fourth goal on their next attack.

He was waiting at the back post for a ball in from the right, which fell to him following a few deflections in the box.

His snap shot from inside the six-yard box was saved at point-blank range by Rutherford, who kept the score at 3-0.

The final chance of the match fell to Bankstown in the fourth minute of stoppage time after Alejandro Salgueira broke down the left flank and took a long shot at goal from 25 yards out; his shot went just wide of the right-hand post.

Both teams nullified each other in attack well in the second half, but Bankstown remained in control and after eight minutes of stoppage time, saw out the 3-0 win as their cool heads prevailed.

That win secured a league double for Bankstown over Hurstville after their 4-1 triumph away from home earlier this season.

The win moved Bankstown ahead of Hurstville, as well as South Coast Flame FC, into 7th place on the ladder, while the result ended Hurstville’s four-match unbeaten streak and moved them down into 9th place.

Speaking post-match, Bankstown interim head coach Luke McGuire said he was pleased with the win given he knew it would be a good battle against Hurstville.

“I thought we were pretty good for the win tonight… Hurstville are always hard to beat, we always have really tough games against them.”

McGuire was proud of the performance of his side across the pitch.

“We took our chances, I thought the boys at the back played very well, I thought the boys up front were excellent; it was a great team performance, to be honest.”

For Bankstown, they are taking each week as it comes and will see where that puts them come the end of the season.

“We are in a limbo where we are too far from the top and a little bit away from the bottom now, so I think for us it is just getting as many wins as we possibly can and seeing where that puts us at the end.”

Hurstville FC captain, Paul Gagro, meanwhile, was not pleased with his team’s performance and knows they can do better.

“Very disappointing game from us, one of our worst all year.”

He spoke on the early start and how that affected his side.

“2-0 down after ten minutes is unacceptable, [we] gave ourselves a mountain to climb.”

Speaking on the defending from set pieces, he said his side needs to do better.

“Three goals conceded off set pieces as well; [you] cannot win games like that.”

Bankstown United FC will hope to continue their momentum as they travel to face a struggling South Coast Flame FC next week, while Hurstville FC will hope to mount a response at home against Hawkesbury City FC in Round Twenty-Two.


Friday, 23rd June 2023

Nepean FC 0-0 UNSW FC

The clash of 1st vs 3rd produced a highly physical, up-tempo affair but neither Nepean FC nor UNSW FC were able to find the breakthrough goal in a scoreless draw at Wanderers Football Park.

In the promotion six-pointer, Nepean were on top for large periods of the first half but could not put their chances away.

The second half was a much more even battle and UNSW had a few good chances but as with Nepean in the first half, were unable to put them away.

Nepean kept a fifth-straight clean sheet as they look to take the point against the league leaders and push on to continue their challenge for promotion.

For UNSW, it was a clean sheet against the side running 3rd, which will help them moving forward as a tough two weeks against the sides chasing them in the league resulted in two draws; being ahead in the table, that holds them in good stead moving forward.

The result, however, meant UNSW’s lead at the top was cut down to two points ahead of the Newcastle Jets, while they remained four points ahead of Nepean.

The draw meant Nepean went five matches unbeaten and stayed in 3rd with a fifth-straight clean sheet; they are two points behind the Newcastle Jets as they look to continue their charge for promotion.

UNSW FC will not be displeased especially given a few players were out with sickness and the league leaders will look to continue their title charge next week away to Fraser Park FC.

Nepean FC, meanwhile, will hope their trend continues of a 0-0 followed by a 4-0 as they travel to face Gladesville Ryde Magic in a critical 3rd vs 4th encounter, where the battle for promotion will continue to heat up.


Saturday, 24th June 2023

Sydney University SFC 4-2 South Coast Flame FC

Sydney University SFC ended an eight-match winless run and completed the league double over South Coast Flame FC as they came out strong 4-2 winners at the Sydney University Football Ground.

The opening of the transfer window was welcomed by Uni as they brought in defenders Andrew Higgins and Oisin McGlone, who both started at the back in the win.

The first chance fell to Uni’s James Reed who tested Flame debutant goalkeeper Luke Mack early.

University started the match slow, however, as they allowed the Flame to attack.

