Round 25 Review – League Two Men’s


Round Twenty-Five of the Football New South Wales League Two Men’s season saw the league-leaders extend their advantage, while winning and losing streaks continued across the league.

The Match of the Round this week saw UNSW FC take out the Kennard Cup over rivals Sydney University SFC in front of a large crowd.

Earlier, Hawkesbury City FC continued their strong winning streak with home success over South Coast Flame FC, before Bankstown United FC continued their rise thanks to the league’s top goal scorer, as the Western Rage lifted off the bottom of the ladder with a win away over Hurstville FC.

Elsewhere, Gladesville Ryde Magic survived a Camden Tigers FC comeback as they took out a big victory, before a top three clash saw the Newcastle Jets and Nepean FC share the spoils, while Fraser Park FC piled more pain on Inner West Hawks FC.

Saturday, 22nd July 2023

Match of the Round: UNSW FC 2-0 Sydney University SFC

UNSW FC won the Kennard Cup and extended their lead at the top of the league to five points after a tense 2-0 home win over Sydney University SFC in front of a large crowd at The Village Green.

The first real chance of the match came in the 7th minute when UNSW’s Domenic Abruzzese slid a through pass in behind for Kevin Lopes, who shot an effort over the goal as Uni defenders surrounded him.

Both sides looked to press up high well early and had split possession, but after the opening ten minutes, UNSW controlled possession.

UNSW’s Jack Fulton took a low-driven shot on his right foot which cannoned off the base of the right post and away in the 12th minute, while four minutes later a looping cross from Uni threatened, but there was no recipient in the box for it.

A minute later, a rapid UNSW counterattack down their right flank saw Lopes get on the end of an inch-perfect cross for him, but his headed effort at the back post was saved well down low by Uni goalkeeper, Jasper Sarkies.

UNSW were well in control and continued to launch themselves into tackles, win long balls and put dangerous crosses into the box.

Fulton almost scored an acrobatic overhead bicycle kick in the 21st minute, but the ball went just wide of the Uni right-hand post as the crowd almost celebrated.

Uni’s best chance of the half came when an attack down the left flank resulted in Brett Wilson with the ball in the box; he hit a strong strike towards the bottom-left corner, which was saved spectacularly by UNSW’s goalkeeper, Luke Del Vecchio.

Uni continued their good period in the match as a dangerous cross into the box was cleared away from the Uni attackers by the outstretched leg of Peter Prandalos.

In the 36th minute, UNSW took a snapshot from 30 yards, which sailed harmlessly over the Uni crossbar in a sign of frustration for the hosts.

Just before half-time, Lopes fired a shot at the Uni goal, which was saved before the repbound went out for a corner, before a looping header a few minutes later from UNSW landed on top of the net as the crowd ooo’d.

In stoppage time, a shot late for UNSW from a corner went just wide of the Uni goal; there was a bit of push-and-shove as the half-time whistle went as the teams entered the sheds level at half-time, 0-0.

UNSW looked ready to fight as the second half started and were rewarded with a goal in the 49th minute for their energy through who else but their top scorer.

After a strong run down the left flank by Mitchell Mattison, he looped a cross into the six-yard-box aimed at Lopes; he got in front of his defender and headed the ball home from point-blank range as the stadium erupted into cheers.

UNSW made sure their rivals paid early in the second half as they took a crucial 1-0 lead.

Uni looked to fire back through a free kick in the 58th minute; Andrew Higgins leapt the highest but his headed effort went just wide of the right-hand post.

A ball played in behind for UNSW’s Abruzzese almost paid off as Sarkies fumbled the ball but held on at the second attempt.

UNSW continued to press well and forced mistakes from Uni when they tried to play out from the back.

Around 70 minutes in, UNSW had a header from a corner go wide, while Uni had another dangerous ball played into the box which caused no harm.

Del Vecchio was forced to come out and play sweeper keeper after a Uni attack as the match picked up pace late.

In the 74th minute, there was almost an equaliser for Uni following a throw-in; Marc Xargayo took a deflected shot from 20 yards which Del Vecchio tipped onto the crossbar and over for a corner.

