Round 14 Review – State League Men's

16.07.2017

The race for the top four is closer than ever after a string of shock results in Round 14 of the Men’s State League Competition.

Hurstville City Minotaurs (2) vs UNSW (1)

For weeks now, Peter ‘The General’ Sarikakas, has been telling us that his side are good enough to make the finals.

But few have believed him.

After last week’s demoralising defeat to Nepean, it seemed we’d all been justified in our scepticism.

But, while many had written off the Minotaurs’ chances this season, one group of players defiantly kept on believing.

And, on Saturday night, in an act of dogged determination, the Minotaurs thrust themselves back into finals’ reckoning with a gutsy 2-1 victory over UNSW.

After an explosive start in which the Minotaurs could, and probably should, have taken the lead, it was UNSW who struck first through Luiz Lobo on 17 minutes.

Frustrated by his side’s profligacy in front of goal and fearing another second half collapse, The General unleashed the old-fashioned ‘hair dryer’ treatment on his team at half time - in a performance that even Sir Alex would be proud of; a thunderous tirade that looked to wake his side from their slumber and inspire a second half performance that would keep their season alive.

And it worked.

In the 65th minute, wide midfielder Kush was through on goal and showed sumptuous skill to lob the onrushing UNSW goalkeeper.

The momentum was all with the Minotaurs and with just 10 minutes remaining, they grabbed a deserved winner.

Sam Mehana, who played a full game in the under 20s, as well as a full 90 minutes in first grade, popped up with a magnificent header, giving the keeper no chance and giving his side an all-important three points that keeps the Minotaur season alive.

Worringly for UNSW, their impressive winning streak has been replaced by defeats and inconsistent performances. They will need to find that winning formula again – quickly - or risk being engulfed in the chasing pack of teams’ hungry to steal a place in the top four.

FC Gazy Auburn (0) vs Western Condors (1)

For fans of FC Gazy and Western Condors, there has been little to celebrate this season.

But this week’s match of the round afforded each set of fans an opportunity for redemption – to be able to say, ‘at least we’re not the worst team in the competition’.

A chilly afternoon in Auburn was the perfect venue for such a match. With the sun rapidly setting in the horizon, replaced by dark clouds and icy winds; it was an appropriate representation of the horrific seasons these two sides have endured.

In a frenetic and frenzied opening, both sides tried to play quick attacking football, lofting hopeful through balls over the opposition’s defence, trying to pick out the run of an overzealous forward.

Despite the flourishing attacking play, both sides struggled to create chances.

The game settled into a rhythm of counter attack after counter attack, with neither side doing enough to justify taking the lead.

However, with just 10 minutes before half time, the game turned, as an FC Gazy forward was shown a straight red card after an altercation with a Condors defender.

There was some ill feeling between the two sides that added extra spice to the final exchanges in the first half, but neither side was able to break the deadlock.

The second half continued in similar fashion.

Western Condors looked to exploit their numerical advantage, shifting the ball from side to side, looking to get their dangerous wingers on the ball.

FC Gazy sat deep, looking to spring a quick counter attack by launching long balls over the top of the Condors defence.

Despite being down to 10 men, it was FC Gazy who looked more threatening, on multiple occasions their wingers were able to beat the Condors’ offside trap, get to the by-line and deliver a dangerous ball across the face of goal. But there was no one in the right place at the right time for the home side.

As the clock ticked defiantly towards full time, it looked as though Western Condors would be held to a frustrating draw against 10 men Gazy.

But with just 2 minutes remaining, Condors were awarded a free kick just outside the box.

Mauricio Navarrete stood and surveyed the wall in front of him, and the goal beyond that. He carefully marked out his run-up, exhaling with an air of confidence, despite the obvious reality that the destiny of where the ball lands after it leaves his foot could deliver his team a much needed three points or a demoralising one. He steamed in, bending his foot around the ball, whipping it over the wall and beyond the out-stretched arm of the despairing keeper.

As the ball nestled into the corner of the net, Navarrete sprinted away towards the bench, being swarmed by embracing players and fans. The FC Gazy players sat despondently on the ground, heart-broken.

A moment to cheer, punctuating a season of disappointment for Western Condors.

For FC Gazy, the trophy that nobody wants to win looks ominously destined for Auburn in season 2017.

