West Canberra Lightning went top of the table on Friday night as they commenced Round 4 with a 10-1 defeat of the luckless Queanbeyan-Palerang Power in a match in which both goalkeepers were forced into a number of excellent saves to keep the scoreline as it was.
The Power, who introduced four new players into the mix for the line-up, had chances and even saw a penalty by David Jenkins superbly stopped by Ben Southam in the Lightning goal, but West Canberra had, in truth, the better of the contest, controlling possession and scoring at critical times.
Daniel Fulton led by example, yet again, scoring twice in the opening half either side of goals from Michael Sydney and Ben Basser-Silk as Lightning wore down the Power to lead 4-0 at the break.
Early second half strikes from Nicholas Subasic and Jason Farrell, the latter immediately after the Southam penalty save and the result of an outrageous run and assist from Fulton, settled the contest as the Power were eased out of it.
Subasic took his tally to seven for the season with two more to complete a treble, whilst Basser-Silk and an own goal from Jordan Selems completed the Lightning scoring. Sam Roestbakken, on his Power debut, pulled one back for Power, but it was mere, if any, consolation.
The North Canberra Fire came from four goals adrift twice to earn an improbable last-gasp win over the ANU Apex, Bradley Malone striking the match-winner to make the score 9-8 with just thirteen second remaining on the clock in what was an exceptional encounter.
Apex had dominated the first half with 16-year-old debutant goalkeeper Jonathan Wilson in unbelievable form, repelling everything that the Fire could throw out him and seeing his defence put in a sensational shift.
At the other end they scored regularly, Kai Thornton, Luke Stevens, Jenno Ceruti and Patrick Shore beating Wilson Howden as the Apex went 4-0 ahead at the break.
Fire needed a response, and for a while, it appeared as if it wouldn’t be forthcoming as Brandon Hawker’s goal was cancelled out by a fifth from Apex, Shore bagging another, and yet the Fire began their rebuilding job.
Luca Florez, Maxx Green twice, the latter from the penalty spot, and Hawker again levelled matters before Green completed his hat-trick to put them ahead for the first time. That set the scene for a dramatic denouement.
Riley Brown put Fire ahead, as did Bailey Sorenson, rather luckily it must be said, but Jake Fitzgerald equalised both times for the Apex as the game ebbed back and forth, to 8-8. Fitzgerald’s second appeared to have won Apex a point, but Malone was on hand to steal it for the Fire at the death.
A wonderfully worked free-kick routine gave the South Canberra Swift a come from behind win in an epic 7-6 victory over UC Stars in a match that featured an incredible ending with five goals in a minute close to the conclusion.
Ed McCarthy thrashed home the matchwinner past the otherwise impeccable Jamie-Lee Guo in the Stars goal to break UC hearts and earn Swift their second win of the season. It was McCarthy’s fourth of the evening and a fittingly outstanding way to end one of the games of the season to date.
Earlier, first-half goals from Sherab Guo and Zach Pritchard had given the Stars a 2-0 advantage, halved before the break by McCarthy’s first of the match.
The Stars led all the way through until the final denouement, a second half hat-trick from debutant Johnny Hajdu showcasing a trio of impudent finishes, two otherworldly goals included, keeping the Swift at arm’s length, but the men in green just kept on coming.
After Lucas Alcazar-Stevens and Jackson Paesler had kept the Swift in touch the madness began when Hajdu scored in the 37th minute to make it 5-4. Immediately McCarthy responded, only for Hajdu to restore the Stars lead.
Incredibly Juan Sebastian Ospina netted for 6-6 seconds later to set up the grandstand finale and McCarthy’s matchwinner, his seventh of the campaign to date.
Friday 18 November
West Canberra Lightning 10 (Fulton 9’, 20’, Sydney 13’, Basser-Silk 17’, 38’, Subasic 23’, 32’, 33’, Farrell 28’, Selems 37’ (og)) Queanbeyan-Palerang Power 1 (Roestbakken 34’)
Saturday 19 November
North Canberra Fire 9 (Hawker 23’, 31’, Florez 26’, Green 27’, 28’ (p), 33’, Brown 35’, Sorenson 35’, Malone 40’) ANU Apex 8 (Thornton 4’, Stevens 9’, 35’, Ceruti 17’, Shore 18’, 24’, Fitzgerald 34’, 40’)
Sunday 20 November
UC Stars 6 (S. Guo 3’, Pritchard 5’, Aitchison 22’, Hajdu 26’, 37’, 38’) South Canberra Swift 7 (McCarthy 15’, 31’, 37’, 38’, Alcazar-Stevens 25’, Paesler 34’, Ospina 38’)
13 Maxx GREEN (Fire)
8 Luca FLOREZ (Fire), Samuel THOMSON (Fire)
7 Edward MCCARTHY (Swift), Nicholas SUBASIC (Lightning)
6 Patrick SHORE (Apex)
5 Riley BROWN (Fire), Daniel FULTON (Lightning), Bailey SORENSON (Fire), Own GOALS
4 Lucas ALCAZAR-STEVENS (Swift), Brad MALONE (Fire), Juan Sebastian OSPINA (Swift), Luke STEVENS (Apex), Kai THORNTON (Apex)
3 Jake FITZGERALD (Apex), Sherab GUO (Stars), Johnny HAJDU (Stars), Clyde HOLO (Stars), David JENKINS (Power), Jackson PAESLER (Swift), Blaise VLAZLOVSKI (Apex)
2 Andrew AITCHISON (Stars), Ben BASSER-SILK (Lightning), Julian BRITTON (Apex), Sam CARTERS (Lightning), Jenno CERUTI (Apex), Alistair DAVIS (Fire), Jason FARRELL (Lighting), Brandon HAWKER (Fire), Hamed JADEER (Stars)
1 Ashley BLOUNT (Lightning), Vinnie BRASIL (Stars), Michael CAHILL (Power), Connor FALUSI (Stars), Brett FORWARD (Lightning), Lachlan HARRINGTON (Stars), Alen JAMES (Swift), Robert MCKAY (Fire), Bruno MELO (Apex), Michael MOSCARITOLO (Stars), Michael NOLAN (Lightning), Zach PRITCHARD (Stars), Marko RATHOUSKI (Stars), Daniel ROBERTS (Swift), Sam ROESTBAKKEN (Power), Martin SANTOS (Power), Jordan SELEMS (Power), Michael SYDNEY (Lightning)