Saints surprise Fraser Park

By Corinthian (Paul Green):

NSW – PS4 NPL 2 Men – Round 9
7:30pm, Saturday 16 May, 2015 – St George Stadium, Kyeemah

St. George Saints FC 4 (Stevan Ilic 38, Joseph D’Elia 50, David Wilson pen 64, Wassim Hijazi 80)
Fraser Park FC 2 (Nicola Todoroski 61, Aleksandar Todoroski 78)


This match produced something of a surprise.

St George had been beaten 3-1 in midweek at Christie Park by Spirit FC and lost the game before that at Popondetta Park to Mount Druitt Town Rangers 4-0.

Fraser Park, who have games in hand and beat the strong Bankstown City Lions the previous weekend, 2-1, at home, in what was quite a coup for them, would have fancied their chances here.

They’d have been on good terms with themselves, too, during a first-half they basically dominated, against a make-shift St George team, with one of its two central defenders out injured and a few changes made by coach David Perkovic in reaction to the last two losses.

So, without Emanuel Ali at the back, attack-minded Lenox Tweneboa moved across to the centre of defence, while the team’s usual skipper Michael Yarnold moving to the bench, along with striker Wassim Hijazi, with Joseph Elia getting a start in midfield and Peter Pelekanos dropping to right-back. Johnathan Kontalis was another fresh starter in midfield.

As things transpired two of the players named as substitutes played their part in what turned out to be a strong 4-2 win by the Saints on home soil.

While Fraser enjoyed a huge share of possession and territorial superiority for the first half-hour at least, they were unable to convert that into goals and only really sparkled in the second-half, by which time the Saints had gone two up.

St George took the lead when Steven Ilic, who’d come off the bench against Spirit and started here, shouldered the load up front much of the time in the first-half.

Fraser Park were looking dangerous, yet it was a speculative 35 yard strike from Ilic, who was allowed some freedom in the middle of the park, who opened the scoring, as diminutive Fraser Park keeper, Terry Lardis, could only watch in agony as the looping long-range shot sailed over his young head.

With a 1-0 lead at half-time St George began to show more self-belief. Kontalis tried a shot from 25 yards out in the first minute of the second period, but pushed his effort wide.

Fraser Park coach, Mile Todoroski, no doubt shocked that his team had failed to find the St George net in the first-half, took off Suad Ameli and brought on veteran Jeffrey Issa in the 49th.

A minute later St George grabbed their second, after a period of pressure on the Fraser Park goal led to Ilic setting up Tarek Ercan for a shot from the left that the keeper could only push away to his own left.

D’Elia, following up, had to move past his marker and cut back inside before finding a chink in the Fraser Park armour between the keeper and the near-post to drive the ball through and make it 2-0.

Fraser Park are nothing if not dangerous in attack and their inability to score earlier had bee a surprise.

The very element of surprise that St George should have been expecting was that their opponents would go on the offensive after conceding and they indeed did just that, to good effect.

A Fraser Park free-kick was scrambled away hurriedly in the 55th and not long after that St George’s other regular centre-back Daniell Zeleny was given his marching orders by referee Rob Nieuwenhuis after he’d committed a foul just outside the penalty area, apparently  deemed to be the last man.

Zeleny seemed bemused, as he made his way to the stands and an early shower, but keen as Fraser Park were to take a spot-kick, it was to be another free-kick, this time on the edge of the box, that was the referee’s ruling.

Nothing came of that, though, as it was a poor free-kick, if truth be told, struck into the wall by the otherwise sound Alexander Veljanovski.

All those alarm bells that should have sounded after the near misses and the sending-off failed to prevent Fraser Park pulling a goal back in the 61st.

Strong Fraser front man, Nicola Todoroski, somehow found himself alone on the left of the area and was able to score easily enough and make it 2-1.

That was not a good sign for St George, with no regular central-defenders around to help their cause and by then down to ten men.

But Tweneboa put in a good shift along the back-line and skipper-for-the-day, Andrija Petkovic, later moved back to take the place of Zeleny and handled the extra responsibility well.

Having received a scare with that goal conceded, St George managed to regain their two-goal cushion, after Kontalis had his shirt tugged inside the area and a penalty was awarded in the 64th.

By then the team’s penalty-taker from the mid-week match, David Wilson, had come on as a replacement for Tarek Ercan and he stepped up to do the honours once more and make it 3-1.

