Stephen Domenici nervelessly scores a late penalty to give Tigers FC a vital 4-3 win over CU Academy at Nijong Oval.
Saturday 16th July
Woden-Weston FC 1 (Matthew Waters 45’) Canberra FC 4 (Thomas James 28’, 77’, Ian Graham 61’, Kye Edwards 67’)
Canberra FC overcame a stubborn resistance from ten-man Woden-Weston FC to keep their chase for the PS4 NPL championship trophy intact with a 4-1 win at Woden Park. It took until past the hour mark for the League Champions to impose themselves on the game however with Woden-Weston surviving the sixth minute dismissal of Captain Ben Greig until Ian Graham scrambled home from a corner.
Greig had seen red for a deliberate handball on the goal-line early on, leaving the official with no alternative but to brandish the card. Thomas James failed to make the home team pay further for the indiscretion though seeing his penalty brilliantly repelled by the Wanderers goalkeeper Josh Wade who plunged low to save. James was to make amends in the 28th minute, as Wade made an uncharacteristic blemish, failing to clear a corner and allowing James an easy finish.
Any thoughts that FC would kick on were dispelled on the cusp of half-time as Woden-Weston equalised. Matthew Waters has enjoyed an excellent season for Woden-Weston FC, possibly their standout player of the campaign, but he probably hasn’t scored a better goal than the one that levelled this match up. Seizing the ball on the top of the penalty area, Waters dispatched a venomous strike high into the roof of the net for what was a stupendous leveller.
That was the way the match stayed until the 61st minute when, from another set-piece delivery, Woden-Weston again failed to clear their line sufficiently allowing Graham to prod the ball into the net from close range. Shortly afterwards, as is often the case with FC, they increased their lead as young Kye Edwards found space inside the opposition penalty area to notch his first PS4 NPL first grade goal.
And the game was put to bed with thirteen minutes remaining as top scorer James clinched the valuable points, and maybe another step in the right direction in terms of goal difference, when he bagged his eleventh league goal of the season. The win moved Canberra FC to within a point of Canberra Olympic who were inactive with their game against the FFA COE rescheduled.
Tuggeranong United 0 Belconnen United 1 (Nikolas Popovich 87’)
Striker Nikolas Popovich scored a vital match-winning goal for Belconnen United to spoil Tuggeranong United’s 40th Anniversary celebrations at Viking Park, Erindale on a crisp Saturday evening. Tuggeranong returned to the scene of their most famous match, the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 16 encounter with Melbourne Victory, to look back on forty years as a club with a double-header involving their ACT WPL team.
It was a script that was set for a Tuggeranong success to round off a memorable day at the home of the Tuggeranong Vikings rugby union team, but Popovich had other ideas and was in the right place three minutes from time to convert from the top of the penalty area after the home team had failed to clear their lines. For Popovich, it was his second goal in three matches since signing for the Blue Devils.
Tuggeranong certainly felt aggrieved after the match that their dominance of possession was not turned into something tangible and, for the second match in succession, they came away from a game against top four opposition disappointed not to have won. Unlike the fixture with Canberra FC at Deakin Stadium, this time there was not even the satisfaction of a point for Miro Trninic and his team.
Whilst there may have been heartbreak for Tuggeranong, there was joy for Belconnen, with the winner pushing them right back into the mix at the top of the ladder and confirming that they have the potential to perhaps claim the League championship title should those around them stumble on their way to the final hurdle.
Sunday 17th July
Gungahlin United 2 (Liam Walsh 49’, Marcial Munoz 80’) Monaro Panthers 0
By David Jordan
Goals from Liam Walsh and Marcial Munoz saw Gungahlin United record a 2-0 victory over 10-man Monaro Panthers in the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues: Canberra on Sunday. Both of Gungahlin’s strikes came in the second half as Monaro fought valiantly to hang on despite been a man down, following Sam Roestbakken’s dismissal moments before half-time.
In an otherwise timid opening stanza, Martin Deng nearly gave Panthers the best possible start, hitting the post with his curling strike after a delightful through ball from Darian McGarry-Watson. McGarry-Watson looked dangerous down the left for much of the first half, troubling the Gungahlin defence with bursts of pace and close control however couldn’t find the opening required to make it count.
Neither side found much in the way of chances for the rest of the half, however the game turned on its head at the stroke of half-time as Roestbakken went clattering into the legs of his direct opponent from behind, drawing the ire of the referee. There was no doubt in the official’s mind as Roestbakken was given his marching orders and Gungahlin strode into the sheds at half-time with a one-man advantage but still goalless.
The second half began with Panthers on the back foot and Gungahlin looking to break the game open. The visitors defended well on the edge of their box, and inside, however were punished for sitting too deep just four minutes in. After a clearance from the Monaro defence, the ball found i’s way to Walsh in space 25 yards out. With acres to work with, Walsh pulled the trigger, lashing his drive past Nathan Alferink and in to the corner.
Panthers struggled to get back into the game from that point, with the final forty minutes proving relatively simple for Gungahlin. And in the 80th minute, Munoz completed the win with some trickery from a set-piece. Standing over a free kick deep in the left of Monaro’s half, Munoz shaped to swing the ball to the penalty spot, drawing Alferink away from his near post, before bending the ball inside Alferink and in. The result sees Gungahlin jump Panthers into fifth spot on the table, but still a long way out of the runaway Top Four.
Tigers FC 4 (Stephen Domenici 44’, 84’ (pen), Daniel Barac 45’, Nicolas Abot 50’) CU Academy 3 (Niko Ujdur 31’, Joshua Gulevski 34’, Bul Juach 62’)
A late penalty from Stephen Domenici earned Tigers FC what could be a mammoth three points as the league leaders squeaked home 4-3 against CU Academy at Nijong Oval. Domenici netted from the spot six minutes from time to settle a seven-goal thriller in which the Academy had threatened to cause a huge upset and throw the title race wide open. Earlier the Academy had led 2-0 shortly before half-time only for Tigers to show their championship class and fight back to level at the break.
After a fairly placid opening half an hour the Academy hit the front when Player of the Month Niko Ujdur scored the first of the match and, when Joshua Gulevski bagged his seventh of the season three minutes later, the hint of a massive upset was on the cards. The Tigers however are not top of the league for no reason and hit back in stunning fashion.
Domenici, the Golden Boot leader, scored his first of the afternoon a minute before the break and barely sixty seconds later, the home side drew level as Daniel Barac forced home his sixth goal of the campaign to bring his team back into the contest and swing the momentum of the match back in favour of Gaby Wilk’s goal-hungry side.
The turnaround was complete five minutes into the second half as striker Nicolas Abot shoed his clinical edge in netting his ninth goal of his debut season to put Tigers FC ahead. If they thought that the goal would crush the resistance of the Academy youngsters, they were in for a rude surprise as the Academy hit back in the 62nd minute as substitute Bul Juach once more proved deadly in front of goal.
That set the scene for a dramatic denouement as Tigers knew nothing less than a win would keep their title hopes on track. That was what they got as well as Domenici rattled in his eighteenth goal of the campaign from the spot to claim an important, and possibly vital, three points.
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