Rams ramp it up at Lambert

By Corinthian (Paul Green):

NSW – PS4 NPL2 (MEN) – ROUND 6 – Feature Game

6:30pm, Sunday 26th April 2015  – Lambert Park, Leichhardt

Sydney University SC 1 (Gavin Forbes 29′)
lost to
Macarthur Rams FC 2 (Eros Bergman 25′, Craig Cooley 67′)


After a very wet afternoon all over Sydney, evidenced by the miserable conditions at Hensley Field earlier in the day, that no amount of coffee or bacon and egg rolls at the well-run canteen there could compensate for, it was a relief to take the light rail from Central to the Marion station, a two-minute walk from the portals of the legendary Lambert Park, to sample equally good coffee and bacon and egg rolls, but a far superior match accompanied by perfectly calm and dry conditions, when Sydney University took on the improving Macarthur Rams.

In what proved to be the best performance of the season by the ‘students’ it needed an even better showing from the visiting Rams to claim the points after a resolute 2-1 win.

The match may have tapered off a little in the second-half, but it was a high quality game, all the same, for most of the 90 minutes, with excellent passing from Macarthur, much of the time and plenty of enterprise and sound teamwork from Raul Blanco’s home team as well.

Sydney University may find themselves anchored, for the moment at least, at the foot of the ladder, but after this effort they should not have to wait too long for their first win in the NSW competition.

They’ve already won games in the FFA Cup and that’s been a good sign, with another game against top-flight side, Rockdale City Suns, scheduled for just three days after this outing.

It was an even contest until Macarthur took the lead in the 25th minute and many might have felt that the University boys were a little unlucky to concede it, even then.

The Rams’ midfielder, Blake Brooker, tried a shot from just outside the area and it was blocked by a defender, only for the ball to sit up nicely for Eros Bergamin to find a chink in the defensive armour between him and the Sydney Uni keeper, Marko Bozic.

The ball skidded along the artificial turf and whizzed low past the keeper and into the net to give Macarthur the lead.

It was a quite boisterous affair, with some early bookings, but in no way was it a dirty game at all, as both sides wanted to win and spared little in the tackle.

Macarthur coach, John Sopino, took the unusual step of replacing one of his main defenders after only 16 minutes,  Calum Fleming making way for Kohei Kimura.

“It was purely tactical,” explained Rams’ coach Sopino later.

“He got a card very early” – the third minute according to the official’s team sheet, though it looked closer to the eleventh, for those watching from the sidelines – “ so we took him off to avoid any chance of him being sent off later and leaving us short-handed.

Sopino mentioned that the player was a rather combative type and he had to be careful with an important Cup match coming up right after this game.

The move proved effective, however, as Kimura was very sound in the centre of the Macarthur defence, after taking over from Fleming.

Before the Rams had taken the lead though, the ‘students’ were well in the game and won a few free-kicks and corners, with skipper, Nathan Samson, and the very capable Gavin Forbes always posing a threat to the opposition in and around the penalty-area.

Having conceded, arguably against the run of play, Sydney Uni replied just three minutes later to restore parity.

A well-flighted free-kick from deep on the right by Adam Porcu presented difficulties for the Macarthur defence as Gavin Forbes rose highest to send a looping header beyond Chad Taylor and into the top right corner of the net.

There was no shortage of chances ensuing after that goal, with both teams going close again, Brooker’s sweetly-struck shot in the 38th brilliantly tipped over the bar by the alert Bozic, with Mark Symington also denied by the keeper who pushed his 39th minute effort around the post.

Not to be outdone, Sansom fired inches wide for Sydney, after a swift counter-attack in the 40th, in a move which had looked like giving his side a half-time lead.

The second period was also very intense and with the two teams both playing so well, there was minimal intervention from the bench, only one later change coming from the Rams and Sydney Uni making only one the whole game, when Sasha Skybar came on for speedy right winger, Ammar Alyassan.

Macarthur, perhaps, had more of an edge for the first twenty minutes or so of the second period, during which they scored what proved to be the winner.

