Round 26 Review – League Two Men’s


The top three were all victorious as the battle for the Football New South Wales League Two Men’s title continued to provide entertainment in Round 26.

The Match of the Round this week saw one of those title contenders, Nepean FC, pile pain on their western Sydney neighbours, Parramatta FC.

Friday, 28th July 2023

Match of the Round: Nepean FC 4-1 Parramatta FC

Nepean FC completed the league double over their western Sydney neighbours and kept the pace for the top two spots after late goals saw them emerge 4-1 winners over Parramatta FC at Wanderers Football Park.

The hosts held possession well early in the backline and had the first shot of the match in the 4th minute through Lachlan Sepping, who shot well over the goal.

However, Parramatta had a golden chance to score the first goal after Youssef Badr got on the end of a through ball on a counter-attack in the 6th minute.

Miscommunication between the Nepean defence and their goalkeeper, Justin Biega, who had rushed out beyond the ball.

With an open net in front of him, Badr was shouldered off balance and slid his shot just wide of the right-hand post to the relief of the Nepean players.

Parramatta kept the pressure on as they forced Nepean into more mistakes playing out from the back; a long shot from Parramatta took a wicked deflection and cannoned off the underside of the crossbar into the grateful arms of Biega.

In the following 15 minutes, Matthew Crossley and Leonard Abdo had chances for Nepean which they could not turn into high-quality chances, while Mouhammed Bakr volleyed a ball comfortably away from goal off a throw-in.

Parramatta were winning the physical battle early as they continued to win the ball back.

The visitors proved solid in defence early on as the match evolved into a scrappy affair in midfield with no chances for 10 minutes.

However, that robust Parramatta defence was breached in the 26th minute.

Abdo worked his way into space in the midfield and drove back the Parramatta defence, before he played a splitting pass out wide left to Paolo Laxamana.

He worked his way to the edge of the box down the left flank and played and crossed the ball into the middle; Crossley was in the perfect position following his late run into the box.

He slotted the ball home on his right foot to give Nepean a 1-0 lead.

A slow period following that goal saw the next chance arrive in the 32nd minute, where a long shot from Luka Zepina was saved down low.

Three minutes later, Crossley had space for Nepean and played a ball down the right flank for Michael Borazio; his powerful shot was saved by Parramatta goalkeeper, Jameson Hinwood.

Nepean had dealt a sucker-punch following Parramatta’s strong start and continued with intent.

Tacettin Kumsuz showed skills in midfield as he looked to lead the Parramatta midfield charge.

In the 44th minute, Nepean captain Blake Steward led an attack which was very similar to Nepean’s first goal as he broke in midfield, played the ball out left to Laxamana, who was a machine down the left flank in the first half, to Abdo, whose first-time strike went wide.

There was almost an Olimpico to end the half for Nepean as one of their corners almost found the back of the net direct from a corner, but the ball went over the bar; Nepean took a 1-0 lead into half-time, despite the chances Parramatta created.

A cagey start to the second half saw no real chances for the first 12 minutes; Parramatta had a few free kicks from dangerous positions but were unable to create.

In the 58th minute, Nepean had calls for a penalty waved away following a scintillating run into the box from Crossley.

Parramatta defended the repeated balls into the penalty area by Nepean, including a shot from Sepping which was saved comfortably.

Meanwhile, defensively Nepean were sound, too, as Kye Soares tracked back well to stop Badr on a Parramatta counter-attack.

Alhaji Bangura almost scored a strong free kick for Parramatta  from 20 yards but his shot, which curled past the Nepean wall and forced Biega into a strong save at full stretch to his left.

Both sides continued to be sloppy in possession as the half continued to not yield many chances.

In the 74th minute, however, Nepean substitute Raajdeep Singh broke into plenty of space in the middle of the park and slid a pass into the box for Sepping.

Sepping took a first-time shot which went over the goal from 20 yards as his side held their slender lead late.

