Gungahlin United ensured there would be no Westfield FFA Cup hangover as they claimed a vital victory in the PlayStation 4® NPL competition with a 2-1 victory over the FFA COE at Gungahlin Enclosed.
Saturday 28th June
Gungahlin United 2 (Dustin Wells 36’, Stephen Domenici 66’) FFA COE 1 (Cameron Joice 1’)
Having ensured their participation in the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32, with the draw set for Wednesday afternoon, Gungahlin could have been forgiven for drifting off and thinking of major matches ahead and, indeed it looked that way as the FFA COE made a blistering start.
Immediately from the kick-off the away side sent a measured ball forward, strung together a sequence of rapid fire passes and created a chance which, although Jason Denham saved, Cameron Joice was quickest to the rebound to slot home from close range. That stung Gungahlin who appeared shell-shocked and took five minutes to settle into the match in a first half that was mostly played in favour of the visitors.
Gungahlin went into the sheds level however when some neat build up play allowed Jeremy Habtemariam the room to cross for Dustin Wells to volley in at the far post. There was a complete switch around in the second half as the home team dominated proceedings.
Josh Gaspari was outstanding in a screening role alongside Shane Murray and Stephen Domenici was at his predatory best. And it was Domenici who won the points. The winger, who tormented his marker all afternoon, collected a pass and cut inside to rifle in the match-winner and keep the Gunners momentum flowing.
Tuggeranong United 0 Woden-Weston FC 2 (Nikolas Popovich 11’, Tim Anderson 68’)
Woden-Weston FC heaped more misery on Tuggeranong United with a 2-=0 victory at Kambah 2 on Sunday afternoon to leave the home side still searching for their first points of the season and wondering when they will ever arrive.
Goals in each half for Woden-Weston FC sealed the points but they were arguably fortunate to come away with a win with Tuggeranong giving as good as they received for large parts of the match and creating a number of presentable opportunities.
It was the visitors who had the perfect start, taking the lead in the eleventh minute. Zach Harrigan and Tim Anderson created it between them, playing a one-two that allowed Harrigan to square across the area for Nikolas Popovich to slot home his third goal of the season.
United, with new signing Canadian Davin Haigh playing in the number ten role behind leading scorer Zach Munster, attempted a response but found the visiting defence in a resolute mood.
Munster, who has ten goals in all competitions this year, looked Tuggeranong’s best bet but, try as he might, the striker could not find a way past the Woden-Weston FC back four.
With Tuggeranong pushing for an equaliser, the visitors hit them with a sucker punch in the 68th minute. Popovich was heavily involved again, firing in a missile of a shot that Rowan Forbes-Shepherd in the United goal could only parry back into the path of the lurking Anderson who calmly netted the second, his third of the campaign, to seal an away win and keep Tuggeranong rooted to the foot of the ladder.
Canberra Olympic 1 (Tom McLachlan 36’) Belconnen United 2 (Aisosa Ihegie 40’, Sam Smith 88’)
Playing his 200th PlayStation 4® National Premier Leagues game Canberra Olympic goalkeeper Angelo Konstantinou saw his teams’ chances of moving to third on the ladder blown away as visiting Belconnen United snatched an 88th minute winner to go top of the table.
The Olympic custodian could do nothing about the match-defining moment which came from a swift Blue Devils counter-attack. Robbie Cattanach had threatened to win it for the home team with an outrageous forty-metre lob that drifted just wide of the Belconnen goal but, from the resultant goal-kick, Belconnen won the match.
A long ball forward freed the lively Aisosa Ihegie and his pace told, advancing into the area and rolling an inviting ball across the six yard box which substitute Sam Smith tapped in for what could prove to be a crucial goal at the end of the campaign. Earlier, a physical contest had been livened as Olympic hit the front in the 36th minute.
Inevitably it was former Blue Devils midfielder, and 2014 Valeri Medal Winner, Tom McLachlan that came back to haunt his former club, arriving at the perfect time to smash a loose ball into the roof of the net and send the home support wild. Belconnen though trailed for only four minutes and it was Ihegie’s blistering speed that proved the home sides undoing.
A rapid break culminated in Ihegie getting goal-side of his marker and racing clear to confidently net his fifth of the season. Konstantinou thereafter made a number of fine saves as both teams looked to win the points, but it was the Blue Devils who would succeed, removing some of their disappointment of losing in the Westfield FFA Cup Qualifying Final, by moving to the top of the PS4 NPL ladder.
Click here for all of the details from each of the matches.