Resurgent Spirit down Hakoah

By Corinthian (Paul Green:

NSW PS4 NPL 2 – Round 5
Christie Park, Marsfield – 3pm Sunday 19th April 2015

Spirit FC  3 (Kuag Reec 7′, Henry Wells 21′, Jacob Harris 61′)
Hakoah Sydney City East FC 0


It was a few days ago now, but the big wet has delayed our recording of this latest win by the resurgent Spirit FC, who showed little regard for visitors Hakoah Sydney City East’s recent bursts of good form in wrapping up a 3-0 win with the minimum of fuss.

With former Spirit coaching-staff member and newly-appointed Central Coast Mariners’ head coach, Tony Walmsley, looking on, Spirit put paid to Hakoah’s hopes of registering another milestone win with a quick show of their superiority on a typically bumpy Christie Park surface on a chilly afternoon, a sure indication of what was to follow, weather-wise, just hours later.

Sydney’s big wet, more damaging to the north, in areas such as the Hunter Valley and the Central Coast, than in the NSW capital itself, though still seriously affected by the incessant downpour and ensuing transport and infrastructure ramifications, meant that this was the last game played in the NSW competition until the following weekend, in this second-tier division at least.

A game did take place in Wollongong on Thursday night, but scheduled catch-up games in Sydney on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday all had to be called off, including Spirit’s previously delayed game against Sydney University.

With Christie Park yet to convert to synthetic, unlike so many of the other grounds in this Division these days, it was just as well Spirit got this game out of the way, as the following weekend’s game at the same venue against St. George remained in doubt as late as Friday.

Hakoah arrived at the Marsfield ground without several regulars, including predatory marksman, Michael McCrory, Michael Randall and even coach Mark Robertson, who were all suspended.

While Robertson was able to take up a vantage spot behind the fence during the match, it was an injured member of the playing staff and a coach in his own right, Gavin Rae, who took charge of the team on this occasion.

But even with those personnel absent and a couple of other injuries, including seasoned striker, the competition’s top-scorer, Neil Jablonski, Hakoah coaching director Robertson was not going to blame that for his team’s poor performance and critical loss.

“We had eleven players out there with loads of experience and they’ve all played overseas at some stage or other so they certainly should have been able to cope.

“The bumpy pitch didn’t help and I’m glad we only have to come here once a season, but really we can do a lot better than that and I can think of only one player in my side today who played to his potential and that was (midfielder) Deklan Gilmartin.

“The others were very poor today.

So poor, in fact, that despite having plenty of possession, there was nowhere near the same degree of determination demonstrated as there was by the Spirit team, which their coach, John McLaverty, pointed out later.

“I think we had only 35 per cent of the ball in the first-half,” he observed,

“But we made much better use of it than Hakoah.

“Gosue (Josh) Sama was everywhere today and controlled everything,” said the affable Scot, of his journeyman ‘number ten’, who pulled the strings from just behind the willing front-runners all afternoon, cleverly disguised in the number 22 shirt.

Spirit took the lead after only seven minutes, setting the tone for the rest of the game instantly.

Highly-promising former Blacktown Spartans’ striker, Kuag Reec, sprinted clear down the right, prompted cleverly by Sama, before dinking the ball past Hakoah’s exposed keeper, Matthew Symes.

The goal had come after Reec had just failed to reach a cross from the left by Andrew Robertson, just four minutes earlier.

A simple tap-in by Henry Wells at the 21 minute mark, after Symes had dropped a cross from the left by Jacob Harris, made it 2-0 and Spirit were certainly looking like a team that was back to its best after a disappointing 2014 and at least one set-back this season already.

They are now right up among the leading clubs in the division again, along with the similarly enigmatic Hakoah, Northern Tigers and both Bankstown clubs, who are all following closely on the heels of Central Coast, who, like Spirit – who have a game in hand – have only lost once, so far. To Spirit!

Spirit were business-like on this occasion and fully deserving of their win, with their third goal coming in the 61st after the Hakoah keeper again failed to claim a cross, this time from the right by Abraham Majok and finished off clinically at the far post by Jacob Harris.

Spirit had more chances to score, many of them created by Sama, with the tall and imposing Sama himself unlucky not to get on the score-sheet, while Reec could have had another goal or two as well.

Spirit coach, McLafferty, also praised his substitute, Majok, who came on to replace Henry Wells on the right.

“This boy is only 17 and he can be the next Bernie Ibini,” said the coach.

“He’ll be starting more games soon and he shows enormous potential.

Spirit may or may not get on the park on Sunday, even as the weather begins to brighten, but their hard-core fans will hope that they can show similar displays to this one if they do play, rather than some less impressive showings during pre-season and in the early weeks of the season-proper, as they are quite fancied to challenge for honours again this year.

Match details

Crowd: Approx 75

Spirit FC: 41. David Lowery (gk); 13 Lord Darkoh, 2 Daniel Cunningham (c), 4 Nicholas Trimble, 5 Andrew Robertson, 3 Henry Wells (11 Abraham Majok 62), 8 Grant Cornwell, 14 Ryan Johnstone (17 Adam Sovetta 62),  7 Jacob Harris, 22 Gosue Sama; 21 Kuag Reec (Ossama Zaki 77)
Subs not used: RGK  50 Corey Finch,  6 Ross Kethel

Coach: John McLafferty
Yellow cards:  Nil, Red cards: Nil

Hakoah Sydney City East FC:  1. Matthew Symes (gk); 19 Jacob Esposito (2 Remy Wolanski 77),  4 Bradley Walker, 16 Brad Paikin, 17 Joseph Dingwall; 35 Christopher El-Hayek, 10 Deklan Gilmartin , 8 Paul Orgad;  12 Jeremy Hornblow ( 7 Jackson Meyer 68), 29 Harry Jones, 26 Federico Ketcher ( 18 German Cabrera 64)
Subs:  RGK 41 Jair Fernandez, 38 Max Riganias

Acting Coach: Gavin Rae
Yellow cards: Joseph Dingwall 47, Red cards: Nil

Weather: Cold and blustery

Ratings and points

Referee: Khodr Yaghi
Assistants: Keith Yau and Club Official
Match  6/10
Pitch: 6/10
Players noted: Gosue Sama (SFC), Kuag Reec (SFC), 3 Henry Wells (SFC), 7 Jacob Harris (SFC), 10 Deklan Gilmartin HSCE) 4  Bradley Walker (HSCE)