Singh fulfilled his attacking and defensive duties well down the right flank for Nepean as a sub and his efforts were rewarded in the 78th minute.

He broke with pace down the right and fired a powerful shot at Hinwood, who saved well down low to his right.

The ball parked straight to Nepean substitute, Bruno Amaral, however, who slotted the ball home from four yards to give Nepean a late 2-0 lead.

That second goal ignited Nepean, as straight from kick-off, they hit the crossbar twice as the crowd erupted into disbelief.

Nepean pushed as they looked to completely kill off the match; a scorpion kick which was collected and a shot from point-blank range from Crossley were their next highlights in quick succession.

However, in the 90th minute, the match turned on its head.

Following a strong run down the right for Parramatta, a shot in the box was saved as the ball deflected straight to Alhaji Bangura, who slotted the ball home to reduce the deficit to one goal late.

However, the match-sealer came two minutes later through Singh.

He found space in the box down the right flank and slotted the ball under Hinwood into the bottom-left corner as Nepean truly celebrated the win.

However, the scoring did not end there as there was one final opportunity with the final kick of the match.

A free-kick 20 yards from the Parramatta goal was taken by Sepping; the ball rose over the wall and nestled into the bottom-right corner as the referee blew the whistle to signal full-time amid rapturous applause from the home fans.

Nepean did what they had to do and ensured the secured the three points in the end to keep the pressure on UNSW FC ahead of them in 1st and the Newcastle Jets behind them in 3rd.

Speaking post match, Nepean head coach Stephen Appleby said he was pleased with the result but not with the performance.

“It was far from our best game; the score line shows 4-1, but I am disappointed in the goal we conceded and just the little moments where we can be better.”

The second half had a lot less action early compared to the first half and Appleby spoke about how fatigue is setting in.

“Players are going to be a little bit more fatigued, they are not used to this longer season.”

Speaking on the goal for the season, the aim is to continue to fight for the title, but especially for the top two.

“The result did not go out way last week (against the Jets), that took things out of our hands.”

The win kept the standings the same for Nepean – they were still 2nd, five points behind UNSW FC and one point ahead of the Newcastle Jets, who have a match in hand, while the loss kept Parramatta in 13th.

Nepean FC will hope results go their way next week as they have the bye, while Parramatta FC will hope for a strong response as they host 4th-placed Gladesville Ryde Magic.


Saturday, 29th July 2023

South Coast Flame FC 3-1 Hurstville FC

South Coast Flame FC’s 13-match winless run came to an end against the last side they beat this season in Hurstville FC, 3-1 at Sir Ian McLennan Oval.

In an uneventful first half, Jacob Botic played a ball over the top of the Flame defence for Alberto Gallardo to run onto, but his shot was saved well to his right by Flame goalkeeper, Ruon Nakamura.

Hurstville captain Paul Gagro also played Andre Guzman in behind, but he skied his effort over the Flame goal.

The Flame’s first attempt on goal came from a free kick, where their captain, James Baldacchino, rose high and headed wide of the Hurstville goal.

However, in the second half, the Flame came out firing early as a free-kick taken by the Flame’s Matthew Mazevski forced Hurstville goalkeeper, Michael Rutherford, into a strong save in the 48th minute.

Less than a minute later, the Flame took the lead after a loose ball was volleyed home from distance by Cody Waller, who scored his first goal of the season.

Five minutes later, Mazevski played a ball to Alexander Alston on the edge of the box, but his effort went over the bar.

Then, on the hour mark, a turnover in the middle of the park by the Flame let Hurstville substitute, Mouhamed Hamdache, through on goal, as he powered a shot into the far post to level the score, 1-1.

In the 80th minute, a free kick from 30 yards out from Mazevski went through a few bodies and found the back of the net as the Flame retook the lead late.

Then, just three minutes later, three red cards were given out.

After a challenge from Jacob Botic, for which he was sent off, Samuel Shainfeld was sent off for trying to pull up the Flame player who was involved in the challenge and Stephan Perak was given a straight red, also, for dissent.

