NPL 3 NSW MEN’S – ROUND 2 FINALS SERIES REVIEW

The National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s Championship series is down to the decider with St George FA taking on SD Raiders in the big dance following the completion of the two elimination Semi Finals in Week Two of the Finals Series.

Let’s take a closer look at how the two semi finals unravelled, with Football NSW headquarters at Valentine hosting the Hawkesbury City – SD Raiders game, whilst St George City FA entertained Dunbar Rovers at Fraser Park.

ST GEORGE CITY FA – DUNBAR ROVERS 4-0

St George City FA moved ominously in to next week’s Championship decider by brushing aside Dunbar Rovers 4-0 on Sunday afternoon in the second NPL 3 NSW Men’s Championship semi final at Fraser Park.

St George City FA came in to the match after earning a one week rest courtesy of their Premiership win, and other than looking a little rusty in the opening 15 minutes, the Premiers produced a dominant display to book their spot in next week’s decider.

Leading in to the weekend, St George City FA suffered a double blow with both left backs ruled out of the clash against Dunbar – Kyoji Mori fell ill, whilst Jonathon Dimopoulos was injured on the eve of the game in the team’s final hit out.

Emanuel Koumis put St George City FA in to a 16th minute lead, using his body to turn his defender before striking low past a helpless Dunbar keeper, Terry Dal Broi.

The Premiers took a stranglehold on the game just 3 minutes later by making it 2-0 in the 19th minute. Steve Kuzmanovski turned inside his defender before whipping over a dangerous cross that was met at the far stick by James Spanoudakis, the St George City number 10 directing his header back the way it came as it nestled inside the Dunbar upright.

Dunbar were on the ropes, and hoped a half time rest would give the Rovers the resurgence they needed.

But it was not to be, with St George City FA all but wrapping up proceedings just 3 minutes after the break. A loose ball on the edge of the Dunbar penalty area fell to Kerim Kumsuz – who incidentally put in a great shift nullifying Dunbar skipper, Andrew Doddy – and Kumsuz took a touch before unleashing a drive that cleaned the cobwebs on its way in to the Dunbar goal.

Amidst a flurry of chances to add to the scoreboard, St George City FA put the icing on the cake on 89 minutes with a clinical turn and strike from Steve Kuzmanovski, rounding off the afternoon’s result at 4-0.

It was a disappointing way for Dunbar to end their campaign, but they can hold their heads up high, finishing 6th in the competition proper, before winning their first Elimination Semi, and coming to within 90 minutes of a Grand Final appearance.

St George City FA on the other hand are now  real chance of the treble, having won the 1st Grade Premiership as well as the Club Championship, and with all three grades in their respective Grand Finals next weekend, they have a real chance of creating a memory with history waiting to be written.

Match Stats

Sunday, September 15, 2018

Fraser Park, Marrickville

ST GEORGE CITY FA   4 (Koumis 16’, Spanoudakis 19’, Kumsuz 49’, Kuzmanovski 89’)

DUNBAR ROVERS      0

Referee – T.Plasto

Assistant Referees – M.Price and N.Mconst

ST GEORGE CITY FA; 1.C.Marques, 2.S.Thomas, 5.B.Tsanidis (capt), 6.M.Kokubo, 8.A.Malmierca, 9.E.Koumis (18.G.Lino 38’), 10.J.Spanoudakis (40.R.Zenari 75’), 16.K.Kumsuz (11.A.Euripidou 83’), 17.S.Kuzmanovski, 20.P.Turrin, 21.M.Mayora.

Substitutes Not Used – 26.E.Davis, 4.L.Burke.

Yellow Cards – 11.A.Euripidou 85’.

Red Cards – Nil

DUNBAR ROVERS; 1.T.Dal Broi, 8.A.Doddy (capt), 11.H.Kamleitner, 2.M.Karagiannis (14.A.Crane 67’), 12.P.Lloyd, 23.P.Orgad, 10.R.Shaugnessy, 17.Y.Silvestre, 4.G.Swartz, 6.M.Te Rata, 16.R.Mendes (20.C.Garces 46’).

Substitutes Not Used – 111.L.Del Vecchio, 21.R.Morsillo, 13.N.Sullivan.