Three minutes later, UNSW substitute Cristhian Martinez hit a strike on the volley from 20 yards, which stung Sarkies’ gloves as he saved well down low.

The crowd got more involved as the match grew increasingly tense late; opposition fans were arguing across the stands.

Uni had another golden chance to equalise in the 79th minute as substitute James Reed got in front of his defender and got on the end of a low cross on the right, but his effort went just wide of the goal.

UNSW looked to seal the match late as Lopes took a strong free kick from 20 yards, which went around the wall and was saved well low to his right by Sarkies.

Lopes almost wrapped the result up again in the 87th minute as he presses Sarkies and won the ball; however, as he went to take on his shot, he lost balance, which allowed Sarkies to regather.

UNSW substitute Keeghan Burke received a yellow card late for time wasting after he kicked the ball away before a free kick as UNSW looked to end the match.

Lopes had a header at the back post saved well low to his left by Sarkies late as the crowd anticipated celebrations.

However, there was one final goal to come in the match, with the last kick of the contest.

Following a Uni corner in which Sarkies was sent up, Matias Da Silva Santos broke for UNSW; he played the ball across the field to Rick Aguilar, who passed the ball off to Keeghan Burke.

Burke opened up his body and launched an effort towards the top-right corner of the Uni goal, which it found as the UNSW players and bench celebrated Cup success, along with the crowd.

That was the final action of the match as UNSW FC retained the Kennard Cup with a 2-0 home victory over Sydney University SFC.

Speaking post-match, UNSW FC head coach Gabe Knowles said despite the result and where his team sits, he knows they can do better to take more control of the matches they play.

“We would like to make more of the opportunities we are creating, I do not think our execution the past couple of weeks has been quite where it could be, the past couple of weeks.”

Knowles message to his side at half-time was ruthless.

“To step it up – to step on their throats, first… then break their necks, second.”

Heading into the final matches of the season, Knowles wants his side to take in one match at a time.

“Try not to make it too complicated.”

Sydney University SFC head coach Robert Fleming said his side could be in a better position if they could finish the chances they are creating.

“At this moment in time, our season is being defined at six yards out… we just have not taken enough chances.”

Fleming also spoke on the return of key players lately and how they will impact the team moving forward.

“The other defining part of our season has been injuries and illness… they deserve to get more wins than what they have got.”

He also spoke about how the side is building for next season.

“The remainder of our season is about building a foundation for next year… we should be in the top quarter of the league and pushing on; that has obviously got to be the aim for next year, keep building up to push on because that is where the lads deserve to be.”

The win moved UNSW FC five points clear of Nepean FC at the top of the ladder, while the loss kept Sydney University SFC in 12th.

UNSW FC will hope to continue their title charge as they travel to face the 4th-placed Gladesville Ryde Magic next week, while Sydney University SFC Round 26 matchup against the Western Rage was rescheduled to Wednesday, 9th August.


Friday, 21st July 2023

Hawkesbury City FC 2-1 South Coast Flame FC

Hawkesbury City FC continued their run as the league’s form side with a fifth-straight win after their 2-1 victory at David Bertenshaw Field over South Coast Flame FC, who fell to a fifth-straight loss and thirteen matches without a win.

The Hawks forced Flame goalkeeper Ruon Nakamura into a strong legs-save early from a Michael Streeter effort.

In the 11th minute, the Hawks were rewarded for their fast start as Harry Drew dispossessed a Flame player, ran down the field and passed the ball off to Gregory Kondek.

He ran down the line and whipped a cross into the box, which the Flame defence failed to clear as the ball found Drew, who found the bottom corner to give the hosts an early 1-0 lead.

Six minutes later, Samuel Alston slipped which allowed the Hawks numbers in another counterattack; Kondek drew out a defender and laid the ball off to Drew, who collected his double as he finished with aplomb.

In the 20th minute, the Flame’s Cody Waller crossed the ball to Alexander Alston, who headed the ball towards goal as the Hawks’ Daniel Schwarzer collected it.

Eight minutes later, Drew had a low shot saved well low to his left by Nakamura, while the Flame looked to hit back at the other end.

