The latest round of the most competitive comp in Australia
The final round of Premier League will be an absolute cracker with Enfield, Dural and Sydney City separated by a mere point in the minor premiership race, and the three teams gunning for fourth spot – Boomerangs, Campbelltown and Inner West – also separated by a point.
While the top three sides are sure to be given a run for their money, South Coast and Mascot both showing good form and Inner West still in with a finals shot, the big game will be at Minto with Campbelltown and Boomerangs locked into a winner-takes-all contest.
Round 13 threw up plenty of exciting action as Enfield needed everything to hold off Inner West 4-2, Dural left it late to beat Mascot 6-3, Sydney City beat Boomerangs 9-2 in a second half blitz, while Campbelltown fought out a 5-4 thriller against South Coast.
There was no change at the top of the goalscorers chart, but Pete Gaffney’s 10th goal for South Coast meant that every team now has a player to have reached double-figures this season.
Rovers ruffle All Stars
Competition leaders Enfield Rovers were given a good fight in a 4-2 win over Inner West Allstars at Morris Iemma Sports Centre on Saturday night.
In a tightly fought contest only a couple of late Enfield goals got them over the line to keep them in first place heading into this weekend’s final round.
Rovers blasted out of the blocks and led 2-0 early behind goals to Lachlan Wright and Jacob Di Mento before Inner West responded in typical gritty fashion to level proceedings up before halftime through Steven Kayes and Dylan Maloney scores.
The second half was another fantastic spectacle but Allstars would frustrate themselves by missing a few golden opportunities when Rovers steadied and scored twice in the final five minutes to seal the result, Tim Mascarello adding the third and Patrick Pace finishing off a great release from Jim Gullotta.
Enfield coach Ernie Bivona was delighted to win a good battle, especially against a side coached by wily Matteo Maiorana.
“They put a little bit of pressure on us, I guess a few of our boys ate too much pannetone over Christmas and sat back a bit too much, but I felt we deserved the thee points,” he said.
“When you end someone’s run [Allstars] they’re always going to be disappointed, but it’s a shame they’re out of the semis as I would’ve loved to give them another hiding. I’d just like to know which players Matteo wants me to leave out next time?”
Enfield now have to beat a much-improved South Coast at home this Saturday to claim the minor premiership, but the result is far from expected.
“Last time we played Allstars we beat them 8-3 and they were more in it this time around, so we know not to rock up to any game thinking any team is going to be an easy beat,” Bivona said.
“South Coast helped put us in this [minor premiership] position when they drew with Dural last month so we’ll be on our toes and ready for them. But one more week and then it’s finals time.”
Maiorana was disappointed not to take something more from a highly competitive match and they now need a miracle for the men’s side to make the finals.
“It was a very even game against Enfield and both teams had some very good chances. The keepers were in good form at both ends and kept the teams equal until the last few minutes,” he said.
“Unfortunately we were missing five players and our legs got tired in the end and that’s probably what cost us the most.”
Showing the Premier League spirit is alive and well, Maiorana had a couple of tongue-in-cheek digs back at his counterpart.
“Ernie was very loud and parochial as per normal, but at 2-2 I think he was struggling under the pressure,” he said with a chuckle. “It was noticeable that the Enfield boys must have eaten a lot of pannetone over the Christmas period because we were matching it with them quite well.”
Allstars must now beat Dural this Saturday and hope Boomerangs draw at Campbelltown to figure in the post-season action.
“I think if we had taken some points yesterday we would’ve been in a much better position this weekend,” Maiorana said. “We’ll definitely still have a go at it as the three points will also help us in the club championship.”
Quake shake Taipans
Campbelltown Quake held off a determined South Coast Taipans 5-4 at Minto Indoor Sports Stadium on Saturday night.
Needing a win to keep their finals hopes alive, Campbelltown were on the back foot early when Coast target Pete Gaffney forced his way through for the opening goal in just the third minute of the game. It was Gaffney’s 10th strike of a solid season and lifted the away team into the lead.
It could have been more for the Taipans had Shane Borg not pulled off a string of fantastic saves in Campbelltown’s goal and Coast were to rue their missed opportunities.
Quake rumbled into action after the early setback and started a full-court press that would last the entire game. It reaped dividends almost immediately.
Shane Ardle equalised in the 13th minute before young gun Bruno Antelmi fired twice in quick succession either side of a Jake McGing goal to put the home side 4-1 up at halftime.
The Taipans have shown to be a much stronger unit in the second half of the season and goals to Sarhand Mehrkhavari and Daniel Ferraro had them breathing down Quake’s necks at 4-3 down, despite being a player short for a few minutes after losing Daniel Atkins to a second yellow card.
South Coast were on fire and had several chances to level the scores with a number of missed one-on-ones against an under siege Borg, and their fortunes opened up further with the dismissal of Quake star Damian Brosque following a clumsy challenge and then a second booking for dissent.
With their backs to the wall and their season on the line up stepped Ardle, who plunged a dagger into the Taipans efforts with his second goal of the game inside the last four minutes.
But the Coast refused to surrender and a second Mehrkhavari score pegged the gap to 5-4 to make it a tense closing few minutes, only some stoic defence saving the day for Campbelltown.
Quake club secretary Carlos Martinez needed a few moments to settle his nerves after a thrilling encounter that now sets up an enticing winner-takes-all final round match-up against Boomerangs at their Minto “epicentre” this Saturday night.
“To be honest, when they scored to make it 5-4 and we had a man down, I thought they would pinch it,” he said, “but we defended strongly and got away with it.”
“We missed a lot of opportunities in front of goal but we’re happy to go to round 14 with a real chance at home against Boomerangs. If we win we go through, if we lose we don’t – pretty simple, really.
