Round five of the Capital League beckons this weekend, and Chris Webb runs his eye over the five fixtures.
Monaro Panthers v ANU FC | Saturday, 3pm @ High Street
Monaro slumped to another loss last weekend, this one being particularly painful as it was at the hands of newcomers Southern tablelands after leading at the break. That loss leaves them at the foot of the table with just a single point, but on a brighter note they did score their first goal with elder statesman Chris Naomidis breaking the team’s drought and Graeme Plath can now pay this month’s electricity bill as his wallet remained in his pocket once more. The task doesn’t get any easier this week with the visit of ANU, who while not at their best in recent weeks are always a daunting prospect. The Panthers will take some solace from the fact that when majority of their outfit last met ANU at the back end of the 2017 season they inflicted a 4-2 defeat on the students, one of the only three games ANU lost last term.
The boys from Monaro however might not want to cast their minds back a further few months to when they were crushed 9-0 by ANU in the earlier rounds of last season. ANU have been running hot and cold so far in 2018 and took an almighty comeback to steal the points against Olympic, coming back from 1-0 down to equalise in the 80th minute thanks to Andrew Manley’s fifth goal of the season and then snatching the lead in the final minute of the game with a strike from the always impressive Max Mottl. ANU will come into this one as red hot favourites as they will be looking to reel in the trio of teams that have started to break away from the peloton.
O’Connor Knights v Weston Molonglo | Saturday, 3pm @ Kaleen Enclosed
O’Connor Knights sit top of the table as one of three teams on nine points after their entertaining 3-2 win over Queanbeyan City last weekend. Brandon Hawker was further denied in his attempts to again claim Jake Wilsener’s goal, while captain reliable Kynan Dodd got in on the scoring and Danny Krajacic decided to take time out of his busy social commentary agenda to finally get off the mark for the season. With question marks hanging over the fitness of their lynchpin midfielder Marcin Zygmunt, Miro Trninic will be hoping he has a full squad at his disposal as he takes on an opponent he has already defeated in the first round of the FFA cup.
On that evening the Knights ran out deserved 2-0 winners over Weston, though this week’s visitors are coming in on the back of a strong win. Weston fought back from being a goal down at the interval, to put on a fine second half performance, complete with four goals. Andrew Sellers grabbed a pair, to take his tally to five and grab a share of the leading scorers chart. The story of the game was undoubtedly the introduction of substitute goal-keeper Simon Barber coming on as an emergency outfield player following the horrible season ending injury to one of Weston’s clear early season standouts Ryan Hawkins. Just minutes after his introduction and with his first touch of the game, Barber had his first ever Capital League goal. A big game for both teams which could have a big bearing on finals placings.
Canberra Olympic v Brindabella Blues | Saturday, 3pm @ Kaleen
Canberra Olympic will be ruing a huge missed opportunity to take the league’s prized scalp, letting a one goal lead slip in the final ten minutes to lose 2-1 to ANU. They Olympians will however be confident of getting their campaign for finals football back on track with the visit of bottom of the table Brindabella. While the table doesn’t make great reading for the Blues, looks can be deceiving as they are coming into this game off the back of two extremely competitive games with potentially the league’s top two teams, with a draw against ANU followed by a tough loss to White Eagles when they were level a 2-2 at the break. Danny Babic, a vocal supporter of the new temporary dismissal rule continues to turn back the clock with yet another goal, his fourth of the campaign, while Samale Mohammed, a player with plenty of NPL experience and previous winner of this competition got his first goal coming off the bench. The Blues are going from strength to strength and will be a handful for any team, Olympic have started the season with aplomb but are just beginning to show signs of slowing down and a win for either side will be a great shot in the arm.
Queanbeyan City v White Eagles | Saturday, 3pm @ Riverside Stadium
The first instalment of the Balkan Derby is here and fittingly it is a top of the table clash with both teams on nine points. The hosts will be licking their wounds after losing a five-goal shoot out by the odd goal, in a game where they dominated for large patches with import John Kerszberg the standout. Thomas Nikolovski who has NPL experience in NSW opened up his Capital League account, while Big Dave McCarron banged in another penalty late on, to continue his goal scoring streak. Coach Josifovski sees the visit of a number of his former Cooma Tiger team mates, including Dejan Santrac, who alongside Josifiovski formed one of Canberra’s top performing midfields for a number of years in the NPL.
White Eagles themselves were part of a shoot-out on the weekend, coming out 5-3 victors over a stubborn Brindabella side, after going in at the break at 2 apiece. Hussain Feruje continued his fine form grabbing a double and will be a danger to City but is again a player well known to Josifovski. The Eagles’ impressive mid-season recruitment has continued, picking up gigantic midfielder Ohio Asikhia from the NPL. Asikhia had the most clichéd bitter-sweet debut, scoring a goal before getting himself a straight red card for dissent. The Eagles have had some trouble in their verbal interactions with the officials, with another of their recent signings ‘Lil’ Nik Noveski, similarly having a spell on the sideline as part of the new temporary dismissal rule. Noveski’s first return to the club where he has spent almost his entire football career adds another level to the derby.
Narrabundah v Southern Tablelands United | Sunday, 2pm @ Narrabundah 201
The Bulls welcome the Steamers to Narrabundah ovals on Sunday as part of their football fiesta. The lads from Goulburn are on a high after their 2-1 win over Monaro and will be keen to make it back-to-back wins over a team who lost by three in the previous fixture. Aaron Swanson and Ben Hartin were once again the men on the spot, taking their personal talliess to four and three respectively. Those two are still responsible for all of Southern Tablelands’ goals, a statistic no doubt eating at younger brother Luke Hartin, who will be desperate to join them on the numbers page.
Despite the score line last week Narrabundah played some good football and were good for a 1-0 first half lead with Bensah Afiabo and Nathan ‘Quack-Attack’ Duck looking dangerous leading the line. It wasn’t until Afiabo was forced to spend ten on the pine in the second term that the Bulls lost their way. Narrabundah coach John Zalunardo had a lot to work on this week at training, including his own tackling technique, but the added incentive of free Sangria and Paella for the first goal scorers might be enough to get the Bulls over the line in this one.