The 2016 Men’s PUMA F-League closed up after Inner West brought down Dural 3-2 before Warriors won both games in Queensland, East Coast winning both ACT runs, while the local derbies fell to North Canberra 3-1 over Boomerangs and Galaxy FC 3-2 against South Brisbane.

The leaderboard has Vic Vipers (27 points) in prime position being chased by Dural (25), East Coast (22) and Inner West (19), with Galaxy (17) not quite out of the playoff equation.

The Golden Boot shows Vipers star Adam Cooper (15 goals) joined by South Brisbane’s Adam Stacey (15) and Warriors gun Wade Giovenali (15), with Galaxy’s Samim Rohani (12) and North Canberra’s Brett Forward (10) still in with a shot at the accolade.

AND … in the midst of an intriguing F-League season a guard of honour must go to a valiant Vic Vipers legion led by Futsal stalwart Garry Liakoureas, who pioneered Australia’s first-ever Asian club championship point in Bangkok, Thailand, last week.

After going goal-for-goal with heavy tournament favourites Chonburi Blue Wave in their opening fixture, three late Thai goals buried Vipers 6-3.

While there’s plenty to say about the Vics’ heroics in that match there’s few superlatives left for their game-two response after coming from behind to lead Futsal powerhouse Nagoya Oceans 2-1 (the competition’s most successful club) when a second Japanese goal forced a gut-wrenching 2-2 draw on the Aussies – a win (or one less goal conceded to Chonburi, or one more scored by Chonburi against Nagoya) would’ve put Vipers into an unprecedented quarterfinals.

To put the results in further perspective, Nagoya went on to claim their third continental title in just seven editions via a penalty shootout win over Irani side Naft Al-Wasat, while Chonburi finished the competition third.

So it’s massive congratulations to the Vics! Their achievements certainly stem from competing in a robust national F-League, but the fact Aussie teams seem more in step with Asia’s elite is salivating for this country’s Futsal future. Send messages to Vipers via Facebook ‘Vic Vipers Futsal Club’ or email info@vicfutsal.net.

It must also be noted that Aussies Ryan Shepheard and Scott Kidson refereed at the tournament – only Japan had as many invited officials. Shepheard was also handed the whistle for an epic trophy match that saw Nagoya equalise in the last minute of regular time and extra-time before winning a tense shootout 6-5.

 

North Canberra Untouchables 3 (Ryan Tredinnick 2, Michael Sydney) Boomerangs FS 1 (Bradley Sawyer)

Inner West Magic 3 (Mark Symington, Aaron Cimitile, Daniel Fogarty) Dural Warriors 2 (Bruno Pivato, Wade Giovenali)

Boomerangs FS 3 (Daniel Giovinazzo, Bradley Sawyer, Jake Wilsener) East Coast Heat 4 (Matthew Mazevski 2, Daniel Fulton, Jun Arima)

North Canberra Untouchables 4 (Ryan Tredinnick, Ben Rolfe, Brett Forward 2) East Coast Heat 9 (Dominic Cox 3, Daniel Fulton, Jordan Guerreiro, Andrew Luttringer 2, Clayton Musumeci 2)

Galaxy FC 4 (Samim Rohani 2, Adam Finocchiaro, Lucas Da Silva) Dural Warriors 8 (Chris Polkinghorne 2, Wade Giovenali 2, Daine Merrin 2, Jacob Basen, Glen Kelshaw)

South Brisbane 2 (Caleb Urlich, Brian Quan) Galaxy FC 3 (Vinicius Leite, Samim Rohani, Scott Fenn)

South Brisbane 4 (Adam Stacey 2, Brian Quan, Adric Armstrong-Smith) Dural Warriors 6 (Yoto Motomu 2, Daine Merrin, Glen Kelshaw, Wade Giovenalli 2)

 

Untouchables better Boomerangs

North Canberra Untouchables moved in on neighbours Boomerangs FS with a spirited 3-1 victory at the AIS Training Halls on Friday night.

The ‘battle for the capital’ was always going to be a fierce contest between the respective clubs and with finals hopes out of the picture, it was all for pride and bragging rights.

After Boomerangs claimed the first match of the season 4-2 Untouchables were desperate to peg one back and showed their desperation coming out firing in the opening half.

Both teams showed some penetrating attack, only bettered by some outstanding goalkeeping at both ends to keep the scores level, but with halftime approaching North Canberra’s Jason Farrell teamed up with a calmly-finished Ryan Tredinnick shot for the opening goal and 1-0 lead at oranges.

