Manly-Warringah FC like to play an invitational match as a pre-season warm-up and this year they invited a select Premier League team from NSFA to take them on at Cromer Park.
Both sides took to the field with high hopes on a warm and humid evening. The game started quickly, with most of the play in the midfield. Both sides looked like they had quality individuals, but they lacked that intimate knowledge of a team. The game was fast, but passes lacked the precision of a highly drilled squad.
Both sides had some good attempts forward, but it was Manly who scored after 16 mins.
And again 5 mins later Russ Bream (Wakehurst) pushed one to the right of Dejan Josipovic (Dalleys), playing in goal for the NSFA.
NSFA responded with some good work through the midfield from the likes of Dylan Harapof (Dalleys) trying to feed Robbie Kerr (Lane Cove) who was playing upfront.
However, a moment of panic in defence from NSFA saw them pass the ball across their own goal, which was slotted home by Stefano Teghini (Pittwater). 3:0 and I’m sure people were thinking “have the flood gates opened?”
Undaunted, NSFA had a good chance in front of goal, where Robbie Kerr (Lane Cove) passed the ball off to Matt Orlic (Dalleys) who had a superb shot on goal forcing Phil Jones (Manly Vale) to full stretch to push the ball over the crossbar.
Half time 3:0
The second half saw a reinvigorated NSFA side push forward and Dylan Harapof (Dalleys) had a blinding kick which rattled cross bar after long build up.
The second half could be typified by lots of long speculative plays down left wing from Manly, trying to feed Roberto Hamed (Seaforth) playing out on the wing.
To my eyes, Manly had better midfield organisation which allowed them to win more ball and create more chances. Fast footwork seemed to be an issue with some of the NSFA players, letting several chances to go begging.
Then NSFA had a good build-up but Conor Nix’s (Dalleys) shot swerved left of posts.
Very good defence play from Russ Bream (Wakehurst), Neil Woodcock (Manly Vale) and John Hall (Brookvale) thwarted NSFA time and again. Every time NSFA broke past the Manly midfield, they were shut down by the quality of the Manly defence.
At the other end of the field, some NSFA defensive confusion allowed Roberto Hamed (Seaforth) to be set up with a beautiful cross and he made no mistake as he pushed it past the left hand of the Liam Burrell (Berowra) who was the NSFA goalie for the second half.
Sadly, the NSFA shoulders sagged when it was 4:0 and the match was wrapped two minutes later up by Manly with a great 1:2 between Cameron White (Pittwater) and Jakub Skeinar (Narrabeen), making it 5:0.