Match Stats

FC Gazy Auburn – 0

Western Condors FC – 1 (Mauricio Navarrete)

Progress Park, Sunday July 16

FC Gazy Auburn: N. Alemic, H. Artinian, M. Dauda, B. Hernandez Bustcovich, G. Iliopoulos, I. Janneh, K. Jirjnazi, A. Kageyama, K. Kamano, S. King, M. Konateh, K. Maliet, P. Maliet, A. Styer, Z. Brown, E. Uzel

Western Condors FC: S. Arroyo, R. Carrizo, H. Coronel, P. Da, A. Hulley, K. Kiemo, C. Leiva Martinez, S. Maric, P. Meza, M. Navarrete, J. Obeng, T. Ornelas, J. Smith, H. Tran, A. Vrinat, M. Zafirov

Wagga City Wanderers (0) vs Prospect United (2)

Like a frustrating race in Mario Kart, Prospect’s season has been littered with banana skin after banana skin, hindering any momentum they have tried to generate in their push for a top four spot.

Now, in the longest road trip in world football, against a spirited young Wagga City side, Prospect needed to ensure they left Gissing Oval with maximum points or risk their season making an early, and permanent, pit stop.

Thankfully, for coach Camilleri, an early goal from Matt Pritchard settled his side’s nerves – a clinical finish after a intelligent run to find space inside the 6 yard box.

Despite missing several key players through injury, Wagga City showed real promise in the match, enjoying solid spells of possession and carving open decent chances.

However, on 64 minutes, Wagga were struck a cruel blow. A casual back pass from a Wagga City defender to his goalkeeper took a wicked bobble and bounced straight over the keeper’s foot and trickled into the goal.

A stroke of luck for Prospect, but one they gratefully accepted.

Another resolute performance at home for Wagga City but, regrettably for coach Ben Schmid, another solid performance divorced from crucial competition points.

With other sides in the top four dropping points, there’s still life in coach Camilleri’s Prospect side, but they’ll need to repeat this performance next round against Western Condors to give themselves any chance.

Bankstown United (0) vs Camden Tigers (1)

If this match has taught us anything, it’s that this year’s final series is going to be electric.

Perhaps the best this competition has ever seen.

On Saturday night, two titanic top-of-the-table teams, in Bankstown and Camden, battled it out, looking to claim bragging rights as ‘the team to beat’ in the Men’s State League competition.

This was a highly competitive game, in which both teams enjoyed periods of dominance and quality chances.

The first goal was always going to be crucial in such a tight match and fans had to wait until midway through the second half before the deadlock was finally broken.

Dean Mugridge, continued his recent goal scoring form, finishing expertly in the 68th minute.

Despite their lead, Camden refused to park the bus, continuing to attack ferociously.

Bankstown searched desperately for an equaliser, with Tom Markovski threatening on multiple occasions.

When the official’s board went up for 10 minutes of injury time, Bankstown surged, believing this was their chance to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat.

But Camden held on.

A hugely impressive three points for Dean Bradley’s side, in a week where they have beaten Hurstville FC, Nepean, and now Bankstown – the rest of the competition will be on high alert as Camden look to have timed their run to the finals perfectly.

Claudio Canosa was disappointed his side weren’t able to take a point away from the match but highlighted the need to focus on winning their next match to ensure they don’t lose any momentum in the final four rounds.

Hurstville FC (1) vs Nepean FC (0) – Sunday 5pm

Just when you thought we’ve seen it all, Round 14 throws another curve ball at us from an already crazy weekend of shocks and surprises.

All the early chances in this match fell the way of Nepean. After flexing their muscle with a resounding 4-1 victory over the Minotaurs last week, it looked like Nepean had picked up where they left off last round.

However they weren’t able to capitalise on any of their chances. Magdy Andrawes feared his team’s missed opportunities would come back to haunt them, and that’s exactly what happened midway through the second half.

Hurstville FC whipped the ball in from the corner and Patrick Lloyd rose highest to thump home his header.

Advantage Hurstville.

It was fast becoming ‘one of those nights’ for Nepean and coach Andrawes. Everything they touched turned to gold last week, but this week it was turning to dust.

Their misery was compounded late in the second half when Sebastian Bell showed his left is used for more than just standing on, when he placed the ball home into the corner of the net – after a swift breakaway from Adrian Livio.

An impressive response from the Hurstville side, knowing their season was on the line.

With only four games left, every match counts for both Nepean and Hurstville as the race for the top four is closer than ever before!

- By Ryan Latty