The second half began in similar fashion as both keepers continued to stop everything coming their way until a ball played into space for an oncoming Michael Sydney run down the line and he rounded the keeper to slot away a second Untouchables goal to break the game open.

North Canberra scored a third moments later to give Tredinnick a brace for the night and provide a much-need buffer as Boomerangs pushed to a fifth-man press and found a consolation goal through Bradley Sawyer.

 

Magic outmuscle Warriors

Inner West Magic caused a boilover in a crafty 3-2 win against Futsal Goliaths Dural Warriors at a packed Sydney’s Valentine Sports Park on Friday night.

Bruno Pivato cancelled out Mark Symington’s early strike for Inner West to head into the changerooms locked at one-apiece, Aaron Cimitile and Daniel Fogarty goals underlining Magic’s push for victory up 3-1 with five minutes to play.

Wade Giovenali’s 37th-minute goal made for a nerve-wracking finish for the hundreds of spectators but Dural couldn’t find an equaliser leaving Inner West to take the honours in a scintillating F-League fixture – Magic’s first win against Warriors at a national level.

In one of the most intense and exciting games of Futsal ever, 11 Futsalroos were on show in the high-quality match, Magic opening the scoring via Symington after an excellent Fogarty pass.

Dural began to pepper the Inner West goal with solid attempts from Giovenali brothers Greg and Wade, Blake Rosier and Japanese import Motomu Koto but Magic glovesman Roberto Maiorana was brilliant in goals making numerous saves with his feet – and every time one team had a shot saved within seconds the ball was down the other side of the court with an opportunity for the other side.

Inner West had great chances fall to Symington, Fogarty and Lockhart with Dural custodian Nicholas Starr on his game repelling the swelling attacks.

Warriors finally got their equaliser through Bruno Pivato and the finely-balanced game entered halftime at 1-1 after Magic failed to convert a 3-on-1 opportunity near the buzzer.

Inner West opened the second half better and Cimitile got the scoreboard clicking with a successful strike minutes after the restart, the combination of Symington and Fogarty causing havoc in the Dural defence havoc while the strength of Rosier was allowing Dural to also fire shots off at the other end – Angelo Konstantinou (now in goal for Magic) excellent in a double-stop to deny Wade Giovenali and Daine Merrin in front of goal.

With eight minutes remaining and Warriors unable to break the resolute Inner West defence Dural went to a powerplay but still couldn’t muster a good chance, Fogarty stealing the ball mid-court to place the ball into an unguarded net from an acute angle and give the ‘men in black’ a two-goal buffer five minutes from fulltime.

Warriors had plenty of possession but couldn’t find a breakthrough until Wade Giovenali scored with three minutes to go and set up a grandstand finish, but the Magic defence remained resolute to secure an extremely important 3-2 victory.

For Inner West Danny Martinez, now renown for his defensive duties, was exceptional as was partner-in-crime Symington, while Lockhart and Fogarty led from the front superbly, Maiorana and Konstantinou also proving why they’re among this country’s top keepers with outstanding performances. Dural superstar Greg Giovenali was again a standout for his team, ably assisted by brother Wade and Warriors captain Merrin.

In all, a brilliant game of Futsal kept both sets of supporters and the many neutrals in attendance enthralled for every second.

 

Heat burn Boomerangs

East Coast Heat had to stave off a brave Boomerangs FS 4-3 at the AIS Training Halls on Saturday afternoon.

It was 1-1 midway through the contest and little separated the sides in a tit-for-tat second half, East Coast snaring the points behind a Matt Mazevski brace.

Heat faced a chilly reception in the capital as a feisty young Canberra outfit took the game right to them, perhaps inspired by the ‘Green Machine’ Canberra Raiders NRL-side warming up just a few hundred metres away.

Both sides spent much of the first half using their rotations and performing structured training drills almost to perfection – finishing off in front of goal the only bit not being executed well – and it took until the 16th-minute for the scorer to lift their pen and mark a goal against Heat’s Mazevski, Jake Wilsener replying for the home team not 60 seconds later.

After the break both outfits were clearly under instruction to get more shots off (and on-target) and put the defensive lines under a bit more pressure, Boomerangs breaking the second-stanza deadlock when an on-fire Brad Sawyer slotted past Heat custodian Conor Irwin.

