A very united Bonnyrigg White Eagles outfit secured the 2013 IGA Premier League NSW Mens 1 grand final in a close encounter against Rockdale City Suns on Sunday afternoon.
It was Robbie Younis’ 7’ minute strike that proved the difference between the two sides, as the Suns finished the encounter strongly, falling just short of forcing another extra-time scenario.
Bonnyrigg coach Brian Brown was forced to make a major change to his starting line-up with Alexander Mansueto replacing the suspended Nikola Zonjic. The move paid sensational dividends with Mansueto putting together a ‘Man of the Match’ performance to collect the Robbie Slater Award at the conclusion of the 90’ minutes.
For the Suns, who were without Branko Culina on the bench due to suspension – son Jason Culina sitting in the hot seat on the sideline – Seiya Kawamura was a late exclusion with Toufic Alameddine to taking his place on the Suns bench, meanwhile Richard Cardozo returned to the starting line-up, though still showing signs of the ankle injury that effected his preparation.
The Suns carved out the first opening of the afternoon inside the 1’ minute when Richard Cardozo wandered in behind the White Eagles defence. The Rockdale City number 10 saw his effort saved by the goalkeeper, though the linesman’s flag on the far side was up.
Bonnyrigg’s response arrived down the right where Mitchell Long showed skill, and pace, to make room and square the ball to Howard Fondyke who drove his first-time effort inches wide of Diego Barcena’s post.
The White Eagles took the lead in the 7’ minute from a corner, much to the delight of the healthy attendance of White Eagles supporters.
It was Tynan Diaz’s delivery from the right that caused massive confusion inside the Suns penalty-area; Alec Urosevski’s attempted clearance fell into the possession of the White Eagles as a scramble followed, before Younis forced the ball over the line with a lunging effort to open the scoring.
A quick Sam Munro throw-in on the right sent Nikola Taneski clear further up the flank; the Suns striker showed trickery and pure strength as he weaved his way in behind the defence, denied only by the quick thinking of Matthew Nash who came off his line to thwart the attempt.
Munro was in the thick of the action for the Suns, doing a lot of the hard work to gain possession in midfield as Paul Reid looked to move the ball around swiftly to lift the Suns’ intensity.
And raise the intensity they did on 18’ minutes when a loose ball fell to the left peg of Cardozo on the edge of the penalty-area. After taking a first touch, the playmaker sliced his attempt off target as the chance went begging.
Chris Tadrosse went close at the other end for Bonnyrigg with an expertly taken free-kick from the right. The wicked in-swinger by the player who possesses the League’s best left peg had the Suns defenders on the back foot, though the Suns survived the scare.
A comical chain of events followed as the White Eagles continued to press with the Suns at ‘sixes and sevens’ inside their own back third. Steven Hesketh first, then Younis, had attempts somehow kept out, as Barcena and his defenders only just managed to clear their lines with all the momentum in favour of Bonnyrigg.
On 27’ minutes, it was Diaz’s turn to go close via a set-piece. A fine curling effort from the edge of the penalty-area however was smartly tipped over the crossbar by Barcena.
Cardozo responded with a ‘world class’ set-piece of his own on the half-hour mark, though his in-swinger was well claimed by an equally impressive save by Nash.
The Suns should have perhaps had an equalising goal 2’ minutes later when Giorgio Speranza neatly released Cardozo down the left. The number 10 squared the ball to Brendan Gan, who in-turn played one more pass to Taneski on his right, though the striker’s attempt on goal had the sting taken out of it by a deflection as Nash again was super quick off his line to claim the loose ball.
Rockdale City maintained the momentum and went mightily close in the 35’ minute. Another quick counter down the left saw Cardozo centre to Taneski who squared the ball to Gan. The former Sydney FC midfielder took a touch before driving his effort low and hard, though failing to put the ball the right side of Nash’s up right; whilst under immense pressure from a very impressive Mansueto.
Diaz tried his luck again via a set-piece, this time opting to drill an effort low and hard at the near post, forcing Barcena to divert behind for a corner.