Alexander Alston created space on the left and whipped a ball into the box, which was flicked on by Benjamin Caroutas and found the back of the net as the Flame pulled a goal back, 2-1.

The Hawks continued to attack, however, as Drew had a shot which sailed over the bar, before Daniel Morsillo chipped Nakamura from 30 yards, only for the goal to be ruled out for an infringement in the lead up to the shot; the Hawks led 2-1 at half-time.

Drew blasted an effort over the goal following a quick break in the second half, while on the hour mark, the Flame’s Jacob Gjorsevski forced Schwarzer into a good save from a 25-yard shot, before Matthew Mazevski had a left-footed snap shot saved.

The match was open as Samuel Alston almost for on the end of a good cross, while at the other end Nakamura denied Declan Cotter in a one-on-one.

Drew forced another strong save from Nakamura in the 80th minute as he attempted a curled effort towards the far post from the top of the box.

The Hawks scrambled a few Flame corners clear late as they held on for an important 2-1 victory.

The win moved the Hawks above the Flame and into 8th place, while the Flame dropped to 9th.

Hawkesbury City FC go into their bye next week in their best form of the year, while the Flame will hope to end their slide against fellow strugglers, Hurstville FC.


Saturday, 22nd July 2023

Parramatta FC 1-3 Bankstown United FC

Bankstown United FC won their fourth match in a row and moved to seven unbeaten as they overcame a resurgent Parramatta FC 3-1 at Melita Stadium.

The visitors started the match well and missed a few chances in the first ten minutes, which they earned off Parramatta errors.

However, in the 10th minute, Bankstown made one of those chances count.

Parramatta attempted to play out from the back but turned the ball over in midfield; Isaac Schipp intercepted the ball and took a shot on from 35 yards, which round the right-hand side of the goal as it hit the inside side netting and gave Bankstown an early 1-0 lead.

The match was even from there where both sides missed a few half-chances each.

Bankstown were awarded a penalty in the 30th minute which the league’s top goal scorer, Mitchell Cross, stepped up to take; the penalty attempt was saved to his right, though, by Parramatta goalkeeper, Jameson Hinwood.

The match was end-to-end in the latter stages of the first half; Bankstown had dominated the midfield in the first 40 minutes.

The visitors were rewarded with their second goal in the 41st minute when a ball was played out wide to Alejandro Salgueira, who beat four players and moved into the box, before he cut the ball back to Cross on the edge of the goal.

Cross turned and hit the ball with his left foot into the bottom right corner; the ball remained shin-height in flight as Bankstown took a 2-0 lead into half-time.

Parramatta started the second half with high energy and pressed well; they were rewarded in the 55th minute.

From a corner, Gabriel Contigiani headed the ball home from inside the six-yard-box to reduce the deficit to one goal.

Five minutes later, Salgueira made a break and was brought down just outside the box by Parramatta captain, Blake Steward; he was awarded a straight red card for denying a clear and obvious goal scoring opportunity, but that was rescinded after the referee consulted with the sideline official, as Steward received a yellow card, instead.

Bankstown wrapped up the match in the 65th minute from a corner; an in-swinging corner from Ali Nasreddine was sent towards the far post, where Cross fought off a few defenders and bundled the ball home with his knee.

That was Mitchell Cross’ 20th goal of the season, which meant each of the three leagues in NSW had a top scorer with at least 20 goals.

Parramatta had two chances late in the match to reduce the deficit but were wasteful in front of goal as Bankstown took home the three points courtesy of a 3-1 away win.

The victory kept Bankstown in 5th place, while the loss kept Parramatta in 13th.

Bankstown United FC will hope for a fifth-straight victory as they host 7th-placed Prospect United SC next week, while Parramatta FC will hope to derail the title chase of local rivals, 2nd-placed Nepean FC, away from home.


Hurstville FC 2-3 Western Rage

The Western Rage lifted themselves off the bottom of the ladder once again as they held off a Hurstville FC comeback in a 3-2 win away at Penshurst Park.

The Rage held possession early on and Hurstville fed off Rage mistakes, where they created half-chances against a makeshift Hurstville back four affected by player availability.

