Saturday 26th April, 1997 Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
NYL Semi-Final ? - Marconi 2 v. Newcastle Breakers 0 (1-0)
In front of a diehard bunch of 40 or Breakers supporters who gamely brought the Breakers! Breakers! chant to Bossley Park the hopes of the Breakers to win some silverware this season with our NYL side faltered again when firmly beaten by a sharper, faster, Marconi team. Brad Swancott in goal tried hard to keep the score down but time and time again the Marconi forwards and even midfielders waltzed through the defence leaving him exposed. As with the senior team lack of firepower up front also was telling. We can only hope that the nerves will be expunged in Newcastle next week. Before the main game a git doing a Rod Stewart impersonation, and two glitter clad ladies doing a dance routine entertained the smallish crowd which, as I explained to the Newcastle troop and unlike Breakers Stadium, rolls in about the last 15 minutes. By kick off about 6,500 were in.
Ericsson Cup - Elimination Preliminary Semi-Final 1st leg: Marconi-Fairfield Stallions 3 v. Adelaide City Zebras 0
Game: 8/10 Crowd: 7,309 Scorers: Craig Foster 20min, Vlaso Zoric 75 min, Andy Harper 82min; Ref: S. Micaleff 7/10 - quite a few yellows for the remaining rounds. Brad Armour tried hard all night to get sent off, and succeeded about the 80th min.
Adelaide City came to score a quick goal and then close up shop. This was not to be as Marconi (looking nothing like the side thumped in Newcastle 3 weeks ago) weathered the short storm and then quickly got on top. The first goal was a particularly fine piece of work. Spying Awaritefe free wide on the right Zoric placed a perfectly weighted lob into his path, Francis took it up and swung the ball in and back to Foster who powered it past an advancing Petkovic. Adcity tried to peg one back but were very devoid of ideas and with an odd formation, which when Tobin came off late in the first half (injured?) became even odder. This change was notable for bringing Angelo Costanzo on after his eye injury in Melbourne, but with him going back into defence instead of midfield and with Menillo playing up front and Hassell deep Adcity never looked in the hunt. The return of Longo (brief - off early with bad injury) and Bingley added early steel.
The half time entertainment was the usual U8's game, which showed some fine skills.
Marconi came back on not content with their lead and with Sean Babic leading the charge they drew many great saves out of Petkovic. It wasn't his fault when in the 78min approx Sean Babic was rewarded for his energetic contribution to the attack with a goal. In the 85min Andy Harper who had been very quiet popped up in the right spot to put away a Babic cross. Adcity tried to come back from the dead but just didn't have it! Marconi had displayed three qualities not seen in them for a long, long time: Cohesion, Commitment, and Creativity. They also interchanged well and led Adcity markers a merry chase.
Best: Marconi - Zoric, Babic, and Foster. Bingley did well in his first game back. ; Adcity: Petkovic, Mennilo, Costanzo
Ericsson Cup Round 26 (final before playoffs) 7.00 pm Sunday 20th April, 1997 at Breakers Stadium
Game: 6/10 Referee: Con Diomis (7/10) Con Con, how did you do it? ; Crowd: 4,022 (seemed like more)
Scorers: 8min Lowe, 36min Ironside; 47min Mitchell, 53min Trajanovski, 57min Sharpley, 77min Ardone, 86min Ironside;
A good crowd for the last home game considering nothing much at stake, and the Rowdies were in good voice. Car problems meant my son Owen & I left Epping at 2.30pm on the train, arriving at Broadmeadow at 4.50pm to be met by OzSoccer Listee and Rowdie Rui Melo! :-) The NYL game was pretty spiteful with 3 UTS players send off, some slack defending by Breakers, and rolling out 5-3 home win. We counted heads to make sure everyone who had gone to King Tom last week was accounted for! My ran into Jim who had stood near me at KT. He turned out to be a maniac like me who drives up from Sydney because he can't support the ethnic Sydney teams - except he's madder - he does it every fortnight!
