Round 15 Review – League Two Men’s

a person holding a sign

The end of Round 15 marks the halfway point in the 2024 Football NSW League Two Men’s season, where one team’s extraordinary unbeaten run continued.

The Match of the Round this week saw Hurstville FC respond to back-to-back defeats with a strong home win over the formidable Inner West Hawks FC.

 

Sunday, 19th May 2024

Match of the Round: Hurstville FC 1-0 Inner West Hawks FC

Hurstville FC got back to winning ways to end the first half of the season after they came away with a strong 1-0 home win over the formidable Inner West Hawks FC.

The Hawks had a strong run early from Marcos Apostolakis stopped by a Hurstville tackle in the six-yard-box.

The visitors had a big chance in the 20th minute when Jacob Palamidas got the ball in defence and played a strong through ball to striker Takuma Hirano – he squared it to Lawrence Claxton, who was put off by the presence of the Hurstville defence and sliced his first-time shot wide of the right post.

Hurstville had the next three chances in the match with a shot from distance in the 25th minute, followed by a header wide from Andre Guzman and a free kick from 25 yards which went over the goal, all in the space of six minutes.

Both teams had their fair share of possession and chances in the first half, but the Hawks had the next two chances in the 32nd and 36th minutes, respectively – first, Hirano headed wide of the right post from a ball in from the left, before Apostolakis was stopped in the box on their next attack by Hurstville defender, Daniel Maras.

Hurstville’s Jesse Gagro had a big chance in the 37th minute when he headed a long ball over Hawks’ goalkeeper, Harrison Myers, but the ball just went wide of the left post.

The Hawks then had the next three chances in quick succession in the 41st and 42nd minutes, respectively – Apostolakis continued to threaten with a blocked and saved shot in the box, before a shot through bodies by Hawks’ Angelo Pezzano took a deflection and wrong-footed Hurstville goalkeeper Michael Rutherford, but he readjusted and pulled off a last-second legs save to keep the match scoreless.

Hurstville had a shot from close range off a free kick deflected wide for a corner in the 44th minute and one minute later, from that corner, the deadlock was broken.

Conor Earley delivered the corner in from the right and Maras rose the highest in a crowded Hawks’ box before he headed home from close range to give Hurstville a 1-0 lead at half-time.

The hosts started the second half with intent after an early run in behind saw a square ball in the middle, but the ball was just behind the advancing Hurstville attacker.

The Hawks had a shot from range following a half-cleared free kick which took a wicked deflection off a Hurstville player for a corner in the 53rd minute.

A big chance went begging for the hosts one minute later when Guzman was played through on goal with a through ball, but his effort from inside the box flew wide of the target.

Guzman continued to threaten for Hurstville and had their next chance in the 57th minute but he directed his shot just wide of the right post.

The Hurstville defence stood strong and stopped the Hawks offence from running at them in the second half, while both sides looked to play through the other with good build-up play.

Hurstville, however, showed their attacking prowess with more dangerous balls into the box – Jacob Botic almost found Guzman in the middle in the 64th minute before an audacious attempt from halfway by Earley was caught by Myers.

Hurstville continued to dominate chances in the 74th minute when Jesse Gagro got in behind down the left and played a ball across to substitute Jacob Botic, whose first-time shot went over the goal from eight yards.

The hosts continuously won the ball high up the field and Mouhamed Hamdache capitalised on one of those situations and got in behind down the left, but his shot just went over the goal.

Hurstville continued to dominate possession as they hunted their second goal which would seal the win, while the Hawks switched up their game plan and played long as they hunted a late equaliser.

In the final five minutes, Hurstville had a header from a corner which went just wide, while they also had the final chance of the match in stoppage time through Hamdache but his shot was deflected behind for a corner.

After three additional minutes, the referee blew for full-time – Hurstville held on and defended valiantly but continued to play their game with prowess in attack, as they came away with a big 1-0 home win to end the first half of the season.

Speaking post-match, injured Hurstville captain Paul Gagro said his side will use this win to launch themselves for a strong second half of the season.

“We will draw a line at the halfway point and the goal is just to have a better second half of the year than the first half and if we continue this form, then I am confident we will get that.”

Despite having multiple key players out through injury and other personal reasons, Gagro is proud of how the side has put together strong wins lately.

“Jacob Ritchie, special shoutout to him, because he has been playing striker all year and stepped up into midfield today – I thought he was one of our best today.”

Looking ahead to the second round of fixtures, Hurstville have the undefeated Newcastle Jets next up and will look to take the match to them.

“If we play anything close to that second half from today, then I am confident we can get something out of that game.”

The win for Hurstville moved them from 10th into 9th place at the halfway point of the season, while the loss for the Hawks dropped them from 5th to 6th place.

