Power v Marconi

Round 1 report by Chris Dunkerley
Parramatta Power v Marconi-Fairfield

At last another NSL football season had arrived - a normally savoured event. Despite Soccer Australia Chairman Basil Scarsella's usual upbeat NSL launch speech during the week it seemed that the fans of football at this 1st game of the season were finding it hard to lift to match the rhetoric. Perhaps it was post-Olympic malaise or perhaps the malaise is within the game itself. Only time will tell but, on a dampish evening in Sydney's second centre of Parramatta, Power's coach wily David Mitchell had assembled a squad that could have joined Andrew Gaze at the Dome. Would this size and, forgive the pun, power-show do the trick or would urbane Eddy Krnzevic work magic with a squad which seemed somewhat short on firepower. Points of interest for fans were the move of Alex Tobin from stopper and captain at Adelaide City to the same role at Power, the appearance of Bove and Maisano, and the poor condition of the ground.

Power came out attacking and it was in the 3rd minute that a shot on target came from striker Joel Griffiths, however it was saved by Marconi's keeper Aceski who started ahead of Turnbull. In the 10th minute a chance fell to Marconi's signing Tome but as the ball rolled menacingly close to the goal line Pogliacomi in the Parramatta goal snatched it away. A period of end-to end football lead to a long range on the ground attempt by Power debutante Matt Thompson that sneaked its way between a sea of legs but not Acevski. A 22nd min card to Farah for a crude hack at Griffiths as he sped down the left signalled Parramatta's dominance but a lack of width and sterile balls made conversion into gaols seem unlikely. As the half wore on there were spells of action such as when a Griffiths free kick ricocheted around the box like a pinball but went clear followed by a good chance to Maisano that was hit hard but wide to the left of the Power goal. Marconi was struggling to break the Orlic - Barrett - Tobin wall. There were chances to Griffiths and Bennett for Power and Maisano for Marconi. As the half wound down however there was little excitement. Then for his first dive Tome got a 9.2 from the judges and a yellow card in the 42nd min for his spectacular attempt in the area. It seemed that Greco-Roman had touched the psyche of at least one player as Power's forceful close down tactics backfired when Power defender Peter Bennett reacted to a tackle from Marconi winger Chad Gibson with what appeared to be an elbow to the head and after referee Matthew Breeze consulted his assistant a red card was shown with just extra time remaining in the first half.

Coming out a man short it was surprising to see Parramatta pursuing their seemingly aimless long balls which Marconi defended by using the extra man to pressure Power in the midfield. A very sterile patch interrupted by Marconi's left wide man Renaud whose long range shot, wide on the left, signalled Marconi were out for the win but before they could press home the advantage Costanzo did very well to clear Griffiths shot off the goal line. In the 62nd minute Marconi avoided the 'wall' by stringing passes across field where Chad Gibson found he had Bennett marking him (unfortunately for Power from the grandstand) and placed a shot wide of Pogliacomi for the first goal of the season. Marconi kicked into gear and using speed Maisano had two fine chances, one just smothered by the keeper and the other a pile driver hitting the underside of the cross-bar, bouncing down, and staying out. Marconi had thrown the shackles however and McDonald and Tome both took shots on goal. Parramatta threw caution to the wind and pushing forward for an equaliser was disappointed when a header from Barrett went wide. Their hopes were unfounded as Tome was bundled down as he neared the penalty area from the left and in the 90th min Chad Gibson taking the free waited while his players parted and knocked a banana shot over the main wall and curled the ball into the top left of the goal and that was the show stopper. Marconi 2-0 and that was a very handy win despite the numerical advantage so the very pleased Stallions fans unloaded the guns they always have trained on their coach as they got on the club bus. For Parramatta, much touted for an easy top six spot, some soul searching and re-casting needed before they face the away trip nightmare at Sunshine.