Hurstville finished the match and played the final seven minutes plus stoppage time with eight men.

The Flame controlled the match from there and Flame debutant, Jyden Harb, forced Rutherford into a fingertip save.

Then, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Adam Voloder turned, weaved and wrong-footed Rutherford as he sealed the match with the Flame’s third goal, ensuring a 3-1 victory, their first since Round Eleven.

The win meant the Flame did the league double over Hurstville and moved them up into 8th place, while Hurstville dropped to 11th.

South Coast Flame FC will hope to stir up some trouble next week as they travel to face ladder-leaders UNSW FC, while Hurstville FC will hope to turn their fortunes around as they face a side they beat earlier this season, Fraser Park FC.


Inner West Hawks FC 0-3 Newcastle Jets

Inner West Hawks FC fell to the bottom of the league for the first time this season as they went down 3-0 at home to the Newcastle Jets, who kept their pursuit at the top of the ladder going.

The Hawks started the match on the front foot; they looked to pressure the Jets’ backline whenever the visitors tried to build from the back at Arlington Oval.

However, the Jets were the first to strike in the 12th minute through Janni Rafty, who had got in behind the Hawks’ right back and slotted the ball home to give the Jets a 1-0 lead at the break.

Following half-time, the Jets were awarded a penalty, which Ezra Palombini converted to give the Jets a 2-0 lead.

The Hawks’ Peter Yannopoulos was substituted off with an injury in the 63rd minute and try as they might, the Hawks were unable to find a goal back.

The match was sealed in style by Palombini, who scored in the first minute of stoppage time to add to his high goal tally this season and seal a 3-0 away win for the Jets.

The loss moved the Hawks to last-place for the first time this season, one point behind the Western Rage.

Inner West Hawks FC will hope to upset the league’s form side in Hawkesbury City FC away from home, while the Newcastle Jets will hope to continue to put pressure on Nepean FC and UNSW FC at the top of the league as they host Sydney University SFC in Round Twenty-Seven.


Gladesville Ryde Magic 3-5 UNSW FC

UNSW FC came from two goals down and secured a 5-3 victory late to maintain their five-point lead at the top of the ladder in a match which did not disappoint.

The Magic welcomed back their captain, Chris Gaitatzis, who had missed the previous six weeks through injury.

Both sides tried to test the other’s goalkeeper early.

However, in the 9th minute, the Magic hit the lead through Chris Gaitatzis; a cross-field ball from David Ustimenko found Adrian Johnnathan, who in turn found Gaitatzis, who scored to give the Magic an early 1-0 lead.

Five minutes later, Ustimenko got the ball and powered inwards before he played a ball to Jonnathan, who scored to give the Magic an early 2-0 lead.

The Magic looked to utilise Ustimenko’s pace, while UNSW utilised Kevin Lopes in attack as they hit the crossbar from a header.

Keeghan Burke had a shot saved by Magic goalkeeper Joshua Sarina, before the league-leaders pulled a goal back.

Following an attacking corner, Mitchell Mattison volleyed the ball after a failed clearance, which deflected off a Magic defender into the back of the net to reduce the deficit to one goal in the 44th minute.

Less than one minute later, Callum Fitzpatrick played a through ball behind the Magic defence for Kevin Lopes, who continued his prolific season to level the scores at half-time, 2-2.

UNSW controlled proceedings for the opening 20 minutes of the second half as they limited the Magic’s chances.

Their control paid off when Jack Fulton hit a shot well inside the area to give UNSW the lead for the first time in the match, 3-2.

Three minutes later, however, the Magic equalised in spectacular fashion when an Ustimenko free-kick from 30 yards found the back of the net.

UNSW looked to respond as a long shot was tipped over the bar by Sarina.

Fatigue started to set in as the sides made a few changes.

Some things do not change, however, and one of those is Lopes finding the scoresheet once again.

He headed the ball home direct from a Mathias Da Silva Santos cross to give the visitors the lead once again, 4-3.

