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Round 19 of the 98/99 EC Season - 7.30pm Friday 5th February, 1999
NEWCASTLE BREAKERS 1 (Owens 60) drew with SYDNEY OLYMPIC 1 (Juric 86) 0-0 at Breakers Stadium

Referee: J Blaney 7/10, Crowd: 4,055 Game rating: 7/10 Weather: Fine and overcast / cool. Field very heavy after rain this week..

Breakers: B Catlin, S Pryce, A Roberts, T McManus, R Shannon, P Ritchie, M Wilson (Yoon 94), J Buonavoglia, B Wieczorek, G Owens (Umlil 73), T Haythornthwaite (Sanderson 62) Bench: S Yoon, F Umlil, A Sanderson (62).
Olympic: G Bouhoutsos, S Thomas, J Culina, P Cardozo, B Emerton, M Brennan (Augerinos), A Juric, A Cervinski (Tome), S Baillie, M Durakovic, M Blagojevic (Kalantzis). Bench: N Tome, C Kalantzis, E Augerinos.

For the first 5 mins it was a scrappy affair with obvious deep defence by the Breakers. The very heavy pitch had been kept long and according to the Optus team the sidelines brought in. This was mostly to slow Olympic down and crowd their width. It was working. There were two attacks in the first 10 mins from Olympic which breached the defence and these were innefective, and still Newcastle handn't mounted one attack. Then they slowly pushed up and in a breakaway they earned a free kick outside the area. Pryce took it quickly before the wall was back and the referee yellow carded him as he had not indicated play to start. With the YC for Catlin for interfering with Juric after the goal (Which one was trying to re-start play hmmm..?) the only real blemish in rookie Blaney's steady but tentative night. The free kick didn't have the desired effect (except that the Rowdies started to be heard). By 15 mins the Breakers counter attacks started to look dangerous - with a flick from Ritchie to Owens leading to a clearance by SO and then Owens with his trademark mid-range strike which was a scorcher on target and well saved by Bouhoutsos.

The mid period saw pressing attacks by Olympic which were broken down or diverted by the very disciplined Breakers formation - Baillie, Culina, and Cervinski getting shots. In breakaways Buonovaglia was causing problems (including one free kick call overlooked) and 'Witchy' was almost in. Owens has two more strikes. Toward the end Olympic are still on top dropping their heads a bit with all their strikers and midfielders being picked up well, and Cervinski and Durakovic limping. This is not pretty football but boy it is absorbing as the two coaches spar with each other, using the players like chess pieces. The half close with Thomas in the box but stopped by McManus and Emerton and Cardozo missing.

At the half time break it looked like Olympic would have to change something and Newcastle had to decide whether they were going to go for the points. It would seem that Branko Culina changed his team's shape with Thomas and Juric going up, and Sterrey kept things as they were but asked his players to push up a little.

Distracted from play by a phone call I lost some of this half ... sorry! After a good chance to Emerton Newcastle attacked up the left with Witchy putting a great cross to Buonovaglia which was cleared by SO but fell to Owens just inside the area, who hit another of those volleys into the right hand side of the goal. 1-0 !! Could Breakers hold out? Olympic seem to be getting better penetration, esp. by Juric and Cardozo and Emerton both hit wide. Little Johnny B scythes through the Olympic defence like butter again and Sanderson forces a save from Bouhoutsos. Thus sparks SO and in the 86th min Juric takes a sweat strike which clears Catlin and it's 1-1. Olympic foray a few times but its them who settle for the points and its Newcastle who push forward (seeking an outside chance of a top 6 spot) but its all neutralised and the score remains 1-1.

Sydney Olympic did not like the slow pitch and they lacked the fire of recent games, and Newcastle were well drilled and disciplned. Not great football but we Newcastle fans can applaud our coach for his hard work and scheming.