Yellow Cards – 16.R.Mendes 35’, 8.A.Doddy 72’, 4.G.Swartz 76’.

Red Cards – Nil

Semi Final

Hawkesbury City – SD Raiders 1-2 

SD Raiders booked their place in the NPL 3 NSW Men’s Championship Grand Final after a hard fought 2-1 victory over Hawkesbury City at Valentine Sports Park No.3 on Saturday evening.

The Raiders edged in front midway through the first half via a Hawkesbury own goal, before doubling their advantage on the hour with a Daniel Bittar header.

Daniel Morsillo pulled a goal back for Hawkesbury with minutes remaining, but the Hawks couldn’t muster an equaliser, with the Raiders hanging on for victory.

Hawkesbury City gave up their home ground advantage after finishing the competition proper in 2nd position on the ladder, with the more compact Valentine Sports Park No 3 pitch probably more conducive to the fluent short passing game of SD Raiders.

David Gardiner had the game’s first opportunity on 6 minutes, the Hawkesbury striker heading over after Matthew Liddall had nodded back a James Mawein corner.

It was a cagey opening 20 minutes or so, with both sides cautiously stroking the ball around, trying to get a feel for the setting as they focussed moreso on not making any errors.

But 23 minutes in and we had our first goal.

Matias Toro Suazo of the Raiders reached a through pass down the left flank before sending over a teasing near post cross. In a desperate attempt to clear the danger, Hawkesbury defender, James Thurtell, only succeeded in steering the ball past his own keeper, the own goal edging the Raiders in front.

Hawkesbury responded with a vicious effort from Sebastian Gallegos Berriel in the 27th minute, with his angled drive tipped over the bar by Raiders custodian, Michael Rutherford, after Gallegos Berriel had effected a give and go with James Mawein.

The Hawks were asking questions of the Raiders without really penetrating in the front third, with the final pass often going wanting as the frustration started to creep in.

The Raiders themselves almost found the net just before the break, with a short corner by Daniel Bittar on 42 minutes reaching Sebastian Malfara, who let fly with a 25 yard rocket that was tipped over the cross bar by Hawkesbury’s skipper, and keeper, Daniel Schwarzer.

Referee, Danny Horstead, blew the whistle to give the teams a reprieve, although the tensions boiled over with a kerfuffle in the tunnel as the two sets of troops advanced to the dressing sheds.

The increase in intensity from Hawkesbury was evident right from the get go in the second half, and they almost equalised in the 52nd minute.

A sweeping passing movement saw the ball move across the park before finding Sebastian Gallegos Berriel, and the skilful playmaker let rip with a bullet from the top of the penalty area that cleared the Raiders’ crossbar by inches.

Hawkesbury kept at it and on 54 minutes it was Matthew Liddall who went close, the tall defender’s header looping inches over the bar following a deep James Mawein cross.

Just as the Hawks were sensing a goal with the Raiders on the ropes, they copped an uppercut which turned the game once more.

Raiders substitute, John Fahmi, made his scheduled entrance off the bench just on the hour mark. The playmaker ran straight on to the pitch, collected the ball, waltzed past a couple of Hawkesbury defenders before delivering a peach of a cross that Daniel Bittar nodded in to the net at the back stick.

The Raiders contingent went in to delirium, and rightly so, now holding a commanding 2-0 lead and confident of riding it home.

Bittar went close again in the 75th minute after working a neat one-two with Matthew Barkho, smacking a low angle shot towards goal, only to be denied by a great save from Hawks keeper, Daniel Schwarzer.

With the clock ticking away, Hawkesbury had to do something, and they changed formation. Having already thrown Daniel Morsillo and Clement Waoci in to the mix, their final roll of the dice came in the form of the burly figure of Mick McCrory in a central striking role.

McCrory was in the thick of the action immediately, using his frame to get on the end of a James Mawein cross at the back post in the 83rd minute, nodding the ball back for Daniel Morsillo to sweep home, the substitutes combining to give the Hawks a lifeline.

Pandemonium then broke out in the 85th minute when Hawkesbury thought they had netted an equaliser.

