Dully fall to northerners again
By Corinthian (Paul Green):
NSW PS4 State League 1 Men – Round 15 – feature report
3pm, Sunday 5th July, 2015 – Arlington Oval, Dulwich Hill
Dulwich Hill FC 1 (Lewis Walker o.g. 19′)
North Shore Mariners FC 2 (Marquin Smith 2′, Mitchell Lensink 90’+3)
On paper this looked a mouth-watering clash between the competition leaders and a much-improved third-placed Dulwich Hill, playing on their own Arlington Oval artificial surface.
The visitors had a dress-rehearsal the previous weekend to accustom themselves to the vagaries of the bounce and speed of the ball over the sometimes tricky surface, when they beat Stanmore Hawks 2-1, after going behind to an early penalty.
Although, perhaps, they didn’t need too much prior knowledge as their own Northbridge Oval pitch is synthetic as well.
This was expected to be a little more difficult than the Stanmore game as ‘Dully’ have emerged as Finals’ contenders after only a moderate start to their campaign.
The arrival of Kiwi Sam Messam has had a lot to do with that, albeit a player who was away and unable to feature this weekend, but play-maker Sash Tirovski has also been a key factor in his side’s attacking philosophy and was the first name to go on the team sheet here.
Coach Norman Tome, recognising the threat posed by the all-conquering Mariners, would have given much thought to his team selection and tactics, in order to bring the Northbridge-based side undone.
North Shore Mariners, for their own part, would surely fear nobody now, after playing everyone once and emerging unscathed.
Unscathed, that is, apart from two draws.
Here they were looking for the double, having beaten Dulwich Hill 3-1 back in April at Wentworth Park, on a day when Northbridge Oval was unavailable.
The match certainly didn’t disappoint.
After conceding within 90 seconds, Dulwich Hill came back strongly and enjoyed a sizable share of the game, once they’d settled down, looking every inch potential winners of this closely-fought contest, until fading over the concluding 15 minutes or so, when beginning to flag noticeably and eventually losing the game 2-1, deep into stoppage-time.
There was no doubt about Dully being up for this one.
They were the more creative of the two teams and were unfazed by the reputation of their opponents, who were, however, finally able to tame their hosts, thanks to digging deep, throwing on some fresh legs and relying on their huge reserves of sheer adrenaline.
This was a titanic affair, make no mistake.
It had skill, it had drama, it had endless effort and ideas, obviously all the elements expected of a top-of-the table match to delight spectators, inevitably leaving one group disappointed, if not devastated, while the other would have left ecstatic with the outcome, after being frustrated by Dulwich Hill for such long periods of the game.
Having struck the woodwork in each half of the game and generated the majority of the chances, at least until the closing stages, Dulwich Hill had every reason to feel let down when robbed of at least a point in the dying seconds of the game.
But, clearly, the visitors only peaked near the end and made the most of their battering-ram of an attack which threw itself relentlessly at Dulwich Hill over the concluding stages.
Dulwich Hill, under massive pressure, finally wilted, desperately trying to clear wave-upon-wave of crosses and attempts on goal, before inevitably unable to withstand the force any longer, as a simple tap-in from 82nd minute substitute Mitchell Lensink sealed their fate.
North Shore Mariners began brightly and were soon in front, thanks to a low, precision cross from the right by Michael Cole which Marquin Smith met with a sweetly-struck volley, that nestled low in the left corner of the Dully net, with less than two minutes on the clock.
It was to set the home team back on their heels, but despite missing three key players, the suspended Joel Iannacito,their injured defender, Sam Cornish and the other Sam, their Kiwi play-maker, Messam, Dully showed they were well prepared for the contest.
They levelled the scores in the 19th minute and although it was attributed to an own goal by North Shore defender, Lewis Walker, the cross from the left by Steve Hrysanthos was met emphatically by Aaron Cordova, right on the goal-line, with the ball going in off the defender, via the boot of the Dully player from his tenacious finish.
This was a game full of incident, but little animosity and there were only two cautions issued during the match by referee Jerry Bitas.
It was played at a frantic pace, at times, so it was little wonder that the effort took its toll on arguably the two most effective attacking players from Dulwich Hill, Steve Hrysanthos and Aaron Cordova, who were both replaced with five minutes remaining.
