Reec brace does it for Spirit

By Corinthian (Paul Green):
NSW – NPL 2 Men – Round 11
3pm, Sunday 31 May, 2015 – Christie Park, Marsfield

Spirit FC 2 (Kuag Reec 8′, 78′)
Mounties Wanderers FC 0


All-conquering Spirit FC made no mistake in their latest home game opportunity, with a solid 2-0 win over the luckless Mounties Wanderers FC on Sunday afternoon at Christie Park.

The visitors had entertained hopes of fielding their latest signing, Dragan Savic; but alas, he had not recovered from injury in time for this fixture.

That didn’t help them and neither did the fact that Spirit FC were unbeaten at home and defending with such determination that they’d only conceded six goals all season, while Mounties had managed to score only five goals during the same period.

Getting past the Spirit rearguard was always going to be difficult and the efforts of the mid-fielders to create something for front-runner
Gongjun Lee really came to nought.

Recently signed midfielder, the vastly experienced Shane Webb, was one man who worked hard, both in the centre of the park and on the flanks, to try and engineer something worthwhile.

Corners and free-kicks won by the Mounties gave them some hope, but with the Spirit defenders so dominant in the air and the mid-fielders so quick to break on the counter, the visitors always had to be careful not to get caught out in that fashion.

Spirit’s two goals, which led to their 2-0 win, came at opposite ends of the game, but at no stage did it ever look as if Mounties, for all their industry and vigour, could pierce the armour of their hosts or cause them any real grief.

In one of the earliest moves of the game, following a relatively tense start from both teams on a pitch that had some give in it, after a few showers had fallen during the preceding days, Spirit went to the front.

Kuag Reec, a thorn in the side of virtually every team he’s come up against so far this season, was the man responsible, as he made his way through towards the penalty-area from the right side, waiting for a mistake from any of the Mounties’ men.

He somehow managed to force an error from experienced Mounties’ captain, Mark D’Alessandro, who slipped when trying to drag the ball out of harm’s way and Reec pounced, taking the ball away from his marker and lining up his left-footed shot with precision, tucking the ball away, low and into the bottom corner of the net.

1-0 to Spirit then after only eight minutes and Mounties knew they’d need to produce something special to wipe out that early strike.

The score didn’t change for a long time, so hope sprang eternal, but there was little evidence of anything much up front to encourage thoughts of a surprise goal or two, with the willing Lee looking for any sign of an opening, but seldom getting anything created that would serve his needs from the others toiling fruitlessly behind him, much of the time, Shane Webb included.

Lee did manage a shot from 25 yards in the 17th, but Spirit’s regular keeper these days, David Lowery, was equal to the task.

Lowery has looked the part since being called upon to deputise for the injured Murray Nelson, who’s been out all season until now and finally made it to the substitute’s bench for the first time this season, in this game.

A Mounties free-kick in the 24th minute, taken by skipper D’Alessandro, had some power behind it, but the ball deflected off the Spirit defenders protecting the goal and two ensuing corners did little to worry the home supporters.

In the 32nd Henry Wells nearly gave Spirit a second goal; but when Ali Akbal dropped the shot, Mounties’ fans could breathe again, as Scott Goodwin was on hand to scramble clear.

Wells and Reec had further chances before the break, with Gosue Sama exchanging passes with Wells in the lead-up in one such move, where only power was missing from a shot that Akbal managed to stop.

Akbal also did well to claim a header from Reec, off a 37th minute corner from Ryan Johnstone and the first-half drew to a close with Mounties looking no more likely to trouble the home side, after doing plenty of hard work.

Spirit, who’ve enjoyed the benefit of a majority of home games during the first ten of their fixtures, haven’t looked troubled for a while now and the still-winless Mounties were not going to do much to alter that situation here.

In the 65th the ball was twice cleared off the Mounties’ line, Daine Merrin prominent in that rescue action, while Akbal was at his best again in the 67th to save a flying volley from Abraham Majok, who really thought he’d scored.

The tide continued to run Spirit’s way and the Mounties’ best hope seemed to be to hold Spirit out and pinch a goal, through either a mistake or a deflection. It never happened.

Instead, in the 78th, a big run from Majok and an excellent cross allowed Reec to bring up his brace with a far-post finish.

That, more or less, was that. Spirit played out the game and Mounties threw on some late substitutes, but after two recent 1-1 draws against the better sides, this one was to prove a little more difficult.

Mounties’ coach, Lou Contigiani, had to leave promptly after the final whistle to deal with a family matter, but Spirit coach, John McLaverty, was not getting too carried away with the result.

“We should have won by more, but I’m happy to get the points,” was about as far as he needed to go in summing matters up.

Spirit will soon embark on a run of away games, as they aim to protect their lead at the top of the table, with a tough assignment at Jensen Park on Sunday against Bankstown City Lions.

Mounties Wanderers, meanwhile, face a formidable foe on Saturday night in Mount Druitt Town Rangers, a side whose coaching staff and many of whose players were at Cook Park, Mount Pritchard, last season.

And with Mount Druitt in season-best form right now, it’s going to need a fit Dragan Savic and a resolute backline to earn Mounties anything from the game, with their first win of the season looking as far away as ever.

Mount Druitt are a team with a game in hand, at home to Spirit, so their efforts in this game will be keenly observed.

Spirit, having already beaten Central Coast 3-0 away from home, have the return leg against their closest rivals to look forward to, but apart from Bankstown this weekend, they need to travel to Fraser Park, the only team to beat them at Christie Park and whose artificial pitch could find them out, though after that experience they’ll need to play Hakoah, on a similar surface at Hensley Field, with a taster against Sydney University before that as well.

If Spirit can adapt to the plastic at Lambert Park, Fraser Park and Hensley Field and beat the Coast at home, then they’ll be very hard to catch for the remainder of the season.

Match details
Crowd: About 75

Spirit FC: 41. David Lowery (gk); 19 Tom Lovell, 2 Daniel Cunningham (C), 4 Nicholas Trimble, 8 Grant Cornwell; 14 Ryan Johnstone, 11 Abraham Majok (5 Andrew Robertson 83), 22 Gosue Sama, 3 Henry Wells (10 Ossama Zaki 72), 13 Lord Darkoh;  21 Kuag Reec (12 Bradley Gibson 83),
Subs not used: RGK 1 Murray Nelson, 6 Ross Kethel

Coach: John McLafferty
Yellow cards: Abraham Majok 20, Lord Darkoh 39, Daniel Cunningham 87
Red cards: Nil

Mounties Wanderers FC: 30. Ali Akbal (gk); 6 Aleksandar Tomic, 16 Scott Goodwin, 18 Mark D’Alessandro (C), 29 Jake Ingle; 11 Daine Merrin (7 Jacob Carluccio 80), 3 Neftali Gonzales, 24 Mitchell King, 15 Shane Webb, 2 Brendan King (9 Nathan Attard 38); 27 Gongjun Lee
Subs not used: RGK 1 James Stojcevski, 8 Edward Stewart, 28 Rory McGeown

Coach: Lou Contigiani
Yellow cards: Jake Ingle 14, Aleksandar Tomic 67, Mark D’Alessandro 73
Red cards: Nil

Points, ratings, etc.

Referee: Adam Weir
Assistants: Sebastien Brennan and Andreas Lyndon

Match 6/10
Pitch: 6/10 a little soft, uneven
Weather: Cool and dry, hint of a breeze

Players noted:  Nick Trimble (SFC), Kuag Reec (SFC), Ryan Johnstone (SFC), Gongjun Lee (MW), Ali Akbal (MW), Shane Webb (MW)