The Bonnyrigg White Eagles made the trip across Elizabeth Drive on Sunday, with coach Brian Brown throwing several under 18 and 20 players into the mix.
Both sides had their chances in the opening 10? minutes and despite missing Almir Dizdaric and Mark D?Alessandro through suspension, the White Eagles matched it with their higher ranked rivals in the early passages.
A long ball that found Alex Canak in space down the left-flank presented Marconi with the first opportunity, but his right-footed effort caught a deflection and slammed into the side of the net for a corner.
A free-kick from Daniel Willoughby from the right touchline found Vlado Kurtuma inside the box, but his header failed to trouble James Chronopoulos who stood strong between the sticks.
Erick Anabalon tried to link up with Tim McGowan but Bonnyrigg goalkeeper Nenad Vekic was quick off his feet to bring an end to the attacking raid.
Ali Abbas Al-Hilfi tried to ignite the home-side but despite tapping over Vekic, was unable to regain his footing to hit his shot into an empty goal.
The White Eagles defence held strong for most of the first half but 10? minutes out from halftime the Stallions finally cracked their opponents.
Al-Hilfi was again in some pace down the right side, cutting the ball back into Anabalon who chipped the defenders to find Al-Hilfi on the run into the goal mouth.
The number 10?s shot from an acute angle caught the boot of Paul Cotte, sending the Stallions into the lead courtesy of an own goal.
Both teams came out of the sheds with a point to prove and it showed in the physicality of the challenges.
Canak was the man who looked most threatening for the Stallions up front, sprinting down field only to be brought to a halt by some desperate defence on the edge of the six-yard box.
Canak was again in the thick of the action moments later with a deft touch through the line in the direction of Tim McGowan, who slotted his shot past the advancing Vekic but slightly wide of the post.
Ilkay Gurbuz almost showed the Stallions how it was done, but his shot from the edge of the box went slamming into the crossbar, by far the White Eagles? best chance of the afternoon.
Umut Tokdogan tried his luck from long-range, but Nenad Vekic was more than up to the task.
Andrea Merenda crept his way up forward, weaving his way around two players before forcing his shot wide of the left post.
Ilkay Gurbuz stood up for the White Eagles when it counted supplying Aleksandar Draca with the ball that the substitute guided past Chronopoulos to equalise in the 82? minute.
But it didn?t take long for the Stallions to regain the lead, with Andrea Merenda?s free-kick finding Wade Oostendorp who made no mistake sending his header past Vekic for a 2-1 lead.
Despite the late match winner, Sterrey was far from impressed with his troops? performance, describing it as ?the worst of the season?:
?It was a very poor performance and the only good thing out of it was three points,? he said.
?Right across the park we were very poor all day and the execution was terrible.
?It was a game we should have put the foot down and built some momentum on but it wasn?t the case.?
?But I still have a lot of confidence in this team and I do believe we can win this competition.?
In the opposition shed, with the semi-finals out of the equation, Brian Brown tried his luck with youth.
?I thought they were outstanding and did very well,? Brown said.
Not many players that took the field in round one for the White Eagles walked out on to Marconi Stadium on Sunday, but the reason was simple.
?I think some of the guys that aren?t there now shouldn?t have been there from the start of the season.?
?As a team and a unit we just haven?t worked hard enough but today we did.?
?Maybe on another day we would have got a point, maybe more than that.?
When asked about the grand final, Brown was quick to say that he would like to see a Sutherland-Marconi clash, but found it hard to go past both Sydney United and Bankstown to fight it out in the decider.
Marconi Stallions 2 (Own goal 37?, Wade Oostendorp 85?)
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1 (Aleksandar Draca 82?)
Sunday, August 3, 2009
Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park.
Crowd: 500 Approx.
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referees: Daniel Dewhurst & Steve Nguyen
Fourth Official: Thomas Klein
Marconi Stallions: 22.James Chronopoulos; 4.Umut Tokdogan, 6.Vuko Tomasevic, 8.Alex Canak (13.Ben Vidaic 69?), 9.Erick Anabalon (14.Daniel Ott 85?), 10.Ali Abbas Al-Hilfi, 11.Matthew Gordon, 15.Tim McGowan (2.Wade Oostendorp 73?), 23.Christopher Nunes, 26.Nahuel Arrarte, 30. Andrea Merenda.
Substitutes Not Used: 18.Graziano Trimboli, 20.Cem Akili.
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 1.Nenad Vekic; 2.Paul Cotte, 3.Graeme Forbes, 6.Ilkay Gurbuz, 8.Daniel Willoughby (11.Aleksandar Draca 52?), 12.Andre Gumprecht, 14.Domenic Cutri (7.Marko Miljkovic 69?), 15.Steven Bozinovski, 17.Milorad Simonovic, 20.Milan Zoric, 9.Vlado Kurtuma (18.David Gullo 84′)
Substitutes Not Used: 1.Ali Akbal, 5.Emanuel El Ali
Yellow Cards: Daniel Willoughby 45?
Red Cards: Nil
-By Michael Chammas