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Fairytale FFA Cup spot comes true for Hakoah

Football NSW State League 1 side Hakoah Sydney City East’s dream of Westfield FFA Cup glory became a reality after clinching the sixth qualifying spot defeating SUPA IGA Mens 2 outfit Northern Tigers FC 5-1 at a wet Hensley Athletic Field on Thursday evening.

Five different goal-scorers from an inspired Hakoah side led by star striker Lloyd Owusu ensured the win early in the game.

The first-half started in stark contrast as Hakoah came out of the blocks with clear intent.

Perhaps motivated from their loss against Blacktown City last round, they strived to not make the same mistake as coach Mark Robertson instructed his team to press high to get an early goal.

It worked, strikers Kevin Lopes and Owusu were tireless up front chasing every ball and looking for the all-important intercept that could give them a sniff at goal. As pressure mounted and the Tigers conceded the first corner of the match, Hakoah’s Deklan Gilmartin delivered a lethal ball into an oncoming Owusu who just narrowly missed a sure goal with his head.

As the game continued, Hakoah’s midfield controlled the middle of the park which led to further chances on goal. Their pressure finally paid off in the 17th minute as Hakoah’s second corner of the match led to a goal from centre back Nathan Bowden-Haase who was at the end of the cross with his head.

The goal shocked the Tigers who seemed to find it difficult to take control of the match.

Then to make matters worse another unexpected goal from Hakoah’s Deklan Gilmartin just eight minutes later.

With the long balls constantly received by Owusu, it was inevitable that one would lead to a chance. His strength and awareness to receive the ball in space gave him the opportunity to square it to Gilmartin who made no mistake with a clinical finish across goal.

Completely out enthused a lacklustre Tigers outfit were lucky to make it to the sheds at halftime down by just two. Hakoah on the other hand were in control and looked the hungrier team from the first minute.

The second half began better for Northern Tigers as they started to show more composure on the ball.

Their cohesion started to turn into chances as they grew more confident by the minute.

Winger Max Glanville and Aram Tayebi started to finally hit their stride with their combination leading to some great opportunities in the Hakoah half.

But heart break hit in the 56th minute for the Tigers after one of their defenders handled the ball in their own box. Knowing that this goal could perhaps seal the game, Neil Jablonski stepped up from the spot and made no mistake.

Heads went down after the goal as the SUPA IGA NSW Mens 2 side looked glum.

The penalty conceded was simply cruel as they were just beginning to build momentum to get themselves back into the match.

As the home support began to sit back and enjoy the show. There was desperation from the crowd for their talisman Owusu to get a goal and indeed, that moment came in the 71st minute.

After some great dribbling from Mundell which saw him dribble past three Tiger defenders, he then put a clinical ball into an oncoming Lopes in the near post. Lopes then pulled a clever dummy which left the ball on the foot of Owusu who scored his side’s fourth.

Four goals down and with ten minutes left, Northern Tigers kept pressing as they looked for their opening goal. Their effort towards the latter stages of the game was commendable but it was clearly too late.

Although, their persistence were rewarded in the 82nd minute after being awarded a penalty for handball which was converted by Daniel Cunningham.

As the rain continued to batter the pitch, a piece of brilliance from Hakoah’s Justin Kosmina controlling a long ball beautifully in the box which he then finished with great venom to end the game.

Clearly, the underdogs, Hakoah found the will to win by their determination which left their coach Mark Robertson with great pride on the sidelines.

“I was very proud of them tonight, we have some great history here and these boys deserve this victory tonight”.

Robertson’s tactic of using young Lopes to partner up with Owusu for this clash was the catalyst for their early domination.

“Kevin played against men tonight and very much looked the part next to Owusu who was magnificent”, he says.

Meanwhile Northern Tigers coach Jason Eagar revealed his team were shell shocked and did not expect to lose sight of the game early on.

“We lost it in the first half, Hakoah came out firing, they wanted it more and it was evident from the opening whistle.”

The Tigers were sluggish which gave Hakoah confidence to get their goals.

“The start of the second-half was better but conceding the penalty when we did cost us the game”.

Disappointing result for Northern Tigers, though all hope is not loss as they still have one more chance and Eagar fully expects his team to bounce back when they take on fellow Mens 2 side Parramatta FC at Mills Park on Wednesday 11th of June for the final Westfield FFA Cup spot.

Match Stats

Hakoah Sydney City 5 (Nathan Bowden-Haase 17’, Deklan Gilmartin 25’, Neil Jablonski 56’ pen, Lloyd Owusu 71’, Nathan Kosmina 89’) Northern Tigers 1 (Daniel Cunningham 82’)

Thursday 22nd May, 2014 Hensley Athletics Field, Pagewood

Referee: Adam Susz Assistant Referees:Lance Greenshields and Murray Wilson

Hakoah Sydney City: 1. Terry da Broi, 15. Michael Katz (5. Dylan Blumberg 60’), 18.Jason Dingwall, 44. Nathan Bowden-Haase, 8. Jordan Mundell, 10. Deklan Gilmartin, 15. G MacPherson (16. Mark Macalpine 78’), 11. Neil Jabalonski (6.Nathan Kosmina 78’), 9. Lloyd Owusu, 33. Kevin Lopes (Justin Kosmina 78’), 4.Bradley Walker (2. Remy Wolanski 73’)

Yellow Cards: Jablonski 23’, Dingwall 50’ Red Cards: Nil

Northern Tigers: 1. Stuart Page, 5. Daniel Cunningham, 14. Michael Rolston, 36. Jamie Craig, 15. Oliver Skelding, 16. Steven Baveas, 23. David Cain, 8. Max Glanville (18. D Stuart 64’), 7. Shervin Adeli, 17. Aram Tayebi , 9.Liam McConaghy Substitutes: 10. Guilherme De Sousa 3. Lucas Dawson 20. Samuel Ryder, 21. Connor Hammond

Yellow Cards: McConaghy 72’, Cunningham 80’, Adeli 89’ Red Cards: Nil

-By Chris Doroudgar

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