A first-half treble from Patrick O’Rourke helped the O’Connor Knights inflict a huge 6-0 away win on the West Canberra Wanderers, moving the Knights up the league table and compounding the woes for the Wanderers who remain rooted to the foot of the league table.
The Knights had the game firmly in control as they took a two-goal lead after only seven minutes of the contest. O’Rourke was the man for the moment, sweeping home inside of only two minutes following a penetrating run and cut-back from full-back James Driscoll, before doubling the lead after an exchange of passes with Micheal Adams.
O’Rourke was celebrating a trio of goals just before half-time when he was in the right place at the right time to take advantage of a low right wing cross from Phakedi Manda to complete his hat-trick, and there was still time for another before the break as Niko Kresic curled home a fourth.
There was no let up from the Knights after the break and they added to the scoreboard when they were awarded a penalty just before the hour, Micheal Adams confidently sending the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot.
And they were able to round off a superb afternoon’s work by bagging their sixth goal with twenty-three minutes remaining. Manda created if, playing in Riley Angelosante with a delightful reverse pass which the striker controlled before calmly placing beyond Kristian Nel in the Wanderers goal.
At O’Connor Enclosed, a quite exceptional free-kick from Thomas James ensured that Canberra Olympic stayed top of the table with a 3-2 victory over Monaro Panthers in a match that, at the beginning of the day, pitted the teams that were placed first and third against each other.
James struck in the 89th minute with a wondrous curling free-kick from 25 metres, that went over the wall and dipped perfectly into the top corner giving Panthers’ goalkeeper Jordan Thurtell no chance.
Olympic had taken command of this NPL Round 6 encounter in the first-half, heading into the changing rooms with a two-goal advantage having taken the lead in the eighteenth minute. A Luca Florez corner was only half-cleared and Olympic midfielder Callum Smith rifled the loose ball through the forest of legs and into the bottom corner.
It was two eleven minutes before the break as Olympic struck on a sudden counterattack. Nik Popovich won the ball on halfway and advanced before playing a pass wide to Florez. His cross was perfectly placed for Kofi Danning who met it with a perfect header that flashed across Thurtell and in.
The Panthers were to hit-back in a strong spell after the restart, pulling one back when Michael John met a Connor Mynott-Smith free-kick inside the six-yard box with a firm header, but were hit with that sucker-punch from Thomas James. They did grab another, deep into stoppage time as Mynott-Smith gloriously swept in an Adam Neou lay-off, but it was too little, too late for the visitors to mount a comeback.
Tigers FC left it late to record a narrow win over Tuggeranong United as they emerged on the right side of a seven-goal thriller at Kambah 2 thanks to two goals in the final five minutes of a breathless encounter. A penalty from leading scorer Josh Gulevski, and a screamer from Julian Borgna, sealed the win against an unlucky host team.
A contender for goal of the season opened proceedings as Nik Taneski stunned the watching crowd with a sensational strike from long-range that whistled past Adam Stevens in the home goal and into the top corner. Tuggeranong struck back within eight minutes though as Sam Walker netted from the spot to level matters.
The match really kicked into gear after the break as the visitors went ahead for the second time as former Tuggeranong forward Nikos Kalfas scored against his former club. In an enthralling affair, United drew back on terms with nine minutes to go as super-sub Clancy Hislop bagged his third of the campaign.
That set up the remarkable ending as firstly Gulevski from the spot, and then a stunner from Borgna, made sure the Tigers would take the points despite a late stoppage time goal from Luke Stevens reducing the arrears and giving Tuggeranong a small ray of hope, which was ultimately for nothing.
For the third time this season Canberra Croatia conceded a 94th minute equaliser, via a header, from a set-piece as Gungahlin United fought back from two-down to claim a point in a 2-2 draw which, once again, was packed full of incident from start to finish.
