After every round of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues Men’s season Team of the Week brings to focus the best players from that weekend.
A goal from striker Jordan Figon helped Sutherland Sharks to a 2-0 win over APIA, thanks to an inspired first half from the talented youngster. Having failed to secure the three points in their last five games, the Sharks turned in a fine display, with Figon and former Tigers player Stephen Kayes particularly damaging. Delivering some clever passes and regularly troubling APIA’s defence, the high tempo game of Figon saw his side pepper the away team’s goal. After scoring the opener in the 32nd minute, the young forward could have had a brace in the second half, with only a clumsy foul from APIA’s defence denying him the chance
Playing against his former club, Kayes picked up man-of-the-match honours through a dominating display in midfield, applying great pressure off the ball and feeding some smart passes to his strikers. Sutherland’s Nick Littler again proved his status as one of the competition’s premier defenders with a sold game at the back, snuffing out any chance of an APIA goal to ensure his side kept a clean sheet in the 2-0 win.
Hat-trick hero Chris Payne was the main destroyer in Sydney United 58’s commanding win over Hakoah. Payne needed little time to warm-up, finding the goal in the 7th minute. The former Olyroo combined superbly with Panni Nikas in a flurry of quick passes, with Payne eventually delivering the finishing touch to secure his brace. Payne kicked up a gear in the second half, causing headaches for the defence. Even after claiming his hat-trick on the hour mark, Payne’s hunger for goals continued and he was unlucky not to have a fourth – his tally has now been brought to 13 for the year. Defender Theo Kofinas played a strong game at the back, aerially dominating play and consistently foiling the Hakoah attack as his side look towards a top-of-the-table showdown with Blacktown City next week in Heritage Round.
This upcoming clash looks set to end the winning streak for one of the sides, after a 10-man Blacktown City powered over Manly in a thrilling 2-1 comeback. The dynamic Danny Choi was everywhere for City, setting up countless chances through some electrifying runs down the left edge and pressuring United relentlessly. After a quick-fire goal from Sam Gallagher placed the home side on the back foot, Choi dazzled in attack with some fine crosses and boundless energy. His efforts were rewarded when he set-up Blacktown’s equaliser, before a 73rd minute penalty presented Choi with an opportunity to give his side the lead; which he executed without fault. Gallagher impressed for Manly late in the match as he tried desperately for a second, but could’t find the goal.
Despite a late fightback from Spartans, the Sydney Olympic outfit held on for a tough 2-1 win which saw young Jacob Boutoubia secure man-of-the-match honours. In the 11th minutes, the Olympic striker put his side ahead when the ball bounced his way in the penalty area. Boutoubia fired off an array of powerful shots throughout the rest of the match, with one unfortunately hitting the cross bar. Team mate Will Angel was composed in defence, keeping the Spartan attack at bay. Even when a late Spartan surge threatened to undo Olympic’s hard work, Angel was on hand to shut down the raids.
An outstanding performance in goal from seasoned veteran Justin Pasfield bailed Wollongong out of trouble, after they were reduced to 10 men for nearly an hour of their match against Bonnyrigg. Holding a slender one-goal lead in the second half, the White Eagles pressed relentlessly as they looked to out muscle the 10-man Wolves outfit. However some heroic from Pasfield kept his side alive, the former A-league star pulling off some excellent reflex saves in the 60th minute. By snatching a goal a few minutes later, the Wolves held on for a dramatic 1-1 draw.
The final match of the round saw Rockdale grind out a 1-0 away win over Parramatta. A goal to Blake Ricciuto proved to be the difference, the talented midfielder nailing the only goal of the match. Ricciuto worked tirelessly throughout the game, controlling play in midfield with some composed touches and good vision. Having won their last four games now, Rockdale will be looking to maintain their good form in next week’s highly anticipated Heritage Round clash with Bonnyrigg.
Be sure to check out next week’s HERITAGE ROUND Team of the Week!
-By Harry Easton