BLACKTOWN SPARTANS 4-0 ROCKDALE CITY SUNS, AT BELMORE SPORTS GROUND
And so it came to this. 90 minutes of football to decide who would advance to the grand final qualifier against Manly United and who would be exiting the competition.
As it were, Blacktown Spartans showed up and Rockdale City did not. A hat-trick from Reid Taylor and a late penalty from Corey Biczo saw Blacktown Spartans run riot in the Belmore sunshine.
Belmore Sports Ground looked in wonderful condititon on what was a beautiful day for football and as the crowd filtered through the turnstiles, Blacktown Spartans took an early lead.
Rockdale City turned over possession in midfield and Spartans were not hesitant in counter attacking with vigour. Harley Da Silva was slipped into space on the left hand side and his low cross through the area skipped Andre Carle at the front post but found Reid Taylor at the back. The Spartans attacker made no mistake, tucking the ball first time past Rockdale City’s goalkeeper, Aaron Liddell.
Any hopes that the early goal would open the game up were fanciful, as the game descended into a scrap, a myriad of 50/50 challenges and miscued passes characterising what was a poor first half.
Spartans had looked the marginally more dangerous in an aesthetic sense, whereas Rockdale City were too heavily relying on pieces of individual brilliance that weren’t forthcoming.
Thus, it was a surprise when from nowhere, Spartans Mitchell Davidson sprung the Rockdale City offside trap and found himself one on one with Liddell. He rounded the keeper but with the angle narrow, he unselfishly squared to Taylor who easily tucked in his second of the match.
It could so easily have been three just two mintues later when in alarmingly similar circumstances, Reyze Kelly found himself in acres of space in behind the Rockdale City defence. He beautifully lobbed Liddell, only to see his effort come back off the far post. It almost certainly would have put paid to Rockdale City’s hopes.
Rockdale City’s Sean Thomas was the first booking of the match, before his coach Justin Bucciarelli reacted, sacrificing Lachlan O’Connor and sending on Alan Kovacevic.
He had an instant impact, setting Alec Urosevski free down the inside left channel, only for the Rockdale City striker to shoot straight at Jesse Shewan.
Spartans nearly put the game to bed once more when in the 41′ minute, Carle met a Da Silva cross, opening up his body to take the shot first time, but he only managed to strike the near post.
Urosevski should have pulled one back in the 43′ minute and if he did, he’d have given his side some hope for the second half. A low ball from David Talevski found the prolific striker, but he couldn’t get the ball out of his feet to fire a shot away. He really should have taken the shot first time, in hindsight.
Rockdale City had a mountain to climb as the second half kicked off but they threatened straight away when Sam Cornish played in Urocevski, but he delayed his shot too long. He still managed to get it on target but Shewan palmed it into the side netting.
Chasing two goals, Rockdale City started the second half on the front foot with the substitute Kovacevic prominent up front. His presence had brought the dangerous Urosevski into play more often and Spartans were certainly sitting very deep. A brave header from Kieran Dalton prevented Kovacevic getting a free header at goal as Rockdale City turned up the pressure.
They couldn’t find a goal though and their coach decided to make a double change just before the hour mark, sending on James Villazon and Michael Cimino. The most notable impact from either was Cimino getting booked late on for a cynical shirt tug.
Neither had touched the ball before Spartans put the game to bed and it was that man again, Reid Taylor who completed his hat-trick.
A hopeful ball over the top found Taylor in plenty of space on the right hand side. Liddell misjudged and came racing off his line when he was at long odds to reach the ball first, allowing Taylor to cleverly lob the ball into the empty net from outside the area.
It was the goal that put paid to Rockdale City’s hopes who aside from a bright opening to the second half, had clearly been second best on the day.
Bucciarelli emptied his bench in the 69′ minute, replacing Tomislav Cirjak and Roberto Speranza with Matthew Dibiasi and Jordan Yarza, in what was Rockdale City’s last roll of the dice.