The resulting corner created a moment of complete angst for Reid who took a touch at the back post before watching the ball trickle its way past the post; luckily for the Suns it was the wrong side of Barcena’s left-hand stick.
Bonnyrigg closed the half on the front foot as Younis & Co. continued to press the Suns defensive line. Long’s involvement from the right, with the fine movement between the lines of Canak, made the Suns task a difficult one with the White Eagles taking the momentum into the half-time interval.
Following the break, the Suns looked to replicate the lively resumption of play seen against Sydney United 58 FC in the Preliminary Final last weekend, and the side went very close as Urosevski tried a curling effort, after cutting the ball onto his right foot, that finished wide of the target.
Younis followed up for Bonnyrigg with a free-kick from the edge of the penalty-area that failed to dip enough at the last moment with the ball finishing over the crossbar.
Long, who has been so instrumental for the White Eagles this season with his quick pace and tremendous skill, added further claim to his ability shortly after as he cleverly beat his marker before forcing Barcena into a save down low from distance.
Back at the other end, Gan, who didn’t have the liveliest of first-half performances, then tried his luck from distance, drilling his effort inches over from a good 25-metres.
Bo Hyun Chun got more involved for Bonnyrigg on the left, and he put on a nice display of skill and finesse on 70’ minutes as he dribbled his way past three markers before releasing the ball. It was beautiful to the eye, as was appreciated by the Bonnyrigg supporters only metres away.
Jason Culina made two relatively quick changes, introducing Toufic Alameddine for Cardozo – the former struggled throughout the afternoon with the ankle injury that saw him miss the Preliminary Final last weekend – meanwhile Idris El Hafiane was brought onto add more energy to the fold, replacing Munro who ran his heart out for the Suns.
With 10’ minutes remaining, and the Suns throwing more caution to the wind, it was Bonnyrigg that very nearly created a second. A fabulous exchange of short passes, including the exploits of Long, Canak and substitute Aaron Peterson, the White Eagles were denied by some desperate Suns defending as bodies were put on the line to thwart the attempt.
Chun turned on the style again with an audacious flick with his heel through the legs of his marker, prompting a boisterous ‘ole’ from the supporters as Diaz and Canak combined with the latter blasting an attempt at Barcena.
Rockdale’s unyielding resolve never wavered, though the side seemed to lack the spark in the final third, perhaps understandably after the side endured three 120’ minute encounters to get to the grand final.
On 90’ minutes, Takuya Murayama’s cross from deep on the right flank caused a nervy moment for the White Eagles defenders as the ball was played between Nash and the defensive line with Taneski falling short of making the header.
Suns goalkeeper Barcena played an immense 4’ minutes of injury-time with an energetic display for his side. The shot-stopper acted as a sweeper playing higher up the park as his side searched for an equaliser, making a last ditch attempt to latch onto a corner late on, though it was too little too late for the Suns who saw their magnificent run ended by arguably the best side in the competition.
Following the final whistle, the victorious White Eagles coach, Brian Brown, was ecstatic:
“I am very happy indeed,” commented Brown.
“It has been a great season, the playing group is a phenomenal one and I am so very proud of each of the players and the club as a whole.
“The difference today between the two sides was that Robbie Younis, one of the best strikers going around, scored early on…. It was relatively close after that, so full credit to Rockdale City for their efforts.”
Asked about next season, Brown was quick to point out a holiday in anticipation of planning for 2014:
“Yes, we will have a bit of a break, it has been a fabulous, long, season, so we will be looking to recover a little before getting stuck into an even better 2014,” Brown ended.
Rockdale City Suns’ captain Askin Oygur, despite the disappointment at falling short, was full of praise for his teammates:
“It has been a great season, and this group is a fabulous family.