A good Hurstville chance came from a corner delivered by Hurstville captain, Paul Gagro, where the ball was delivered to the near post, was flicked on, came off a Rage defender’s head, before the rebound fell to a Hurstville player, who hit the crossbar.

The Rage missed a few half-chances as they pressed Hurstville and won the ball; they looked to capitalise on Hurstville errors.

Their efforts were rewarded in the 30th minute when a diagonal ball from right to left saw Hurstville defender Allie Jayee lose the ball.

From there, Nikita Andricopoulos passed the ball to Brent Flavin, who scored with a shot hard and low into the bottom-right corner to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

With the last kick of the first half, Jason Najdovski crossed the ball into the box from deep, hard, and low, when Hurstville goalkeeper, Michael Rutherford, and a Hurstville defender collided; Andricopoulos reacted to that collision and tapped the ball into an empty goal against his former side to give the Rage a 2-0 half-time lead.

Two minutes after half-time, the Rage extended their lead to three when good play between half-time substitute Cristian Brigo and Brent Flavin meant Jad Moussa got on the ball.

He took one player on, faked to shoot, sat his defender down, then shot hard and low to the left to give the Rage a 3-0 lead.

The visitors had another half-chance as Najdovski had a shot saved brilliantly by Rutherford.

Hurstville missed two one-on-ones as they created chances in the second half but were unable to take full advantage.

The Rage were in control as Hurstville made a few changes; they paid dividends when Hurstville substitute Andre Guzman reacted quickest to a shot saved off a Paul Gagro free-kick for Hurstville as he scored a tap-in.

From the kick-off following that goal, the Rage kicked the ball forward for a throw-in, where Jullian Bittar worked up the field quickly through their left flank, which led to a saved shot; the rebound was put in by Bittar to reduce the deficit to one goal.

In the last 20 minutes, the Rage tried to manage the match better than they did against UNSW FC the week before, where they gave up a late lead to lose.

Hurstville held the ball and launched players into the box, while the Rage countered and played smart as they saw out the win, 3-2.

The win moved the Rage off the bottom of the ladder and into 14th place, while the loss was Hurstville’s fourth in a row and dropped them to 10th place.

Hurstville FC will hope to win a first match in five weeks as they travel to face 9th-placed South Coast Flame FC, while the Western Rage will hope to move further away from last place as they face Sydney University SFC away from home in a mid-week match the following week.


Camden Tigers FC 2-3 Gladesville Ryde Magic

Gladesville Ryde Magic completed the league double over Camden Tigers FC after they held off a late comeback in a 3-2 away victory at Ron Dime Memorial Reserve – Carbiz Stadium.

Adrian Johnathan had the first chance of the match for the Magic as he shot over the crossbar, before Camden’s Liam Gregory had a deflected effort on goal saved by Magic goalkeeper, Joshua Sarina.

Christopher Guyot shot wide for the Magic, before Kohki Hiyaoka found David Ustimenko in the box, who found the back of the net only to see the sideline official’s flag up for offside.

Gregory continued to be dangerous for Camden as he crossed the ball in for Jayden Russell, who headed over the bar.

The Magic pressed, however, and found a goal when Hiyaoka intercepted a ball from the back and placed the ball into the back of the net to give the Magic a 1-0 lead.

The Magic’s pressure paid off once again with the final kick of the half as Johnathan put a good left-footed pass in for Ustimenko, who scored with a powerful effort to give the visitors a 2-0 half-time lead.

In the opening second of the second half, the Magic extended their lead when Hiyaoka found space in the box, beat a defender, and slotted the ball into the back of the net as he grabbed a brace.

Camden almost pulled a goal back when a diagonal shot from the left bear Sarina but hit the post and went away.

Camden pushed with courage and were willing to keep trying; that paid dividends when first-grade debutant, Oscar Coltman, came off the bench and crossed the ball to Brendan Lane, who headed the ball past a diving Sarina to make the score 3-1.

In the 80th minute, Camden were awarded a penalty when Coltman was brought down in the box; Lane stepped up to take the penalty, but his attempt was saved by Sarina, before the rebound fell to substitute Bayley Suters, who reduced the deficit to one goal late.

