A late double from Roko Strika turned the match on its head at the Australian Institute of Sport as Monaro Panthers came from a goal behind to earn a 2-1 victory over Gungahlin United and move to within striking distance of a place in the top four and potential finals football.
Strika headed home with six minutes remaining to level the scores and then advanced onto a Jenno Ceruti pass to rifle home his eleventh goal of the season just two minutes later as the Panthers recorded a vital victory.
They did so with ten men as midfielder Zac McLaren was sent off after receiving a brace of yellow cards within minutes of each other before the hour-mark, leaving Monaro depleted in a fixture in which they were already behind.
The goal that put the Gunners ahead was spectacular. A stunning long-range free-kick from Misko Naumoski arrowing past Jordan Thurtell a couple of minutes before the break to put Gungahlin in front. But Strika was to have the last word, his quickfire brace winning the contest.
Canberra Croatia blew away the challenge of ten-man Tuggeranong United in the midweek match at Deakin Stadium, where a brace of goals from midfielder Michael Piccolo helped the League Champions in their quest for a top-four place as the hosts won 7-1.
Piccolo bagged a goal in each half as Tuggeranong, numerically reduced after the unfortunate dismissal of full-back Patrick Hislop for a pair of yellow cared offences within minutes of each other, finally ran out of steam against a team that is ominously regaining its form.
Tony Spaseski rammed home the opener, turning home after Piccolo had struck the base of the post before the lively midfielder crashed home a venomous strike following a corner. Stephen Domenici too advantage of a slip by United stopper Adam Stevens to add a third before the break, bursting clear and coolly finishing.
Joaquin Abot pulled one back for United fifteen seconds into the second-half, but Hislop’s departure, coupled with a harsh looking penalty which was converted expertly by Lukman Ahmed-Shaibu, settled Croatian nerves. Late goals from Daniel Barac and Daniel Subasic ensued that Croatia hit seven and keep their finals hopes bubbling along.
A superb acrobatic strike from central defender Lachlan Fields proved the difference in the BBQ Derby at O’Connor Enclosed as the O’Connor Knights edged their co-tenants Canberra Olympic 1-0.
Fields connected with a mid-air volley sixteen minutes from time, latching onto a poor defensive header, to loop a volley with the perfect trajectory over a cluster of players, including Olympic goalkeeper Sebastian Usai, who had been competing for the loose ball in the air.
Olympic had good chances in the opening half as Nik Popovich broke clear but chipped over the advancing Seb Arranz and the crossbar, before the usually reliable Olympic striker spun on a defensive lapse from Phakedi Manda only to blaze his opportunity over the crossbar from close range.
Knights maintained their league lead, moving six points ahead of Olympic in the process, whilst their opponents winless run stretched to five NPL matches, and six in total.
Tigers FC kept pace with the league leading O’Connor Knights and, at one stage, appeared set to leapfrog them on goal difference, before a late West Canberra Wanderers comeback had them fretting somewhat, the visitors winning 4-3 on the synthetic oval at Wanderers Park.
Tigers netted twice in three minutes in the first-half as they threatened to inflict a second heavy defeat on the Wanderers in succession as Sam Whithear headed home from a corner, before Nik Taneski lashed in a beauty into the top corner of the net.
Taneski added a third from the spot, and saw a second penalty effort go awry, before the Wanderers struck from the spot themselves in the second-half, Angus Bailey confidently finding the net.
Nikos Kalfas restored the three-goal cushion, racing clear to clip in a fine finish past Kristian Nel, but Wanderers responded as George Pavese glanced home a Doug Woodiwiss corner before a Kyle Senior own goal set up a rather nervy finale for the title contenders.
