The 2016 Men’s PUMA F-League top-four teams were decided after East Coast beat Inner West 6-3, Magic edged North Canberra 5-3, while Boomerangs had a fruitful trip north beating Galaxy 3-1 and drawing 3-3 with South Brisbane.
Vic Vipers (27 points) are still in the box seat but have NSW-trio Dural (25), East Coast (25) and Inner West (22) breathing down their necks.
And the Golden Boot race has 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), North Canberra’s Brett Forward (11) and Heat’s Jordan Guerreiro (10) closeby.
East Coast Heat 6 (Jordan Guerreiro 3, Grant Lynch, Matthew Mazevski, Anthony Haddad) Inner West Magic 3 (Jonathan Barzel, Dean Lockhart, Daniel Fogarty)
North Canberra Untouchables 3 (Jason Farrell 2, Brett Forward) Inner West Magic 5 (Andre Caro Salve, Jonathan Barzel, Aaron Cimitile, Miles Downie, Dean Lockhart)
Galaxy FC 1 (Brett Richardson) Boomerangs FS 3 (Bradley Sawyer, Jonathan Ciminelli, Benjamin Basser-Silk)
South Brisbane 3 (Julian Edwards, James Verdin, Jordan Vieira) Boomerangs FS 3 (Benjamin Basser Silk, Daniel Giovinazzo, Bradley Sawyer)
Heat roast Magic
East Coast Heat secured a finals spot with a topsy-turvy 6-3 win against Inner West Magic at Valentine Sports Park on Friday night.
Heat got off to the perfect start with possibly the fastest goal in F-League history, moving the ball forward swiftly from the kickoff and Jordan Guerreiro’s sharp strike ricocheted between Magic keeper Angelo Konstantinou and the post before trickling across the line where Grant Lynch calmly tapped in with barely 10 seconds gone on the clock.
Inner West looked a little shell-shocked as they found themselves 3-0 down inside six minutes, firstly Guerreiro intercepted a loose pass deep into Magic’s half and thundered a shot past Konstantinou, and a minute later Anthony Haddad executed on a 3-on-2 breakaway forcing Magic to call a time-out and rest their focus.
After a few wise words from coach Steve Knight, Inner West climbed back into the game when Daniel Fogarty pegged a goal back on eight minutes following some neat Harry Bagot work and moments later it was game on when Jonathan Barzel pulled off a cheeky chip over Heat glovesman Peter Spathis.
Incredibly, parity was restored just before halftime when Dean Lockhart converted a sixth-foul penalty to give Inner West the ascendancy going into the break.
East Coast didn’t take long to wrestle the lead back when four minutes after the restart Guerreiro’s 8-yard blast had too much power for Robbie Maiorana (now in goal for Magic) and Heat were back in front – but both keepers Maiorana and Spathis were doing incredibly well to keep out raids at both ends of the court.
The breakthrough came on 33 minutes when Matt Mazevski’s shot found its way under Maiorana to put Heat 5-3 up and a long-range Guerreiro strike with Magic in powerplay sealed the win.
Inner West take North Canberra
Inner West Magic made the most of their Territory dash beating North Canberra Untouchables 5-3 at the AIS Training Halls on Saturday afternoon.
A tight 1-1 scoreline midway through the contest opened up in a free-for-all second half that ended with Inner West on top, Andre Caro Salve, Jonathan Barzel, Aaron Cimitile, Miles Downie and Dean Lockhart netting for crucial Magic goals in a tough victory.
Boomerangs upset Galaxy
Boomerangs FS pulled a swiftie on Galaxy FC following a shock 3-1 win at Eagles Sports Complex on Saturday evening.
The first 10 minutes was an even affair before Galaxy started to dominate possession, but things went against script in the 13th-minute when Boomerangs won a freekick just outside the penalty area, Brad Sawyer’s shot sneaking past everyone into goal for the opening strike.
Despite Galaxy’s weight of possession Boomerangs maintained a highly-organised and compact defensive structure that prevented the home side from scoring, the Territorian custodian particularly brilliant in making a number of great saves.
Galaxy employed a fifth-man play in the final minutes of the first half without reward and Boomerangs held their advantage to halftime.
The second half was more of the same, Galaxy pressing high and dominating possession with Boomerangs content to sit back and defend their slim lead.
Galaxy finally struck just past the half-hour mark when Tuan Cao chipped a cute ball into the penalty area and a swivelling Brett Richardson volleyed the ball on the full to restore parity, but Boomerangs hit straight back through Jonathan Cimineli to immediately reclaim the lead.
Galaxy pressed high with an effective fifth-man but had their finals hopes dashed when Boomerangs seized on a loose ball to give Benjamin Basser Silk the easiest of looks, dribbling toward an open goal and making no mistake in sealing a 3-1 win – their first against Galaxy and first cross-border success in 13 road-trips (going back to 2014).
Boomerangs, South Brisbane draw
South Brisbane and Boomerangs FS fought out a thrilling 3-3 draw at Eagles Sports Complex on Sunday morning.
The home team dominated the first half with a high percentage of possession and the only goal thanks to Julian Edwards’ 4th-minute conversion, Boomerangs coming close on several counter-attacks but unable to score at halftime.
The break favoured the visitors as they started the second half faster and stronger and levelled the scores through Ben Basser Silk who finished off a quick counter started by their keeper.
This set the tone for an intense and physical remainder as South Brisbane tried to regain their dominance but were denied by the Boomerangs who threw everything they gave back at them.
The Territorians gained the lead in an incredible counter when Daniel Giovinazzo slotted home while the South Brisbane bench were still sitting down from a half-celebration after the ball rebounded off the bottom of the crossbar and was saved 2-3 times by scrambling Boomerangs defence.
James Verdin drew South Brisbane level with a clean strike from the top of the D only for Boomerangs to steal the lead back again with a clean passing combination and strong tap-in in front of goal by Brad Sawyer.
Down a goal and only minutes to play South Brisbane resorted to the fifth-man powerplay and managed to snare a goal through Jordan Vieira to share the points.
This week’s games
This weekend’s 2016 Men’s F-League offers up a midweek Sydney-derby between Inner West Magic and East Coast Heat at Valentine Sports Park on Wednesday night (7.30pm), followed by another derby on Friday night between East Coast and Dural Warriors at Valentine Sports Park (8.15pm).
Boomerangs FS play Inner West at the AIS Training Halls on Saturday morning (10.30am) and Vipers tackle North Canberra Untouchables at Hoops 24/7 Indoor Sports Centre on Saturday afternoon (12.45pm). The Vics then host Dural at Hoops 24/7 on Sunday morning (11.45am).
Photo courtesy – Michael Reading