In the 9th minute, Matthew Mazevski swung a cross into the box, which found Alexander Alston at the back post; he blasted the ball into the roof of the net to give the Flame the early 1-0 lead.

Ten minutes later, Dean Pender skied an effort from close range as the Flame missed the chance to take a 2-0 lead.

Then, in the 21st minute, a chip over the top of the Flame defence saw Caelan Hinckson head the ball into the roof of the net from close range to draw the students level.

Alexander Alston almost took the lead back for the Flame a few minutes later but his shot went wide of the goal.

Mazevski had a shot which went wide, while he also had another attempt just before the break which forced Uni goalkeeper Jasper Sarkies into a strong save.

Despite a strong half from the Flame, the scores were locked at 1-1 at half-time and the students came out stronger in the second half.

Andrew Higgins headed wide from a corner early, but the students did take the lead from a corner in the 69th minute; Brett Wilson volleyed home from a corner to give the students a 2-1 lead.

Five minutes later, the Flame had a good chance to score when Jay De Gouveia’s shot from the edge of the box went narrowly wide of the goal.

The outcome was sealed for the students in the 79th minute when a floating free kick saw debutant Higgins head home into an empty net after Mack slipped when he attempted to intercept the cross.

The students had a chance to add their fourth goal in the 84th minute when a penalty was awarded after Jay Hirschowitz was brought down in the box.

Jackson Fredericks stepped up and converted the spot kick as he sent Mack the wrong way to seal an impressive performance for Uni.

However, the Flame did grab a consolation goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time as substitute Aiden Chard headed home past Sarkies to make the final score 4-2 to Uni.

Under-18’s player Corey Twining and new Under-20’s singing Alistair Colvin made their first-grade debuts for Uni late in the match, while midfielder Daniel Koliopoulos also made his Uni debut in the victory off the bench.

The win was Uni’s first in nine matches and moved them away from the lower end of the table and up into 11th place.

The loss was the Flame’s ninth match without a win as their second-half season slide down the ladder continued as they moved down into 8th place following the defeat.

Sydney University SFC will hope to go a sixth match unbeaten and utilise the rejuvenation in their squad as they host promotion-chasing Prospect United SC next week, while South Coast Flame FC will hope to end their nine-match winless run against the in-form Bankstown United FC.


Parramatta FC 1-2 Hawkesbury City FC

Hawkesbury City FC moved off the bottom of the ladder, while Parramatta FC inched closer to it, after the visitors came away with an important 2-1 win in the battle of the birds at Melita Stadium.

The match was a midfield battle where neither the Eagles nor the Hawks were able to create many chances.

Hawkesbury goalkeeper Daniel Schwarzer made a good parry off a long range shot from Parramatta early.

At the other end, the Hawks fizzed a few shots wide of the Parramatta goal, but the match was scoreless at half-time.

The Hawks made the breakthrough in the match on the hour mark, however; from a corner, James Thurtell headed the ball back across goal where Brad Gibson was in position to finish and gave the visitors a 1-0 lead.

However, Parramatta kept fighting and scored the equaliser in the 83rd minute.

Their top goal scorer, Youssef Badr, received the ball from a Hawkesbury clearance and made a sideways run across the box before he smashed the ball past all the Hawkesbury defenders from 20 yards to level the match at 1-1 late.

However, there was more late drama to come in this encounter.

Parramatta’s Abdullatif Ghazal was sent off with a straight red card in the 88th minute after he struck a Hawkesbury player in the back of the head.

Against ten men, Hawkesbury grabbed the winner in the final minute of regulation time.

In an almost carbon copy of Parramatta’s goal, Kai McLoughlin smashed the ball through the Parramatta defence from outside the box and found the back of the net to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead and win late.

The win ended the Hawks’ seven-match winless run and moved them off the bottom of the ladder and into 14th place.

Parramatta FC, meanwhile, fell to a fifth-straight loss and fell to 13th place on the ladder, four points ahead of last place.

Parramatta FC will hope to end their losing streak as they travel to face the Western Rage in a critical Western Sydney derby which could determine which of the clubs will finish last come season’s end, while Hawkesbury City FC will hope to avoid falling back to the bottom of the ladder as they travel to face Hurstville FC.


