A stunning goal from substitute Josh Gaspari settled a cracking match in favour of Gungahlin United as the visitors held off the stubborn challenge of Monaro Panthers to win at the Riverside Stadium.
Friday 8th May
Woden-Weston FC 1 (Nikolas Popovich 82’)
Canberra Olympic 3 (Philippe Bernabo-Madrid 7’ (pen), 24’, Tim Bobolas 30’)
Canberra Olympic kept up their good start to the season with another convincing victory as they swept aside Woden-Weston FC 3-1 at Woden Park under the floodlights on Friday evening.
Knowing that a victory would put them top of the league for at least 24-hours, Olympic started brightly and their endeavour was rewarded after only seven minutes. Callum Smith embarked on a slalom run into the Woden-Weston FC penalty area only to have his progress illegally impeded. Philippe Bernabo-Madrid made no mistake from the penalty spot to send the visitors ahead.
Woden-Weston FC should have drawn level in the 19th minute when they were awarded a spot-kick of their own for handball against an Olympic defender. Pepe Varga took the penalty but Olympic goalkeeper Angelo Konstantinou guessed correctly to make a diving save and preserve his team’s advantage.
And the hosts were made to pay for their profligate nature in front of goal just four minutes later. Bernabo-Madrid must have been taking notes from the UEFA Champions League Semi-Finals in midweek as he channelled his inner Lionel Messi to set off on a solo run that saw him drift past a couple of Woden-Weston challenges and finish with the confidence of a player at the top of his game. The strike was his seventh league goal of the season and had Olympic in the box set at 2-0 ahead.
Saturday 9th May
FFA COE 3 (Cameron Joice 15’, Benjamin Van Meurs 63’ (og), Nicholas Panetta 68’)
Belconnen United 3 (Jason Ugrinic 55’ (pen), 82’, David Kemp 75’)
Belconnen United fought back from 3-1 down to earn a share of the spoils in an entertaining draw with the FFA COE at the Australian Institute of Sport on Saturday afternoon.
Late goals from David Kemp and Jason Ugrinic ensured the Blue Devils came away from the match with a 3-3 draw to keep them in touch with the early pace-setters at the top of the table. The first half was a more prosaic affair than the drama that unfolded after the break with little in the way of action at either end. In fact it was a midfield battle with little to choose between the teams apart from the only goal of the half, scored by the FFA COE, in the fifteenth minute.
Cameron Joice was the scorer, taking advantage of some space to net for the first time this season. The real action was saved for after the half-time interval. Belconnen forced the issue and got back on terms in the 55th minute when they were awarded a penalty for a foul on Aisosa Ihegie.
The Blue Devils were level for only eight minutes as the FFA COE upped the tempo and regained the initiative by scoring a second. Jackson Bandiera, summoned from the substitutes’ bench, made the difference, bursting down the wing and sending in a wicked cut-back that the Blue Devils own replacement, Benjamin Van Meurs, could only divert past Adam Perakovic and into his own net. It appeared to be game, set and match, when the Centre of Excellence top scorer Nicholas Panetta claimed his fourth of the season moments later to extend the lead to 3-1 but Belconnen had other ideas.
Kemp is one of the most under-rated players in the local PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues competition but his ability to play, and play well, in multiple positions, makes him the perfect squad player. His return from his honeymoon has been a huge boost to the Blue Devils and Kemp gave them hope of a comeback by making it 3-2 with fifteen minutes left.
The home side was on the back foot now and inevitably Belconnen equalised inside the last ten minutes when Ugrinic grabbed his second, and fourth of the season. The late dismissal of FFA COE substitute Danny Kim for a second yellow card completed an amazing afternoon in a sensational match.
Sunday 10th May
Canberra FC 3 (Robbie Deeley 9’, Daniel Bennett 35’, Thomas James 75’)
Tuggeranong United 0
Canberra FC shook off the disappointment of Westfield FFA Cup defeat in midweek to claim a straight forward 3-0 success over Tuggeranong United at Deakin Stadium and increase their lead at the top of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues to two points with a game in hand.
Both sides made numerous changes from the teams that took part in the cup competition with Tuggeranong missing both Munster brothers, Zac and Ethan, who were prominent in their 5-2 success over Woden-Weston FC at Woden Park on Tuesday evening.
It was Canberra FC who settled the quicker and they took the lead in the ninth minute when midfielder Robbie Deeley broke the deadlock with his second goal of the season ghosting in to finish well.
Monaro Panthers 2 (Anthony Giorgi 30’, Michael Mensah 55’ (pen))
Gungahlin United 3 (Jack Green 22’, Stephen Domenici 26’, Josh Gaspari 75’)
Super sub Josh Gaspari blasted in from the edge of the box with fifteen minutes remaining, running onto a ball that was punched clear by goalkeeper Jack Pettit after a fizzing cross from full-back Nathan Tidmarsh.
It was rough justice on the Panthers who had fought back from being 0-2 down after 26 minutes to claw themselves level and were worthy of a point from an entertaining match. It appeared to be a routine afternoon for Gungahlin United in the driving rain as they stormed into a two-goal lead via a brace of set-pieces.
Shane Murray, once again outstanding in the playmaker role, was the architect, delivering the first from a free-kick, which Jack Green met, criminally unmarked, on the back post to plant a free header past Pettit in the 22nd minute. Murray repeated the trick four minutes later from a corner, his vicious inswinger helped on by Michael John for Stephen Domenici to poach a cute flicked finish from inside the six yard box. That prompted a superb response from the home team and they reduced the arrears before the break. Gungahlin only half-cleared a corner and Anthony Giorgi pounced to send a volley back over the melee and into the net for a quite sensational strike.
Back in the game at the break Monaro started the second half much the brighter with Samale Mohamed in imperious form in midfield and they deservedly drew level in the 55th minute. Martin Deng tricked his way into the area and was dumped by a Gungahlin defender leaving the officials no choice but to award a penalty. Michael Mensah showed his calmness under pressure to send Jason Denham the wrong way from the spot. That looked good enough to earn Monaro a point before Gaspari stole the game with his wonder-strike. It was rough justice on the Panthers who tried their upmost to equalise for a third time but Gungahlin saw off their concerted late effort in relative comfort to claim a second win of the season and fifth place on the ladder.
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