Hawks battle to a win
By Corinthian (Paul Green):
NSW PS4 State League 1 Men – Round 17
3pm, Sunday 18th July, 2015 – Fraser Park, Marrickville
Inter Lions FC 0
Stanmore Hawks FC 1 (Angelo Petratos 50′)
A recent improvement in form by State League One club, Inter Lions, following the appointment of senior player, Lachlan Wright, as Captain-coach, led many to believe that the team based this season at Fraser Park, for most of its matches, could go on with the job against a Stanmore Hawks side lacking much confidence in front of goal and with an inconsistency about their play.
But the Hawks had other ideas and somehow managed to battle their way to a 1-0 win, to collect the three points and thwart any hopes the Lions might have held of climbing high enough to pose a challenge to the Finals’ contenders.
That likelihood now looks far more remote for them, after this tightly-contested fixture on the synthetic surface at the Sydenham ground, alongside the NSW railway work-sheds.
A winning goal from veteran Angelo Petratos – “don’t tell everyone how old I am, or I won’t get a contract again next year” quipped the ageless veteran, whose son Dimitri had scored for Brisbane Roar a day earlier in a match against Liverpool FC – settled this match in the 50th minute.
The defender, who’d been as guilty as anyone the week before in allowing Balmain Tigers to win 2-0 at Arlington Oval, with a defensive mistake which he later put his hand up for, was seen at his best here, scoring after a Neil Philippou free-kick had given him the chance to volley home, superbly, from the left, with a low shot that was as good as they get.
He’d had other chances, too, having come up for every corner and free-kick, as he always has throughout his long career, being denied possibly two goals more, by great saves from the Inter-Lions’ keeper, Roberto Maiorano, or by a defender’s boot.
Early chances came for both sides.
Neil Philippou curled a free-kick around the Inter Lions wall in the 29th, but the ball just shaved the left-hand upright, beyond a relieved opposition keeper.
Inter-Lions were well served by the efforts of Eric Tomesek, who put the dangerous Rosario Occhipinti through on goal in the 24th, but the Stanmore defence was able to scramble clear and Tomesek again did well to get to the byline first in the 41st, but his effort across the face of goal was too hard for any team-mate to reach.
Three minutes later Michael Cimino found the ball at his feet, after a partial Stanmore clearance had barely cleared the penalty area, but steered his effort well wide of the the left-post.
Then came the second-half which saw Stanmore gain the upper hand, at least during the opening part of proceedings.
A long-range effort from Angelo Petratos, in the 48th minute, signalled the start of the best period of the game for the Hawks, with the veteran’s fierce shot being hacked off the line by Inter defender, Stephen Roda.
Neil Philippou’s corner, a minute later, saw Petratos head the ball firmly towards goal again, with the defence booting the attempt off the line once more.
Philippou’s free-kick delivery, another minute later, proved too much for the Inter defence to deal with, as Petratos struck with not only venom, but precision, with his trusty left foot.
After an excellent Inter-Lions’ free-kick at the hour mark, Stanmore keeper, James Webb, who continues to show sparkling form, saved brilliantly from a volley that was well on-target from Occhipinti, though Stanmore’s midfield star, Sam Awad, back after a week’s lay-off,
also headed a good chance just wide in the 61st.
Keeper Webb got down well to save from captain-coach, Lachlan Wright, in the 73rd and from that point the Hawks relied mostly on the counter-attack, having brought on the speedy, if quirky, Ekwerike to launch their raids and taken the tiring Heo Wookbum off, replacing the flanker with the more defence-minded Rafid Hermiz.
Webb used his boot to clear from another Wright free-kick in the 81st and further efforts were blocked by the stubborn Stanmore defence.
A big tackle on Wright in the 84th by the impressive Doritis saw the Hawks retain their slender lead, after the captain-coach had been put through by substitute, Gianni Fabbro.
There was also a further chance for Stanmore through their own captain, Steve Liavas, in the 85th, but the shot skidded across the face of goal from a tight angle.
Ekwerike showed some neat ball skills, as he made a few incursions into the Inter penalty area, but his attempted passes failed to find a team mate, or he was too weak with his final shot.
Finally he got the ball to Neil Philippou in stoppage-time, but the long-time Stanmore front-man struck his attempt well over the crossbar.
There was no argument about the Inter-Lions players’ commitment in the game, as they gave it everything, but the Hawks, with new Cypriot defender, Daniel Doritis, alongside Petratos, a commanding presence facing them at the back, the hosts were unable to make the all-important breakthrough.
There’s no doubt that Inter tried their best and captain-coach, Lachlan Wright, wasted no time in letting his players know, post-match, what he thought of their performance, though their lack of penetration was what cost them the most and that was largely down to the strong Stanmore defence, for whom goalkeeper, James Webb, once again, excelled, behind the strong backline.
Inter were missing key midfielder, Dominic Arcella, who was injured, so perhaps his absence was the most telling.
Hawks’ coach, Sotiris Mavrou, was an animated figure pitch-side towards the end, as he weighted up the possibilities of making a late replacement for right back, Peter Theodosi, who struggled to stay on his feet near the end.
He also had to urge replacement striker, the skilful if erratic Christian Ekwerike, of his need to track back to protect his defensive team- mates, though the substitute showed some sound work in trying to create further chances that would have put the game to bed.
After all that tension all the coach wanted to do was breathe a sigh of relief and relax with his wife, over dinner at a nearby club, he told Back of the Net as he walked off from his bench.
Crowd: 75 approx.
Inter-Lions FC: GK 1 Roberto Maiorano, 5 Harrison Brown, 14 Stephen Roda, 2 Joseph Ciano, 3 Joshua de Kelly; 6 Eric Tomesek (30 Gianni Fabbro 72), 4 Michael Cimino, 13 Michael Sidoti, 10 Lachlan Wright (C), 9 Gustavo Maya Valiente (71 Rhys Turner 67); 7 Rosario Occhipinti (20 David Plowright 82)
Subs not used: RGK 23 Chris Soto
Captain-Coach: Lachlan Wright
Yellow cards: Gustavo Maya Valiente 32, Michael Sidoti 80; Red cards: Michael Sidoti 80′
Stanmore Hawks FC: GK 26 James Webb; 23 Peter Theodosi, 17 Daniel Doritis, 4 Angelo Petratos, 3 Neil O’Sullivan; 6 Costa Bakoulis (11 Christian Ekwerike 72), 7 Steve Liavas (C), 8 Sam Awad, 2 Foday Kamara, 41 Heo Wookbum (21 Rafid Hermiz 79); 9 Neil Philippou
Subs not used: RGK 31 James Adams, 18 Robert Mellino
Coach: Soteris Mavrou
Yellow cards: Steve Liavas 22, Neil O’Sullivan 53, Daniel Doritis 72, Foday Kamara 87; Red cards: Nil
Referee: Wayne Crabbe
Assistants: Dale Bromfield and Youael Shamon
Ratings and miscellaneous
Pitch: 10/10 (Synthetic)
Weather: Cold, but sunny and dry, moderate breeze
Players noted: Rosario Occhipinti (IL), Michael Cimino (IL), Lachlan Wright (IL), Steve Liavas (SH), Daniel Doritis (SH), Angelo Petratos (SH)