The Magic pushed players up late to try and jag a late equaliser, but that left them open at the back as a long ball found Da Silva Santos unmarked out wide.

He passed the ball inside for substitute Dylan Walz, who slotted the ball home to secure the victory for the league leaders, 5-3, in a match full of action.

The loss kept the Magic in 4th but pushed them to six points behind the 3rd-placed Newcastle Jets, while the win meant UNSW maintained their five-point lead at the top of the ladder.

Gladesville Ryde Magic will hope to reduce the gap to 3rd as they visit Parramatta FC, while UNSW FC will hope to continue their title charge at home to South Coast Flame FC.


Bankstown United FC 2-3 Prospect United SC

Bankstown United FC’s seven-match unbeaten streak came to an end at the hands of Prospect United SC, who responded well from back-to-back defeats.

Prospect were electric to start the match and hit the lead after eight minutes.

Dante Soares, Bradley Dollin, Jahnbek Bulut and Adam Fillipone were all involved in the build-up; the play ended when Tallon Zahra set up mid-season signing Marco Turpeinen, who scored his first goal for his new club.

Prospect doubled their lead eight minutes later when Bulut was brought down in the box; David Muller stepped up and converted the spot-kick to give Prospect a 2-0 lead.

Prospect’s quick start continued from a free kick.

Pedj Bojic sent the ball into the box, which was headed down by Muller into the path of Turpeinen, who scored on the half-volley to give Prospect a 3-0 lead at half-time.

Bankstown came out aggressive in the second half and looked to capitalise on how deep Prospect were sitting.

Following a barrage of crosses, Corey Freeman scored in the 64th minute to give Bankstown a foothold back in the match at 3-1 down.

Bradley Dollin was then the unfortunate recipient of an own goal as Bankstown reduced the deficit to one goal late.

The hosts had a golden chance to snatch a point from three goals down with five minutes left, but a shot three yards from goal missed for Bankstown as they fell 3-2 at home to Prospect.

The loss kept Bankstown in 5th and they stayed four points behind Gladesville Ryde Magic, while the win moved Prospect up into 6th place, level on points with Bankstown.

Bankstown United FC will hope to get back to winning ways immediately when they travel to face the Western Rage next week, while Prospect United SC will hope to find some consistency as their hunt towards the top four continues at home to Camden Tigers FC.


Camden Tigers FC 2-0 Fraser Park FC

Camden Tigers FC responded to back-to-back defeats with a 2-0 home win over Fraser Park FC, who lost their first match in four weeks.

The Tigers had a game plan they stuck to as a back-and-forth start to the match saw Fraser Park look to press the Tigers, who played through it and limited the visitors to long balls.

Fraser Park’s goalkeeper, Patrick Ferrara, made a good save early but the first goal was coming.

In the 17th minute, a throw-in straight into the Fraser Park box from Jack Harris found Dean Mugridge, who headed the ball into the back of the net to give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead.

The Tigers had two chances cleared off the line as they continued to pressure Fraser Park; they took the 1-0 lead into half-time.

The Tigers had a few more good chances in the second half and hit the post once as they searched for a second goal.

They also stopped Fraser Park from attacking on the transition as their defence held strong.

The match was even in the midfield, but the difference came in both boxes in the match.

The pressure from the Tigers told in the 87th minute when Liam Gregory intercepted a backpass from Fraser Park in defence and scored late in the match to ensure the victory for the hosts.

Their ability to convert in the final third meant they took home a 2-0 win away to Fraser Park.

The loss meant Fraser Park dropped to 7th, one point behind Prospect United SC and Bankstown United FC, while the win moved the Tigers up two spots into 9th on the ladder.

Fraser Park FC will hope to bounce back and cement their place in the top half of the ladder as they travel to face Hurstville FC next week, while Camden Tigers FC will hope to record back-to-back wins for the second time this season as they travel to face Prospect United SC in Round Twenty-Seven.

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