They had little impression on the game as Spartans dominated the final 20 minutes, even sending on substitute goalkeeper Daniel Sadaka for Shewan.
Spartans added a fourth from the spot very late on after Carle’s slalom run saw him round Liddell before being felled by Cornish. Corey Biczo stepped up and rolled the penalty into the bottom corner, the finish as easy as the victory for Mark Zecchin’s side, who will play Manly United in the Grand Final Qualifier next weekend.
Zecchin was pleased with the way his side bounced back from their defeat last weekend.
“We had to change our game plan and formation after what happened last week against Manly,” he said.
“The boys were very keen though and I thought we dominated the game.
“That was probably our best performance across two halves for the entire year.
On the hat-trick hero Reid Taylor, Zecchin said, “It was his first full game for us.
“He’s had an impressive year for the 18s and we’re always looking to bring the younger players up.
“He certainly didn’t let anybody down,” Zecchin added.
Rockdale City coach Justin Bucciarelli was understandably downcast at full time.
“Spartans showed up to play today,” he said.
“All credit to them, they performed magnificently.
“There are no excuses, we were beaten by a good side,” Bucciarelli said.
Blacktown Spartans 4 (Reid Taylor 11′, 31′, 61′, Corey Biczo (PEN) 88′)
Rockdale City Suns 0
Sunday 16th September, 2012
Belmore Sports Ground, Belmore
Referee: Leigh Pigram
Assistant Referees: Adam Coombes and Nicholas Backo
Blacktown Spartans: 40.Jesse Shewan (1. Daniel Sadaka 86′), 18.Mitchell Davidson (37.Daniel Rees 74′), 20.Reid Taylor (39.Cameron McKinnon 84′), 24.Mark Puskarcuk, 25.Corey Biczo, 26.George Yousif (C), 28.Andre Carle (32.Daniel Smith 89′), 30.Kieran Dalton, 33.Reyze Kelly (21.Justin Cootes 79′), 35.Harley Da Silva, 38.Tomislav Herceg
Substitutes Not Used: Nil
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Rockdale City Suns: 24.Aaron Liddell, 25.Sean Thomas, 26.Sam Cornish, 37.Keifer Dotti, 35.Idris Elhafianne, 44.Lachlan O’Connor (C) (29.Alan Kovacevic 35′), 36.Roberto Speranza (39.Matthew Dibiasi 69′), 33.David Talevski (32.James Villazon 59′), 28.Tomislav Cirjak (31.Jordan Yarza 69′), 42.Anthony Perri (30.Michael Cimino 59′), 45.Alec Urosevski
Substitutes Not Used: Nil
Yellow Cards: Sean Thomas 34′, Alec Urosevski 37′, Michael Cimino 82′, Sam Cornish 88′
Red Cards: Nil
SUTHERLAND SHARKS 4-2 MANLY UNITED (AET), AT BONNYRIGG SPORTS CENTRE
Premiers Sutherland Sharks became the first side into the Grade 20s Grand Final, but they were pushed all the way by a gallant Manly United.
The match finished 2-2 after 90 minutes, before Sutherland finally got the better of their rivals in the 30 minutes of extra time.
Nick Olsen opened the scoring for Sutherland just before the half hour mark, before Patrick Savor added the second a few minutes later.
Manly United found a goal in the opening minute of the second half though, as Sutherland came out of the blocks slowly for the second stanza.
Manly were on top for most of the second 45 minutes and found a late, late equalising, to send the match to extra time.
Nick Olsen added his second though, five minutes into the first period of extra time, before Emmanuel Shewen added the fourth in the final few minutes as Manly United left open spaces as they pushed for an equaliser.
Sutherland Sharks coach Rod Eames was pleased with the outcome.
“We were really excellent for the first half and really could have put the game away before the break,” he said.
“We lost concentration and shape in the second half and we were punished for it.
“Our boys showed their class and character with their extra time display though.
“Our job is now to prepare for the final where we need to replicate our first half performance for an entire 90 minutes,” Eames added.