Best: NB - Buonovaglia, Owens, and Weiczorek. SO - Juric, Bouhoutsos, Thomas. Cards: YC Pryce, Catlin, Juric Chris Dunkerley

Round 18 of the 98/99 EC Season - 5.00pm Sunday 31st January, 1999
PERTH GLORY 0 lost to NEWCASTLE BREAKERS 1 (Buonovaglia 16m) at Perth Oval

Referee: P Mur ; Crowd: 10,464. Game rating ?. Best: ? Opinion: ? Apparently Breakers withstood non-stop pressure to get away with another win over Glory. We are now in 10th position again. Well done after last week lads!

Round 17 of the 98/99 EC Season - 7.00pm Tuesday 26nd January, 1999

Referee: B Panella ; Crowd: 1,726. Game rating ?. Best: ? Opinion: ? That ends the Breakers realistic chance of a top 6 spot. Building time!

Round 16 of the 98/99 EC Season - 7.30pm Frid 22nd January, 1999
NEWCASTLE BREAKERS 0 lost to SYDNEY UNITED 1 at Breakers Stadium

Round 15 of the 98/99 EC Season (end of first half season ) - 8.00pm Frid 15th January, 1999
NEWCASTLE BREAKERS 1 Buonovaglia (75mins) defeated BRISBANE STRIKERS 0 at Breakers Stadium

Referee: G Leverton Crowd: 4,563. Game rating n/k. Best: Catlin, Pryce, Shannon. Opinion: [Awaiting reports]

Round 14 of the 98/99 EC Season (end of first half season ) - 7.40pm Frid 8th January, 1999
at North Sydney Oval

Referee: J Tippett 6/10; Crowd: 13,612; Game rating 7/10
Newcastle - Catlin, McManus, Sprod, Pryce, Roberts, Ritchie, Wilson, Shannon, Umlil, Buonavaglia, Yoon. Bench: Tancheski, Haythornthwaite, Sanderson.
Spirit - Henderson, Enes, Casserly, Moss, Langdon, Slater, Marusic, Mendez, Wearne, Zane, Watkins. Bench: Cunico, Bosnar, Snyder

For the 3rd time this season we didn't need to motor up the M3 but just a short drive from our home in Epping (in Sydney's north) down to North Sydney Oval. It is just as well for the M3 was a nightmare - a major accident delaying the team bus into a four hour trip (a beer truck crashed - its a wonder the rowdies & flouros went past it :-)). The game started only 10 mins late in front of a large crowd containing perhaps 250 Breakers fans. Some friendly fraternisation between Breakers and Spirit fans occurred as familiar faces were spied, but once the game started the singing was in ernest. Being both Breakers and Spirit fans I and my family had a crisis of identity - I went (of course) wholly Breakers, my kids a bit mixed up, but we sat with a small group of Rowdies and Flouros and some other fans.

The Spirit came into the match with high hopes after their away win at the Sharks, despite three key suspensions in the defence, but suffered another blow on the Thursday when Ian Crook was injured. Breakers with 5 game without defeat in 6 were confident they could get something away in the intimidating Spirit den.

The game started at a tough pace with the Breakers showing real fatigue from their slow trip and a degree of nervousness. Spirit played perhaps their best spell all year and used all of the park, with Roberts on Casserly having a hard time and Sprod on Marusic really up against it. Marusic in particular cut through the defence repeatedly to set up his colleagues, only to have Pryce and McManus clear shakily. Pryce in particular looked pretty out of sorts with the trip and his niggling injury but was effective nonetheless. In wasn't all Spirit as Buonavaglia was giving his marker an equally hard time and Yoon started strongly. If anything it was the Breakers midfield that was buckling, with Wilson and Umlil shaky. For perhaps 35-40 mins Spirit applied pressure but the Breakers lads covered each time, then suddenly Spirit seemed to drop off and Newcastle seized the opportunity. Umlil hit one which went cm over from long range.

