Minor premierships and crushed dreams were the talking point at Francis Park on Saturday when Blacktown Spartans and Sydney University did battle in the penultimate round of Football NSW’s Men’s Super League competition.
The Spartans’ 4-3 win over Sydney University took them to the top of the table – two points clear of West Sydney Berries – and the minor premiership in sight with a round to play, while crushing any chance the Students had of making the finals for 2011.
But it wasn’t a totally black day for the Students, with the Under 20s defeating Blacktown two-nil to stay two points clear of Spirit FC at the top of the ladder, and the minor premiership on offer.
As Football NSW reports, the First Grade tussle on Saturday was a topsy-turvy, close run thing after James Young got the Spartans off to a flyer five minutes in.
But an own goal by Tom Spencer saw University draw level after 25 minutes, before Liam McConaghy posted his 10th goal of the season to put the Students in front right on half time.
Blacktown levelled just after the break with a great goal from Danny Wells, working off Greg Kondek. Not to be outdone, University captain, David McMurray, put his side back into the lead on the hour, when his header found the net.
At 3-2, the Students’ finals hope were still alive, but only for four minutes, when Luke Boyd renewed the Spartans’ own title hopes with an equaliser.
University’s cause suffered another blow when James O’Rourke was red-carded for a tackle from behind on James Young, which saw the Spartans player taken off as a result.
With the visitors down to 10 men, the Spartans searched for the winner and it came from Tom Spencer, who netted from the top of the box with just three minutes to go to, signalling the end Sydney University’s season and the start of the host’s push for a premiership.
Blacktown coach Ben de Hann was complimentary of his opponents. “It was a good game but though we dominated the first twenty or so, University grew legs after that own goal,” he said. “They made us work for it”.
Despite ruing the loss, University coach John Calleja was pleased with the way his troops had performed.
“I am happy for the boys, it was certainly a lot better than last week,” he said. “I have to admit, though, that the Spartans surprised us with four up front at the start.
“That caught us on the hop and we had to readjust from there. Both defences were probably a bit shaky too, hence the goals, but I thought we pressured them.”
The Students will meet St George in the final round. “We want to finish with dignity and have as good an end of season as possible,” Calleja said. “That will start next week against St George.”
NSW Men’s Super League – Round 21
First Grade: Blacktown Spartans 4 (James Young 5m, Danny Wells 53m, Luke Boyd 63m, Tom Spencer 84m) d Sydney University 3 (Own goal 25m, Liam McConaghy 45m, David McMurray 59m) at Francis Park.
Under 20: Sydney University 2 d Blacktown Spartans 0.
Super Youth League – Round 24
Grade 13: Western Panthers 1 d Sydney University 0.
Grade 14: Sydney University 2 d Western Panthers 0.
Grade 15: Sydney University 2 d Western Panthers 0.
Grade 16: Sydney University 0 drew with Western Panthers 0.
Grade 18: Western Panthers 2 d Sydney University 0.
Women’s Premier League – Round 21
Sydney University v Macarthur Rams: All games washed out.