Jeremy Cox led Sydney FC to an impressive 3-1 win over Hakoah Sydney City East on the opening day of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 2018 season, scoring a hat-trick to secure three points for his side on Saturday afternoon at Lambert Park.
Cox put the hosts in the lead early in the first half before Mitchell Stamatellis brought Hakoah Sydney City East level just after the half hour, but Sydney FC roared into life after the break as Cox scored a quick second to put his side ahead, and completed his hat-trick with half an hour to spare.
Both sides took some time to find a rhythm in the opening exchanges, but each settled into a pattern when they did. Sydney FC looked to split the defence with balls between the lines, while their opponents regularly spread play wide before crossing from the byline.
Indeed, Hakoah’s first real chance of the game came from the left flank, as Anthony Frangie fired a speculative shot against the crossbar with Duro Dragicevic rooted in the Sydney goal.
The visitors settled first on the ball, and had a reasonable shout for a free kick on the edge of the box turned down in favour of an advantage, which fell apart quickly and left Sydney FC to turn and break. A ball from deep was played through to Jeremy Cox, who rounded the onrushing Anthony Bouzanis and tapped his shot into an empty net to put Sydney FC 1-0 up after 15 minutes.
A fast paced game showed little sign of letting up, and Hakoah were deserving recipients when they claimed an equaliser. Stamatellis rising highest in a crowded box to head a corner back across goal and inside the far post. The visitors had a chance to complete the turnaround and go in front before the break when they were awarded a free kick in a promising position at the edge of the area, but Frangie could only drill his shot into the wall.
Halftime came and went, and Sydney FC set the pace as the game picked up again at speed. They were rewarded for their efforts just three minutes into the half, as Cox picked up a ball ahead of him and held off his man to hit a shot beyond the keeper and double his tally for the night.
Shortly after, when the hosts played yet another pass beyond the Hakoah backline, there could be little doubt as to who would be on the end of it, and even less as to whether he would put his shot away. Cox completed his hattrick just after the hour mark, giving Sydney FC a comfortable advantage going into what would prove a tough final third.
Frangie and the newly introduced Connor Elridge ran ragged in search of a goal in the final minutes, the latter heading over in injury time before Sydney FC’s Andrea Agamemnonos broke into a clear half of the field with the chance to add a fourth. Chased down by Hakoah defenders, he might have wished his teammate, with a hattrick, were in his place.
Rob Stanton was understandably pleased with his side’s performance, but stressed he wouldn’t be getting too carried away after the first game of the season.
“We’ve got a lot of new players, a lot of young boys in the team, but we did really well against a physical side. It’s one of the areas we’ve tried to address and I think the boys were just fantastic today.
“It’s only round one, and it’s a start – but it’s a good start, so I’m really proud of them this week.”
Watching from the sideline after retiring at the end of last season, Hakoah Sydney City East’s coach Gavin Rae said his side needed to be more solid in defence after letting in “silly goals” at the start of the second half.
“I’m not used to not being on the field – it’s tough. Today we were fine in the first half, but we weren’t tight enough at the back in the second. They had four shots and scored three goals. We’ll work on our defence during the week.”
Sydney FC 3 (Jeremy Cox 15’, 48’, 63’)
Hakoah Sydney City East 1 (Mitchell Stamatellis 31’)
Saturday March 10, 2018
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: T. Danaskos
Assistant Referees: M. Mcorist, A. Hosnani
Fourth Official: H. Jomaa
Sydney FC: 30. Duro DRAGICEVIC, 2. Brendan CURTIS, 4. Liam MCGING, 5. Patrick SCIBILIO, 6. Andrea AGAMEMNONOS, 7. Jerry SKODATIS, 8. Sam MCILLHATTON, 9. Hassan JALLOH (23. Nikola UJDUR), 11. Luke IVANOVIC (17. Marco TILIO), 14. Joel KING, 15. Jeremy COX
Substitutes Not Used: 40. David MALISHEV, 21. Finn BALLARD
Yellow Cards: Scibilio 16’, Curtis 26’
Red Cards: Nil
Hakoah Sydney City East: Anthony BOUZANIS, 2. Connor SHADDOCK, 3. Michael KOUTA, 4. Bradley WALKER (15. Steven KATSIONIS), 5. Mitchell STAMATELLIS, 8. Oliver GREEN (17. Harry JONES), 10. Andre DE JONG, 14. Anthony FRANGIE, 19. Dom COX, 20. James COMBES (30. Connor ELRIDGE), 60. Takayuki NOJI
Substitutes Not Used: 6. Cameron DRAPER
Yellow Cards: Frangie 19’
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Jeremy COX (SFC)
2 – Sam MCILLHATTON (SFC)
1 – Andrea AGAMEMNONOS (SFC)
-By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Max Grieve