In the second half it was much different with Newcastle gradually getting into the game and even for the last 10 mins on top. Robbie Slater had been everywhere playing out from defence but Rob Shannon had a great time dueling with him as Breakers pushed out and launched counter-attacks. Buonavaglia continued in his fine overall play and had a number of shots but Yoon and Umlil's games fell right off and we lacked the fire power as usual. Haythornthwaite and Tancheski came on but played withdrawn, and Chris was very lucky to avoid a penalty when he brought down Langdon in extra time. One apparent Newcastle supporter kept the crowd amused as he took a beer shower from the Bob Stand and then after mooning the crowd was chased by a loony that every team seems to have. The rest of us kept a respectful distance.

We could have snatched a victory despite Spirit's early dominance, however a draw was a good & fair result for the determined Breakers - not so hot for the improving Spirit. For Spirit Clacka Zane had one good chance but was subbed late in the game and Spirit seem even worse off for fire power that Newcastle.

Best: Spirit - Marusic, Slater, and Enes
Breakers - Shannon, Catlin, Buonavaglia
Report by: Chris Dunkerley

Sorry ... no reports for Rounds 10 to 13!

Round 9 of the 98/99 EC Season - 7.40pm Frid 4th December, 1999
at Breakers Stadium

Crowd: 3,637 (disappointing) Referee: Greg Leverton 5/10, Game rating: 8/10 Scorers: NB - Shannon 54mins, Owens 76, 92; PG - Despotovski 9mins, Markovski 77.

Teams: NB - B Catlin, S Pryce, T McManus, G Sprod (Owens 74), A Roberts, R Shannon, P Ritchie, M Wilson, J Buonavoglia, F Umlil (Wieczorek) , S Yoon ; Bench: B Wieczorek, G Owens, J Maguire; PG Squad - T Franken, J Harnwell, G Wilkinson, G Naven, S Miller, T Halpin, P Strudwick, B Despotovski, J Markovski, M Garcia, C Boutsianis, V Kalogeracos, D Hay, J Carbone.

Another trip up to Newcastle on a Friday night, all these kms / threat of rain, is it worth it? Well this time I had the company of two Glory supporters (recently moved over east) and was recognised and greeted effusively as I entered the ground by a couple of ladies I sat with last week at Belmore, the NYL were winning - so I was in good spirits. This was tempered by the expectation of a thumping from Glory and the half-time run for the Rowdies Steve Bradbury had put me down for. Perth must have been favoured as runaway leaders despite the sweeper Buljabasic being out & even though the Breakers had been showing big commitment against sides over the past few weeks. My report is short as I took no notes & spent time getting kitted up and down from the Rowdies match.

The game started at a good pace which it was to continue in, and over the first 15 mins Breakers showed that they were able to push Glory back and pressure well, and Glory that Markovski (free kick saved by Catlin) and Despotovski (goal taken off a sweet cross in the box, 0-1) are not to be given any latitiude. The goal sparked Breakers and began a period when Perth were almost pinned in their half. It wasn't pretty stuff, hard grafting and running, and lots of wasted ball - but it was taking it's toll on Glory's confidence. Despite this the Perth defence was holding firm with Gavin Wilkinson and Danny Hay making their presence felt (particularly on little Johnny Bounovaglia). The midfield battle between former Breakers Troy Halpin and Andy Roberts was a highlight. My companions were not happy however at half-time.

The Rowdies v media game at half-time was won easily by the Rowdies despite giving about a decade in average age to the media (1-0). The park surface is fantastic but I had forgotten after 11 years retirement how much running a midfielder does.

The second half started as the second had ended but I am afraid I was in an oxygen deficient state for 10 mins and in the change rooms when Shannon neatly placed a side foot past Franken and a defender off a nice cross from Yoon, 1-1. The battle raged up and down the park, and although not pretty to watch it was exciting, with Newcastle showing heaps of commitment and following a Lee Sterrey plan to a T. Perth seemed to be holding back but was this an elusion. At 74mins Sterrey makes a change which was to take the match for him. Surprisingly taking off Glenn Sprod, he brought on Greg Owens (last year in NYL). The ball goes up the left flank and Perth try to clear but it skews back into the middle where a running Owens brings the ball into contention and wacks a sweet volley from 25m into the net past a static Franken. I had just returned to 'my post' after running to the fence in celebration when up steps big John Markovski and whips in one of his flicks to beat Catlin at the near post, 2-2. After this Perth didn't seem to be able to lift a gear and go on with it (jet lag / travel stiffness?) and the Breakers sensing a chance here never gave up. As we entered the reasonable amount of extra time, it looked like a draw would be a great result for Newcastle. Strike me lucky but again a ball flies out from the Perth area and from 30m Owens hits it as it drops and it sails into the top left hand corner of the net! Pandemonium at Breakers stadium as the last 2 mins roll out leaving a shattered couple of Perth fans and thousands of smiling Breakers fans, and an over the moon team. Bring on Carlton!