Hurstville will look to pick up a sixth win from their past eight matches when they host the unbeaten top-of-the-table Newcastle Jets next week, while Inner West Hawks have a Round 14 catch-up match away to Camden Tigers FC on Thursday, 23rd May before they travel to face 6th-placed Central Coast United FC.

 

Friday, 17th May 2024

Mounties Wanderers FC 4-1 Parramatta FC

Mounties Wanderers FC kept the pressure on near the top of the table at the halfway point of the season after they came away with a big 4-1 home win over Parramatta FC.

The hosts started the match perfectly in the 2nd minute when Kuot Maliet got in behind down the right wing and crossed the ball to Brima Kamara in the Parramatta box – the latter controlled the ball and scored into the bottom-left corner to give Mounties an early 1-0 lead.

The hosts doubled that lead in the 19th minute when Fletcher Williamson drove forward with the ball and set up Andre Schroeder, who curled a shot from outside the box into the top-right corner to give Mounties a 2-0 lead at half-time.

Kamara grabbed a double in the 55th minute when he positioned himself in the 18-yard-box and finished to give the hosts a 3-0 advantage.

Parramatta pulled a goal back in the 58th minute, however, when a misdirected pass was intercepted by Marco Sama, who slotted the ball home to make the score 3-1.

Mounties wrapped up the victory, however, in the 88th minute when young substitute Nima Jafari took on a low-driven shot from outside the 18-yard-box and found the back of the net – that sealed a 4-1 home victory for Mounties over Parramatta.

The win for Mounties meant they remained in 4th place with a match in hand, while the loss for Parramatta kept them in 11th place.

Mounties will travel to face 10th-placed Granville Rage to start the second half of the season, while Parramatta have a Round 13 catch-up match at home to Hawkesbury City FC on Wednesday, 22nd May before they travel to face 13th-placed Fraser Park FC in Round 16.

 

Saturday, 18th May 2024

Central Coast United FC 3-0 Prospect United SC

Central Coast United FC responded to back-to-back losses in a big way after a 3-0 home win over Prospect United SC in heavy rain at Pluim Park.

Prospect started the match with enthusiasm and looked to keep the Pirates in their own end of the field early.

The hosts opened the scoring in the 8th minute, however, through a penalty, which was awarded when Cade Mapu was fouled while attempting a shot – Alex Arbelo stepped up and slotted the penalty away to give the Pirates an early 1-0 lead.

The Pirates scored a second goal six minutes later when they won the ball on halfway – Arbelo played Ben Flakus in behind, who got to the ball just after the onrushing Prospect goalkeeper, Connor Gilbert, but the ball skimmed and ricocheted in the wet conditions into Flakus’ path before he tapped the ball home to double the hosts’ lead.

Prospect tried to play and be positive with the ball, but the wet playing surface made for harsh conditions for either side to play in.

The visitors started the second half with high energy and made a few tactical adjustments without reward.

Flakus grabbed a double and sealed all three points for the Pirates in the 70th minute after he got on the end of a cross from the left from Mark Partridge – Flakus rose uncontested and scored with a header into the top corner to round out a 3-0 win for the Pirates.

The win for the Pirates saw them rise from 7th above Prospect into 5th place on the ladder, while the loss for Prospect saw their three-match winning streak end and saw them drop from 6th to 8th.

Central Coast United will hope to start the second half of the season with a win when they host 6th-placed Inner West Hawks FC next week, while Prospect will hope to bounce back when they travel to face 2nd-placed Bankstown United FC.

 

Sydney University SFC 2-2 Fraser Park FC

Sydney University SFC ended their eight-match losing streak with a come-from-behind 2-2 draw at home to Fraser Park FC.

Following a mid-week switch in management which saw former Head Coach Robert Fleming and Chris Williams swap places, Fraser Park’s Francis McAlpine punished the hosts early with goals in the 6th and 24th minute, respectively, to give Fraser Park an early 2-0 lead.

From there, however, University held the ball well and forced Fraser Park to defend – University capitalised and scored a goal just after the half hour mark to reduce Fraser Park’s lead to one goal at half-time.

Fraser Park created a few chances to start the second half but were unable to find the back of the net, while University forced the visitors to sit deeper in defence with their pressure.

The visitors had a golden chance to retake their two-goal lead after they got in behind in a wide area, but University Jasper Sarkies did well to deny the Fraser Park attacker from eight yards out.

University created two one-on-one chances which they were unable to take as they turned the pressure on in the second half.

That pressure told in the 81st minute when an error from Fraser Park saw Jaefar Al Khulaifawi make a cross-field run before the ball dropped to Peter Zervos – he struck the ball first-time into the top corner for his fourth goal of the season as he levelled the contest late.

Neither side was able to find the decisive winning goal with the match level late as the two teams settled for the 2-2 draw.

The draw for University saw them pick up a point for the first time in nine matches, while the draw for Fraser Park saw them go a third match unbeaten.

