Precious point at Parklea
By Corinthian (Paul Green):
NSW PS4 NPL 2 Men – Round 17
7:30pm, Saturday 18th July 2015 – Valentine Park No 2, Glenwood (formerly Parklea)
Bankstown Berries FC 1 (Jun Kato 68′)
Fraser Park FC 1 (Nicola Todoroski 40′)
Two sides still chasing an elusive Finals’ spot, Bankstown Berries and Fraser Park, met at Valentine Park on Saturday night in a hastily-re-located game, on the synthetic, originally scheduled to be played at the Berries’ home ground, The Crest, on a grass pitch that sits next to the Dunc Gray Velodrome in Bass Hill.
The Berries came into the game full of confidence, after winning their last four games, a string of results that has propelled them much closer to the Finals’ spots than had looked likely earlier in their campaign.
Indeed, the first time they met Fraser Park, at their opponents ground, in a delayed Round Six fixture, their prospects did not look at all bright going into that match and they emerged with a 2-1 defeat which made their task even tougher from then on.
But since that midweek match, The Berries have dug deep and pulled off some notable victories, so facing Fraser Park a second time appeared to present them with few fears.
The fact that Fraser Park had a key midfielder, suspended and another top player, Adem Kir, out with a long-term meniscus injury, would have given the Berries heightened hopes of avenging that earlier defeat.
Fraser Park went into the game with a threadbare squad, a few players nursing knocks and battling to last the 90 minutes, including midfielder Hussein Akil, defender Rocci Gabey and target man, Nicola Todoroski.
The game played in rather cold conditions at the FNSW headquarters was a lively affair, with no quarter asked or given, but compelling enough for spectators to derive some enjoyment from it ,as the two opponents each tried to gain the ascendancy.
The first-half belonged to neither side, entirely, though Fraser Park did create the more chances of the pair, though the Berries were far from outplayed during those first 45 minutes.
But what Fraser Park did manage was a first-half goal, albeit with only five minutes to go before half-time.
The scorer was Nicola Todoroski, whose older brother, Alexander, was, along with club captain, Nick Dimitropoulos, responsible for a stout rearguard performance on this occasion, which eventually yielded their team a point from a 1-1 draw.
Nicola Todoroski capitalised on an error by a Berries’ player who lost possession on his own right-hand-side to the big striker.
Todoroski had plenty of space to exploit that and went through to beat the keeper with an authoritative finish.
Todoroski, however, succumbed to the injuries he had carried into the game and had to be replaced just ten minutes into the second-half.
The Berries, who had matched Fraser in most departments during the first period, stepped things up after Todoroski’s departure, probably sensing that the threat would be nowhere near as strong, even with the fresh legs of a substitute, Kim Daisan, to replace the youngster, and they redoubled their own efforts, especially down the flanks, where they’d caused Fraser Park some problems before the break.
Under immense and intense pressure, Fraser Park dug deep, just as they had in the team’s first meeting, but they had only one goal to play with, not two this time, and it was much harder for them to repel the dangerous and in-form Berries attack.
They did well for a while, but eventually they cracked, as the opposition wingmen weaved their magic.
Cutting out crosses was the main job for the Fraser Park defence during the second-half and they had plenty of those to contend with.
But they could not do it endlessly, without sooner or later conceding and it happened in the 68th minute.
A free-kick awarded to The Berries, just inside the Fraser Park half of the field, on the right, saw the ball played down the right channel before being whipped in behind the defence.
An initial shot from Joel Anscomb was saved at point-blank range by an overworked Fraser Park keeper, Wayne Estavao, but he was only able to push the ball away. Before defenders could clear the ball, Berries striker, Jun Kato, latched onto it and blasted it into the net.
Berries, sensing further goals were there for the taking, continued to stretch Fraser Park out wide and it needed Alexander Todoroski to bring off a superb saving-tackle two minutes from the end, to deny what had looked a certain goal.
He and his central defensive partner, Dimitropoulos, had both made similar saving-tackles in the first-half, when the game was at a less critical stage, but with their main striker out of commission, Fraser Park really knew they were up against it against a fluid opponent.
At the end, somehow, they survived, to collect a precious point and ensure that they would stay well clear of the relegation zone, for the Club Championship, after their Under-20s and Under-18s had won both their earlier matches.
Fraser Park will be looking to put further distance between themselves and the bottom group when they play strugglers, but recent improvers, Mounties Wanderers, on Sunday afternoon at Fraser Park.
The Berries still have work to do, but their main focus now will be on preserving their unbeaten run, now standing at five games, with a Finals’ series push to the end of the season-proper looking a reality.
The Berries meet Sydney University at Lambert Park on Saturday night, a game they can win, despite recent victories by the ‘students’ who share bottom-spot with the Mounties, both on a mere twelve points apiece, though Mounties still have a home game in hand after last-week’s wash-out against Bankstown City Lions.
Back of the Net will head to Asquith for the Northern Tigers v Hakoah Sydney City East clash at Mills Park on Sunday.
Both teams are well-placed in the Club Championship, though neither look like catching Spirit FC in the race to the First Grade title; only an outside chance remains for both teams now, with Spirit being six points clear of The Tigers and seven clear of Hakoah, with the Northern side having played one game more than the other two and with Central Coast FC also in the mix, despite a run of erratic results of late.
Both sides will dispute their First Grade title hopes are fading, but if this match provides a winner, then that team can still rattle Spirit’s cage.
Northern Tigers meet Spirit FC at Mills Park, a week later, so their incentive is quite clear, having beaten Central Coast FC 2-0 last weekend up at Pluim Park to set up an exciting run to the wire.
Crowd: not many
Bankstown Berries FC: GK 1 Michael Frost (C); 18 Matthew Trotter, 16 Milan Zoric, 4 Omar Saadi, 12 Mitchell Davidson; 7 Kyle Ewart, 21 Peter Dimitropoulos, 22 Jake Bradshaw (8 Thomas Taylor 66), 11 Joel Anscomb; 17 Ilkay Gurbuz (19 Dimitri Zakilas 78), 10 Jun Kato
Subs not used: RGK 41 Stefan Giglio, 6 Shivan Swamy, 15 David Burbidge
Coach: Wally Savor
Yellow card: Ilkay Gurbuz 51; Red cards: Nil
Fraser Park FC: GK 1 Wayne Estevao; 15 Rocci Gabey (16 Marko Micevski 82), 18 Alexander Todoroski, 5 Nicholas Dimitropoulos (C), 3 Davide Talone; 7 Kevin Oliveira, 13 Pat Cappuccio, 6 Suad Ameli, 8 Hussein Akil, 11 Stefan Jovanovic; 17 Nicola Todoroski (20 Kim Daisan 65)
Subs not used: RGK 22 Riley Keayes, 10 Paulo Oliveira
Coach: Mile Todoroski
Yellow card: Davide Talone 65; Red cards:Nil
Referee: Khodr Yaghi
Assistants: Tristan Harris and Alexander Goodhew
Ratings and miscellaneous
Weather: Rather cold, but dry and with a moderate breeze
Pitch: 10/10 Synthetic
Food and coffee ratings: tba
Players noted: Mitchell Davidson (BB), Joel Anscomb (BB), Kyle Ewart (BB), Suad Ameli, (FP), Wayne Estavao (FP), Nick Dimitropoulos (FP)