In beautiful late autumn conditions in Cooma two PlayStation 4 NPL Capital Football heavyweights fought out an exciting 2-2 draw at Nijong Oval as Tigers FC and Belconnen United shared the spoils.
Saturday 21st May
FFA COE 2 (Ben Obst 50’, 53’) Canberra FC 7 (Aidan Brunskill 15’, Josip Jadric 26’, Thomas James 44’ (pen), 90+1, Domenic Giampaolo 55’, 64’, Nikola Barisic 90+3’)
Canberra FC, on the back of an outstanding man of the match performance from striker Thomas James, claimed all three points with a remarkable 7-2 win over the FFA COE at the AIS on Saturday afternoon. James scored twice and was heavily involved in four other goals as previously gun-shy FC found their goal touch.
In what was an amazingly frenetic opening the teams, arguably, should have been at 2-2 after less than five minutes of action. The visiting Canberra FC carved open their first chance after just 25 seconds as James broke clear of the FFA COE defence but, from a slight angle, couldn’t get enough power in the shot to test Matthew Sutton. Almost immediately Rahmat Akbari was in at the other end but Rory Larkin blocked.
Canberra FC responded with a rapid counter-attack to free James in behind again but, once more, he battered his shot straight at Sutton when a little more finesse was required. As if to prove that the match was unlikely to end goal-less the FFA COE got in on goal once more, in the fifth minute, as Jacob Italiano skipped past a couple of attempted tackles only to be denied by Larkin, advancing sharply off his line.
Woden-Weston FC 1 (Goran Milutinovic 15’) Canberra Olympic 2 (Nathen Megic 7’, Philippe Bernabo-Madrid 73’ (pen))
A penalty converted by Philippe Bernabo-Madrid seventeen minutes from time, allowed Canberra Olympic to claim a 2-1 win and move to the top of the PS4 NPL table ahead of the Tigers FC clash with Belconnen United in Cooma. Bernabo-Madrid finally broke the stiff resistance of a brave Woden-Weston who played for more than a half with ten men after the first-half dismissal of Arok Thon.
It was Canberra Olympic who broke the deadlock early on as they scored with their first concerted attack on the Woden-Weston FC goal, taking the lead in the seventh minute. Woden-Weston failed to pick up from a corner and defender Nathen Megic was allowed a free run to place a floated header over the stranded Kris Trajanoski and went into the goal off the post.
But the advantage didn’t last for long as Woden-Weston pulled level eight minutes later and, it was a pretty simple equaliser as well. It was Olympic who were guilty of poor marking on this occasion as a brilliant free-kick from Matthew Waters was met by a perfect header from Goran Milutinovic that flashed past Jack Pettit in the Olympic goal. That was Milutinovic’s third goal in three matches for the club after netting on his PS4 NPL debut last weekend and in the Westfield FFA Cup in midweek.
There was to be more drama before the interval. Olympic should have retaken the lead when Bernabo-Madrid broke the offside trap, but his finish was aimed straight at Trajanoski who stood tall to make a wonderful save. Woden-Weston meanwhile would end the half with ten men following the late dismissal of Thon. Booked for a foul in the corner, Thon reacted in the aftermath to the incident and was dismissed for a second yellow card received within thirty seconds.
Sunday 22nd May
Gungahlin United 2 (Jason O’Dwyer 34’, Alex Moscaritolo 89’) Tuggeranong United 1 (Nikolaos Kalfas 31’)
By Ahmed Jbeili
A last gasp winner by Alex Moscaritolo ensured Gungahlin United claimed the full three points in their 2-1 win against Tuggeranong United at Gungahlin enclosed on Saturday afternoon. Matchday 8 of the PlayStation® 4 National Premier League Canberra had two teams pushing for a top four spot with a win needed to stay in contention for a finals berth. Both sides had short turnarounds due to midweek Westfield FFA Cup matches.
The match started off with a bang, with the away side really going for the attack in the opening minutes. Tuggers almost opened the scoring in the third minute after midfielder Daniel Roberts had a cracker of a volley outside the box that was just kept out by Gunners keeper Jason Denham. The early pressing made it unsettling for Gunners as they had to result to long balls and balls into the channel. Tuggers could have scored again in the tenth minute after speedy winger Marco Gayer ended up one on one with Denham. The tough keeper once again made the save and kept the away side scoreless. Gunners finally managed to get a shot on target in the 17th minute after winger Alex Moscaritolo played a lovely cross over to the back post. Attacker Regan Walsh headed the ball over Tuggers keeper Costa Fallas but the header hit the crossbar.
Tigers FC 2 (Nahuel Guerrero 73’, Stephen Domenici 85’ (pen)) Belconnen United 2 (Dustin Wells 65’ (pen), Aisosa Ihegie 80’)
By William Bremner
Both teams will reflect on opportunities to take all three points but in the end a draw was a fair result.
The Blue Devils started the game well putting pressure on the Tigers left side defence. Jason Ugrinic and Goran Mukevski both had joy in that channel and created some decent half chances in the early stages. At the other end the Tigers attack, mainly through Daniel Barac and Stephen Domenici caused problems on the Belconnen right again creating some half chances. For the first half an hour of the game there was little to separate both sides and it was easy to see why they both figure prominently in people's thoughts in regard to end of season success.
The goal mouth action lifted to another level in the last 15 minutes of the half. First Alex Oloriegbe, fairly quiet to this point, inexplicably chose to chest a ball in the goal mouth when a header must have surely resulted in the opening goal. The Blue Devils scrambled the ball clear and at the other end Cameron Reinhart got on the end of a loose ball in the area only to see his shot well blocked on the line.
CU Academy 2 (Chris Ruiz 6’ (og), Joshua Gulevski 20’) Monaro Panthers 1 (Darian McGarry-Watson 57’)
(Hawker Football Centre)
By David Jordan
The Canberra United Academy claimed their second win of the PlayStation® 4 National Premier Leagues: Canberra season with a 2-1 victory over Monaro Panthers on Sunday. An early own-goal from Chris Ruiz and a first-half strike were enough for the Academy to overcome Darian McGarry-Watson’s effort as the Panthers struggled to get into the game.
The Academy looked to control the game from the start, coasting with possession, before Thomas Krklec’s probing low cross from the right found the foot of defender Ruiz and cannoned into the net in the sixth minute. Eight minutes later Monaro had the ball in the back of the net, but their goal was ruled out for a foul on United custodian Sam Brown.
And in the 20th minute, Krklec made it count, as his great work down the right paid off again. After beating his man, the winger sent in another low cross, which again took a deflection, but found its way to Joshua Gulevski to smoke home from close range.
CLICK HERE for a full report from all of the Round 8 matches.