“Given the importance of the game I’m sure they’ll be gunning for us, and except for Brosque [out suspended] we’ll have a full team.”
After an edgy season Martinez was glad to have a finals shot, but he said it didn’t have to come down to a last game blockbuster.
“If you look back at our results we’ve had three draws. We led Boomerangs 5-1 and drew, and if we had won that game or one of the other games [a tough 2-2 draw with highflyers Dural and a shock 5-5 draw with Mascot], we’d be in a better position.”
“The work [coach] Simon Keith is doing with the boys has been excellent and next year we’ll be a much better side for what we’ve been doing this year. Making the semis will be mission accomplished, and from there anything can happen.”
Martinez also held special praise for the way South Coast had turned their season around and kept up their efforts to the very end despite relegation looming over their heads.
“In all nine grades they fought hard and played like they belong in Premier League, all credit to them. Hopefully they can build from here and keep their sides and be a force again next year in Super League and come back up better for the experience.”
Taipans coach April Van Woerkom would need to grow an extra pair of hands to count the number of times her side had been in a great position this season and failed to pull off victory.
“We were a bit unlucky again… we failed to convert six one-on-ones,” she said. “It’s just lapses in concentration that have let us down this year, but I think we are a premier league side. We just left our run a little too late to put it all together this time around.”
South Coast play league leaders Enfield this Saturday with one last chance to show the competition what they’re made of.
“It would be nice to go out on a high,” Van Woerkom said with a smile, knowing a final round victory would probably prevent Enfield from winning the minor premiership.
Warriors outmuscle Vipers
Dural Warriors needed three late goals to finally shake a valiant Mascot Vipers 6-3 at the Menai Indoor Sports Centre on Saturday night.
With a look ahead to next season the Vipers fielded mostly youth players in the senior game but it took a while for them to get going as Dural raced to a three goal lead before you could plant your backside on a seat.
But Mascot did get going, in emphatic fashion, with youngsters Jakob Radas scoring twice and Brian Griffin-Colls adding another to draw the two sides level at 3-3 early in the second half – and there was no shifting your backside after that as the two sides went at it hammer and tongs.
The action was fast and furious and some heroic goalkeeping kept the sides close before three late Warriors goals lifted them to a vital victory.
Toby Seeto was in impressive form for Dural scoring a hat-trick to take him to 11 goals for the season, with team-mates Daine Merrin, Josh Smith and Rhys Giovenali also troubling the scorers.
Warriors coach Rob Varela was pleased with the performance despite the mid-game slump and said a top-two finish would do his team nicely.
“We dominated the first half but got into foul trouble and couldn’t keep up our defensive intensity, but after they equalised we took control of the match again,” he said.
“We can’t control where we finish [minor premiership], we just have to perform well this Saturday [against Allstars] and go from there.
“We’ve started to get some players back from injury and suspensions, but it’s what you do on the day that counts.
“Inner West is playing for a spot in the semis and if that doesn’t lift them nothing will. They’re a tough side anyway and we need to perform well to get the win and see what happens with the other results.”
Mascot club president was delighted with the way his young team stuck it to their lofty opposition.
At 3-3 we had a handful of opportunities and really put them under the pump, but we couldn’t put them away,” he said. “Dural have some very smart players and at the right time they scored the right goals.”
“We conceded some soft goals but overall I’m ecstatic with the performance of the young boys. We had a very unsettling year but you will see next year a different ball game altogether.
“When it comes to playing skilful Futsal for the spectators, no one does it better than us. At the end of the day you want to enjoy it and spectators don’t like seeing defensive tactics, they want action.”
Despite the men’s side languishing near the bottom of the table, Mascot are still second in the club championship and Ben David was looking forward to this week’s fixture against long-time rivals Sydney City.
“Both teams play attacking football and we have a long relationship with them; this will be very enjoyable. There is still plenty to play for, for both clubs.”
Eagles smash Boomerangs
Sydney City Eagles went on a second-half rampage in their 9-2 demolition of Boomerangs at Bankstown Basketball Stadium on Saturday night.
In a tight first term the fancied Eagles clung to a 2-1 halftime advantage, but the halftime oranges must have been zesty as Sydney City broke the shackles and scored seven goals to run out 9-2 winners and give them one last shot of finishing in the top two.
Miles Downie was the chief destroyer for City scoring four goals, while Chris Hanly, Ray Miller, Andres Gomez, Michael Candy and Mojtaba Mohebbee grabbed a goal each.
Eagles coach Jamie Amendolia didn’t read too much into the scoreline and remained focused on the big games ahead, starting with Mascot in the final round this weekend.
“Boomerangs were short a few players who had Australia training [on Sunday morning] and we only led 2-1 at halftime,” he said.
“The boys went on with it in the second half, but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves. I think it will be hard to win the minor premiership from here but hopefully we can still get into the top two as you definitely want to have a second chance.”
“It’s always a tough game against Mascot but hopefully we have a little more to play for.”
With the top three teams separated by a point Amendolia said there would be an interesting dynamic to the final finishing places.
“I was saying last night that this season Enfield has dominated Dural, Dural have dominated us, and we seemed to dominate Enfield, so it’s all quite interesting,” he said.
“The closeness between the teams is very good for spectators and it should be a great finals series too. With Australian selections going on at the moment it also gives the players something extra to play for.”
Next week’s games
Round 14 (Saturday, January 28) sees Campbelltown Quake host Boomerangs at Minto Indoor Sports Stadium, Enfield Rovers battle South Coast Taipans at All Saints Grammar, Belmore, Inner West Allstars tackle Dural Warriors at the Morris Iemma Sports Centre, and Mascot Vipers welcome Sydney City Eagles to All Sorts Fitness Centre.