Tigers good win as Hakoah play cards

By Corinthian (Paul Green):

NSW PS4 NPL 2 MEN – ROUND 7 – Feature Game
7:30pm, Sunday 3rd May 2015  – Hensley Field, Pagewood

HAKOAH Sydney City East FC 1 (Neil Jablonski 30′)
lost to
Northern Tigers FC 3 (Braden Cheng 60′, Daniel Stewart 77′, Tai Smith 80′)


We’re almost a third of the way through the 2015 season now, though the picture is clouded somewhat by the number of games yet to be played due to persistent wet weather.

This match was originally scheduled for Mills Park, Asquith, earlier in the day, but once it became likely that heavy rain was expected to fall on both Saturday and Sunday, which would only make conditions worse, at the already sodden Northern Tigers’ Hornsby council-owned ground, a switch to the synthetic pitch at Hensley Field seemed a sensible solution, albeit with an evening kick-off due to other earlier commitments at the stadium near Eastgardens.

Northern Tigers, no doubt keen to get this game played and perhaps earn some more points to maintain their title tilt, may have seen it as a chance to show that Hakoah were enjoying a false position with a share of the competition lead with themselves and with Central Coast, who had been beaten twice already.

On paper, at least, the Tigers probably felt they had the resources to test Hakoah who were beaten convincingly at home by Central Coast at a recent appearance here, before beating lowly Mount Druitt, and might have been ripe for the picking.

The weekend’s weather showed no signs of improving and even though one game was played the previous day – Bankstown Berries beating Sydney University at The Crest, on a mud-heap in Bass Hill – this was the only game otherwise to see any action.

A dry day seemed to solve the problems, but, just as the game began, swirling, misty rain began to envelop the ground, giving cause for some concern, though soon enough the skies cleared and conditions became ideal for football.

What followed was an excellent game of football, with the winner left in doubt until the final ten minutes or so.
Hakoah made most of the early running, going a goal up on the half-hour and threatening enough to suggest that they might run away with the game.

They had their two experienced strikers, Michael McCrory and Neil Jablonski, on fire, with the latter giving them the lead with a superbly-placed volley, after Brad Paikin had cut the ball back from the by-line on the right, after getting the better of his marker down the flank.

It was a very well-taken goal and Hakoah continued to press, with only sporadic attacks from Northern Tigers during the opening half of the game.

Northern Tigers, however, did have a goal disallowed for off-side, not long before their hosts opened the scoring, when Liam McConaghy raced onto a  Daniel Stewart pass to find the net with a lovely finish from 12 yards out on the right.

The flag went up, however, on that occasion and it was not until the second-half that the Tigers began to claw their way back onto the game.

They did well to hold Hakoah at 1-0 by half time, as a couple of apparently cast-iron chances went begging, with McCrory unable to reach a low cross from the left by Michael Randall, that he should have converted with his right foot, but stabbed at with his left, instead, seeing the ball fly wide of the right-post in the 40th.

Tigers, too, went close, as McConaghy ran onto a pass from deep and then glanced an effort away to safety, off the post, a minute later.

We’d also seen Deklan Gilmartin attempt an audacious long-range shot that Matthew Nemes did well to claim up high under his crossbar in the 36th and it looked likely that Hakoah would sooner or later extend their lead.

They lost Jablonski to a recurrence of a back injury, just before the break and then the burly McCrory succumbed to a hamstring strain around the hour mark.

The loss of those two players certainly reduced Hakoah’s effectiveness going forward, though they battled away well for the remainder of the match; but minutes before former Northern Tigers’ striker, McCrory, hobbled off, the Tigers had drawn level and after that they wound things up with two further goals and an increasingly authoritative display that earned them a convincing 3-1 win at the finish.

The equaliser came when McConaghy played a superb diagonal pass through the right channel which Tai Smith just got to, before a defender could commit to a tackle and then Smith cut the ball back for a very cool finish by Braden Cheng, who had to check back first to evade some hefty tackles, before finding the net from six yards.

That was a quite classy goal and brought appreciative cheers from the small crowd.

Northern Tigers hit the front in the 77th minute and it was the first touch from substitute, Matthew West, that did the damage.

Englishman, West, one of two visa players in the Tigers’ ranks, had emerged from the bench a matter of seconds earlier and flicked a ball on cleverly to set up Smith, whose shot was initially pushed away by Hakoah keeper, Matthew Symes, but only as far as Stewart who gleefully buried the ball in the back of the net.

There had been some tense moments in the Tigers’ penalty area in the earlier stages of the half, with high balls that were pumped in bringing the entire defence into the play to scramble clear more than once.