Wednesday 5 July
Canberra Croatia 7 (Spaseski 6’, Piccolo 34’, 79’, Domenici 45+2’, Ahmed-Shaibu 72’ (p), Barac 90+1’, Subasic 90+4’) Tuggeranong United 1 (Abot 46’)
Saturday 8 July
West Canberra Wanderers 3 (Bailey 53’ (p), Pavese 72’, Senior 84’ (og)) Tigers FC 4 (Whithear 22’, Taneski 26’, 37’ (p), Kalfas 64’)
O’Connor Knights 1 (Fields 74’) Canberra Olympic 0
Sunday 9 July
Gungahlin United 1 (Naumoski 43’) Monaro Panthers 2 (Strika 84’, 86’)
|8||West Canberra Wanderers||12||0||0||12||10||55||-45||0|
13 Maxx GREEN (Gungahlin United)
11 Roko STRIKA (Monaro Panthers)
10 Josh GULEVSKI (Tigers FC), Nik TANESKI (Tigers FC)
9 Lukman AHMED-SHAIBU (Canberra Croatia)
8 Nik POPOVICH (Canberra Olympic), Own GOALS
7 Josh GASPARI (Gungahlin United)
6 Micheal ADAMS (O’Connor Knights), Aisosa IHEGIE (O’Connor Knights), Amilio KISTA (Tigers FC), Connor MYNOTT-SMITH (Monaro Panthers)
5 Stephen DOMENICI (Canberra Croatia), Luca FLOREZ (Canberra Olympic), Thomas JAMES (Canberra Olympic), Phakedi MANDA (O’Connor Knights)
4 Daniel BARAC (Canberra Croatia), Patrick O’ROURKE (O’Connor Knights), Sam WALKER (Tuggeranong United), Sam WHITHEAR (Tigers FC)
3 Philippe BERNABO-MADRID (Gungahlin United), Jack GREEN (Gungahlin United), Alen JAMES (Canberra Olympic), Micheal JOHN (Monaro Panthers), Clancy HISLOP (Tuggeranong United), Luke STEVENS (Tuggeranong United), Jason UGRINIC (Canberra Croatia)
2 Riley ANGELOSANTE (O’Connor Knights), Connor BILL (O’Connor Knights), Jenno CERUTI (Monaro Panthers), FERNANDO Jorquera (Gungahlin United), Lachlan FIELDS (O’Connor Knights), Nikos KALFAS (Tigers FC), Niko KRESIC (O’Connor Knights), Ed MCCARTHY (Tigers FC), Tom MCLACHLAN (Gungahlin United), Nathen MEGIC (Canberra Olympic), Marko MILUTINOVIC (Tigers FC), Jackson PAESLER (Gungahlin United), Kaz PATAFTA (Canberra Croatia), Michael PICCOLO (Canberra Croatia), Kyle SENIOR (Tigers FC), Daniel SPARROW (Canberra Croatia), Noah VANDERPOL (Canberra Croatia), Regan WALSH (O’Connor Knights)
1 Badreldin ABBAS (Gungahlin United), Joaquin ABOT (Tuggeranong United), Angus BAILEY (West Canberra Wanderers), Jake BISHOP (Tigers FC), Julian BORGNA (Tigers FC), Riley BROWN (West Canberra Wanderers), Lachlan CAMPBELL (O’Connor Knights), Kofi DANNING (Canberra Olympic), Elie DARWICH (Canberra Olympic), Dylan DEEP-JONES (Monaro Panthers), James DRISCOLL (O’Connor Knights), Dom GIAMPAOLO (Gungahlin United), Sam HABTEMARIAM (Gungahlin United), Patrick HISLOP (Tuggeranong United), Ryan KEIR (Canberra Croatia), Tyson LIVERMORE (O’Connor Knights), Luca MACOR (Canberra Olympic), Tony MADAFFARI (Tigers FC), Archie MCGREGOR (Monaro Panthers), Max MELLICK (Canberra Olympic), Misko NAUMOSKI (Gungahlin United), Tomohiro OGAWA (Tigers FC), Lasse OLRIK (Canberra Olympic), George PAVESE (West Canberra Wanderers), Euan PETERKIN (Tuggeranong United), Jayden RIPPON (West Canberra Wanderers), Nicholas ROUFOGALIS (West Canberra Wanderers), David SESELJA (Canberra Croatia), Callum SMITH (Canberra Olympic), Tony SPASESKI (Canberra Croatia), Daniel SUBASIC (Canberra Croatia), Hristjan TANOSKI (Tigers FC), Antoni TIMOTHEOU (Gungahlin United), Robert TKATCHENKO (Monaro Panthers), Harry TRUMAN (West Canberra Wanderers), Liam VICKERS (West Canberra Wanderers), Joshua YOUNG (West Canberra Wanderers)