Great if not beatiful game, with lots of excitment. Best for Breakers: Pryce, Roberets, Shannon; with a special award to 17yr old Greg Owens for two of the sweetest long range goals you'll see. perhaps we should bring up a few more YL, who BTW won 1-0 over Sydney United Colts to stay on top of the table. Best for Perth: Wilkinson, Hay, Miller.

Round 8 of the 98/99 EC Season - 6.00pm Sunday 29th November, 1999
at Belmore Sports Ground;

Scorers: SO Cardozo 27mins, Thomas 44mins; NB Umlil 88mins; Referee: Jeff Tippett 6/10, Crowd: 5,015 Game rating: 7/10

Teams: Breakers - Catlin, McManus, Pryce, Roberts, Sprod, Ritchie, Wilson, Shannon, Umlil, Weiczorek, Buonovaglia Subs: Yoon, Tancheski, Owens; Olympic - Bouhoutsos, Thomas, Tsekenis, Durakovic, Emerton, Juric, Augerinos, Brennan, Culina, Cardozo, Tome

On a fine and mild evening at Belmore I entered the ground to find new programmes on sale of quite a good standard but after getting ripped off for food and drink, I made my way to the stand to find a small group of Breakers supporters (but none of the Rowdie variety - all in Newcastle getting ready for their game v. The Media next Friday night during the Glory match). I managed to catch 1/2 hour of the NYL match.

When the teams took the field I noted that Sterrey had kept the team which did well against Marconi last week and Culina had made more changes. The inclusion of Durakovic (as sweeper) for his second game and Bouhoutsos in goal were notable too.

The first half started slowly with Sydney Olympic pushing up early but their reputation for a physical game continues as they reacted to Breakers raids. Emerton / Tome / and Cardozo were interchanging up front and causing problems so it wasn't until the 12th min that the Breakers made it into the area. Over the next 15 mins there was just one chance at both ends as the midfield battle raged. Buonovaglia laboured up front with no support, but the Breakers were quite well holding their own. Olympic's frustration at this was evident by the first yellow, given to Brennan for a wild tackle on Sprod. Slowly the complexion changed and in the last 10 of the first half Olympic gradually got on top. Firstly Durakovic pushes up and his glanced header finds Cardozo with Catlin off his line - shot, goal: 1-0. Breakers try to rally but McManus loses the ball in a tackle and there's Scotty Thomas to bang in a goal against his old club. 2-0. The whistle finds some very quiet Breakers supporters and I relay the bad news to Rui Melo when he rings.

The second half has an entirely different ambience. Even at 52 mins the Breakers are clearly livelier and the inclusion of Tancheski adds some bite. A long range free kick from Pryce sees Bouhousos spill it and luckily gather again. The Breakers push up but there are still only pop guns where cannons are required. By 78 mins Olympic are reduced to a series of speculative shots from long range. It seems that rather than go on with it they realised they need to defend the lead. The only real chance is when Emerton misses a sitter under pressure from Catlin. The Breakers continue to pressure, now with more men forward. The Olympic crowd are getting very vocal about the refereeing and the number of free kicks going to the Breakers way. Tough! Eventually the pressure pays off and as a ball is cleared it falls to Freddy Umlil's head and he sends it screaming into the net past the Olympic keeper. Unlike the game 2 seasons ago the Breakers can't pull it back to 2-2, and it runs out as a win to Olympic - made in a 15 min spell in the first half. The Breakers fans enjoyed the 2nd half, and the boys were not disgraced - but you can't stay in the EC on smiles and pride alone!

