Bonnyrigg White Eagles 2015 Champions
By Corinthian (Paul Green)
NPL1 Grand Final 2015
Leichhardt Oval, Lilyfield
Sunday 13th September 2015
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 2 (Robbie Younis 37, Yuta Kokado 51) defeated Blacktown City 0
The NSW NPL1 Grand Final for 2015 was something of a letdown after an intensely fought Premiership contest, with a far hungrier Bonnyrigg White Eagles accounting for Blacktown City with far more ease than the 2-0 scoreline may have suggested to those who weren’t at Leichhardt Oval last Sunday afternoon.
It did take both sides a little while to weigh one another up but, once Bonnyrigg found their rhythm and opened the scoring, there was no stopping them.
Robbie Younis — who’s been around a long time, rounding out his skills nicely over the years to be more than a simple target man — showed everyone what he was capable of with a sublime free kick, from the edge of the penalty area, to open the scoring.
The ball was bent around the wall and into the top-right corner of the Blacktown net with power and precision to delight a large contingent of White Eagles fans in the packed grandstand.
Blacktown made little impression during the opening minutes.
Sasa Macura set up Travis Major for a shot, but the latter simply ran into a Bonnyrigg brick wall and could not even manage an attempt on goal.
In the 11th, a Joey Gibbs free kick provided Blacktown with a further opportunity but, even from 18 metres, Gibbs could not trouble James Chronopoulos, who took the catch with ease.
Bonnyrigg began to make some inroads after that, with Younis showing signs of what problems he might pose to the Blacktown defence later on.
He stroked his chance wide in the 15th, but Bonnyrigg had another good attempt from the lively Yuta Kokado in the 18th from 40 metres — too far out to trouble Nenad Vekic, but still an indication that Bonnyrigg would be going for goal from most vantage points.
Danny Choi, so effective for Blacktown on the flanks for most of the season, met tough opposition here and probably should have done better in the 27th after robbing Mun-soo Gil of possession on half way, bursting clear only to deliver a pass direct to a Bonnyrigg defender.
Zac Cairncross clashed heavily with Younis in the 32nd after rushing through the middle and claims for a penalty looked very reasonable to many in the very vocal crowd, but referee Kurt Ams resisted their calls and waved play on.
Counter attacking seconds later, Blacktown’s Georgio Speranza got away down the left and fully tested Chronopoulos with a firm, low shot.
Then came the opening goal and it was a good one.
After 37 minutes Blacktown’s Matt Lewis paid a heavy price for bringing down Gil on the edge of the box.
Younis stepped up and demonstrated his dead-ball skills, to any who might have doubted them, with a confident, crisply delivered shot that curled beyond the wall and into the roof of the net.
Somehow the momentum, if it was not already with Bonnyrigg, really belonged to them after that.
Younis was proving a real handful for the Blacktown defence, as he usually is, almost getting on the scoresheet again in the shadows of half time, but his run was brought to an end by the good work of Speranza and Lewis.
Danny Choi continued to run at the defence, but had no luck two minutes into the second half, after being put in by Patrick Antelmi, seeing his run ended by a vigilant Bonnyrigg defence.
A great piece of work by Bonnyrigg captain, Chris Tadrosse, who ventured down the left with plenty of intent in the 51st, led to the second Bonnyrigg goal.
Tadrosse got the better of his man and lifted the ball over the defender’s head, allowing the enterprising Kokado to show great individual skill by taking the waist-high pass at the near post with a sweet, first-time volley that flew into the roof of the Blacktown net form what was, in anyone’s language, a very tight angle indeed.
After that, much of the fight seemed to go out of Blacktown, and the dismissal of their captain, Zac Cairncross, who collected yellow cards twice later in the game, leaving his team with only ten men, was the final death knell for their chances of making any sort of comeback.
This was a Bonnyrigg side arriving in exactly the right frame of mind to do the business. Taylor McDonald was a surprise starter and he made a wonderful starting debut.
Tadrosse was outstanding and there was excellent work also from Mun-soo Gil, Kokado and Tynan Diaz.
Blacktown were to struggle against a resolute Bonnyrigg defence, whose coach Brian Brown used all his vast experience and foreknowledge of his rivals to deliver the Champions’ trophy.
“I separated my players into two groups, during the week,” he explained.
“Those who’d played for Bonnyrigg in a Grand Final before and those who hadn’t and we were able to talk to them both and explain to them what the big day entailed for each of them.
“We wanted to push them (Blacktown City) back right from the start and I think we did that very effectively.
Brown ruefully recalled a night earlier in the campaign when his side was bundled out of the FFA Cup in an early qualifying game against Manly at Cromer Park.
“That night was the worst performance by a Bonnyrigg team in all my years of coaching, of coaching any team in fact.
“I was so upset that I considered calling it a day, but the following morning I was able to come to terms with it and soldier on.
“I’m very proud of the achievement of winning yet another Grand Final for the club and I must thank all of the players for that.”
Mark Crittenden, on the other hand, who’d also had his ups and downs with his Blacktown team, losing an FFA Cup game at home to a South Australian State League side some weeks ago and suffering some other heavy defeats, could only express his disappointment at having won the Premiership, but fallen flat on Grand Final day.
“They (Bonnyrigg) were too good today, there’s no other words for it.
“They scored some good goals and it was a pity we couldn’t win it today for our supporters.
“But we have a big game coming up in the NPL1 national series, (against Canberra City on Sunday) so we’ll be focusing on that now.”
Bonnyrigg White Eagles:
1 James Chronopoulos (gk), 11 Ben Spruce (2 Alex Mansueto 56), 12 Dylan Fox (13 Adam Jenner 75), 5 Chris Tadrosse (c), 6 Nikola Zonjic, 17 Mun-Soo Gil, 15 Ray Miller (3 David Vrankovic 83), 16 Taylor McDonald, 7 Tynan Diaz, 9 Robbie Younis, 18 Yuta Kokado
Yellow cards: Ray Miller 64
Red cards: Nil
Subs not used: 21 Nikodin Matic, 4 Reece Caira
Coach: Brian Brown
1 Nenad Vekic, 3 Giorgio Speranza, 6 Matt Lewis, 19 Zac Cairncross (c), 4 Yianni Fragogiannis, 8 Sasa Macura (18 Jono Grozdanovski), 12 Daniel Araujo, 9 Joey Gibbs (14 Mitch Mallia 60), 7 Travis Major, 11 Danny Choi (10 Christos Tomaras 69), 16 Patrick Antelmi
Subs not used: 13 Tristan Prendergast, 5 George Timotheou
Yellow cards: Zac Cairncross 71, 76
Red cards: Zac Cairncross 76
Coach: Mark Crittenden
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistants: Lance Greenshields and Kearney Robinson
Fourth Official: Ryan Shepheard
Weather: Warm and sunny, little breeze
Crowd: Approx 3,955
Players noted: Robbie Younis (BWE), Chris Tadrosse (BWE), Yuta Kokado (BWE), Taylor McDonald (BWE), Daniel Araujo (BC), Patrick Antelmi (BC)
By Corinthian (Paul Green)