The pain of losing last year’s grand final to Sydney City drove Dural Warriors to an emphatic 6-3 victory over premiers Enfield Rovers in the 2011/12 championship decider at The Sports Halls, Homebush, on Friday night.
A packed venue was treated to an exciting finale of an equally enthralling competition as Dural piled on four straight goals in the closing 10 minutes to build a match-winning 6-2 lead and take out this year’s trophy.
The win certainly erased last year’s heartbreak and elevated Dural to champion status for the first time, and coach Rob Varela was proud as punch.
“It feels pretty good, actually,” he told Football NSW. “This is the result of 3-4 years hard work and sticking to our guns. We’ve had our knockers about our style of play but we showed tonight that it is a good way to play the game.”
The Warriors were patient and methodical and capitalised on a couple of Rovers errors late in the second half to seal the deal after the match was deadlocked at a nail-biting 2-2 with 10 minutes to go.
With Pat Pace (Enfield) and Corey Biczo (Dural) both missing in action through suspensions, the game was only 10 seconds old when Dural had their first opportunity, Enfield keeper Jimmy Gullotta denying Toby Seeto after the nifty Warriors player had dispossessed Lachlan Wright at midcourt, and Gullotta was called into action again moments later to stop a blistering Seeto drive.
But the momentum shifted as Enfield finally found their groove and in-form Shervin Adeli went close, only some sharp goalkeeping from Alistair Bruce keeping the scoreline at 0-0.
Eight minutes in and Dural blew a golden chance to open the scoring when Blake Rosier’s shot and follow up were both well saved by Gullotta and Greg Giovenali’s close-range effort was cleared off the line by the Enfield defence.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 16th minute when a pin-point Superbowl-inspired full court throw from Gullotta was glanced into goal with a clever Jacob Di Mento header at the edge of the D, an advancing Bruce caught out of position and Rovers led 1-0.
They almost extended their lead two minutes later when Bruce came out to intercept a pass but only slid the ball as far as Tim Simpson who shot to the right of an open goal.
Several more Enfield efforts were blocked by a scrambling Dural defence and Varela had seen enough to call a time out at the 18th minute mark with his team on the back foot.
The coach’s words found their mark when Giovenali returned and sent one blast sailing just over the bar and another shot forcing Gullotta into action, and Dural finally found the breakthrough two minutes before halftime when Giovenali played the ball back to Seeto to finish off with a great drive into goal to level the scores up at 1-1.
Seeto almost scored again from the restart when he pinched the ball from Wright and Gullotta came across for a good catch on the run.
The miss launched a great counter attack from Enfield and some crisp passing into the danger zone saw Adeli at the far post with the goalkeeper beaten, but Giovenali was there to save the day and cleared off the line to keep the scores unchanged at the interval.
The Warriors fired out of the break and piled on some early pressure, Giovenali forcing another save from Gullotta before Seeto fed Isaac Wadik at the top of the D, and his brilliant touch and shot across goal hit the back of the net to lift Dural in front 2-1 five minutes into the term.
The game got spicy and a couple of innocuous challenges gave referees Jonathon Moore and Scott Kidson plenty of work with the whistle, but the officials were doing a pretty good job in testing circumstances to keep the game flowing.
But the third official was forced to intervene when a fired-up Enfield coach Ernie Bivona was marched from the court in the 36th minute after an attacking Adeli was stopped in his tracks by a solid Bruce tackle and Zach Caruana almost scored at the other end, only some inspirational keeping from Gullotta denying Dural a controversial goal.
With Bivona watching from the crowd, Rovers lifted and Wright showed his class with a great touch and shot from out wide that went through everyone and only had to be touched into goal by Adeli at the far post.
At 2-2 in the 37th minute it was anyone’s game and the vocal crowd of 250 was loving it.
As the clock ticked over to 10 minutes to go Gullotta had his worst moment of the game. After doing so well with the gloves at the back the Enfield custodian decided to go on a canter up court only to turn the ball over and watch helplessly on as Giovenali tucked the ball into goal to give Dural a 3-2 lead.
Gullotta made amends moments later when he saved well from Daine Merrin’s close range shot but the normally animated keeper was clearly rattled and could only watch in horror as Wadik let one fly from an acute angle, the rocket squeezing between Gullotta’s gloves and the near post and the Warriors led 4-2 in the 44th minute.
Dural were on fire and extended their lead in the blink of an eye when Merrin found Seeto on the left and he guided the ball in for a 5-2 advantage.