Best for the Breakers - hard one. I will think about that as it was a team performance.

BTW The NYL game ended Olympic YL 0 v. Breakers YL 3 (scorers Mansley, Bauer, Sanderson). That puts the Breakers back on top, one point clear of Spirit YL. who also won yesterday. Excellent!

Round 7 of the 98/99 EC Season - 6.00pm Sunday 22nd November, 1999
at Breakers Stadium

Goals: Wilson NB 3rd min, S Babic MF 8th, og. Andy Roberts 78th; Crowd: 3,323 Referee: Mathew Breeze 6/10 Game: 7/10

Breakers team: Catlin, McManus, Sprod, Pryce, Ritchie, Roberts, Wilson, Shannon, Umlil, Wieczorek, Buonavoglia Marconi: ask Ross Musso! :-)

The crowd was a little disappointing given the opposition, however with the game washed out on Friday and the limited publicity (and the dark clouds & lightning before the game) it was fair. Travelled up in an 80mins run, with my two junior Rowdies; and meeting up with Steve Bradbury and Rui Melo we watched the last 15 minutes of the NYL - A 1-1 draw. Breakers keep top spot.

To the firsts game. Marconi should have been confident, sitting 9 points above the Breakers but the past few seasons have seen Marconi go away dissapointed. It was obvious straight from the kick off that Sterrey had orchestrated some play to counteract Marconi so as to catch them out. It worked as the Breakers were on top for the first 15-20 mins with Mark Wilson sinking a beautiful strike after 3. Rui had just asked me what I reckoned the score would be: "1-4" I said (Oh ye of little faith!) "Well that's the one!" Gradually Marconi adjusted and Sean Babic took a great header to totally send Catlin sprawling the wrong way, to even the scores only 8 mins in. Nevertheless the first half would have been Newcastle's on points with Covic looking shakier than Catlin and Freddy Umlil's header seeming to somehow strike the inside of the upright and then bounce out (fans see strange things). Probably the best half I've seen from the Breakers in the 4 games I've seen this season, with Catlin dominant and the defence solid.

The Rowdies were small in number and strangely quiet however as the second half unfolded it was, hope being eternal, getting possible that Newcastle would hold onto the draw, despite Marconi's growing upper hand. What had been interesting was that after the first few mins, when I was yelling "someone pick up Maloney", Sterrey had Roberts doing a superb job on him. The problem is then you can sub Trajanovski on and he doesn't get picked up right away! Just when I felt they could do it Roberts, under pressure from Maloney, doesn't rely on Catlin but pokes his boot at the ball and sends an own goal past Bobby's outstretched fingers! Arrgggh! The Breakers to their credit did try to pull the goal back but were just unequal to the task, although 17yr Chris Tancheski provided some life and a great header from little Johnny had us hoping.

Marconi were perhaps lucky to go down the M3 with the points to hold 2nd spot, whereas the Breakers wallow at 14th again. Chairman Collins stated to a few Rowdies after the game - we need 3 or 4 quality players but how do we pay for them?" Not by selling the the stadium idiot! Best for Breakers: Catlin, Roberts, Pryce

Round 2 of the 98/99 EC Season - 8.00pm Frid 16th October, 1999
at Breakers Stadium

Goals: B Wieczorek 3min, S C Yoon 74min, P Buljan (pen) 81st min.; Referee: Con"The Card" Diomis 6/10; Crowd: 4,883 ; Game rating 6/10

After the meritable draw v. Sydney United away last week the Breakers fans were curious to see their rebuilt team in action and assess the years prospects. Any Canberra fans who drove up (like we Sydney Breakers fans) endured a very slow trip with the hope of seeing their team show greater flowering of Coach Rasic's planning. Breakers fans were happy with the NYL team's 5-2 demolition

Due to illness my report is a potted one. The usual tentative probing and bussling went on the and it was a bit unsettling for the Breakers to score after 3mins through recruit Brad Wieczorek as NB stretched the defence and drew Knezevic. For the rest of the half their was little sign of a goal as any pressure that came on Catlin he handled easily, steadying his side, and because the Breakers had little variation or penetration up front.

