It’s an Enfield vs Dural grand final this Friday night at The Sports Halls, Sydney Olympic Park (7.30pm kick-off) after the Rovers held off a spirited Campbelltown Quake side 5-4 in Monday night’s preliminary final
The top two sides will shake, rattle and roll once again in a season defining game that will split their summer rivalry – their previous three meetings finished one 5-4 win apiece and a 5-5 draw – and ultimately determine the premier league champions for 2011/12.
But it was a brave Campbelltown effort that Harry Houdini would’ve been proud of after finishing this year’s competition in fourth place following tight final-round victories over South Coast and Boomerangs, dismantling futsal heavyweights Sydney City in an outstanding knockout semi-final, and storming back from 5-2 down to almost topple premiers Enfield at Morris Iemma Indoor Sports Centre on Monday night.
The tough contest will surely give Rovers excellent preparation for their hotly anticipated rematch with the Warriors, especially as Dural will be ready and waiting for them with an extra two days rest.
Enfield started the preliminary final on fire with leading scorer Shervin Adeli (17 goals) finding the back of the net after just four minutes and Tim Mascarello (who’s scored in his last six appearances) doubling the advantage only two minutes later.
Campbelltown finally got going and in-form Mark Symington halved the deficit at the quarter-hour mark and it was game on again – and the huge crowd was loving it.
Rovers received a boost from an unusual suspect as Patrick Pace bobbed up for just his second goal of the season inside the last minute of the half, but Quake sniper Danny Martinez responded immediately after the break to bring the score back to 3-2.
With the game still up for grabs Enfield built an imposing 5-2 lead though Mascarello and Jacob Di Mento freekicks in the 30th and 36th minutes, leaving Campbelltown coach Simon Keith with little choice but to throw caution to the wind and go to a fifth man.
The move proved fortuitous when Symington cracked two goals in the space of a minute to give Quake a chance at 5-4 down with eight minutes to go, but the Rovers wouldn’t wilt under the constant Quake attacks and held on for a well-deserved win.
It was a terrific end of season effort from Campbelltown who won their last three games on the back of some inspiring attacking futsal, Symington completing back-to-back hat-tricks against Sydney City and premiers Enfield (eight goals in his last three games), Shane Ardle scoring eight goals in the last four matches, Shane Borg doing a fantastic job in goals, ever-consistent Martinez (16 goals), and the young brigade showing terrific promise.
The Rovers badly wanted their Warriors rematch and showed it with some clever counter attacking and stoic defence to deny Quake, and coach Ernie Bivona wants more of the same this Friday.
“Campbelltown certainly have us prepared well for Dural on Friday night. They’re great boys, I really respect them, and they really put us under the thumb,” he said.
“They’re very fit young kids and had nothing to lose and threw everything at us and we really had to use that mentality of not conceding. They did score a couple of goals against us at the end but the defensive desperation from my boys was tremendous.”
“We wanted to mainly protect Joe Foti in goals and I told them to not leave anything behind, to give everything you have and we’ll worry about Dural on Friday. I have to give a special mention to Joe. The way he did his job in the two semi-finals was unbelievable, and he stepped in without complaint.”
Bivona was relieved to make the decider and believes his team has finally arrived as a futsal force. “The players really deserve it after showing consistency through the second half of the season,” he said.
“I mentioned earlier in the year about that little donkey coming up and joining the other big names in the competition. A lot of people think about City, Dural and Quake as being the powerhouses and I think we’ve now earned some respect, so I’m really satisfied for the players about that.”
Quake club secretary Carlos Martinez was proud of the way his team finished off the season, going very close to pulling off a second stunning upset and make a shock grand final.
“We had a good go and just let ourselves down with a few defensive lapses,” he said. “They scored twice from freekicks and one from a corner; defensively we should be smart enough to defend them well and we didn’t.”
“When we copped that second goal early I thought we were going to cop a hammering, but the guys really stood up [at 2-0 down and 3-1 down] and were looking the goods.”
“Two freekicks gave them a 5-2 lead and with 8-9 minutes to go we went to a fifth man and boy we really played well. We scored two quick goals and kept peppering their goal, corner after corner. Joe Foti did a sensational job for them in goals, we just couldn’t get through him, and time ran out for us. Another couple more minutes and I’m sure we would’ve found that equaliser.”
