FFA CUP 2015 – NSW Preliminary Round 5 – Feature Game

by Corinthian (Paul Green):

FFA CUP 2015 – NSW Preliminary Round 5 – Feature Game
Cromer Park, Dee Why West  – Wednesday 15th April 2015

Manly United FC 2 (Brad McDonald, Chris Payne)
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC 1 (Reece Caira)


This Wednesday night game at Cromer Park proved something of a disappointment for those expecting a tight tussle, or even a spirited clash between two ambitious teams in this FFA Cup Round 5 tie.

Bonnyrigg White Eagles had taught Manly a lesson in an earlier meeting, showing their clear superiority and they began this game as if they were going to boss this one too.

They took the lead, but once they’d done so, they fell into a funk and their game lacked any sense of urgency or flair.

Manly levelled before too long and then went on to hit the front mid-way through the second-half and held on comfortably to win 2-1.

It wasn’t as if Bonnyrigg were understrength or anything, they just weren’t in the zone and Manly took full toll of that.

Manly had improved in recent games and that new-found form gave them the belief to overcome the hitherto unbeaten White Eagles, with a lively attack operating confidently and possessed of good intensity in the midfield.
Bonnyrigg made much of the early running, winning a number of free-kicks and corners and after Tynan Diaz had driven the first of the former wide and Yuta Kokado had steered a long-range shot, from general play, similarly wide of the target, we saw Dylan Fox direct a  header straight at the Manly keeper, following a corner.

Manly’s only offering in that early passage of play was a shot from Kieren Paul that flew over the bar.

Bonnyrigg then took the lead in the 21st.

A nice knock-down from Robbie Younis laid the ball on for Reece Caira to steer home.

Bonnyrigg’s Tynan Diaz suffered an early injury and had to make way for Alex Mansueto in the 26th and three minutes later Manly managed to equalise through Brad McDonald, after some sustained build-up beginning on the right, before moving down the middle, with some slick passing on the way to goal.

Bonnyrigg and Manly took turns at winning corners up to half-time when the game appeared evenly poised.

But after the break there was no stopping Manly, as Bonnyrigg were forced into making another substitution, also due to injury, this time Mun-soo Gil coming on for the usually very effective Ray Miller in the 49th.

A further change was required in the 53rd as Alex Canak took over from Adam Jenner, due to a further injury, according to his coach, after the match.

Whether these three, early changes upset the rhythm of the visiting team is uncertain, but Brian Brown did agree that he’d not normally need to make so many changes, so early.

When Manly winger, Daniel Saric, himself a substitute, outpaced his marker on the right in the 62nd, ace goal-poacher, the in-form Chris Payne, needed no second invitation to slam home what proved to be the winner.

Robbie Younis tried to bend a free-kick around the wall for Bonnyrigg in the 69th, but while he succeeded in doing so, the ball flew just wide of the left upright.

A big tackle from Manly’s captain for the night,  Brendan Cholakian, denied Bonnyrigg a late chance of forcing the game into extra- time, on a night when the home side clearly had the greater will-to-win of the two old rivals, this time around.

There were mixed reactions from the respective coaches when it was all over.

For winning coach, Paul Dee, he felt it was a pleasing performance and an excellent result.

“We’re a young team and we’re getting better all the time,” he said.

“The good thing about this team is that while we have no stars, we have a lot of young players who play for one another and importantly they listen to what I tell them and we deserved to win tonight.

Bonnyrigg have a lot of good players, they’re a good side, but we had the belief we could beat them and we did the job well.

Bonnyrigg coach, Brian Brown and his long-time assistant, Cliff Pointer, spent some considerable time in the away dressing room, post-match, conducting an inquest into what went wrong.

“I don’t know what went wrong tonight,” admitted a despondent Brown when he finally emerged from the dressing room with a frown.

“We just weren’t in the game at all. Before this we were unbeaten and I can’t understand why we were so poor tonight.

“I did have to make three changes and they were all because of injuries. I wouldn’t normally make changes that early and it wasn’t because the team was playing badly; they were forced changes,” he revealed.

But the popular coach was not giving the need to make so many early changes as any kind of excuse.

“It was the worst performance since I took over the coaching at Bonnyrigg six and a half years ago.

“In fact I’d need to go back a long way to find a worse one, in my entire coaching career.

“Frankly, I feel embarrassed. This was not the Bonnyrigg team I know at all. After a game like this you begin to wonder whether you want to go on; it’s that bad.”

Brown could offer no explanation and by the way the players returned from the field and trooped back to their rooms, heads bowed, indicated that they were pretty embarrassed too.

There was no hint of a lack of focus early, on what was quite a balmy night, at least at the start.

Then the wind began to get up and the sky began to fill with lightning flashes, which caused referee Stephen Lucas to call both captains together and inform them that he might have to stop the game if things became any worse.

Thankfully for the fans, who were out in good numbers on this occasion, the lightning got no worse and eventually only driving rain caused the players any discomfort out on the synthetic pitch.

The heaviest rain fell in the half-hour before the break and thereafter it became mostly misty and in no way interfered with the players’ ability to show off their skills or to demonstrate commitment.

By the time the match finished the rain had stopped and so had the lightning.

Manly may have won only 2-1 but it was a clear-cut victory.

Manly were missing their regular skipper, the injured Graeme Forbes, but Brendan Cholakian led them well on this occasion.

Match details

Crowd:  approx 400

Manly United FC : GK 20 Tonu Liiband,  2 Kieren Paul, 15 Travis Oughtred, 3 Jamie Lobb, 5 Rhys Williams, 18 Daniel Bragg (21 Nicola Kuleski 81 ), 8 Brad McDonald, 11 Adam Parkhouse (14 Dominic Ferguson 89), 13 Matt Casteinuovo  (19 Daniel Saric 57), 10 Brendan Cholakian (C), 6 Chris Payne
Sub not used: RGK 40 Shaun Catlin, 17 Tommy Morrissey

Yellow cards: Rhys Williams 27, Brad McDonald 37, Daniel Bragg 81; Red cards: Nil
Coach: Paul Dee

Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC: GK 1 James Chronopoulos, 4 Reece Caira, 5 Chris Tadrosse (C), 6 Nikola Zonjic, 7 Tynan Diaz (2 Alex Mansueto 26), 9 Robbie Younis, 11 Ben Spruce, 12 Dylan Fox, 13 Adam Jenner (8 Alex Canak 53), 15 Ray Miller (17 Mun-soo Gil 49), 18 Yuta Kokado
Subs not used: RGK 40 Stevan Savicic, 14 Alex Doyle
Coach: Brian Brown
Yellow cards: Alex Mansueto 77;  Red cards: Nil

Referee: Stephen Lucas

Assistants: Lance Greenshields, and Thomas Lee

Weather:  Becoming stormy, squally rain for much of the game and flashes of lightning from 15 minutes in.
Pitch: Synthetic 10/10
Game: 6/10

Players to note: Jamie Lobb (MU), Brendan Cholakian (MU),  Brad McDonald (MU), Adam Parkhouse (MU), Reece Caira (BWE), Chris Tadrosse (BWE)