APIA down Wolves in downpour
By Corinthian (Paul Green):
NSW – PS4 NPL 1 Men – Round 8 – Feature Game
7:45pm, Saturday 2nd May 2015 – Lambert Park, Leichhardt
APIA-Leichhardt Tiger FC 3 (Brett Studman 24′, Blake Powell 77′, 87′)
South Coast Wolves FC 0
One of the few games to go ahead in any division this weekend, after another rainy few days late in the week, APIA-Leichhardt’s clash with South Coast Wolves survived the downpour; but only just.
After earlier Under-18 and Under-20 matches had been subjected to heavy rain at various stages, the main game scheduled to kick off at 745pm seemed safe to go the distance as well.
But even heavier falls during the first grade game made life very difficult for the players, with conditions deteriorating in the concluding stages to the extent that the ball would often move only a few yards at a time in more and more areas of the pitch.
Free kicks, for instance, played to a second player nearby had to be lifted into the air rather than prodded along the ground to allow the latter to try a shot on goal.
Under those circumstances the players from both sides did themselves credit, though it was APIA who emerged with the three points after winning 3-0 against a Wolves side reduced to ten men early in the game after a reckless challenge in centre field by Sam Matthews, adjudged by referee, Ryan Shepheard, to constitute serious foul play.
Even allowing for the treacherous surface, albeit a synthetic one, it looked rash and off Matthews went.
Reduced to ten men the South Coast side, already a goal down after 24 minutes, applied themselves to the task and made the home team work solidly to try and it was an even contest for much of the remaining minutes until, quite late on, puddles began to form in more than one isolated area, but all over the pitch.
APIA then pressed home their advantage of familiarity with the pitch and having the extra man. They’d led from a Brett Studman goal, following a corner, swung over by Franco Parisi on the right.
At that stage while it was raining steadily, the ball was still travelling reasonably normally along the ground, though it was skidding a little at times, it has to be said.
The ball from Parisi was delivered low and hard and Studman got there just before the keeper to steer the ball just inside the left hand upright.
South Coast threatened mostly on the break with David Stojic rocking the crossbar in the 39th and a pass from Peter Simonoski.
The Wolves relied on a wholehearted display from their powerfully-built striker, Bradley Welch, to play target man and use his speed and physique to try and make something of any forward thrusts coming from behind.
The pitch became increasingly difficult to play any passing game on it and both teams looked to improvise in the latter stages.
Parisi ran onto a long ball from deep by Studman in the 64th and got through to face the keeper, but he was just too quick and that chance went begging.
Increasingly South Coast began to look more ragged as the one man down began to tell in the trying conditions.
In the 77th APIA were able to extend their lead, Nathan Elasi being sent through down the left and then with plenty of numbers forward converging in the six yard box it was left to top scorer, Blake Powell, to finish from point blank range and make it 2-0.
The third goal came in the 87th, Powell again, this time being sent away on a run down the right and advancing to the edge of the six yard box, out wide, before angling a shot across the keeper and in at the far post.
Conditions were so bad that it was a wonder the game was completed, which, mercifully it was, with two minutes of stoppage time signalled, but barely needed.
After the game the novelty of a pitch full of puddles appealed to the ball boys so much that after standing in the rain all night and getting soaked they decided to frolic on the pitch and try their own versions of water sports, diving through the water and having a great time of it.
It was noted that some of the beaten Wolves players still had enough energy to join them in the harmless pursuit before eventually heading to the sheds for a much needed hot shower rather than a lot of cold ones.
Nahuel Arrarte, South Coast Wolves coach, did not seem too disappointed with the result as he felt his players had done their best and the conditions were against his team, not to mention losing a man early.
“I’m very proud of my players for their performance tonight, in the conditions,” he said.
“APIA are a very good side and they deserved to win. It helped that they are familiar with playing on an artificial pitch, but they’re a top side and they’re doing well this season.
South Coast were coming off a last start win against Bonnyrigg White Eagles and might have expected to give APIA a hard game and that’s exactly what they did do, until the rain spoiled any chance of a normal contest.
Crowd: about 100
APIA LEICHHARDT TIGERS FC: 1. Andrew Bazi (gk); 2 Nathan Millgate, 5 Michael West (C), 15 Brett Studman, 18 Adrian Ucchino ; 23 Nicholas Olsen, 11 Nathan Elasi, 7 Stephen Kayes, 16 Sean Symons; 10 Franco Parisi , 9 Blake Powell
Subs not used: RGK 92 Christopher Moore, 6 Tyson Rhodes, 12 Daniel Petkovski, 17b Dominic Cox, 19 Lachlan Scott,
Coach: Billy McColl
Yellow cards: Michael West 38, Sean Symons 75; Red Cards: Nil
SOUTH COAST WOLVES FC: 20. Thomas Mathos (gk); 2 Dhari Alsaad, 3 Darcy Madden, 4 Brendan Griffin, 7 Chris Price (C); 17 James O’Rourke, 23 Sam Matthews, 16 Ben Zucco, 8 David Stojic, 9 Peter Simonovski; 19 Bradley Welsh
Subs not used: RGK 1 Thomas Hamilton, 12 Jack Lombo, 25 Jordan Murray, 5 James Baldacchino, 14 Shannon Fielding
Coach: Nahuel Arrarte
Yellow cards: Bradley Welch 24, Darcy Madden 86; Red card: Samuel Matthews 37
Points, ratings, etc.
Referee: Ryan Shepheard
Assistants: Andrej Giev and Luke Morgan; Fourth Official: Daniel Stack
Pitch: 10/10 (Synthetic)
Weather: Continuous rain with several intermittent heavier downpours, which made the pitch waterlogged in places and at times almost unplayable.
Players noted: Michael West (ALT), Franco Parisi (ALT), Nathan Elasi (ALT), Bradley Welch (SCW), Peter Simonoski (SCW), Darcy Madden (SCW)