But after that and especially after McCrory was forced to leave the scene, Hakoah struggled to overcome the deficit.

Things only got worse after a flurry of cautions were handed out to Hakoah, including a second within four minutes for Gilmartin, who inevitably saw red, leaving his side without its most effective play-maker and a man down, to boot.

Northern Tigers then scored a third in the 80th, when a very nice free-kick from skipper for the day, Steve Baveas, landed perfectly for Smith to nod home, which was enough to see the Asquith-based team surge to the top of the table, with wins in each of their last five outings, with the only loss coming in the opening game of the season to Bankstown Berries and the team still has a game in hand.

The Tigers will be busy, however, as they’ve also made it to the seventh preliminary round of the FFA Cup and have a home date with Blacktown City coming up soon.

Before that they’ll be one of many teams engaged in catch-up games this week, with Spirit FC playing Sydney University on Tuesday night and then a Wednesday night fixture at Mills Park against Bankstown City Lions.

Also on Wednesday night Macarthur Rams meet Mounties FC at Lynwood Park, St Helens Park while Mount Druitt play Fraser Park at Popondetta Park.

Spirit FC only just edged past a ten-man Sydney University 3-2 on Tuesday night, with Northern Tigers due at Christie Park on Saturday night.

“If we win on Saturday, we’ll go top,” said Spirit coach, John LcLafferty after that game.

“And we’ll beat the Tigers,” he said confidently, despite struggling to overcome a plucky team of short-handed ‘students’.

Spirit FC’s deferred home game at Christie Park against St George will be staged the following Tuesday night.

There’s still a few more postponed games to make up, but Hakoah have lost some ground after this defeat and, unlike the others, have no deferred games to play.

Hakoah have won three, but lost four of their games so far and this was their second 3-1 loss at home this season, having already been put to the sword by Central Coast FC three weeks earlier.

Nine points from seven outings is not a bad haul, considering the fortunes of some of the other teams in the division.

“I thought we should have been three-up by half-time,” suggested a disappointed Hakoah coach, Mark Robertson at the game’s conclusion.

“It was certainly a game of two halves. We dominated them in the first-half and if we’d scored more before the break I don’t think they’d have won tonight. We’ve got a good bunch of lads here and they’ll bounce back,” he insisted.

“Yes we were less effective once Jablonski and McCrory went off. Neil’s is the same injury we’ve been managing for a while now, but Mick’s is a new one; he’s not had a hamstring injury here before.

Tigers’ coach, Steve Hurd, was not completely happy, despite the win, as he felt his side were slow out of the blocks and took too long to get going.

But he’d be aware that the win was achieved without several regulars, including captain Michael Rolston and Paul Davies, both nursing injuries after a heavy FFA Cup and League programme.

Match details

Crowd:  Approx 75

Hakoah Sydney City East FC: 1. Matthew Symes (gk); 2 Remy Wolanski, 4 Bradley Walker, 20 Joseph Dingwall, 13 Michael Randall; 10 Deklan Gilmartin, 8 Paul Orgad, 16 Brad Paikin, 19 Jacob Esposito; 9 Neil Jablonski (C) (7 Kevin Lopes 43), 5 Michael McCrory (26 Federico Kertscher 62)
Subs:  RGK 25 Jesse Lenn, 11 Gavin Rae, 29 Harry Jones

Coach: Mark Robertson
Yellow cards: Michael Randall 64, Deklan Gilmartin 74, 78, Jacob Esposito 75; Red cards: Deklan Gikmartin 78

Northern Tigers FC: 1. Matt Nemes (gk); 2 Samuel Ryder, 12 Russell Farrell, 5 Samuel Porter, 10 Shervin Adell; 23 Julian Lim,  9 Liam McConaghy (7 Matthew West 77), 16 Steven Baveas (C), 19 Daniel Stewart (3 Lucas Dawson 81); 18 Tai Smith 17 Braden Cheng,

Subs: RGL 21 Harrison Devenish-Meares, 4 Michael Rolston, 15 Hayden Kyha

Coach: Steve Hurd
Yellow cards: Nil; Red cards: Nil

Ratings, points, etc.

Referee: Adam Weir
Assistants:  Alex Long and Jordan Lake

Game: 8/10
Pitch 10/10 (Synthetic)

Weather: Clearing, but uncertain, after early misty rain.

Players noted: Michael Randall (HSCE), Jacob Esposito  (HSCE), Liam McConaghy (NT), Braden Cheng (NT), Daniel Stewart (NT), Samuel Porter NT)
[Pleasing also was the contribution from former Coventry City junior, Matthew West, 24, Birmingham-born, in his second season with the club and definitely one to watch].