Western Raiders 7 def, Benfica 3
The Western Raiders mens team came from two goals down to score seven unanswered goals to defeat Benfica 7-3 in an action packed contest at the Blacktown Leisure Centre.
Benfica took an early lead when an extended tussle for the ball involving several players was cleared up court and Benfica’s Jacob Maruca raced onto the ball in clear space and slipped it past the keeper.
Midway through the half Benfica increased their lead when Billy Dimitropoulos held off his markers, slipped down the left side and lashed a sudden shot past the keeper to make it 2-0.
The Raiders had been pressing the Benfica goal for much of the game but could not crack their opponents defence but shortly before half time things suddenly turned around.
Corey Biczo scored a fine goal as he slipped the ball past the advancing keeper from an acute angle to open the scoring for the home side.
The Raiders scored their second almost immediately when Reece Diaz got between keeper and defender. His effort deflected off the defence and into the net to level the game at 2-2.
Moments before half time Marcelo De Andrade’s slide tackle in the goal area prevented Justin Miller from sweeping the ball home. De Andrade was given a red card and James Kirkland Morris duly converted the penalty to make it 3-2.
The pace of the game stepped up a notch in the second half and the physical challenges and shots on goal were coming thick and fast from both sides with keepers Peter Akers and Costa D’addona both making some great saves.
The Raiders held off some heavy Benfica pressure and went further ahead from a quick counter attack when Chris Madani collected a nice pass and beat the advancing keeper.
The Raiders took a firm grip on the game when a pass from the Benfica keeper was deflected into the path of Justin Miller who slotted the ball into the goal to make it 5-2.
In a controversial moment Raiders keeper Peter Akers threw a quick long ball down court. Deputy keeper Billy Dimitropoulos let the ball go untouched into the net thinking the goal could not be allowed. The nearest ref in a side-on position called the play a non-goal but the furthest ref overruled and allowed the goal to stand clearly believing the ball brushed Corey Biczo on the way into the net.
Benfica were incensed and their heads went down and this allowed Corey Biczo to score his third and the Raiders seventh when he got between two defenders to slam the ball home.
Kevin Oliveira pulled a deserved consolation goal back for the visitors late in the game.
Benfica came into the game missing several key senior players and the loss of captain Marcelo De Andrade did not help their cause.
As the game wore on the Raiders enthusiasm and physical presence helped them wrestle control of the game and lay the foundation for an emphatic 7-3 victory.
1. Peter Akers
3. Matthew Kelly
8. James Kirkland Morris
6. Chris Madani
4. Corey Biczo
7. Justin Miller
9. Reece Diaz
71. Tomislav Herceg
1. Costa D’addona
2. Billy Dimitropoulos
4. Marcelo De Andrade
5. Jacob Maruca
7. Harley Da Silva
6. Mark Pinto
8. Ahilan Ratnamohan
10. Anthony Poniris
14. Kevin Oliveira
30. Wayne Estevao
Raiders – Chris Madani, Corey Biczo 3, James Kirkland Morris, Justin Miller, Own Goal
Benfica – Billy Dimitropoulos, Jacob Maruca, Kevin Oliveira
Fouls – Raiders 3, Benfica 3
Yellow Cards – Benfica 1
Red Cards – Benfica 1
Officials – Gavin Lee, Darius Turner