Rydalmere Lions SC are the 2016 PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s Champions, defeating Hills Brumbies 4-1 in the Grand Final at Valentine Sports Park No.2 on Sunday afternoon.
After having the better of play during an entertaining first half, Rydalmere eventually edged themselves in front via a Zac Elrich goal on the stroke of half time, before the league’s top marksman, Peter Cejkaa, restored parity for Hills just after the hour mark. Amaury Gauthier put Rydalmere back in front shortly afterwards, before two more goals in injury time – one from substitute, Yoel Silvestre, and Gauthier again, with his second – completed the scoring in the season decider.
A healthy crowd made their way to the grandstand at Football NSW headquarters for what promised to be a classic between the competition’s two biggest heavyweights.
Hills Brumbies were without the Giovenali brothers for this match, both on Futsalroo duty, whilst Rydalmere were missing both co-captains – the suspended Shane Webb, whilst Lloyd Owusu was not 100% recovered from his Preliminary Final hip-flexor injury, but did take up a position on the substitutes’ bench.
Hills Brumbies had swept all before them prior to the Grand Final, winning the Premiership, as well as gaining promotion via their first place in the Club Championship. Hills had also managed to defeat their Grand Final match day opponents on all three previous occasions that they had met in 2016 – 6-3 and 4-3 in the competition proper, and 1-0 in a Grand Final qualifier a fortnight earlier.
But there is little more dangerous than a wounded lion, and Rydalmere’s intent was evident right from the outset.
The Lions came at Hills from the opening whistle, and were keen to score an early goal and take control of proceedings.
Ryunosuke Hayashi tested Hills’ young keeper, Joshua Stancic, in the 5th minute with a sharp angled shot that Stancic did well to divert for a corner.
Then it was the turn of Rydalmere’s Zac Elrich, who raced away in the 13th minute before sending a pinpoint cross towards the back stick. Seijei Tarutani met the cross with a diving header, only for the ball to hit the side netting.
The rain fell intermittently throughout the first period, and that made for slips and falls, as well as some intense tackling.
Hills Brumbies have been dangerous all season on the counter attack, and as much as Rydalmere were dominating most of the possession, you could sense that Hills were always capable of snatching a goal in the blink of an eye.
One such counter on 21 minutes saw Brumbies’ Dongyong Heo fly down the right wing before producing a lofted cross near the penalty spot. Sean Mitchell met the ball with a powerful header, only to see his effort take a touch off a Lions’ defender on the way to a corner.
Zac Elrich replied for Rydalmere in the 29th minute, letting fly with a low shot from 25 yards that skidded off the surface, with Hills’ Josh Stancic diving full stretch to tip the ball around his upright.
Hills Brumbies then had two good chances to take the lead just before half time.
Jordan Parfait should’ve done better on the half hour mark given his capability, skying a shot from inside the box after meeting another great cross by Dongyong Heo.
Sean Mitchell then produced an exquisite effort in the 34th minute, making space for himself outside the box before curling a shot inches wide of the far post.
Just as the fans were preparing to settle down to enjoy the half time break, Rydalmere struck a killer blow in the 45th minute.
Hills turned over possession near the left flank, and Rydalmere pounced, with three attackers racing clear of the Hills backline, which had crept forward towards the centre circle.
Hayashi kept his composure as he entered the penalty area, squaring the ball for Zac Elrich to tap in to an empty net to give Rydalmere a 1-0 lead.
The midfield battle had been especially intense in the first half, with Simon Zahra and Seijei Tarutani doing well as they challenged Daine Merrin and Glen Kelshaw for dominance.
When the players returned from oranges, Rydalmere picked up where they left off in the first half, with Amaury Gauthier curling a shot just over the bar on 48 minutes, whilst Hayashi volleyed wide in the 52nd minute following a pinpoint cross by Farres Aoun.
Zac Elrich almost produced a goal to remember in the 58th minute, weaving his way past two defenders across the face of the penalty area before unleashing a drive that was headed for the inside side-netting at the far post. Hills keeper, Stancic, dived to his right to superbly parry the effort.
Then seemingly against the run of play, Hills conjured up a well-executed equaliser in the 63rd minute.
Marcus Zarantonello and Dongyong Heo exchanged some short passes near the halfway touchline, before Heo clipped a lofted through ball in to the path of Glen Kelshaw, who had snuck in behind the Rydalmere defence.
Instead of letting the ball run in to his path towards goal, Kelshaw had the presence of mind to nod the ball square in to the path of team mate, Peter Cejkaa. Cejkaa took it in his stride as he entered the box, calmly striking it past Rydalmere’s keeper, Harrick Sinprasueth, to send the Brumbies contingent in to a frenzy.
The crowd sensed that Hills may then throw caution to the wind and come home strong, but Rydalmere were not to be denied, and went back in front with a goal from Gauthier on 73 minutes.
