Marconi FC 3
Hanwood FC 0
THERE was no fairytale finish for Hanwood FC this time around as NSW Premier League powerhouse Marconi FC strolled to a 3-0 win in Saturday's friendly clash at Hanwood Oval.
Unlike last year's encounter - when a late equaliser saw the hosts steal an unlikely 1-1 draw - the gulf between the semi-professional Stallions and Hanwood's amateurs was plain to see.
Marconi's Micky Sironovic netted a brace while midfield general Christopher Nunes scored the other as the four-time national champions started their pre-season campaign with a no-fuss victory.
But despite their rustiness there was plenty to take out of the match for an under-strength HFC, with some impressive individual displays from the likes of Dem Torino and flashes of brilliance from a handful of youngsters leaving player-coach Anthony Agresta more than satisfied with the outcome.
"It's always good to test yourselves against a better opposition and that's what they were," he siad.
"It's early and we've still got a lot of work in front of us. The next six or seven weeks is always the hardest part but we'll hit it hard and see how we go."
It took just seven minutes for Marconi to take the lead, when Sironovic broke free and rounded new Hanwood goalkeeper Glenn Armanini for an easy finish.
Three minutes later and it was 2-0 after a brilliant Stallions move that started with right-back Ali Haydar cut the Hanwood defence to shreds.
Haydar's cross from the right unleashed striker Damian Travis, who held the ball up long enough to draw Armanini and his defenders - and then passed over to the unmarked Nunes, who tapped away into an empty net.
Sironovic completed the rout 10 minutes into the second 30-minute stanza by skinning Hanwood's Daniel Quarisa and then curling a brilliant far-post shot from distance that gave Armanini no chance.
The margin could have been far greater were it not for Agresta, who cleared an early Marconi header off the line, and young shotstopper Blake Torresan, who saved a brilliant one-on-one opportunity late in the match.
Armanini also did well to deny Marconi with a magical save at full-stretch to tip a certain goal onto the crossbar - but the match was never about the result for Stallions boss Darren Iocca.
"I'm happy with what we're doing. We're getting to where we have to be. This is a good start," Iocca said.
"I was very pleased with the older players that we've got and the younger ones - they were excellent.
"They were all eager to start and to play well because it's our first game of the pre-season and they all wanted to play. It was good for them to get going like this."
Iocca said Hanwood's performance only confirmed his belief there is enormous untapped talent in regional areas - and particularly a multicultural city like Griffith that has a genuine love for the game.
"They've got a decent standard for a country area - there's some very good individuals in the side," he said.
"Structurally they'll obviously have to work on that for the next few weeks but for their season, I think they'll be fine."
Agresta said the biggest thing Hanwood must take out of the match is how crucial on-field communication is.
From start to finish the Marconi players were barking instructions to one another, and offering words of encouragement when their moves came off.
In contrast, HFC were perhaps overawed by the occasion, although as Agresta explained there were mitigating circumstances.
"We had a lot of new boys out there so there were a lot of breakdowns and stuff like that," he said.
"We've got a few things to work on. Generally when we had the ball and started to play, we weren't too bad, but it's still early days yet - there's a long way to go.
Hanwood will now have a week off before continuing pre-season preparations ahead of their next friendly, a likely fixture at home against Albury side Melrose next month.
Marconi, meanwhile, face Sydney Olympic on Saturday in a pre-season cup game.
"That'll be a good game but we'll just keep the younger boys going, and see how they progress," Iocca said.