Enfield called a time out with two minutes left and returned to the court with a fifth man press, but that played right into Dural’s hands when Merrin blasted into an open goal and the game was in the bag at 6-2.
Rovers never gave up and Tim Mascarello did well to draw substitute Warriors keeper Shane Linton off his line before sending a great pass to Adeli who finished off nicely in front of goal inside the final minute, but it was all too late as the fulltime buzzer sounded to spark wild celebrations from the Dural bench and their elated supporters.
Warriors captain Merrin was ecstatic and praised his team-mates’ composure in a grueling match.
“We’ve been working hard all season and play with a lot of effort and a lot of passion… and we have a great leader in Rob Varela,” he said after the game.
“We gave away a lot of silly stuff last week [in their narrow major semi-final win over Enfield and Rob made us work hard on that at training.
“We’ve been talking all season about how bad it felt last year [grand final defeat to Eagles] and that really drove us to want to win it this year.”
Varela agreed, but extended his plaudits to a gallant Rovers outfit.
“The boys knew what it felt like not to win it and they didn’t want to go through that again,” he said.
“I really want to thank the guys for all the hard work they put in, but also to Enfield who never gave up and kept it close for most of the way.”
A distraught Rovers coach Ernie Bivona could only look to the future after a fantastic season fell one game short.
“I’m shattered, but still proud of the boys,” he said. “We gave it our all, but full respect to Dural and Rob Varela, they deserved their win. We played pretty solid in the first half but they were very patient and did all the small things right, and in a grand final that’s what gets the result.”
“Our boys will be back next year to give it another go and the pain they’ll feel from this will only help them get ready for next time.”
“I’d like to thank my team and the club and all our supporters who came down tonight.”
It was further celebrations on both sides when the Futsalroos squad was announced for the upcoming Asian qualifiers with 11 of the 14 players plying their trade in the NSW premier league.
The full squad is Greg Giovenali (Dural), Toby Seeto (Dural), Shervin Adeli (Enfield), Lachlan Wright (Enfield), Andrew Gomez (Sydney City), Peter Spathis (Sydney City), Chris Zeballos (Sydney City), George Cattanach (Boomerangs), Robbie Cattanach (Boomerangs), Gavin O’Brien (Campbelltown), Simon Keith (Campbelltown), Daniel Fogarty (West City Crusaders), Jarrod Basger (Maccabi Hakoah), Danny Ngaluafe (Queensland). Rob Varela is the assistant coach.
FNSW Futsal manager Damian Briggs was delighted that a very good summer competition ended with a bang.
“I’d like to congratulate all the teams in what was a very competitive competition this year,” he aid. “The top six teams went down to the last round with all finishing positions up for grabs, and all the clubs are very well represented in the grand finals.”
“Enfield and Dural set a high benchmark this season and congratulations to Enfield on winning the minor premiership, well done to Dural for taking out the grand final, and also to Inner West Allstars for a big effort to win the club championship. Now the pressure is on the other clubs to meet that standard.”
“I really think the men’s premier league is the strongest it’s been since its inception and I think we’re all looking forward to the next summer competition,” he said.
“Finally, thanks to the Futsal public who made the effort to come out on a Friday night for a one-off game and added to a terrific atmosphere. It proved there is a great following of futsal in NSW and Sydney.”
Super League club champions the Phoenix club from Ryde look likely to advance into next season’s premier league at the expense of South Coast Taipans.
The Futsal premier league action concludes this Saturday with the grand finals of all grades from under-12’s to open women’s at Dural Indoor Sports & Leisure Centre. Games start at 11am
Dural Warriors: 1. A. Bruce, 8. T. Seeto, 18. I. Wadick, 32. G. Giovenali, 11. D. Merrin Subs: 12. S. Linton, 14. J. Smith, 4. A. Bradley, 15. B. Rosier, 24. N. Niski, 16. W. Giovenali, 68. Z. Caruana
Goals: T. Seeto 2, I. Wadick 2, G. Giovenali, D. Merrin.
Enfield Rovers: 18. J. Gullotta, 6. J. Dimento, 21. L. Wright, 11. T. Mascarello, 10. S. Adeli Subs: 8. N. Fragassi, 9. T. Simpson, 13. J. Foti, 1. J. Manicalco
Goals: S. Adeli 2, J. Dimento
Referees: J. Moore, S. Kidson, N. Backo
Crowd: 350 approx.