Experienced Hakoah lineup told at Hensley Field

By Corinthian (Paul Green):

NSW – PS4 NPL 2 (Men) – Round 6 – Feature game

3pm, Sunday 26th April 2015 – Hensley Field, Pagewood

Hakoah Sydney City East FC 2 (Neil Jablonski 23′ pen, Jacob Esposito 59′)
Mount Druitt Town Rangers FC  0


This game was far from a classic, but it was one of only four games to go ahead on the Sunday after Anzac Day when all matches in this division were scheduled.

As it was one of two to be played on synthetic pitches (the other at Lambert Park between Sydney University and Macarthur Rams) Back of the Net made a bee-line to Hensley Field in the heart of the industrial belt of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, hoping for a better showing from Hakoah Sydney City East who were poor the previous week against Spirit FC; and in that respect they at least saw Mark Robertson’s team deliver.

But Hakoah were up against a young and inexperienced Mount Druitt Town Rangers , whose own form thus far has been rather scratchy and while they tried their hearts out here they never really looked like matching the more experienced – much more – Hakoah and went down 2-0 after a game that was played in squally rain for the most part.

Hakoah had a few players back, some from suspension and others from injury, but were still missing a few of their well known players including Gavin Rae.

Mount Druitt fielded a bit of a makeshift side, too, by all accounts, with a few of their Under-20s drafted in.

The first half was mostly the domain of the home team who went to the lead after 23 minutes, following a free kick out wide, delivered by Deklan Gilmartin that arrived in the Rangers’ penalty area where Hakoah’s predatory strikers, Michael McCrory and Neil Jablonksi, were waiting.

Before desperate Mount Druitt keeper could get to the ball as he raced out to punch the ball clear, referee Jerry Bitas spotted a push in the back from Rainer Smahel and awarded a penalty.

Jablonski, the seemingly ageless 32 year old, who spent many years at Sutherland and is nursing a back injury these days, made no mistake with the spot kick and Hakoah were one up.

Mount Druitt were doing their best to get something going up front as Bryan Soane and the enthusiastic Osadolor Edosomwan worked hard to get on top of a well-drilled Hakoah defence.

But it was really Hakoah’s half until Edosomwan went close in the 40th, finding the side netting on the right after pressing strongly.

Hakoah’s Jacob Esposito, playing in an unfamiliar forward role, had also fired into the side netting for his own team in the 17th and at half time it was still 1-0 with Mount Druitt looking to contain their opponents and perhaps throw on some fresh legs late in the contest to try and gain some ground.

They did make an earlier change, however, in the 55th, bringing on Kojiro Hori who sparked them up a bit, but containment only continued for a further four minutes before Esposito found the net this time.

From out wide on the right he spotted Town Rangers’ keeper, Robert Kolak, well off his line and tried an audacious lob from distance which sailed over the keeper and two bounces into the empty net.

Mount Druitt then had no alternative but to try and attack and they did so right away with Edosomwan steering just wide in the 61st and captain Daniel McCann getting through to face the keeper only to see Matthew Symes save the attempt with his feet.

Jablonski, who had been in doubt before the game and had passed a late fitness test, began to struggle and was replaced by Kevin Lopes soon after the hour mark.

After at least one more attacking move that tested Mount Druitts defence and saw Michael McCrory fail to reach a fine, low cross from the left from Michael Randall in the 68th the visitors made another change, bringing on Liam Daynes in the 71st.

Not long after this McCrory also bowed out to be replaced by the dynamic youngster, Federico Kertscher.

Mount Druitt seemed to sense that with their two most senior strikers off the scene they might have a chance and really lifted over the closing 15 minutes or so.

They won a few free kicks and corners, but suffered a blow when one of their most experienced and well-performing players,
Shane Ardle, had to leave the field injured in the 82nd minute.

Hakoah got going again after that and it took a good save from Kolak to deny them a third goal in the 88th from Esposito, who’s run onto a nice through pass from Gilmartin.

Overall it wasn’t a great spectacle, but Hakoah coach Mark Robertson seemed pleased enough.

“Definitely a lot better today than last week. These teams are never easy to play against and we needed to work for the win.

“Yes after the two strikers went off they (Mount Druitt) did begin to get going again, but we did well to hold them.

“They’ve been in this division a long time and they know what’s required to do well, so we knew we’d be in for a hard game,” the former Burnley captain told ‘Back of the Net’.

“I was particularly pleased with Jacob Esposito, who was playing in an unfamiliar position for us today and stepped up to the plate.

Mount Druitt’s coaching staff were less impressed by their team’s performance and expressed their disappointment with the effort.

Hakoah remain one of the teams who’ve collected a few wins now and it’s really up to them to show more consistency if they’re to challenge for honours after their highly successful promotion year in 2014.

They share the lead on 12 points with Central Coast and Northern Tigers after a topsy-turvy start to the new season, though Hakoah are ahead on goal difference.

Mount Druitt with several players absent due to injury and key man Shane Ardle joining them on the sidelines after the game, they will be looking for more in the weeks ahead to try and gain some foundation for a year of further improvement.

Match details
Crowd: tba

Hakoah Sydney City East FC: 1 Matthew Symes (gk); 2 Remy Wolanski, 4 Bradley Walker, 20 Joseph Dingwall, 13 Michael Randall; 10 Deklan Gilmartin, 8 Paul Orgad, 16 Brad Paikin, 19 Jacob Esposito, 9 Neil Jablonski (c) (7 Kevin Lopes 66), 5 Michael McCrory (26 Federico Kertscher 78)
Subs:  RGK  Jesse Lenn, 27 Alex Nicolosi, 35 Christopher El-Hayek

Coach: Mark Robertson
Yellow cards: Jacob Esposito 83, Red cards: Nil

Mount Druitt Town Rangers FC: 1 Robert Kolak (gk); 2 Brian Griffin-Colis, 18 Luke Jenner,  7 Luke Clifford (3 Liam Daynes 71), 8 Shane Ardle (6 Daniel Embleton 82); 14 Daniel McCann (c), 15 Rainer Smahel, 10 Daniel Vellonio (11 Kojiro Hori 55), 16 Nathan Ralph, 9 Bryan Soane, 12 Osadolor Edosomwan
Subs not used: RGK 41 Jerry Tinker, 17 Dylan Owusu, 3 Ben Grey

Coach: Aidan Desmond
Yellow cards: Rainer Smahel 21, Nathan Ralph 23, Robert Kolak 64, Bryan Soane 76; Red cards: Nil

Ratings and points

Referee: Jerry Bitos; Assistants: Adam Naylor and Jack Bell

Game: 5/10
Pitch 10/10 (Synthetic)
Weather: Cold and wet

Players noted: Joseph Esposito (HSCE),  Michael Randell (HSCE), Paul Orgad (HSCE), Neil Jablonski (HSCE), Shane Ardle (MD), Kojiro Hori (MD)

YouTube video highlights: https://youtu.be/yPSJ0S5kjUs