An innocuous ball skewed off a Rydalmere player high in to the sky inside the Hills penalty area. Amaury Gauthier challenged Hills keeper, Josh Stancic, and amidst cries of foul from the Brumbies contingent, play was allowed to continue, with Gauthier stabbing home from a few yards to give Rydalmere a 2-1 lead.
Kelshaw replied within three minutes for Hills, racing in to space to meet a delightful through ball, but his angled volley under pressure was superbly diverted by Rydalmere’s keeper, Sinpraseuth, who had raced out near the corner of his penalty area to close the angle.
Hills cleared the bench and made all three substitutions with less than ten minutes remaining, pushing men forward in desperate need of an equaliser.
All that resulted towards the end of the ninety minutes was plenty of space in the attacking third for the Rydalmere players, who countered to great effect in the closing stages.
Amaury Gauthier smacked a shot from edge of the box in the 86th minute that Hills keeper, Stancic, could only parry. Rydalmere substitute, Lloyd Owusu, scuffed the rebound with the goal at his mercy.
Gauthier was put in to space right on 90 minutes, electing to shoot rather than square to the unmarked Owusu, the ball trickling agonisingly wide of the upright.
Rydalmere eventually made it 3-1 in the second minute of injury time, and ironically, it came off the back of a Hills corner, where the Brumbies had pushed most men forward in search of a late equaliser.
The clearance fell to Amaury Gauthier, who raced away in to the clear from the half way line, this time electing to square the ball to Rydalmere substitute, Yoel Silvestre, who tapped in to an empty net before being smothered by his team mates.
3-1 became 4-1 in the fifth minute of injury time, with Gauthier doing it all himself, snatching the ball off the last man in Hills’ defence, before racing away to slot past the advancing Hills keeper Josh Stancic, sending the Rydalmere fans into a frenzy.
Referee Tim Danaskos, brought an end to proceedings shortly afterwards, with Rydalmere crowned Champions amidst a pitch invasion from the jubilant Rydalmere contingent.
Hills Brumbies have plenty to be proud about after a very successful 2016 season, as they bid farewell to the PS4 NPL NSW Men’s 3 on the back of their promotion to the PS4 NPL NSW Men’s 2. Try as they did, unfortunately for them, Hills could not stem the Rydalmere challenge on the day, and eventually succumbed to a couple of killer goals as they went in search of a late equaliser.
Glen Kelshaw showed intensity and neat touches in a solid midfield display, Jordan Parfait weaved his wing play throughout the encounter in a valiant effort to open up the Lions defence, whilst skipper, Tom Brandon, was tough and uncompromising in a captain’s knock in defence.
Congratulations and applause must go to coach, Tony Basha, and the entire Rydalmere club, from support staff to the players who effected this Grand Final triumph. Rydalmere Lions were enthusiastic and determined from the outset, and even though at times the game didn’t seem to be panning out like they had wanted, they stayed focussed and applied themselves to the task at hand, resulting in being crowned Champions of 2016.
Simon Zahra was the Man of the Match, working tirelessly across the midfield, always showing himself as a support and often winning possession as he sent his attackers on their way. Zac Elrich and Amaury Gauthier were dangerous in attack whenever they had the ball at their feet, whilst captain, Matthew Mayora, was a rock in defence, leading by example throughout.
PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s
Sunday, September 25, 2016
HILLS BRUMBIES 1 (Cejkaa 63’)
RYDALMERE LIONS 4 (Elrich 45’, Gauthier 73’ / 90’ + 3’, Silvestre 90’ + 5’)
Referee – Tim Danaskos
Assistant Referees – Adam Naylor and Jack Bell
Fourth Official – Jerry Bitas
HILLS BRUMBIES: 20.J.Stancic, 5.T.Brandon(capt), 18.P.Cejkaa, 58.D.Heo (10.D.Morsillo 80’), 17.B.Hoyer, 19.G.Kelshaw, 11.D.Merrin, 9.S.Mitchell (37.N.Dimitriadis 83’), 53.J.Parfait, 6.B.Robertson (2.P.Down 83’), 56.M.Zarantonello.
Substitutes Not Used –1.K.Wallace, 4.R.Faulkner.
Yellow Cards – 6.B.Robertson 45’ +2’, 19.G.Kelshaw 52’, 11.D.Merrin 80’.
Red Cards – Nil
RYDALMERE LIONS: 1.H.Sinpraseuth, 23.F.Aoun (3.K.Allybokus 90’ +1’), 21.L.Dorretto, 8.Z.Elrich (9.L.Owusu 77’), 24.A.Gauthier, 11.R.Hayashi (17.Y.Silvestre 81’), 2.D.Kim, 15.M.Mayora (capt), 6.Y.Samba, 16.S.Tarutani, 8.S.Zahra.
Substitutes Not Used – 36.A.Safdari, 37.M.Safdari.
Yellow Cards – 21.L.Dorretto 41’.
Red Cards – Nil