Similarly, central-midfield workhorse, George Lagoudakis, gave way to the speedy wingman, Alex Yin, twelve minutes from time, with the latter making some dangerous runs during his brief time on the field.
Sash Tirovski was the most impressive of the home team players, shielding the defence strongly and trying to get things moving further upfield, as well, at every opportunity.
James Morrison, another in the midfield who worked tirelessly, got forward as much as he could and contributed to the attack on many occasions.
After promising to inflict some damage on the league leaders, Dulwich finally dropped their intensity as the North Shore Mariners lifted theirs.
The introduction of fresh legs made all the difference and with defender, Lee Jones, having pushed forward throughout the game, beginning to pose an even greater threat on the flanks, the Dully defence was fully stretched.
Tadhg Purcell was always in the thick of the action and along with Jones, could have scored a few goals, only wayward finishing letting both of them down.
The virtual tap-in for substitute Lensink came after some solid probing down the left by North Shore and several frantic attempts to clear by the over-worked Dully backline.
The win confirmed their standing as unbeaten and imperious leaders on the State League 1 ladder.
They will have their eyes on promotion now and with a good squad already available and scoring freely, they’ve brought back one of their stars from two seasons ago, rushing over from England, 22 year old former Manchester United, Crewe Alexandra and Rochdale junior, the talented striker, Tom Bentham to boost their chances.
He had previously played briefly with the club on a short-term visa in 2013, scoring a few goals and showing enough promise and the necessary adaptability to slot in at short notice, mid-season.
He’ll be doing the same thing again, but this time on a 12-month working visa and hopes to be a part of the club’s title-tilt and subsequent promotion push.
As a prolific scorer he’ll be in good company, as the team has been finding the net consistently.
Marquin Smith, scorer of the team’s first goal on this occasion – his sixth, he told Back of the Net – will welcome the competition for places and will hope to form a strong partnership with a player he’s only seen at training until now, as he was playing in Victoria for Morwell Pegasus when Bentham first came to the country.
Smith’s a player with plenty of experience in the East Midlands area of his native England, having played in the Unibond League with clubs in the Nottingham environs.
With Bentham most recently engaged with Conference club, Hyde United, the pair will bring to the club a good pedigree and some valuable experience.
North Shore Mariners, with an artificial pitch at their own Northbridge Oval home ground will work to bring their facility up to standard once promotion hopes look like turning to reality.
Dulwich Hill may have kissed their chances goodbye with this 2-1 loss, but they are still intent on challenging for the Finals’ series.
With their missing players back they’ll be hoping to make it third time lucky should they come up against the North Shore side in the end-of-season Championship.
Crowd: Approx 100
Dulwich Hill FC: 1. Lucas North; 16 James Cross, 9 Robert Morrison (C), 24 Hussein Rachid, 3 Jacob Maruca; 17 Adam Johnston, 20 Sash Tirovski, 6 James Morrison, 8 George Lagoudakis (23 Alex Yin 78); 13 Stephen Hrysanthos (21 Akwasi Agyei 85), 7 Aaron Cordova (10 Frank Calcagno 85)
Subs not used: RGK 41 Mario Farias, 11 Mark Pinto
Coach: Norman Tome
Yellow cards: Adam Johnston 88; Red cards: Nil
North Shore Mariners FC: 51. Harrison Bleakley; 36 Lee Jones, 4 Jay Wynter, 2 Jack Grant, 3 Lewis Walker; 8 Michael Cole, 12 Nicholas Chapman (10 Mitchell Lensink 82), 6 Ricky Woodward (C), 13 Marquin Smith, 42 Tadhg Purcell; 11 Mark Mcalpine (22 Chris Lindsay 68)
Subs not used: RGK 26 Kevin Baker, 7 James Collins, 30 Jordan Mbakwe
Coach: Joe Haywood
Yellow cards: Jack Grant 42; Red cards: Nil
Referee: Jerry Bitas
Assistants: Matthew Cassidy and Francisco Sanabria
Ratings and miscellaneous
Pitch: 10/10 (Synthetic)
Weather: Cool and sunny, very little breeze.
Players noted: Sash Tirovski (DH), Stephen Hrysanthos (DH), Aaron Cordova (DH), 42 Tadhg Purcell (NSM), Lee Jones (NSM), Nicholas Chapman (NSM)