The match was not a classic, with just contracts and image to play for. UTS attacked strongly, but the Breakers soon found their feet and in his final and 344th game in the NSL David Lowe scored in the 10th minute. A few close shaves for Liam Baker (Swancott played in the NYL - for the final series) NB scored again at 37min by a Robbie Ironside side foot after good lead up work by several Breakers.
UTS came out strongly after the break and two quick goals (David Mitchell 47min, and Kris Trajanovski 52min) the Breakers looked to be going wobbly in defence again. Craig Sharpley eased the pain 2 minutes later and they hung on to the narrow lead whilst playing some more enterprising wide play, especially (S)Lowie who was not being so slow and 'Clacka' Zane who actually ran once or twice. A late goal by Walter Ardone for UTS was a shock for the Rowdies who had been entertaining themselves with taking the 'mickey' out of George Bouhoutsos in the UTS goal. It looked like another bloody draw that got away from a sure win, when Ironside scored a very timely goal which even his critics (most of Rowdies Hill) couldn't deny and they went mental! It ran out 4-3 a home win and the first live Breaker's win that I had seen.
Best: NB Lowe, Sprod, Pryce UTS: Mitchell, Trajanovski, Ardone.
The crowd was invited on to the park after to get autographs and posters signed by the players - a carnival atmosphere even if no Glory party!
A great season - thank you Breakers! See you better still in 1997/98!
6.30 pm Sunday 13th April, 1997 at Edensor Park
Game: 6/10 - didn't raise to great heights. Referee: Eddie Lennie 7/10; Crowd: 5179. Scorers: Marusic, and Milicic; Best for Newcastle: Swancott, Halpin, Austin; Best for Pumas: Kalac, Marusic, Babic
The two defences were on top most of the game, with the first half even points and we were hopefull at half time that the Breakers could find a way through. They applied enough pressure but the final pass was picked up, or the moves broke down. Kalac picked up everything in the air, and the defence was very tight on the ground. We were robbed when Clayton Zane was manhandled down in the box. A penalty and a sending off may have changed the game a lot. The Breakers defence also had been holding Zdrillic and Millicic easily, until 10 minutes into the 2nd half when the defence parted to let in a nice strike which Brad Swancott could do nothing about. One more lapse 15 minutes later was all that separated the teams. Two chances to SU - taken. Several to the Breakers - not taken. Where oh can we find a goal scorer we can afford? SU worthy winners on taken chances, but ..! Oh, well UTS next week and that sees out our season!
Scorers: Ironside NB 36 min., Maloney MF 47 min, Pryce NB 60?, Lowe NB 62 min, Harper MF 70 min., Austin NB 75 min, Halpin NB 83 min.