The second half looked to be a continuation. It was noticeable how well Canberra were structuring themselves across the park and always knew where to pass. Only Peter Buljan seemed to be getting himself into shooting positions. Young Burt (4) was looking impressive at sorting out Newcastle's attacks. For Newcastle Catlin again steadied his team and Shannon was more active and mobile. The defence was less tight that last week and too much possession and space was given to Canberra at the edge of the area.

Newcastle lucky with the win, perhaps a draw a fairer result, but that's what Catlin was bought for.

Round 1 of the 98/99 EC Season - 5.00pm Sunday 11th October, 1999
at King Tomislav Stadium, Edensor Park

Scorers: SU - 38 mins Mile Sterjovski (sp?), NB - 58 mins John Buonovoglia; Referee: ? 7/10, Crowd: 6,221 Game: 7/10

NB Team: 1. Bob Catlin, 2. Shane Pryce, 4. Adam Sanderson, 5. Todd McManus, 6. Glenn Sprod, 13. Brad Wieczorek, 17. Robert Shannon, 18. Tom Haythornthwaite, 10. John Buonovoglia, 12. 'Freddy' Umlil, 11. Andrew Borghetto.

We (daughter Lowenna and I) got to King Tom with 10 mins to spare to be confronted by nearly 1,000 people queuing to get in the two turnstiles open. By the time we got a seat the game was 8 mins old and we had parted with the price of 2 adult reseved seat tickets (the only ones being sold by the staff moving through the crowd)! We only saw 2 Breakers fans in the crush so when we got in we took some terrace seating. Poor organisation - perhaps to give you more time to buy Croation music tapes on the way in!

The two teams were both looking different from last season, especially the SU defence without Rudan, Bilokapic, and worse the Breakers had only three regulars from last year on starting on the park (Pryce, McManus, and Sprod), plus Freddy Umlil. They looked to be tentative and were on the backfoot when we arrived and for some time after. Sydney United were looking better organised and with better controlled passing. Catlin had one scare and then Tom Hayth. had a great chance but fluffed it as he did another in the 2nd half. Sydney United were definitely on top and it was no surprise when in the 38th min they again got extra men up and Mile Sterjovski (sp?) slotted home from the right past an outstretched Catlin. Although stunned the Breakers actually were sparked by this and slowly got back into the match, with ex NSW SL Leichhardt Tiger John Buonovaglia being given some space as SU pushed up for the kill desired by the good crowd (I wonder about SU arithmetic though! ;-))

After half-time the game was pretty even for the first 30 mins and the game became a tense tussle in the midfield. It was on one of the diminutive Buonovoglia's tricky runs that brought fruit as he slotted the ball home despite tight marking. Mark Wilson came on for Hayth. at 60 mins and added better balance to the Breakers. For the rest of the half SU tried to lift the game and gave Bob Catlin a few moments of concentration which were weathered without incident. A serious injury saw Andrew Borghetto stretchered off at 85 mins being replaced by young Chris Tancheski and at 90 mins Andy Roberts came on for Adam Sanderson to steady the last few moments.

Overall a deserved draw for this was a Breakers side with less class than that of 96/97 but far more tenacity and a steadier defence than last years side. Best for Newcastle: Pryce, Catlin, Buonovaglia, with mentions for Umlil and Sprod. The new wee striker Johnny did quite well and knows where the goal is; he even had a small Italian 'cheer' squad behind us in the crowd. Aging Scot and Hibernians reject Robert Shannon looked very short of a run and not quite fitting in yet but held down the defensive centre midfield with clear experience. Pryce showed he has the shoulders for Captain and Catlin was commanding in the box. In short a good point to get away and an encouraging if not star packed first game.

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