Finals Series Round 2 - SELECT Futsal Premier League
Inner West Magic defeated Enfield Rovers 3-2 in an absorbing 2016/17 SELECT Futsal Premier League preliminary final and will face Dural Warriors in this weekend's championship bout.
Incredibly it's the third time in five summers the two sides have met in the trophy decider – head to Valentine Sports Park this Saturday to find out who will win this time (5.30pm kick-off).
Grand final day starts at 9am and will certainly have a magical feel to it with club champions Inner West fielding seven outfits for the nine trophies on offer; but all clubs will be represented on the day adding to the colour and excitement.
Inner West Magic 3 (Jonathan Barzel, Daniel Fogarty, Daniel Fornito) Enfield Rovers 2 (Michael Kouta 2)
Magic nip Rovers
Inner West Magic overcame Enfield Rovers 3-2 in an exasperating preliminary final at Blacktown Leisure Centre to book a fourth meeting with Dural this season – this time to decide the 2016/17 open men's champions.
The derby offered its usual grittiness as Inner West had to fight back from a second-half deficit against an undermanned but dogged Enfield – Michael Kouta netted a brace for Rovers (to go with his hat-trick in last week's semi-final win against Boomerangs) but it wasn't enough to breach goals from Magic's Jonathan Barzel, Daniel Fogarty and Daniel Fornito.
With Dural coach Rob Varela and his team watching from the stands Inner West jumped to an early lead after Barzel finished off a slick passing movement that saw the final pass from Brian Griffin Colls, but the contest was back on even terms when Magic keeper Dom Badolato tripped over the post and Kouta rifled home an equaliser.
Enfield only had four regular seniors available but incredibly went in front with 16 minutes to go as Kouta smashed home his second goal from the edge of the D sending the Rovers supporters into raptures as their team went on the verge of causing one of the biggest boil overs in league history.
However, the goal shook Magic awake as Fornito ran onto a scintillating through-ball from Fogarty and scored from a very difficult angle with his less preferred right foot to level the scores at 2-2, and it was Fogarty himself who broke Rovers hearts with a bullet free kick that put Inner West ahead for the final time four minutes from the end.
Inner West have beaten Enfield in six of their last seven encounters and Fogarty certainly loves the cross-town glitz scoring in his fourth straight derby, while applause must also go to Kouta who became just the 11th player to score in 10 or more games during a premier league season.
Magic clubman Matteo Maiorana knew it was a close call and acknowledged Enfield's against-the-odds tenacity.
“To be honest it was a disappointing performance from us. A lot of pre-game whispers around the centre were that we would win easily [but] I knew better than underestimating any Enfield team led by Ernie [Bivona],” Maiorana said. “He is a great motivator and the closer his team have their backs to the wall the more he gets out of them.”
“I don't know if that affected our mentality or not but it wasn't the type of performance we have been accustomed to this season.
“Congratulations and credit must go to Enfield, especially their junior players who stepped up and did a great job. In the end our experience shone through and overall we deserved to win, but it sure was a tough battle,” he said.
“The win, even below expectations, was a fantastic end to a brilliant day for the club with seven teams qualifying for next week's grand finals.”
Next week’s championship game
The SELECT Futsal Premier League grand final showdown between premiers Inner West Magic and defending champions Dural Warriors takes place this Saturday at Valentine Sports Park (5.30pm). Visit the Football NSW website (Futsal tab) for full details.
There's certainly plenty of fire between these two sides. Even though Warriors boast a commanding head-to-head record winning 14 of 19 clashes (including all five finals meetings), Magic have inflicted two of Dural's biggest league losses in the past three seasons (7-2 and 5-1, and both at The Centre).
Then there's the heavy playoff experience of Dural's Greg Giovenali and Inner West's Chris Zeballos, who have both scored 11 post-season goals – the second highest tally from players in finals (still shy of Quake superstar Mark Symington's astonishing 18).
The Warriors line-up contains some heavy-hitters with six of premier league’s top-25 all-time scorers in Greg Giovenali (77 goals), Bruno Pivato (41), Nathan Niski (38), Wade Giovenali (38), Vic Koutsoufis (33) and Blake Rosier (32).
Having said that, Magic duo Daniel Fogarty (58) and Chris Zeballos (55) are sixth and seventh on the list, while Greg Giovenali is Dural's only top-10 entrant, and the Inner West defensive wall has always been formidable (they conceded just 25 times in 14 rounds, the Warriors leaked 36).
Former Magic player Bruno Pivato is wreaking havoc against his former club having scored a hat-trick in Dural's recent semi-final win against Inner West to follow a brace in the previous match-up, and he scored another double in last summer's fixture.
And what a showdown between two of this summer's red-hot players: Dural dagger Vic Kousoufis has scored 15 goals while Inner West weapon Daniel Fogarty boasts a dozen successful strikes – both will surely keep the keepers on their toes.
Dural coach Rob Varela was licking his lips ahead of a top-two clash for the grand final trophy. “We are looking forward to a very tough game,” he said.
“Inner West are an excellent team with some fantastic players across the court and very well coached [by Steve Knight]. They will be hungry and motivated to break our streak and that will make them extremely difficult to beat.”
“We go into the game with the knowledge that if we perform to the best of our ability we will be able to push them hard.
“It should be a cracker of a game and I would urge all Futsal lovers to get to Valentine Sports Park to witness what promises to be a classic encounter between two great teams.”
Matteo Maiorana was also ready for a staunch battle between two of the competition's biggest rivals.
“Here we are once again with a Magic versus Dural final,” he said. “I don't have any doubt that from a mutual standpoint it's the grand final everyone wanted to see. This fixture always promises to be entertaining and extremely competitive and with free fireworks as part of the entertainment.”
“Both clubs are extremely proud and the competition stems all the way through from the coaches to the supporters and players. Hopefully we have a fantastic spectacle!”
“I have no doubt our boys will be up for the game and I have no doubt that the Dural boys will be up for the game. With so many Futsalroos on the court it promises to be the best chapter yet in this massive rivalry.”
-By Dan De Nardi