No worries Spirit overcome Lions

By Corinthian (Paul Green):

NSW SP4 NPL2 men – ROUND 12 – feature game
3pm, Sunday 7th June 2015 – Jensen Park, Sefton

Bankstown City Lions FC 1 (Brima Kamara 5′)
lost to
Spirit FC 3 (Abraham Majok 31′, 54′, Daniel Cunningham 57′ pen)

On a sunny afternoon at Jensen Park, a hopeful Bankstown City Lions took on Spirit FC, who arrived at the start of the second-half of the season with eight consecutive victories under their belt.

Those wins had taken Spirit to the top of the ladder, their only blemish a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of the enigmatic Fraser Park, right near the start of their campaign.

Bankstown’s side has undergone a few changes in recent weeks, but a forced change, the absence of captain Michael Beauchamp, through suspension, was not the kind they needed going into this game and the absence also of new striker, Gerard Ooffoue, recently recruited from the Berries and who had a prior commitment, was another blow for them to deal with.

Yet it was the Lions who took the lead against a Spirit team which has conceded only a handful of goals all season, Brima Kamara striking after only five minutes.

If that worried Spirit, there was no sign of it, as they slowly began to pick up the pace and were soon the dominant team.

Bankstown had attacked for much of the opening 20 minutes or so, but after that Spirit more or less took over.

Spirit had even begun the brighter with in-form striker, Kuag Reec, fed through by Gosue Sama in the fourth minute, for a virtual one-on-one with Lions’ keeper, Dion Shaw, who was later to become a key figure in the match.

Shaw did well to deny Reec with his anticipation and keen perception of the early threat from Spirit.

After 11 minutes Sama again provided Reec with an opening, but the latter stumbled over the ball and the chance for an early equaliser was quickly lost.

The first goal of the game had come after the enterprising Grant Lynch made a big move down the left and crossed smartly for Kamara to volley home powerfully from the right side of goal.

Lynch again did the spade-work in setting up Dominic Hudap in the 18th, but the latter’s header was too weak to trouble the Spirit keeper and defenders were on hand to lend further support, so the danger soon passed.

After that, we saw the dangerous Henry Wells, who seemed to operate with impunity down the right flank, given free rein to provide a apparently endless supply of crosses, some of which were more than useful.

Wells was not needed, however, in the 31st, when the emerging talent that is Abraham Majok, after exchanging quick passes on the way to goal, produced a ripper of a volley that beat the keeper all ends up.

Wells continued to play the ball in from the right repeatedly, unhindered, his 33rd minute supply giving Majok a good opportunity to add to his tally, but the keeper just got there in time to claim the ball first.

A minute later Wells tested the keeper with a difficult cross that the Bankstown man fumbled and when he lost control of the ball completely  it fell to Reec, who, with the goal at his mercy, somehow managed to scoop the ball over the bar from point- blank range.

The first-half ended with Spirit’s dominance increasing and a few well-taken corners posing moments of difficulty for the locals.

After the break there was to be no let-up from the league leaders.

Majok, a slippery customer indeed, who’s really blossomed at Spirit this season, managed to find some space on the left, before cutting well inside and then tucking the ball just inside the far upright.

Spirit had the lead and they looked like holding onto it with a minimum of difficulty.

An injury to Lions’ keeper Shaw after yet another of his litany of brave saves, meant that he had to make way for reserve custodian, Nicholas Carosi in the 55th minute.

Carosi had barely joined the fray when he was in the thick of things immediately, just as Shaw had been, before sustaining the injury that forced him off.

Carosi’s first action of the game was to bring down Reec in the penalty-area and earn himself a yellow card.

Reliable Spirit stopper and skipper, Daniel Cunningham, stepped up and buried his shot to the keeper’s left with his customary efficiency.

Bankstown coach, Leo Carle, made some substitutions during the final 30 minutes and his team began to make some inroads, but this Spirit defence is a tough one and there was simply no way through.

Chris Gomez headed wide, from a Lynch cross, in the 77th, but really Bankstown could have done with the presence of Beauchamp at the back to support Dean Heffernan, who had to do a lot himself and the new striker, Ooffoue, when he’s finally on duty, may be able to help his new club to get out of the doldrums.

They’ve been stuck there for a number of weeks now and their promotion hopes are beginning to fade rapidly.

Perhaps new signing Gerard Ooffoue can provide the spark needed to get the attack firing as the second-half of the campaign gets going in earnest.

Here it was all Spirit and with their catch-up game out of the way on Wednesday, with a 0-0 draw achieved at Popondetta Park against a resolute ten-man Mount Druitt, it looks like the Spirit juggernaut is showing no signs of slowing down.

Spirit will be up against the only team to beat them thus far, Fraser Park, in a tricky game at the newly-synthetic pitch at the former Railway Workers ground in Sydenham, which is in the process of being transformed into a state-of-the-art facility.

After Fraser Park beat Bankstown Berries on Wednesday night, with yet another Hussein Akil goal, the Portuguese fans down that way will be keen to see Spirit off a second time.

Back of the Net will be there to see if they can pull it off.

Match details
Crowd:  about 75

Bankstown City Lions FC:  1. Dion Shaw(GK) (RGK 30 Nicholas Carosi 55); 2 Todd Halloran, 15 Billy Darwich, 8 Dean Heffernan (C), 3 Grant Lynch;  20 Alvaro Malmierca; 7 Brima Kamara (16 Jason Park 67), 6 Reuben Lagos, 12 Steven Veleski (4 Aaron D’Mello 55),10 Dominic Hudap;  9 Chris Gomez
Subs not used: 11 Huseyin Jasli, 33 Jock Musgrave

Coach: Leo Carle
Yellow cards: Nicholas Carosi 56, Brima Kamara 64, Dominic Hudap 90+1; Red cards: Nil

Spirit FC: 41. David Lowery (gk); 19 Tom Lovell, 2 Daniel Cunningham (C), 4 Nicholas Trimble, 8 Grant Cornwell; 14 Ryan Johnstone,   13 Lord Darkoh;  22 Gosue Sama;  11 Abraham Majok (7 Jacob Harris 72), 21 Kuag Reec (6 Ross Kethel 88), 3 Henry Wells
Subs not used: RGK 1 Murray Nelson, 5 Andrew Robertson  9 Tim Simpson

Coach: John McLafferty
Yellow cards: Nil; Red cards: Nil

Referee: James Lewis
Assistants: Brendon Lovric and John Garcia

Ratings and miscellaneous

Weather: Sunny and mild, no breeze.

Game 7/10

Pitch 8/10

Players noted: Dean Heffernan (BCL), Grant Lynch (BCL), Henry Wells (SFC), Daniel Cunningham (SFC), Abraham Majok (SFC), Ryan Johnstone (SFC)