A free kick near the top of the Raiders’ box was expertly curled over the wall and into the Raiders’ net by Sebastian Gallegos Berriel – only for the goal to be ruled out given an indirect free kick had been signalled beforehand.

It was gut wrenching for the Hawkesbury fans who had begun celebrating before realising the goal was disallowed.

Daniel Bittar almost put the game to bed in the opening minute of injury time, curling a brilliant effort that was headed for where the spiders live, only for Hawks custodian, Daniel Schwarzer, to produce a superb one handed save.

Hawkesbury had no option but to throw the kitchen sink at the Raiders in the final minutes, with all and sundry firmly camped in the Raiders back third.

The final opportunity of the night came with just seconds left following a deep Daniel Morsillo cross. The ball sailed past the back post where remarkably, the figure of keeper, Daniel Schwarzer, was waiting, the Hawkesbury keeper scuffing his volley down in to the turf before it was gratefully gobbled up by his opposite number, Michael Rutherford.

The referee’s whistle shrieked, the game was over, and the Raiders fans began celebrating their club booking a spot in this season’s grand final.

Hawkesbury City will feel a little empty following their exit, but they have much to be proud of in 2018, having finished a creditable 2nd in the competition proper, with all three grades qualifying for the finals series in their respective age groups. The week off and a transfer to VSP No.3 for the semi in the end may not have helped them too much, but the Hawks should hold their heads high, with skipper Daniel Schwarzer a standout on the night between the sticks.

SD Raiders have now overcome two fierce opponents in successive weeks in elimination semi finals, showing a desire each time to take the ascendancy by edging themselves in front, and then having the resolve to hold off their opposition to take the spoils. Dylan Stivala and Sebastian Malfara controlled the leather in the middle of the park, John Fahmi will be pushing for a starting berth after another effective cameo off the bench, whilst Matias Toro Suazo had a blinder, his desire and application evident with his direct approach towards goal whenever he had the ball at his feet.

Match Stats

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Valentine Sports Park No.3

HAWKESBURY CITY           1 (Morsillo 83’)

SD RAIDERS                         2 (Thurtell own goal 23’, Bittar 58’)

Referee – Danny Horstead

Assistant Referees – Janush Adabjon and Raymond Osbourne

HAWKESBURY CITY; 1.D.Schwarzer (capt), 5.J.Ekehov, 8.T.Elliott-Orr (12.D.Morsillo 62’), 35.S.Gallegos-Berriel, 19.D.Gardiner (38.C.Waoci 73’), 14.B.Gibson, 3.M.Liddall, 7.J.Mawein, 23.F.Scarone (9.M.McCrory 82’), 2.J.Thurtell, 22.R.Wilson.

Substitutes Not Used – 4.K.Walker , 20.A.Gornall.

Yellow Cards – 3.M.Liddall 47’, 7.J.Mawein 90’ + 3’.

Red Cards – Nil

SD RAIDERS; 1.M.Rutherford, 7.D.Bittar (42.M.Jonjic 81’), 2.S.Irwin, 15.S.Malfara (24.M.Barkho 73’), 3.D.Marjanovic, 8.J.Raiti (capt),  6.D.Stivala, 12.L.Rossi, 17.D.Smith, 20.M.Toro Suazo, 5.C.Caliguri (10.J.Fahmi 58’).

Substitutes Not Used – 25.M.Massarotto, 18.J.Mensah,

Yellow Cards – 24.M.Barkho 90’ + 2’, 42.M.Jonjic 90’ + 3’.

Red Cards – Nil

Footnote – Thank You

In order to provide accurate details of results, goal scorers, and incidents, this journalist simply cannot be at each of the 7 NPL 3 venues each weekend, and relies on accessing a range of resources other than being able to attend one match, including online and social media sources.

I have been able to utilise a range of individuals in my National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Mens network, who have been reliable, honest and consistent in providing me with accurate and prompt data which has enabled me to construct weekly reports full of detail and context.

I simply cannot have eyes across seven venues, so without these individuals, I could not have produced the thorough reports on a weekly basis, so a huge amount of gratitude to each of you – and you all know who you are – thank you for your reliability and support, for putting your club on the map, and on a bigger picture, continuing to support this exciting National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s competition.