Sawyer again led a strong front court offensive not two minutes later with a strong shot fended away by Irwin, only for the parry to be mopped up by a prowling Daniel Giovinazzo. The young Boomerangs were growing in confidence on the back of a 3-1 lead with just over a quarter of the match to play.

Jun Arima grabbed one back for the Heat on the half-hour helping the visitors wrestle back the match momentum by halving the deficit, and an infringement inside the defensive D by Boomerangs saw Mazevski net his second and level the scores at 3-3 with less than five minutes to play.

Incredibly, former Boomerang Daniel Fulton – who had been off-target all match – was left isolated on an offensive foray and slammed home Heat’s fourth into the top-corner to give East Coast the lead three minutes from the end.

In a last-ditch, all-out effort Boomerangs ran a fifth-man powerplay with specialist fly ‘keeper Nick van Aalst spent most of the closing minutes shadowing his opposite number Irwin, but Heat’s defence held up under enormous pressure to consolidate a top-three position.

 

East Coast Heat North Canberra Untouchables

A second-half East Coast storm overcame a persistent North Canberra Untouchables 9-4 at the AIS Training Halls on Saturday afternoon.

Heat trailed 2-3 at the changeover before unleashing a seven-goal second-half that brought East Coast home, Dominic Cox completing his first F-League hat-trick and Andrew Luttringer and Clayton Musumeci collecting doubles.

 

Galaxy edge South Brisbane

Galaxy FC worked hard to force a 3-2 defeat on South Brisbane in the second Queensland-derby at Weedon Street Sporting Complex on Saturday afternoon.

It only took four minutes for Galaxy to show their dominance when statesman Vinni Leite put one on the scoreboard from the top of the area to finish off some good build-up play, and the score stayed locked at 1-0 as both teams created many opportunities but failed to add to the first-half total.

South Brisbane were first to score after the break when Caleb Urlich put a solid strike away to even the scores, and soon after Samim Rohani took advantage of some lazy defence with a classy back-heal to beat the last defender and keeper to put Galaxy back in front.

South Brisbane responded once more through Brian Quan’s sharp finish, and with the game poised at 2-2 and only a few minutes left on the clock Galaxy reaped the rewards of a courageous powerplay when Scott Fenn scored to secure a 3-2 derby victory – the third one-goal margin in four Queensland affairs.

South Brisbane’s Urlich and Galaxy counterpart Fenn certainly lap up the cross-town contests, both have scored in all four meetings – Urlich bagging seven goals all up to Fenn’s six.

 

Warriors cover Galaxy

Dural Warriors toiled hard to defeat a gallant Galaxy FC 8-4 at Logan Metro Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon.

The visitors held onto a tender 3-2 halftime lead and put Galaxy to the sword in the second term, Chris Polkinghorne, Wade Giovenali and Daine Merrin finishing with pairs.

 

Dural defeat South Brisbane

South Brisbane gave Dural Warriors a good run for their money before eventually succumbing 5-3 at Logan Metro Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon.

The home side did everything in their power to cause an upset and were first to put points on the board when Adam Stacey finished off a super-accurate full-court throw.

Dural responded quickly through Greg Giovenali who finished off a swift play on the far post before Motomu Koto put away two goals in quick succession – the first from a well-executed counter attack and the second capitalising on a defensive error – the Warriors advantage extending to 5-1 with a set-corner finish and some individual Greg Giovenali brilliance.

South Brisbane stayed positive during the Dural onslaught and turned the goalscoring flow before the break through an excellent Brian Quan strike to end some good build-up play, and Adric Armstrong-Smith started and finished his own individual piece to trail Warriors by two at halftime.

The Queenslanders started the second period just as well and put a fourth goal on the board through Stacey to bring South Brisbane one goal behind Dural and with momentum in their hands.

An experienced Dural were having nothing of it and restored their two-goal margin before the final whistle when Daine Merrin found the net on the back of a clinical team movement to complete the scoring with Warriors 6-4 in front – the double Queensland swing taking Dural into second place.

 

This week’s games

This weekend’s 2016 Men’s F-League features a Friday night Sydney derby between East Coast Heat and Inner West Magic at Valentine Sports Park (7.30pm), Inner West heading to the territory to meet North Canberra Untouchables at the AIS Training Halls on Saturday afternoon (12pm). Boomerangs FS travel north to face Galaxy FC at Eagles Sports Complex on Saturday evening (6.30pm) before a Sunday morning fixture at the same venue against South Brisbane (10.45am).