“We have grown so much, and we have enjoyed a great season, and I am sure that we will be back here next season as we look to go one better,” Oygur concluded.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1 (Robert Younis 7’)
Rockdale City Suns 0
Sunday 15th of September, 2013
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referees: Sarah Ho and Andrej Giev
Fourth Official: Christopher Young
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 1.Matthew Nash; 2.Alexander Mansueto, 4.Vuko Tomasevic, 5.Chris Tadrosse (C), 7.Tynan Diaz, 8.Aleksander Canak, 9.Robert Younis (19.Aaron Peterson 75’), 10.Mitchell Long, 16.Howard Fondyke, 18.Adrian Ucchino, 21.Bo Hyun Chun (3.Jordan Crighton 87’)
Substitutes Not Used: 33.Nikodin Matic; 11.Benjamin Spruce, 15.Steven Hesketh
Yellow Cards: Bo Hyun Chun 71’, Alexander Mansueto 74’, Aleksander Canak 82’
Red Cards: Nil
Rockdale City Suns: 1.Diego Barcena; 3.Giorgio Speranza, 5.Paul Reid, 6.Takuya Murayama, 7.Brendan Gan (11.David Talevski 81’), 8.Paul Kohler, 9.Alec Urosevski, 10.Richard Cardozo (17.Toufic Alameddine 60’), 13.Sam Munro (12.Idris El Hafiane 68’), 14.Nikola Taneski, 23.Askin Oygur (C)
Substitutes Not Used: 22.Aaron Liddell; 20.Themba Muata-Marlon, Askin Oygur 83’
Yellow Cards: Paul Reid 33’, Diego Barcena 90’+2’
Red Cards: Nil
-By Joseph Carlucci
Bonnyrigg White Eagles:
1.Matthew Nash – 7 – Nash was comfortably the most reliable custodian on the park. He was rarely tested in goal yet was very active when it came to executing timely interceptions of crosses and throughballs.
2.Alex Mansueto – 10 – Mansueto was simply faultless at the back as he and Tomasevic did well to limit Rockdale’s chances. The defender’s most telling moment in the match was his smart last-man challenge just after the hour mark to prevent Taneski from darting through on goal; he not only prevented the chance but also came away with possession to play out from the back. His interception to cut out Urosevski’s pass minutes later also proved crucial in a fine performance from the confident defender. Mansueto picked up a booking in the second half for a tactical foul on Alemeddine which smartly broke up a Rockdale counterattack. Mansueto was a deserving winner of the man of the match award for his performance today.
4.Vuko Tomasevic – 8 – Tomasevic also played well at the back for Bonnyrigg. He utilised his superior strength on several occasions to deny and frustrate his opposition and looked comfortable at the back alongside Mansueto.
5.Chris Tadrosse – 7 – The captain held his own on the left side of defence as he successfully brushed off the anguish of last season’s grand heartbreaking final loss to guide his side to victory in 2013.
7.Tynan Diaz – 7 – Diaz’s crossing and set pieces have been a joy to behold this season and his talent in this department was on display yet again today; his dangerous corner led to the opening goal.
8.Alexander Canak – 7 – Canak was quietly effective throughout the ninety; his movement and passing was positive yet he lacked the killer instinct in front of goal when the chance was presented to him to add a second goal. He picked up a yellow card for a foul on Reid in the second half.
9.Robbie Younis – 7 – Younis showed once again why he has a reputation as one of the most clinical strikers in the league when he popped up in a cluster of players to sneak home a poachers effort to break the deadlock in the opening minutes. He also held the ball up well throughout the match yet was afforded little space in the final third before coming off for Peterson midway through the second half.
10.Mitchell Long – 8 – As per usual Long looked dangerous from the outset; his ability to play the ball and run at players was evident predominantly in the first half. While his influence slightly lessened in the second half it was a good performance from the playmaker.
16.Howard Fondyke – 7 – Fondyke simply got the task done at the base of midfield. He worked hard to break up his opponent’s attacks and calmly distributed the ball alongside Ucchino in the heart of midfield.
18.Adrian Ucchino – 8 – The central midfielder worked hard throughout the match both on and off the ball to help his side battle to victory today. Usually one to sneak forward, Ucchino was exceptionally disciplined to remain deep alongside Fondyke to help Bonnyrigg defend their lead until the final whistle.