Referee: Matthew Breeze (8/10), Crowd: 4,465 (good considering the past 3 games!) Newcastle: Swancott, Pryce, McManus, Austin, Sprod, Ritchie, Ironside, Sharpley (Thomas 72 min), Lowe, Halpin, Zane. Cards: YC - Halpin, McManus, Harper, Red - Dr(L)ongo; Game: 8/10
The night started clear, but it was a night of the mis(sed)t. Shots missed, shots not missed, and just plain mist! Swancott got an early touch of the ball and at 2 mins the Breakers are pushing up well, but Ironside is indecisive and the resulting corner is not up to Halpin's standard. Lowe becomes involved, and puts it to Sprod who places it over the bar! (A miss) The Breakers spend the next 10 mins camped in the Marconi half, with shots from Lowe and Zane, NB pressuring well (not, Bertie Mariani, pressurized - Francis Awaritefe at 200 lbs per sq inch - I'd like to see that!) and then Harper manages to get up front and up the other end but misses. Hristodoulu (?) ahh E.H.- takes a free kick that flies over the bar, and Marconi are on their way back, with E.H. over again! 'Teach' (A.H.) heads across the face of goal, and the Breakers regain their composure. Halpin's free kick on the edge of the box at the left is cleared away and Maloney at the other end puts it over. Newcastle pressure and close down quickly, frustrating Marconi (just as they had at Bossley Park in December but didn't put the goals in as well). Tonight will be different I know it! They still couldn't make that last pass the telling one. Marconi break away and Harper's cross superbly taken by young Swancott (I wonder how the YL are doing without him?). There is end to end stuff for the next 10. Harper brings down Sprod, and then a free kick to the Breakers shortly after brings Halpin to the ball again. This time he flights a nice little lob straight to Ironside in the box. The ball is so great (Okon, Zelic, and Halpin in midfield?) that even Robbie can't miss - he doesn't and from his head drills it into the hemp. Marconi look like horse dung at this point - all over the park! Lowe goes close but at the break it is 1-0
After the Sturm und Drang (?) from Herr Schaeffer in the change rooms Marconi look sharper, and look also to Foster who has come on for E.H. Maloney receives from Foster and not having been picked up by someone, anyone (missed) he scores. 1-1 The will o' the wisp and his mate the screeming banshee in the swamp next to the Breakers stadium are so affronted by this scoreline that they send a thick mist sweeping up over the Rowdies, whose usual hot air sends it on its way down onto the pitch.(The mist!) Matthew Breeze hasn't any, so holds up play for 4 mins to see if it can get as thick as in the old dart. No, so play goes on. Marconi are on top now and looking for the lead. NB keep very tight at the back, with Austin, Pryce, and Mcmanus getting back their understanding. By the 70th min. the Breakers come back and when Lowe wins a freekick you could sense things were looking up. Halpin gets to the line, slips the marker as the ball rolls along it, whips the ball to Pryce who heads sweetly into the netting (the back of variety). 2-1. 3 mins later beautiful work by Halpin losing Zoric, slips it to Zane who bounces it to Lowe. In! 3-1. 2 mins later Casserley at last gets a pass in and Harper heads in with Swancott left unsupported. 3-2. Play restarts and Scottie Thomas comes on for Sharpley (72 mins) - and we may ask why he was off as he immediately sparks attacks. A corner on the right and Austin just has to walk in one of those Halpin pin-point kicks! 4-2. Longo tries out his elbow on Zane's head and looks surprised when he is walked by Breeze. Harper realises that all is nearly lost and makes a great run which Swancott smothers bravely. Now at the 83 min. Lowe gets free on the left, and puts a well weighted on the deck cross just out of Pogliacomi's reach and Halpin says 'thank you! 5-2. Pogliacomi gets a good workout as the Breakers try to redress their goal difference, but the last action of the game is a great save by Swancott who pushes the scorcher onto the bar and over!
Best: Without a doubt 'Mr Freekicks' himself - Troy Halpin, also for Newcastle - Pryce, amd Lowe (with commendation to Sprod). As for Zane and Ironside, well there's always the NSW Super duper league for you next year I've heard rumoured! Marconi: Harper, Maloney, Zoric.
Am I stoked or what! If only we could play like that every week, for 93 mins, we would be in the top 6 no sweat! There's always next year!
(1-1) at Budapest, Hungary - Wednesday 2nd April, 1997
A small surprise at the start with John Filan in for Bosnich. Australia start by looking much more together than in Skopje. 2 min a move on the left found Vidmar offside? Hungary try to attack but Tony Vidmar makes a great tackle to break it down. Slater received the ball on the right, stands on it, looks up and hits a beaut ball to the far post where Aurelio Vidmar rises to head it across goal and in! 1-0. 4 mins. Oz dominate for the next 10 minutes with Slater active, but Hungary show promise with a snap shot by Klausz. Hungary then start to come into the match, pushing up more and Oz struggle to get forward.
