A ten-man Northbridge White survived a second half goal-fest to maintain their unbeaten record with a 4-3 over St Michael’s at Bicentennial Reserve on Saturday afternoon.
Six goals were scored after half time, five within a ten-minute scoring frenzy, but despite having a numerical advantage for the final quarter of the game St Michael’s were unable to secure a result.
Northbridge entered the match with five wins from five and started the match with an early bombardment of the St Michael’s penalty area through a succession of corners and crosses.
However, the St Michael’s defence remained solid, allowing for some slick counter-attacks through the front three of Daniel Stuart, Jonathon Brycki and Sasha Skyba. Stuart could have put his side in front with a pair of chances, but the striker could not find a way past Anthony Zecchinati in goal for Northbridge.
It would be the Northbridge that found the opening goal in the 24th minute through some #individualbrilliance from Michael Cole. The forward produced a powerful shot from the edge of the box, striking the inside of the post on its way into the back of the net.
Winger Matt Bowd came off the bench for St Michael’s and almost immediately struck and equaliser, cutting in from the left flank rifling a shot towards goal only to watch Zecchinati make another strong save.
Kieran Hall appeared to double the advantage for Northbridge as the half progressed after a persistent effort, but the ball was ruled to have crossed the goal-line in the build-up, sending his side into the break with a one-goal lead.
It did not take long for the match to truly ignite in the second half, as Cole found his second in the 49th minute. Once again collecting the ball outside the box, this time the striker found the top corner with a curling effort, leaving St Michael’s goalkeeper Harrison Bleakley no chance of making a save.
Cole completed his hat-trick just moments later, finding himself in the right position to finish off a frenetic passage of play that saw Hall’s initial effort cleared off the line.
Just as the match looked to be slipping away from St Michaels’s they pulled one back within two minutes. A slick passing move down the left cut through the Northbridge defence, and Stuart produced a composed finish past Zecchinati.
The goals kept coming. This time Cole turned into a provider for Northbridge, splitting the defence with a smooth backheel to put Hall away for his side’s fourth of the match. Less than a minute later St Michael’s had once again reduced the deficit, as Stuart capitalised on a heavy touch from Zecchinati to score his second. Ten minutes, five goals!
Sensing a way back into the contest, St Michael’s pushed hard at the Northbridge defence and won a penalty as Bowd was brought down inside the box after a driving run. Brycki stepped up to take the spot-kick and calmly dispatched it into the net to make it a one-goal margin.
Northbridge’s defence of their lead suffered a setback in the 67th minute as Roberto Portocarrero was dismissed after an off-the-ball altercation.
However, the change in numbers did little to weaken the resolve of the Northbridge defence, successfully holding off the St Michael’s forward line to secure the win and move three points clear at the top of the table.
Northbridge FC White – 4 (Michael Cole 26’, 49’, 54’, Kieran Hall 58’)
St. Michael’s – 3 (Daniel Stuart 56’, 59’, Jonathon Brycki 65’)