Tigers slow Rangers rise

By Corinthian (Paul Green):

NSW – PS4 NPL 2 Men – ROUND 9
3pm, Sunday 17th May 2015 – Mills Park, Asquith

Northern Tigers FC 2  (Tai Smith 44′ pen, 57′)
drew with
Mount Druitt Town Rangers FC 2 (Shayne Ardle 9′, Osadolor Edosomwan 89′)


Northern Tigers had lost their last two games and Mount Druitt Town Rangers had won both of theirs; so the pressure was on at Mills Park on Sunday afternoon, for both teams to achieve a result.

Mount Druitt have improved enormously of late and announced that they had made another signing, with former player, the recently released Elsid Barkhousir, further strengthening their squad by joining them as soon as the transfer window opened the following day.

They were keen to consolidate their recent sound form and began the game very well, taking the lead after only nine minutes.

So often this season Northern Tigers have begun their games sluggishly and this was no exception. Playing catch-up has become a familiar tale for them.

They did something similar against Hakoah Sydney City East, but came back strongly to record one of their better wins a few weeks ago.

This time they settled down eventually and managed to draw level moments before the break, albeit from the penalty spot, then took the lead in the 57th.

But this was no cakewalk for the Tigers, as Mount Druitt are made of sterner stuff these days.

Having seen goalscorer and key attacking weapon, Shane Ardle, withdrawn through injury after only an hour of battle, they provided a more than capable replacement in the robust figure of Osadolor Edosomwan.

The Tigers found themselves on the back foot over the closing stages and could have conceded earlier than the 89th minute, which brought the Mount Druitt equaliser from the persistent Edosomwan.

There had been a worrying moment earlier, for the home side, when substitute, Daniel Vellonio, took advantage of the Tigers’ keeper, Matt Nemes, finding himself caught in no-man’s-land near the edge of his area, when trying to clear a high ball.

Nemes left the entire goal open behind him and no defender was close enough to race back, as Vellonio sent a lob towards the centre of the net.

He must have put a lot of unintentional swerve on the ball, however, as instead of continuing on into the gaping net, it deviated alarmingly and struck the right-hand upright at the last moment, sparing Nemes’ blushes and preserving the Tigers 2-1 lead.

Three minutes later, though, the home side were not spared as easily.

The industrious and speedy Edosomwan was making the most of some good service from behind to make a beeline for goal, repeatedly, over the concluding stages and he did that far too well in the 89th for Northern Tigers to be able to thwart him yet again.

He shook off all challenges and planted the ball past Nemes to set up a stirring few minutes more of frantic play, in a game that was there for the taking by both sides.

The post that had been struck by Vellonio was not the only lucky escape for the Tigers, who’d also seen a similar occurrence in the first- half.

But it was not all Mount Druitt, by any means, as they were at their best in the beginning and towards the end of this absorbing contest.

In the middle stages it was the home side that held sway, as evidenced by their two goals.

Having conceded early to an Ardle tap-in, from a neat Luke Clifford cross, they had their tails up later in the game.

But before they had settled down Ardle had already threatened twice, firing wide after two minutes and clipping the ball over the bar in the fourth, after Nemes had dropped an earlier cross from Clifford.

Northern Tigers got going after those difficult opening exchanges and began to look more like a team that was nearer the top of the table than their opponents and enjoying home advantage for good measure.

Tai Smith was a prominent member of the Tigers’ attack for the entire game, managing to brush aside his markers consistently with his determination, physicality and guile.

In the 37th he benefitted from a period of good lead-up work, culminating in a pass from Liam McConaghy that Smith’s shot agonisingly scraped just wide of the far post.

The Tigers drew level shortly before the break, as their relentless pressure told, when a ball played over the heads of the Mount Druitt defenders by Steve Baveas found Lucas Dawson, who was brought down as he raced through on the right and looked headed to the by-line, Nathan Ralph the opposition defender responsible.

In-form striker Smith assumed the penalty-taking duties and made a good job of beating Justin Biega, to put smiles on the faces of the ‘Green Machine’ faithful.