T.Vidmar overlaps well and almost walks the ball through but sees it palmed away by the keeper. Zelic is upended for the 4th time whilst coming forward on one of his mazy runs. Klausz scores for Hungary at the 31 min mark after a through ball finds him unmarked with most of Australia's defence committed forward for a long throw. 1-1. Hungary have another chance soon after but Klausz hits it over the bar from a corner. Australia force their way back and at 42 mins Graham Arnold (who has been playing so deep he's behind Zelic and Slater often) finds space free on the right and from a Ned Zelic ball hits well to draw a good save from the Hungarian keeper.
Second half sees more tentative play and at the 3 min Muscat (2nd half sub.) eases off his man to see him move up and take a strike just off the left side of goal. Lazarides who has been withdrawn (in both senses) in the 1st half starts to overlap and combines with Viduka (who was unseen 1st half) for a great chance. Popovic comes up and is fouled. Viduka puts it over the wall, and the bar. Lazarides through on the left flank again and with a nifty little flick goes around the defender slips the ball in and Muscat muffs the shot. For the next 10 mins it ebbs and flows, but Oz start to hold possession. Zelic waltzes through again and is brought down again. T.Vidmar takes the kick and a long strike is just smothered by the keeper. 77 mins and a little one-two (Viduka-Lazarides-Viduka) is inches wide from Viduka. A freekick and Zelic misses. By now (80 mins) Australia look on top. Viduka brought down, and Zelic puts the shot to the keeper. Hungary make a move up and Hungary get a free kick in range which Filan gathers. At 88 mins Zelic makes a terrific through ball, which Lazarides chests down and Muscat coming up on the right smashes into the top far (left) corner. 2-1. Oz attack again and Muscat hits a cross which finds A.Vidmar moving into space on the far post, and he makes no mistake in the 89th min. 3-1. That's it folks!
Well what can I say. The performance was quite good, and will do everyone's confidence some good. No-one really put a foot wrong. The scoreline was fair, as although Hungary may have had a points call on the first half, Australia dominated the end of the 2nd half and always looked more likely to score. Great result guys! Best: Zelic, A.Vidmar, and Slater, but 2nd half Lazarides played a blinder.
(0-0) at Skopje, Macedonia - Wednesday 12th March, 1997
A game very nostalgic for an Australian football fan - poor defence, loose passing, untaken chances, promising moves forward! Australia played like the rusty unfamiliar side that they are in the first 30 mins, whilst Makedonia was fast, tight in control, and direct.
There were some chances for Australia early on through Aloisi and Corica. Horvat and Durakovic cleared some dangerous situations at the other end. In the last 15 of the 1st half the Socceroos starting to push the ball around, keep possession and a great volleyed shot from Aurelio Vidmar was pushed aside by the good Makedonia keeper for a corner only. Makedonia fell away but even so in the dying minutes Bosnich has to make two clearances.
In the second half Aloisi had a good chance nudged away, followed by a Zelic strike. Some harrowing moments for Australia as the defence is caught flat and flat footed a number of times with Bosnich shaky behind. Horvat tackles well but the midfield starts breaking down. Venables makes 3 changes. In the 89 min a nice curling cross from Tiatto finds Aurelio Vidmar off the back post and his head beats the goalkeeper.
Australia lucky to win, although they had more clear chances. Makedonia a fast useful side. For us - there is still a lot of 'gelling' to do! Best: A.Vidmar, Horvat. Corica OK in 1st half as was Zelic 'til he faded. Aloisi and Bosnich poor games.
(This brought a comment from Cornwall, UK - "On a football note El Tel was a name dreamt up by english newspapers during his spell as coach at Barcelona. The selection of Venables as Australian coach is quite perplexing considering the long distances involved and his current legal battle with Alan Sugar, the chairman at Tottenham Hotspur. Whilst he is undoubtedly a very good coach it is difficult to see how his appointment will benefit Australian (Association) football. Cheers, Paul Kent)"
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Go you Aussies!
( Chris Dunkerley c.1987 - my last season)
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