FFA Cup 2015 – NSW Preliminary Round 4 – Feature game

by Corinthian (Paul Green):

lost to
HURSTVILLE FC 13 (Marko Banic 22, Ruben Viglino 29, 55, 63, Sebastian Bell 30, 44, 48, 78, Henry Kamleitner 37, 53,Michael Janov 70, Paul Gagro 81,87)

Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Wednesday 1st April 2015


One of many games played across Sydney and environs on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings was the clash between local Canterbury District Association side Earlwood Wanderers and NSW State League Division 2 side Hurstville FC at Lambert Park on Wednesday.

Earlwood, the former club of Socceroo legend, Johnny Warren, and current Sydney FC star, Bernie Ibini, had been given a bye in the previous round, while Hurstville had seen off a strong challenge from another Association team in Manly Vale 1-0 at Cromer Park in their opening match of the FFA Cup for 2015.

Neither team had much idea of what to expect, though the locals would have expected a tough encounter based on the pedigree of a Hurstville side which has long been known for its slick passing game.

Few of those in attendance, mostly Earlwood supporters, who brought a large contingent of juniors along to have a good kick- around, would have been prepared for what happened once the game got under way at 730pm, after the youngsters had enjoyed a prolonged outing on the synthetic surface.

Earlwood’s entire committee turned up to lend their support and they  sold out of a vast supply of sausages at the club-run barbecue, long before the end, thanks to the hungry fans and junior players keenly following the game.

Unfortunately, the Earlwood team became fodder for the Hurstville side, almost as soon as the game kicked off, though their rivals did take 22 minutes to get on the scoreboard, before eventually running out 13-0 winners.

Both clubs start their domestic campaigns in another two weeks’ time, but on the score of fitness, never mind experience and skill Hurstville certainly appeared to have the edge.

Hurstville had it all over their opponents, who tried hard, but were overwhelmed by the class of their rivals and the Canterbury Association side had no real answers to the team based at Hurstville Oval.

The football served up by the State League team was of a high standard, but at no stage did Hurstville try and coast along, working hard to preserve a clean sheet right up until the final whistle.

Earlwood goalkeeper, Con Koukoupas foiled numerous attempts by Hurstville’s predatory strike-force throughout the game, saving brilliantly with his legs on a number of occasions early on and commanding his area well.

Hurstville relied mostly, at least early on, on the killer through- pass, but Earlwood’s backline was awake to the tactic and caught their opponents out numerous times with the offside flag raised on each occasion before they eventually scored.

With Koukoupas doing his best to stem the tide, it took until the 22nd minute for defender Marko Banic to nod in from a Hurstville corner on the right, with a header that took a deflection as it made its way past the keeper and in off the underside of the bar.

After that the flood gates opened and a solo run from Ruben Viglino, who went on to net a hat-trick, really flattened the Earlwood boys in the 29th minute.

Viglino did the spade-work to set up wide man Sebastian Bell to tap home a third in the 30th and Bell went on to score three more, though it was ‘only’ 5-0 at half-time.

Further goals from Henry Kamleitner in the 37th and Bell in the 44th, looked like putting the game well beyond the reach of Earlwood by half-time.

After another quick goal, mere seconds after the break, from Viglino, three more came in the next ten minutes and so by then it was 9-0.

A brief, quiet spell ensued, but some poor finishing and continued good work from the Earlwood keeper prevented any addition to the score until the 70th minute.

A few substitutions by Hurstville, including one of Paul Gagro, who scored twice late in the game, kept the pressure on, with the highlight a 30 yard rocket from Gagro in the 81st.

Right at the end Earlwood finally managed to penetrate the back-line of Hurstville, with a ball pushed through for Tony Sassine, who had moments earlier made a superb defensive tackle at the other end of the field.

Looking a real chance to score, with all of the defenders left in his wake, Sassine found Hurstville keeper, Matthew Mulroney, who had been untroubled for almost the whole match, needing to pull off an excellent save to preserve a clean sheet.

The only down side for Hurstville was an injury sustained by hat-trick man, Viglino, who pulled up on the approach to goal, towards the end, with what appeared to be a groin strain.

By then all three Hurstville subs had been made, but with such a substantial lead that was not going to be a problem for the visitors.

Winning coach, Tomi Vidovic, was not getting too carried away with the outcome.

“We made sure we kept playing football and showed them (Earlwood) our full respect right up until the end. This was a good experience for us and the pitch was ideal to play the way we like to.

“We’re two weeks away from the start of the season and we enjoy taking part in this competition as it brings together all kinds of teams and is good for football, with some very interesting matches for the supporters.

Beaten player-coach, John Boutzouklis, was not too disheartened by the final score.

“We could see that they were a good side and we’re only an Association team, so it was  a good experience for us.

“It will help us with our preparation for the new season and allows us to see what we need to work on.

“It was good to see our fans coming out to support us tonight and we really appreciated them being here.

Both sets of players ran to the stand side to applaud their respective supporter groups among the remaining crowd of around 100 or so on the night, though probably another 50 did not stay to the end due to school the next day.

Match details and ratings

Earlwood Wanderers: GK 1 Con Koukoupas 4 Christopher Georgakopoulos 32 Laz Georgoulas (C), 15 Luke Harris (Tiago Costa 46) 7 George Koumoukelis, 8 Anthony Pose, 6 Tony Sassine, 14 Nader Tubaleh  10 John Boutzouklis, 12 Martin Kalydi (2 Denny Pinheiro 89), 9 Anthony Blinoff (28 Scott Fraser 54)
Sub not used: 29 Simon Yazbeys
Yellow cards: Nil; Red cards: Nil
Player-coach: John Boutzouklis

Hurstville FC: GK 1 Matthew Mulroney; 7 Marko Banic (17 Michael Karagiannis), 6 Andrew Harb (C), 5 Jeff Forest (4 Luke Farrell 22), 3 Thomas O’Neill; 8 Thomas Kasunic, 15 Henry Kamleitner, 12 Ruben Viglino; 9 Denis Cutura (19 Paul Gagro), 18 Sebastian Bell, 14 Michael Janov
Subs not used: RGK 30Ayman Hill, 10 Daniel Kocina
Yellow cards: Denis Cutura 28; Red cards: Nil
Coach: Tomi Vidovic

Referee: Stephen Ellsmore
Assistants: Darren Allatt and Raymond Osborne

Weather:  Mild, little breeze
Pitch: Synthetic 10/10
Game: 6/10
Players to note: Sebastian Bell (HFC), Andrew Harb (HFC), 14 Michael Janov