Canberra FC staged a remarkable second half comeback to storm to the top of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues: Capital Football ladder with a stunning 7-5 victory over Tigers FC at Nijong Oval.
Sunday 26th April
Tigers FC 5 (Alex Oloriegbe 13’, 27’, 37’, Jeremias Ibarra 34’, Lucas Montana 45+2’)
Canberra FC 7 (Misko Naumoski 28’ (og), Thomas Milicevic 31’, Marko Vrkic 55’, Thomas James 57’, 74’, Domenic Giampaolo 60’, 71’)
The red machine overturned a nightmare opening forty-five minutes that saw them enter the changing rooms 5-2 adrift and staring down the barrel of a humiliating defeat. Whatever was said in those sheds, and the tactical reshuffle that saw the introduction, and a debut for striker Thomas James, changed the complexion of the fixture entirely.
In a nineteen minute spell of utter destruction, Canberra FC scored five times to turn the match on its head and leave the watching crowd shaking their head in disbelief at the chaos unfolding in front of their eyes. There was little sign of the drama to come after a prosaic first ten minutes but the match burst into life just before the quarter hour mark. Alex Oloriegbe, the former Canberra FC hit-man, should have given the Tigers the lead when he rounded Jakob Cole in the FC goal but inexplicably blazed high and wide from close range. The goal-hungry striker more than made amends moments later however as he broke a flimsy FC offside trap to chip Cole for a delightful opener.
Friday 24th April
Woden-Weston FC 4 (Pepe Varga 28’, 84’, Tim Anderson 69’, 77’)
Tuggeranong United 0
Woden-Weston FC made sure that their inaugural match at the newly refurbished Woden Park ended in smiles as they downed Southside rivals Tuggeranong United 4-0 under the floodlights on a cool Friday night.
Whilst the result may look like the match was a foregone conclusion for the hosts, Woden-Weston, by their own admission, were somewhat flattered by the final margin of victory. That is not to say they were not worthy winners however, showing a ruthless efficiency in font of goal and punishing Tuggeranong errors with a voracity that, at times, left United bereft of ideas.
After a fairly middling opening to the match Woden-Weston went in front on 28 minutes. Aaron Cashman pounced on a loose ball in midfield and fed Andrew Slavich on the wing. The speedster burst down the flank and squared an intelligent ball to the onrushing Pepe Varga who swept a sublime finish low past the outstretched arms of Rowan Forbes-Shepherd in the visitors’ goal.
Saturday 25th April
Belconnen United 3 (Danai Gapare 39’, 45+3’, Goran Mukevski 73’)
Canberra Olympic 2 (Philippe Bernabo-Madrid 58’, Josh Calabria 79’)
Belconnen United underlined their credentials as serious title contenders with a 3-2 win over Canberra Olympic in a thoroughly entertaining encounter at McKellar Park.
The Blue Devils looked sharp and energetic and showed a steely side to their character holding off a surging Olympic who twice threatened to haul back a two-goal Belconnen lead. A tetchy opening forty-five minutes saw interstate match official Chris Young issue seven yellow cards with five brandished inside the opening eight minutes, as the tackles flew in with both teams aiming to assert their authority on the contest.
Danai Gapare should perhaps have given the hosts the lead in the first quarter when he snuck in goal-side of the Canberra Olympic defence but lifted his shot over Angelo Konstantinou in the visitors’ goal, only for the ball to drift wide of the gaping net. Olympic had a gilt-edged chance to take the lead just past the half-hour mark when striker Philippe Bernabo-Madrid outpaced the Belconnen defence but his finish lacked conviction and was aimed too close to Blue Devils shot-stopper Adam Perakovic. And Olympic paid for that miss when Belconnen took the lead six minutes before half-time.
FFA COE 3 (Nicholas Panetta 30’, 63’, Charlie Devereux 59’)
Gungahlin United 1 (Daniel Barac 57’)
The FFA Centre of Excellence made it two wins from two to start the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues: Capital League season as they saw off the challenge of Gungahlin United, winning 3-1 at the Australian Institute of Sport.
With the heavy rain that lashed the capital prior to kick-off leaving a slick playing surface underfoot, the conditions were suited to both teams who enjoyed fizzing the ball across the beautifully manicured field allowing the match to be played at a breakneck pace. This lead to a number of half-chances early on with Gungahlin forward Dustin Wells heading down at goal but failing to test FFA COE goalkeeper Duro Dragicevic whilst at the other end Joe Caletti forced Jason Denham into a full length save to preserve parity.
It took the FFA COE half an hour to force the breakthrough and, when they did, it was a goal of quality. Nicholas Panetta had opened his account for the season at Tuggeranong last week and the confidence gained from that goal was plain to see as he collected a pass, swerved past an attempted tackle and curled a wonderful strike into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
Click here for the full match reports including team line ups from all of the weekend's matches.