The second-half began in sensational fashion when Paul Davies, out wide on the right, providing a fine, long cross deep to the far-post, catching the Mount Druitt defence unprepared, with Smith arriving in time to whack the ball into the roof of the net with a trusty left-footed volley.

But home fans were soon silenced when they spotted an assistant’s flag raised for offside and the goal didn’t count.

“I can’t believe that goal wasn’t given. It looked a perfectly good goal to me,” said Tigers’ coach, Steve Hurd at the conclusion of the game.

Nevertheless, it was still 1-1 until another cross from Davies, from a similar position, in the 57th, allowed Smith to score legitimately.

Davies used his left foot to send an in-swinging cross into the six-yard box and Smith, in terrific form right now, latched onto it perfectly to steer it home and at last put his team in front.

The game continued at a cracking pace and Northern Tigers did look like scoring again, but Smith put one well wide from 35 yards out in the 67th and despite a string of corners and free-kicks, the visitors managed to constantly deny them with some stout defending.

After that, Mount Druitt seemed to find their second wind and were the better team over the last twenty minutes or so, looking the more likely to score, which of course they did in the 89th.

Both coaches felt they’d done enough to win the game and were visibly disappointed with the outcome.

“I think we were definitely the better side today,” said Mount Druitt coach, Aidan Desmond.

“Yes, we had to take Shane Ardle off after an hour, but we didn’t lose anything by it at all, as we had Osadolor (Edosomwan) to replace him and we finished all over them.

Steve Hurd, similarly, would not concede that a draw was a fair result.

“I think we should have won it. We gave away two soft goals and had a perfectly good goal disallowed.

“I have no idea what our keeper was doing out there when they hit the post in the second-half,” he observed, remarking on the situation in which Matt Nemes was caught off his line and left an inviting open goal for the visitors.

The Mills Park faithful enjoyed a good contest.

It was a pity that they could not enjoy a cup of hot coffee or tea, due to the theft of pipes and a water meter the night before the game, cutting off the water supply to the dressing rooms and canteen.

Buckets had to be provided for ice and any other needs.

Luckily there was still hot food to be had for the hungry and the football fare served up more than compensated for the other privations.

Match details

Crowd: 75

Northern Tigers FC: 1. Matt Nemes (gk); 2 Samuel Ryder, 12 Russell Farrell, 14 Julian Lim, 5 Samuel Porter; 6 Paul Davies (13 Jamie Craig 87), 3 Lucas Dawson, 16 Steve Baveas (C), 10 Shervin Adeli (19 Daniel Stuart 75); 18 Tai Smith, 9 Liam McConaghy (7 Matthew West 72)
Subs: RGK 21 Harrison Devenish-Meares, 17 Braden Cheng

Coach: Steve Hurd
Yellow cards: Shervin Adeli 68, Samuel Ryder 76;
Red cards: Nil

Mount Druitt Town Rangers FC: 1 Justin Biega (gk); 2 Brian Griffin-Colis, 13 Patrick Crane, 5 Ryan O’Shea (18 Luke Jenner 54),15 Rainer Smahel; 7 Luke Clifford (10 Daniel Vellonio 73), 14 Daniel McCann (C), 16 Nathan Ralph, 8 Shane Ardle (12 Osadolor Edosomwan 61), 11 Kojiro Hori; 9 Bryan Soane
Subs not used: RGK 21 Joel Tinker, 3 Ben Grey

Coach: Aidan Desmond
Yellow cards: Shayne Ardle 50, Brian Griffin-Collis 26; Red cards: Nil

Ratings, points, etc

Referee: Ben Abraham; Assistants: Lily David and Peter Liaros

Weather:  Mild and cloudy

Match: 8/10
Pitch: 5/10

Players noted: Paul Davies (NT), Samuel Porter (NT), Steve Baveas (NT), Shane Ardle (MDTR), Osadolor Edosomwan (MDTR), Daniel McCann (MDTR)