Camden Tigers FC 5-1 Western Rage

Camden Tigers FC put in a five-star performance to grab an important win over the Western Rage at Ron Dime Memorial Reserve – Carbiz Stadium.

The Tigers came out strong and were the better side early; their pressure paid off in the 9th minute when Jayden Russell scored to give Camden an early 1-0 lead.

The Rage responded well, however, and evened up the match in the 20th minute through Daniel Bortolazzo, who scored with a good finish, as the match was level at half-time, 1-1.

The second half was an even contest, and the Rage missed a one-on-one chance to take the lead.

However, it was the Tigers who took the 2-1 lead after a Mathew Lane cross-turned-shot found the back of the net.

From there, the Tigers dominated proceedings and found a third through Russell in the 73rd minute as he picked up his second of the match.

Liam Gregory sealed the result for the Tigers just three minutes later when he found the back of the net to give Camden a 4-1 lead.

In a period where the Tigers scored three goals in twelve minutes, the scoreline was capped off by Bailey Simpson in the 85th minute, who scored to round off an impressive 5-1 home win for Camden.

The Tigers once again showed their scoring prowess and ensured they did not fall behind in the chase for a top half finish as the victory kept them in 10th but moved them to within four points of the teams above them.

The Rage, meanwhile, fell to back-to-back losses and moved back to the bottom of the ladder following the defeat.

Camden Tigers FC will hope to pick up a third win in four matches as they travel to face Inner West Hawks FC next week, while the Western Rage will hope to fire up as they host Parramatta FC in the Western Sydney derby, where the result will determine who will make a charge away from the bottom of the ladder this season.


Sunday, 25th June 2023

Newcastle Jets 3-0 Gladesville Ryde Magic

The Newcastle Jets took another step towards a top two finish after they held off competition from the team that was 4th heading into the clash with a strong 3-0 victory over Gladesville Ryde Magic at the Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility.

Gian Rigoli was the third goalkeeper used by the Magic in the space of two weeks after the injury to Kiriakos Tohouroglou and the absence of Gabrial Koliomihos.

In the opening minute, the Magic’s Aaron Khan shot wide, while the Jets used the width of the field to catch out the Magic defence at the other end.

The Magic, meanwhile, looked to utilise the speed of David Ustimenko and Christopher Guyot up front.

In the 19th minute, Ustimenko curled a free kick towards the Jets’ goal, but his shot was saved by Jets’ goalkeeper, Noah James.

At the other end, a save by Rigoli kept the match scoreless.

Ustimenko set up a chance for Kohki Hiyaoka with a left-footed cross from the left flank, but Hiyaoka’s shot was deflected wide of the goal.

The breakthrough in the match came in the 40th minute when Janni Rafty was fouled in the box.

Xavier Bertoncello scored the penalty to give the hosts a 1-0 lead at half-time, despite the number of attacks the Magic created in the first half.

In the second half, a long-range strike from the Magic’s James Tsokos shaved the top of the crossbar.

At the other end, a low diving save from Rigoli kept the Magic in the match before a powerful header from the Jets went wide of the target.

However, the Magic conceded another penalty early in the second half as Ezra Palombini was fouled; he stepped up to convert the penalty he had earned to give the Jets a 2-0 lead.

Midway through the second half, the Magic brought on a debutant in long-term Magic youth player, 18-year-old Joshua Foley.

However, the Jets scored their third goal shortly after to wrap up the result and the scoreline through Palombini again after a well-constructed move.

As the Magic defence became fatigued late, the Jets’ speedy wide men found more space and created good attacking movements.

The Jets were clinical with their attacks and found their way to a strong 3-0 win at home.

The win for the Jets ended their three-match winless run and kept them in 2nd place but moved them to within two points of UNSW FC following their draw this week.

The loss for the Magic, meanwhile, ended their five-match unbeaten streak and meant they were five points adrift of the Jets in their bid for promotion.

The Newcastle Jets have the week off with a bye next week and will hope they can maintain 2nd spot while they rest, while Gladesville Ryde Magic face Nepean FC in a crucial match for both sides’ promotion hopes in a 3rd vs 4th battle.

By Football New South Wales League Two Men’s Writer, Dylan Costa @_dylancosta