21.Bo Hyun Chun – 9 – Chun played well on the right side of midfield, making a lot of space for himself and giving his marker a real challenge throughout the match. The fans would however have liked to have seen him pull out his trademark long range attempts when the space was afforded to him yet the winger played it safe on the big day. He picked up a yellow card for late tackle in the second half and was replaced by Crighton late on.
3.Jordan Crighton – 6 – Came on for Chun in the dying minutes and had little time to make a notable impact.
11.Ben Spruce – N/A – Did not feature.
15.Steven Hesketh – N/A – Did not feature.
19.Aaron Peterson – 6 – Came on for Younis midway through the second half and made a few dangerous runs.
33.Nikodin Matic – N/A – Did not feature.
Rockdale City Suns:
1.Diego Barcena – 4 – Barcena looked comfortable throughout the match when the ball was in the air, however with the ball on the turf or at his feet fans were given plenty of nervous moments. He made a couple of decent saves to save face throughout the game; however his wayward clearances and risky distribution both off the boot and out of hand left a lot to be desired. Barcena was booked for a push on Long in the closing minutes.
3.Giorgio Spiranza – 6 – Spiranza quietly went about his business on the left of defence. While he was muscled off the ball on a couple of occasions his overlapping runs created a lot of space for his side when they held possession.
5.Paul Reid – 8 – Reid is the experienced head of Rockdale’s midfield. He held the ball up well in the centre of the park and his distribution was often nothing short of inch-perfect as he continually brought his teammates into the game. Reid picked up a yellow in the first half for an ill-timed challenge on Diaz.
6.Takuya Murayama – 6 – It was yet another disciplined shift from Murayama on the right side of defence. The only blemishes on Murayama’s game came from occasionally affording Chun a little too much space for which the defender was not punished.
7.Brendan Gan – 5 – Gan had a quiet game and often went missing in midfield. When Rockdale’s best chance of the first half fell to him he scuffed his shot wide. Throughout the second half he was caught offside on several occasions, generally summing up Gan’s game as he fell short on providing what a player of his skill set is truly capable of delivering. Gan was withdrawn for Talevski late in the second half.
8.Paul Kohler – 7 – Kohler played well alongside Oygur at the back. The experienced defender limited Bonnyrigg’s chances in front of goal yet there was little he could do to prevent the opener.
9.Alec Urosevski – 6 – Urosevski has emerged as a real talent this season, however his miscued clearance from Diaz’s corner led to Younis bundling home the opener. He worked his socks off to find space in attack throughout the match yet found little reward for his efforts.
10.Richard Cardozo – 5 – Cardozo had an unusually quiet game today. He missed the preliminary final due to an ankle injury which he appeared to still be hampering him before he was withdrawn on the hour mark for Alemeddine.
13.Sam Munro – 7 – The hardman of Rockdale’s midfield never looked like losing a tackle today as he put his body on the line time and time again to win possession. His short passing was also a contributing factor in his side’s attacks until he was withdrawn for El-Hafiane midway through the second half.
14.Nikola Taneski – 8 – Taneski looked dangerous in the opening half; his sublime touch and burst of speed almost saw him sneak through on goal soon after Bonnyrigg’s opener. He looked the most likely to spark Rockdale into life in attack and almost snuck through once again in the second half only to be denied by Mansueto’s crucial challenge.
23.Askin Oygur – 8 – Solid in the tackle, solid in the air; Oygur was just all-round solid today. Charged with the task of containing Younis he managed to limit the striker’s space throughout much of the match, especially in the final third. Defensive duties aside Oygur’s distribution was generally spot on and the captain also did well to carry the ball out of defence on the right occasions. Oygur was booked late in the second half for a foul.
11.David Talevski – 5 – Talevski came on for Gan late in the second half and had little time to make a sizable impact on the match.
12.Idriss El-Hafiane – 6 – Came on for Munro midway through the second half. Worked hard during his stint on the pitch yet had little chance to turn his side’s fortunes.
17.Toufic Alameddine – 6 – Alemeddine came on for Cardozo for the final half hour and was kept fairly quiet by Tadrosse.
20.Themba Matua-Marlow – N/A – Did not feature.
22.Aaron Liddell – N/A – Did not feature.
-By Michael Shoolman