“It was a great atmosphere and the way it finished was really good. Enfield were deserving winners. They have a great squad of really experienced blokes and showed it.”
Martinez was more excited by the potential the Campbelltown club has with so many talented youngsters proving their worth this season.
“I probably lamented the fact we were a little bit naïve [against Enfield] but that’s the price you pay when you’re giving young kids a go,” he said.
“Simon [Keith] was pleased with the effort and the way we fought all the way to the end, and we’re not using their young age as an excuse because giving them the experience is a good thing for us.”
“However, it’s one thing is to say it today and another to make it happen in the future. We are nicely placed with a lot of good young Quake guys; we’re happy,” Martinez said.
“Halfway through the season we weren’t even thinking about making the semis but we finished well and went so close and went toe-to-toe with the premiers. We’ve got big plans for next year but, now, I think we all need a break.”
As a proud futsal supporter Martinez was drooling over this Friday night’s grand final match-up between Enfield and Dural.
“It’s going to be a great final and I can’t pick a winner,” he said.
“The best two teams are in the final: Dural because they’ve got a very good coach and the two big guys, Greg [Giovenali] and Toby [Seeto], and Enfield have the spirit and experience, Shervin [Adeli] is a freak with the ball and their captain Jacob [Di Mento] is an excellent motivator.”
“After the season they’ve had against each other you really can’t split them, so it’s going to be amazing and I hope it goes all the way to the end.”
Friday night’s grand final
The premier league championship decider between Enfield Rovers and Dural Warriors is set to be an absolute cracker of a game if form, history and statistics are anything to go by.
Enfield led both of their last two encounters against Dural 4-2, holding on for a 5-4 win in round 12 but succumbing to a Warriors onslaught in Saturday’s major semi-final to go down 5-4 on the last kick of the game.
Isaac Wadik is the only Dural player to have scored in all three meetings between the two sides, but Greg Giovenali was missing from their one-goal loss and hit goals in the other two fixtures.
The Warriors have four players in double-figures for the summer, boast the league’s best defensive record by a mile (45 goals conceded in 15 games, an average concession of three per game), and in a real show of consistency they’ve now gone 14 matches with just the one loss (to Rovers).
For Enfield, Lachlan Wright and Shervin Adeli have scored in all three contests, and stalwart Jimmy Gullotta is back in goals following his suspension allowing potent target Joe Foti to move back up front.
Six Rovers have scored nine or more goals this season giving them real firepower across the board (they average almost six a game as a team, a league high), and in a damning statistic Enfield only lost once all season (to Dural) when they’ve managed to score three goals or more.
Rovers coach Ernie Bivona believed all the pressure is on the Warriors following their last-gasp win in Saturday’s major semi-final and said defence would be a major key to winning on Friday.
“During the season a lot of futsal is about attacking and scoring goals but it always changes in the finals when it becomes more of a defensive frame of mind,” he said.
“There’s more pressure, you’re more careful about going forward and you tend to want to hold onto the leads you get. There’s more determination in defence because of the value of the game.”
“We won’t try to change much. All season we’ve done the same training, the same warm-up, and I think the hunger the boys have after what happened on Saturday night has got us in a good position,” Bivona said.
“We’re pretty relaxed. We’ve already got the minor premiership so this will be a bonus. The pressure is really on Dural with all the players they’ve got, so they should be expected to win.
Warriors coach Rob Varela agreed the result would be swayed by solid defence but wouldn’t buy into any favouritism tag.
“They’re a good side, have a deep squad and are hard to beat. They’re the minor premiers and we proved that we’re competitive against them [after Saturday night’s win], but it was touch and go and could’ve gone either way,” he said.
“Regardless of what happened in the semi-final it’s nil-all again, isn’t it… it’s five on five at any given time, we’ve both got a couple of players in the Futsalroos squad, so there’s really nothing between the two sides.
“Obviously good defence wins championships. If you can contain the other side to a handful of goals it makes your job a lot easier. But if we’re not careful they can catch us on the break, so we’ll have to be on our toes.”
Enfield Rovers take on Dural Warriors in the premier league grand final at The Sports Halls, Sydney Olympic Park on Friday night, February 10 (7.30pm kick-off). All are welcome to attend and support the championship decider after a very exciting and hotly contested season.