Competition for a place in the Y-League grand final remains fierce as ever, with the weekend seeing yet another barnstorming comeback keep the Conference A title race alive and a series of upsets set the cat amongst the pigeons in Conference B.
For the second straight week, defending conference champions Melbourne City did it the hard way in their quest to reach yet another youth decider; coming back from a first-half two-goal deficit to defeat Melbourne Victory 3-2 in the Youth Melbourne Derby at Epping Stadium.
Former Pascoe Vale winger Jack Palazzolo had struck first for Victory in the 15th minute, rising above the City defence to head in a cross from new Victory A-League signing Elvis Kamsoba.
Ten minutes later it was the turn of former Melbourne Knights and Avondale FC attacker Kamsoba to get his name on the score sheet, stealing the ball from the City defence before perfectly placing a shot to the right of City keeper Ahmed Taleb.
Yet, much had they had done the week prior, City rallied from the two-goal deficit; getting themselves within touching distance at halftime after Stefan Colakovski – who has been one of City’s standouts since making his return from an ACL injury in round three – cut inside from the right and netted in the 37th minute.
City was then aided in their comeback efforts by a calamitous error from Victory just after play resumed in the second half: defender Luke Goulding somehow managing to beat Victory goalkeeper Mathew Sutton with a back pass from his own halfway line to make it 2-2.
Head Coach Joe Palatsides’ City side then completed their comeback in the 64th minute of the contest when dynamo Gianluca Iannucci pounced on a ball knocked away from Moudi Najjar by the Victory defence before dancing within range and letting loose with a perfectly placed effort into the bottom corner of the net to make it 3-2.
Proceedings were much more straightforward in Conference A’s other round eight fixture; Perth Glory – despite being reduced to ten men in just the 31st minute of the contest – handily dispatching Adelaide United 4-2 at Dorrien Gardens in Western Australia.
Jaidon Selden opened the scoring for the hosts in the 29th minute of the contest, brushing off a triumvirate of Reds defenders before burying an effort past Adelaide keeper Isaac Richards.
Though it then remained 1-0 heading into the main break, Glory soon doubled their lead after play resumed; Daniel Stynes finding the back of the net to make it 2-0 in the 54th minute.
However, the visitors did briefly rebound to make the game interesting when Pacifique Niyongabire – brother of new Victory signing Kamsoba – pounced on a save spilled by Glory keeper Jackson Lee to make it 2-1 in the 66th minute.
The Reds then were then almost able to go level when substitute Ninko Beric hit the woodwork moments later.
Head Coach Richard Garcia’s Glory was able to answer the challenge, nonetheless, sending the Reds to the floor with a devastating one-two of goals in the 77th and 78th minutes.
Stynes grabbed the first of the two, securing his brace when he fired home a penalty won when Jai King-Byrne brought down Kristian Popovic inside the area.
Ethan Brooks the hammered home an effort from his position on the left-wing moments later, making it 4-1 and ensuring that Taras Gomulka goal for the Reds was little more than a consolation.
Round eight of the season proved a nightmare for both of the Sydney sides in Conference B, Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers suffering shock defeats in their encounters with Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets respectively.
Despite the eventual, nightmarish result, things did start brightly for Sydney FC in the sodden conditions at Lambert Park, awarded a penalty in the 12th minute of play when Cameron Devlin was brought down inside the Mariners penalty area, earning a spot kick.
Charles Lokoli-Ngoy was unable to convert the opportunity, however; his low effort kept out by a fine save by Mariners gloveman Joe Gauci.
Things then began turned badly for the Harboursiders, goalkeeper Duro Dragicevic shown a red card by referee Nathan Shakespear after dragging down Mariners striker Jordan Smylie in the 27th minute.
Despite being a man-down, brave Sydney was still able to hold out until, finally, their dam broke in the 65th minute; Nicholas Faust flicking on a free kick lofted into the Sydney area with his head to make it 1-0.
Dylan Ruiz-Diaz was then able to double the visitors lead when he bounced an effort off the post and into the net in the 80th minute before Michael Katsoulis then sealed the result with a 90th minute strike as the Mariners took advantage of a desperately pressing Sydney on the counter.
An even bigger boilover had occurred the day prior in Conference B’s other fixture, the youth of Newcastle Jets hammering defending Y-League champions Western Sydney 5-1 in the Hunter.
The Jets fired themselves in front just six minutes into the contest when Nick Cowburn thundered an effort past Wanderers custodian Jack Greenwood to give his side a perfect start.
However, despite the early promising start, the Jets – who fielded A-League talents such as Cowburn, Ivan Vujica, Mitch Austin, and Angus Thurgate amongst their number – then made their fans wait until the 69th minute to score again, although they soon proved the wait well worth it.
Austin tapped home a miscued shot from Kosta Petratos to get the ball rolling, before Petratos added goals in the 81st and 88th minutes to make it 4-1.
Austin then joined him in netting a brace and put a bow on the Jets day out in the 89th minute, streaming down the left wing and lacing an effort that Greenwood, despite getting a touch to it, was unable to keep out.
HEADER IMAGE: Sydney FC | Jaime Castaneda