But, of course, Fraser Park weren’t finished.

They went on another rampage and after another unsuccessful free-kick from Veljanovksi in the 70th, they brought it back to 3-2 in the 78th.

It already looked as if Nicholas Dimitropoulos, who had a strong game, was likely to score, as it was his turn to be left unmarked this time, with the home side down a man, but the big number 5 managed to lay the ball off to defender Aleksandar Todoroski, who’d pushed up and he fired home confidently.

With virtually another 15 minutes to play and against a Fraser Park side with plenty of attacking flair, the home team must have been nervous, especially when Fraser had already boosted their effectiveness by sending on Hussein Akil, who’d missed the previous game due to a groin strain and was not chosen to start.

But the Saints dug deep and were in no mood to surrender even a single point.

Instead of tightening his defence, assuming he had any defenders left, that is, Saints’ coach, David Perkovic, sent on fiery striker, Wassim Hijazi, who, coincidentally, had previously been not wanted by Fraser Park and joined the Saints instead.

He came on in the 80th and scored with his first touch.

He somehow eluded his marker to get into the six-yard box and find the net with a low shot that just found its way inside the left post.

At 4-2 St George still had work to do, but it was Fraser who nearly conceded another goal before it was all over.

A defensive mix-up had the Fraser Park keeper stranded and Wilson tried to take advantage with a lob, but the keeper did well to regain his ground and catch the ball before it crossed the line.

If that was a busy second-half and the first-half went barely unrecorded, that’s mainly because it was a tale of Fraser Park profligacy their strike-force would probably prefer to forget.

Nicola Todoroski, Suad Ameli and Veljanovksi all had good chances, the latter from another of his free-kicks, but all to no avail.

Fraser Park will bounce back, of course, as they are a classy side, but St George will need to address some of their issues again after this one.

Zeleny will miss the next game through suspension, though the injured Elali should be back for the club’s next game.

“At least we now know that Andrija Petkovic can play at the back now,” mused winning coach Perkovic whose team’s inconsistencies must still be of some concern to him.

Defeated coach, Mile Todoroski, pleased as punch after his side’s previous win over Bankstown City Lions, a week earlier, was one of the first to disappear after the match so was not available for comment.

Instead, substitute Hussein Akil took on the responsibilities of discussing the game on video, post-match, as it was the FNSW Match of the Round.

His observations, however, won’t be recorded here.

Match details

Crowd: 100

St George Saints FC:  17. David Hamilton (gk); 15 Peter Pelekanos (10 Michael Yarnold 61),  5 Daniell Zeleny, 13 Lenox Tweneboa, 6 Ali Nasreddine; 4 Johnathan Kontalis (11 Wassim Hijazi 80), 14 Andrija Petkovic (C), 8 Tarek Ercan (20 David Wilson 57), 18 Anthony Abi-Arrage, 16 Joseph D’Elia; 19 Stefan Ilic
Subs not used:  RGK 21 Lachlan Kerr, 40 Alexander Kontellis

Coach David Perkovic
Yellow cards: Peter Pelekanos 40, Tarek Ercan 50, David Wilson 70), Stevan Ilic 83; Red Cards: Daniell Zeleny 70

Fraser Park FC:  18 Terry Lardis (gk); 2 Rocci Gabey, 16 Alexander Todoroski, 5 Nicholas Dimitropoulos (C), 3 Davide Talone; 4 Alexander Veljanovski, 14 Suad Ameli (9 Jeffrey Issa 49), 7 Kevin Oliveira, 12 Adem Kir; 17 Nicola Todoroski, 11 Stefan Jovanovic (8 Hussein Akil 65)
Subs not used: RGK 1 Keiran Gorgievski, 13 Pat Cappuccio

Coach: Mile Todoroski
Yellow cards: Davide Talone 40, Adem Kir 72; Red cards: Nil

Ratings, points etc.

Referee: Rob Nieuwenhuis
Assistants: Jack Bell and Chris Hughes

Match 7/10
Pitch: 5/10

Weather: Cool and dry

Players noted: Ali Nasreddine (SG), Lenox Tweneboa (SG), Joseph D’Elia (SG), Alexander Veljanovski  (FP), Nicola Todoroski (FP), Kevin Oliveira (FP)