Just four days after their epic meeting in an Australian Cup Qualifying Semi-Final, these two protagonists went at it again and, just like the last-four encounter, there were two dismissals, Stephen Domenici sent off for Croatia whilst Nick Dahl followed suit for the Gunners.
In terms of goals, it was Croatia who led at half-time, Lukman Ahmed-Shaibu upended by substitute Bernard Rene, who had replaced the stricken Jack Green early on, with the American picking himself up to calmly roll home the resultant penalty for this third goal against Gungahlin in a week.
When Kaz Patafta swept in the second five minutes after the restart, it appeared that Croatia were heading for a win but, after being reduced to ten men, the visitors conceded when Matt Grbesa diverted a fiercely driven Josh Gaspari free-kick into his own net. And Gungahlin stole a point deep into added time as Fernando rose highest to head in off the post for the equaliser.
Saturday 13 May
West Canberra Wanderers 0 O’Connor Knights 6 (O’Rourke 2’, 7’, 44’, Kresic 45’, Adams 57’ (p), Angelosante 67’)
Canberra Olympic 3 (Smith 18’, Danning 34’, James 89’) Monaro Panthers 2 (John 79’, Mynott-Smith 90+5’)
Sunday 14 May
Tuggeranong United 3 (Walker 14’ (p), C. Hislop 81’, Stevens 90+5’) Tigers FC 4 (Taneski 6’, Kalfas 63’, Gulevski 85’ (p), Borgna 88’)
Gungahlin United 2 (Grbesa 62’, (og), Fernando 90+4’) Canberra Croatia 2 (Ahmed-Shaibu 44’ (p), Patafta 55’)
|7||West Canberra Wanderers||5||0||0||5||2||22||-20||0|
6 Josh GULEVSKI (Tigers FC)
5 Luca FLOREZ (Canberra Olympic), Maxx GREEN (Gungahlin United), Nik POPOVICH (Canberra Olympic)
4 Connor MYNOTT-SMITH (Monaro Panthers), Patrick O’ROURKE (O’Connor Knights), Own GOALS
3 Micheal ADAMS (O’Connor Knights), Stephen DOMENICI (Canberra Croatia), Thomas JAMES (Canberra Olympic), Micheal JOHN (Monaro Panthers), Clancy HISLOP (Tuggeranong United), Phakedi MANDA (O’Connor Knights), Nik TANESKI (Tigers FC), Sam WALKER (Tuggeranong United)
2 Riley ANGELOSANTE (O’Connor Knights), Daniel BARAC (Canberra Croatia), Jack GREEN (Gungahlin United), Amilio KISTA (Tigers FC), Kaz PATAFTA (Canberra Croatia), Roko STRIKA (Monaro Panthers), Jason UGRINIC (Canberra Croatia)
1 Lukman AHMED-SHAIBU (Canberra Croatia), Connor BILL (O’Connor Knights), Jake BISHOP (Tigers FC), Julian BORGNA (Tigers FC), Riley BROWN (West Canberra Wanderers), Kofi DANNING (Canberra Olympic), Elie DARWICH (Canberra Olympic), James DRISCOLL (O’Connor Knights), FERNANDO Jorquera (Gungahlin United), Josh GASPARI (Gungahlin United), Dom GIAMPAOLO (Gungahlin United), Sam HABTEMARIAM (Gungahlin United), Nikos KALFAS (Tigers FC), Niko KRESIC (O’Connor Knights), Ed MCCARTHY (Tigers FC), Nathen MEGIC (Canberra Olympic), Marko MILUTINOVIC (Tigers FC), Lasse OLRIK (Canberra Olympic), Jackson PAESLER (Gungahlin United), Euan PETERKIN (Tuggeranong United), Nicholas ROUFOGALIS (West Canberra Wanderers), Kyle SENIOR (Tigers FC), Callum SMITH (Canberra Olympic), Luke STEVENS (Tuggeranong United), Hristjan TANOSKI (Tigers FC), Antoni TIMOTHEOU (Gungahlin United)