It came in the 67th from captain Craig Cooley, their veteran wing-back and loyal club servant, who chimed in with his team-mates, Symington and Brooker, as the Rams worked a good passing move inside the penalty area, which began from the right side.

Cooley steered the ball beyond Bozic with a clever, curling left-footer from 12 yards out that went in off the left-hand upright.

It needed every ounce of energy from Macarthur to withstand an unrelenting onslaught from the Uni boys over the remaining twenty five minutes, with the Rams’ experienced keeper, Chad Taylor, in superb form making multiple saves, mostly routine and sound, but crucial all the same.

Sydney Uni won corner-after-corner and showed great flair on the flanks, especially down the left, but could not pierce the resolute Rams’ defence, despite an array of mostly low and excellent crosses.

It was a tough win, but a deserved one. But only just.

“I couldn’t fault my players today,” said Uni coach Raul Blanco.

“I could not ask for anything more from them. I felt we did enough to get something from the game, but that’s football.

Macarthur coach, Sopino, also had good words for both teams.

“They played well, the Sydney University team, and we had to work very hard to preserve our lead.

“We lost a lot of players from last season’s team and we were very late beginning our preparations for this season.

“Things are coming together well now; we didn’t want to peak too early,” he explained.

The coach had mentioned before the match his concerns about playing on the Lambert Park pitch, but his fears proved unfounded.

“We don’t usually enjoy playing on this pitch, as (the ball) tends to skid off the surface more than it does at other grounds with artificial pitches, like Sydney United and Hensley Field, for instance, which we enjoy playing on.

“This team is going to be very busy for the next few weeks with Cup games and catch-up matches.

“We needed to be fit to win this and the next few games will really test us, as we have to play some tough opponents.

On this showing Macarthur could be right up there with their ‘tough’ opponents, like Central Coast and Northern Tigers, despite winning only once before this victory against the ‘students’.

They’ve lost twice at home, after beating St George on the opening day, but have a wash-out against Mounties FC yet to make up.

Neither side will be able to fulfill their obligations with catch-up games yet, as both are engaged in the FFA Cup this week, with the Rams engaged up at Mills Park against the strong Northern Tigers and Rockdale due at Lambert Park, sans coach Branko Culina, who parted ways with the club after two and a half years of sterling service.

Match details
Crowd: tba

Sydney University SC:  1 Marko Bozic (gk);  18 Phillip Bures, 6 Jeremy Butnaru;  4 Kim Gyubeom, 14 Daniel Mifsud, 16 Adam Porcu, 7 Ammar Alyassan (20 Sasha Skybar 60), 10 Santiago Rodriguez, 11 Jake Bradshaw, 3 Nathan Sansom (C) 9 Gavin Forbes
Subs not used: RGK 21 Patrick Ferrara, 24 Jacob Blundell, 12 Dario Borovickie

Coach: Raul Blanco

Yellow cards: Nathan Sansom 22, Adam Porcu 35; Red cards: Nil

Macarthur Rams FC: 1 Chad Taylor (gk); 2 Craig Cooley (C), 3 Andy Malloub, 5 Calum Fleming (7 Kohei Kimura 16), 13 Daniel Carrozza, 8 Ryan Marchant, 4 Ben Cornish, 15 Joel Craig, 10 Eros Bergamin 6 Blake Brooker (Asmir Kadric 73), 14 Mark Symington
Subs:  RGK 20 Christopher Becarra, 11 Aaron Farrington, 19 Daniel Willoughby

Coach: John Sopino

Yellow cards: Calum Fleming 3, Ben Cornish 10, Blake Brooker 29, Andy Malloub 54; Red cards: Nil

Ratings and points etc

Referee: Rob Nienwenhuis; Assistants: Nathan Mcortst and Alex Goodhew

Weather: Cool and dry

Game: 9/10
Pitch: 10/10 (Synthetic)

Players noted: Santiago Rodriguez (SU), Gavin Forbes (SU), Adam Porcu (SU), Chad Taylor (MR), 14 Mark Symington (MR), 10 Eros Bergamin (MR)