2018-2019 SFL Round 24 wrap-up5 min read
Friday night lights at the Pro Futsal Centre in Bibra Lake, and round 24 of the Nike State Futsal League commenced with the match of the round with high-flying Cokburn EWA FC taking on the in-form Murdoch Warriors FC. And what an exhibition of futsal both sides put on, with Murdoch surprising the defending champions with a commanding 6-2 victory. Murdoch have been solid in defence and lethal in their speedy counter-attacks. They picked off EWA time & again, with Meysam Kanani scoring a brace (to take his season tally to 13 goals in 24 matches). Cockburn threw everything at them late on, evening going 5th man, at which point Murdoch goalkeeper Danial Forbes staked his claims for man-of-the-match honours for 2 outstanding goals from distance and a multitude of saves. A notable mention to Alex Gamble as well for his 2 goals for Cockburn (taking his season tally to 26 goals in only 21 matches).
A weekend that would prove to be full of surprises continued with Joondalup ECU Jets drawing 4-4 with Perth Longobarda FC in an exhilarating match. In a seesawing, ECU led until the final seconds of the match when the experienced Longobarda went 5th match and scored the equaliser in the dying seconds. Credit to Cristiano Dos Santos for his 2 goals, to take his season tally to 11 goals in 23 matches.
The final match of the evening saw another riveting 8 goal affair between South Perth FC and Spearwood Lions FC end with a 5-3 victory to the Lions. Spearwood took the lead time & again and South Perth kept coming back. In a highly charged match with yellow & red cards, Ali Alenezi took the honours for Spearwood with a brace of goals in only his 2nd match for the club.
The upsets continued on Saturday with Stirling Braza Ginga FC scrambling a 4-4 draw with Balga FC. Despite leading 3-1 at half-time and looking comfortable, Braza struggled with Balga’s rejuvenated high pressing game in the 2nd half and found themselves trailing 4-3. Late in the match Braza employed the 5th man tactic and scored in the last minute to secured the draw. Credit to Balga for their extraordinary 2nd half performance and to man-of-the-match Gideon Servatius for his exhilarating hattrick. He now has 14 goals in 14 matches this season.
The high pressure match of the weekend was the tussle between Fremantle FC (5th) and Curtin Footballista FC (6th) who started the weekend looking over their shoulders at the fast approaching Murdoch Warriors. Murdoch, with their victory over table-topping Cockburn on Friday night, had overtaken both those sides to jump into the Top 6. Both teams knew that the loser would end the weekend outside of that coveted Top 6 position. Thus the pressure, which seemed to weigh Footballista down more than Fremantle, who jumped out of the blocks quickly & pressed their opponents deep in their half of the court. A close first half ended with Fremantle leading 2-1 and the match ended with a Fremantle victory by 5-2, with captain Daniel Muzzarelli taking man-of-the-match honours with his 2 goals (to take his season tally to 25 goals in only 23 matches).
The final match of the round saw the upset of the weekend with Rockingham Cambio Cumbre FC losing 2-6 to Perth AFC. Cumbre had won the 2 previous encounters between the 2 sides quite comfortably earlier in the season. But without their iconic leader Nestor Fonseca they were no match for an under-strength but highly motivated AFC side. Nathan Thorp (15 goals in 16 appearances) and Jake Ambrose (3 goals in 9 appearances) combined well with 2 goals each. Head Coach Jon Bucolo was quoted after the match: “I felt we did the basics very well, and we had everyone defending in sync”.
For the first time this season, none of the top 4 teams on the ladder won, with 2 drawing & 2 losing. Did they have their eyes elsewhere perhaps, with the announcement of the inaugural WA Invitational Futsal Cup? Will they bounce back next weekend? Is the gap narrowing between the top teams & the rest of the league? Find out next weekend, only at the Pro Futsal Centre in Bibra Lake.