University will hope to continue to improve under their new Head Coach when they travel to face 13th-placed Hawkesbury City FC next week, while Fraser Park hosts 11th-placed Parramatta FC.

 

Granville Rage 0-5 Camden Tigers FC

Camden Tigers FC had an emphatic return to the winner’s list this week with a big 5-0 away win over Granville Rage.

After a slow start to the match for the Tigers with too many turnovers, they settled and scored in the 19th minute through Francesco Giannetto to take a 1-0 lead.

The second goal was a calm well-worked goal like the first, this time by Joshua Mazurkiewicz, which gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead at the break.

The Tigers continued to push in the second half and scored in the 65th minute once again through Mazurkiewicz to take a 3-0 lead.

Just eight minutes later, Giannetto also completed his double through a penalty to seal the result for the away side.

The Tigers stuck to their plan and scored a fifth goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time through Bailey Simpson to round out a strong 5-0 away win over the Rage.

The loss for the Rage meant they dropped from 9th to 10th place, while the win for the Tigers saw them rise from 8th place into the top half of the table into 7th.

The Rage start the second half of the season with a home match against 4th-placed Mounties Wanderers FC, while the Tigers will hope to overtake 6th-placed Inner West Hawks FC when they meet in a Round 14 catch-up match before their bye in Round 15.

 

South Coast Flame FC 2-1 Bankstown United FC

South Coast Flame FC continued their unbeaten home record this season after they came from behind for a tight 2-1 win over Bankstown United FC in a tight top-of-the-table clash with big ramifications.

Both sides traded blows with warning shots at both ends of the field, while there were plenty of strong midfield challenges as both sides got stuck into the contest.

The Flame had chances to end the half, particularly one for Corey Freeman, but Bankstown’s Daniel Slane did well to block his shot late in the half.

South Coast had another opportunity when Samuel Alston squared the ball across to Michael Trajkovski, but his shot was cleared off the line as the visitors scrambled well in defence.

Level at the break, but now without goalkeeper Mitchell Evans, who was substituted at half-time due to injury, Bankstown took the lead in the 57th minute when a free kick launched into the box saw a scramble ensue before Jovan Blagojevic slotted the ball home from ten yards out to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

The Flame lit up from there, however, and in the 68th minute were rewarded when Jyden Harb was fouled in the Bankstown box – Michael Trajkovski stepped up and continued his red-hot season with another goal after he sent Bankstown substitute goalkeeper, Matthew Massarotto, the wrong way to level the match.

Harb curled an effort over goal eight minutes later, before Trajkovski had an effort saved by Massarotto minutes later.

In the 83rd minute, Bankstown had a good chance through Alejandro Salguiera, but his shot was saved by Flame goalkeeper Rocco Zinnato, before Amaury Gauthier sliced a shot wide from 10 yards.

Two minutes later, Harb took on a defender and drove into the box – he floated an effort across goal, which went into the back of the net off the far post as he put the Flame ahead for the first time in the match with only a few minutes to go.

Bankstown went in search of an equaliser late but could not find it as the Flame came from behind for a strong 2-1 home win.

The win for the Flame saw them stay in 3rd place but reduced the gap to 2nd to just one point, while the loss for Bankstown saw them remain in 2nd but saw them drop five points behind league leaders, the Newcastle Jets.

The Flame will hope to continue to push for those top two places when they travel to face last-placed Gladesville Ryde Magic next week, while Bankstown will hope to respond when they host 8th-placed Prospect United SC next week.

 

Sunday, 19th May 2024

Newcastle Jets 6-0 Hawkesbury City FC

The Newcastle Jets extraordinary unbeaten run continued to half a season in length after they hit Hawkesbury City FC for six in a big 6-0 home win, which was their equal-biggest win of the season.

In a tight first half, the Jets took a 1-0 lead following a corner which they headed home at the back post.

The Jets scored another right on half-time and after Hawkesbury lost a few key players on the stroke of half-time, the Jets came out firing in the second half.

They ran in another four goals in the second half to come away with a big 6-0 win.

The goals in the match came from Lucas Johnson, Xavier Bertoncello, Kyle McSeveney, Janni Rafty and two goals from Kierry James – they continued to show why they are the most effective attacking side this season so far with that big victory.

The win for the Jets saw them go half a season unbeaten as they moved to 34 points out of 42 for the season so far, on top of the table, five points ahead of 2nd, while the loss for Hawkesbury saw them remain in 12th place.

The Jets will hope to continue their unbeaten season when they travel to face 9th-placed Hurstville FC next week, while Hawkesbury will hope to respond when they host 14th-placed Sydney University SFC.

 

Last-placed Gladesville Ryde Magic had a bye this week and stayed two points behind 14th.

 

By Football New South Wales League Two Men’s Reporter, Dylan Costa (@_dylancosta)