Camden pressed late as the Magic struggled to get out of their own end, while Troy Senuik also made his first-grade debut for the Tigers.

In the end, the Magic held on and claimed an important 3-2 away victory over the Tigers.

The victory kept the Magic in 4th and moved them to within three points of the 3rd-placed Newcastle Jets and four points of the 2nd-placed Nepean FC, while the loss dropped the Tigers to 11th place, level on 27 points along with South Coast Flame FC and Hurstville FC.

Gladesville Ryde Magic play one of the most important matches of their season next week as they host league leaders, UNSW FC, while Camden Tigers FC will hope to leap a few places up the ladder as they host 6th-placed Fraser Park FC.


Sunday, 23rd July 2023

Newcastle Jets 1-1 Nepean FC

The battle of 3rd vs 2nd was ever tight as the Newcastle Jets came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw with Nepean FC at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility.

Nepean came out of the blocks firing in the opening five minutes and earned a penalty in the 5th minute.

Lachlan Sepping stepped up and took the penalty, which was saved by Newcastle Jets’ goalkeeper, Noah James, who did well to keep the match scoreless early on.

Sepping atoned almost immediately for his miss though and following some good Nepean pressure, scored in the 11th minute to give the visitors a 1-0 lead at half-time.

The second half was a tight affair where the defences reigned supreme.

However, in the 58th minute, the Jets were awarded a penalty; Xavier Bertoncello stepped up and slotted the ball home from the spot as the Jets restored parity just before the hour mark.

Both teams pushed late as they searched for the winner; the Jets had a few chances late to steal the win but were unable to find the finish they needed.

In the end, both sides had to settle for a 1-1 draw in a hard-fought match which shapes the table.

The draw meant Nepean stayed in 2nd place but fell to five points behind league-leaders UNSW FC, while the Jets stayed 3rd and moved six points behind the league-leaders; the two sides will continue to battle as they look to fight for the title of Champions or finish in 2nd for the promotion play-off match.

Nepean also moved to nine matches without defeat, while the Jets moved to five matches without a loss.

The Newcastle Jets will hope to overtake Nepean and put pressure on UNSW FC as they travel to face last-placed Inner West Hawks FC next week, while Nepean FC will hope to put pressure on UNSW FC as they host local rivals, 13th-placed Parramatta FC.


Fraser Park FC 1-0 Inner West Hawks FC

Fraser Park FC recorded back-to-back wins for the first time since Round 10-11 as they held on for a 1-0 win over Inner West Hawks FC at Fraser Park, who moved to seven matches without a win.

The Hawks started strong as they created a few chances early; one of those came when Paul Turrin was dispossessed and a one-on-one shot was saved by Fraser Park goalkeeper and captain, Patrick Ferrara.

Fraser Park immediately responded to the early pressure and scored in the 6th minute when Christian Desa crossed the ball into the box for Seisa Melbourne, who flicked a header to the back post, past Hawks’ goalkeeper, Shunsuke Sugiura, and into the back of the net, which gave Fraser Park a 1-0 lead.

A few minutes later, Fraser Park almost doubled their lead when they forced a mistake during a Hawks build-up in midfield; Dominic Siu was played in but missed the target in a one-on-one chance.

Fraser Park continued to push in the opening 30 minutes; after that, the Hawks started to keep the ball to end the half.

In the second half, the Hawks continued to keep the ball while Fraser Park turned the ball over a lot.

Throughout the match, Fraser Park had 16 shots with six on target, while the Hawks had eight shots with three on target.

Hesan Soufi was given a yellow card in stoppage time after his tackle from behind on Desa; he was then given his second yellow following a disagreement with the referee.

Fraser Park held on in the end to claim the important victory, 1-0.

The win moved Fraser Park into 6th place, while the loss dropped the Hawks to the bottom of the league for the first time this season.

Fraser Park FC will hope for a third-straight win as they travel to face 11th-placed Camden Tigers FC next week, while Inner West Hawks FC will hope to climb off the bottom of the ladder as they look to upset the 3rd-placed Newcastle Jets at home.

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