Bonnyrigg White Eagles started their IGA NSW National Premier Leagues Mens 1
season with a convincing 3-1 victory over APIA-Leichhardt Tigers at Lambert Park on Sunday.
Attacker Alex Canak scored a brace with Adrian Ucchino rattling the back of the net from 25-yards, making a claim for an early contender for goal of the season to set up the win.
Bonnyrigg showed their intention from the opening whistle and scored their first goal in the 2′ minute of play. After Mitchell Long was fouled on the right, Alex Canak was found free on the back post to head towards goal. Tigers goalkeeper Ryan Norval saved the chance but a failed goalmouth clearance ended in Canak coming back to slam the ball into the net for the 1-0 lead.
The away side continued to show their eagerness and 5′ minutes later Long found space on the left but his cross could not find the oncoming Robbie Younis in the middle of the box.
Younis was at it again and had a shot saved in the 9′ minute. After a succession of first touch passes in the middle of the park between Long and Ken Chun the latter found Younis whose 20-yard shot was well saved by Norval.
APIA slowly came back into the game and in the 18′ minute could have equalised as Mark Byrnes sent a stinging shot just wide of the left hand upright from a failed clearance.
Chun almost scored only minutes later when he sent a curling free-kick from the right byline off the crossbar.
The home side finally started controlling a bit more of the midfield and had a half chance in the 30′ minute. Good work by Keith Shevlin out on the left hand side saw him cross the ball to Franco Parisi, with the latter only able to toe the ball wide of the mark.
With a minute to go before the break, APIA saw another chance go begging. Great work by right midfielder Brad Bartels saw his cross misjudged by White Eagles keeper Matthew Nash, leaving his goal open. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Shevlin could not get a shot away early enough as the teams went into the break.
APIA-Leichhardt Tigers coach Gary Ward showed his intention to get back into the game straight after half-time, bringing on youngster Nikola Taneski and Sean Symonds for Franco Parisi and Brad Bartels.
The changes almost paid dividends immediately when the Tigers had two chances to open their account in the 54′ minute. After Stephen Kayes sent a lovely through ball to Gerard Ouffoue, the striker had his shot saved by the oncoming Nash who saw the ball spill to Taneski out wide on the right. The former Sydney FC youth player sent a cross to the far post to find Symonds but the substitute could not find the net, heading over the bar.
The two missed chances came back to haunt the home side when Adrian Ucchino found space in the middle of the park before unleashing a fantastic shot into the top right-hand corner to give Bonnyrigg a 2-0 lead in the 65′ minute.
Conceding a second goal awoke the Tigers who were awarded a penalty 2′ minutes later after a mix up in defence saw Nash bring down an attacker. Shevlin stepped up to take the spot kick but could not convert as his shot down the middle of the goal was saved by Nash’s feet.
The final 20′ minutes of the match saw several raids by both teams eager to score.
APIA’s persistence paid off as they pulled a goal back with 9′ minutes remaining. Adel El Jamal sent through a great through ball with Ouffoue one on one with Nash. The striker got a soft shot under Nash and with the ball trickling towards the goal line Shevlin slid the ball into the net to make it 2-1.
But their hard work was undone a minute later when El Jamal received a red card for a studs-up challenge on Ucchino.
Five minutes from the end, Canak doubled his tally. Receiving the ball out wide on the left Canak dribbled the ball inwards across the 18-yard line before sending the ball into the top right-hand corner to finish the game 3-1.
Following the game Bonnyrigg White Eagles coach Brian Brown said he was extremely pleased to start the season off with an impressive win:
"I thought we started very well, in fact I thought the first-half was outstanding and 1-0 at the break wasn’t a real reflection on how well we played in the first-half,’’ Brown said.
"Our midfield did very well, our movement, our passing, our ball retention was excellent.
"(Ucchino’s) was a stunning goal, and Canak’s as well. I think that is the difference when the boys are scoring goals like that."
Out of the home dressing room Gary Ward slammed his troop’s poor start to the game:
"We gave them a free-kick in the first 30” seconds and they scored from it and that’s a really poor way to start,’’ Ward said.
"We were lunging into tackles which we had no right to lunge into, we were giving them free-kicks which they have obviously worked on and they scored straight away.
"It took us 20′ minutes to actually work out we were here to play today. The giving away of free-kicks by our players today was amateurish.’’
Bonnyrigg will hope to make it two from two next week when they host the Blacktown Spartans at Bonnyrigg Sports Centre while APIA host the Central Coast Mariners Academy squad at Lambert Park.
APIA-Leichhardt Tigers 1 (Shevlin 81’)
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 3 (Canak 2’, 85’, Ucchino 65’)
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: Stephen Lucas
Assistant Referees: Nick Backo and Alex Long
Fourth Official: Nathan Roberts
APIA-Leichhardt Tigers: 1.Ryan Norval; 15.Bradley Bartels (Sean Symons 46’), 2.Mark Byrnes, 8.David D’Apuzzo, 3.Adel El Jamal, 7.Stephen Kayes, 9.Gerard Ouffoue, 10.Franco Parisi (18.Nikola Taneski 46’), 4.Brendan Reilly, 12.Keith Shevlin, 5.Michael West (14.George Khoury 60’)
Substitutes Not Used: 21.Anthony Costa (GK)
Yellow Cards: Mark Byrnes 10’, Michael West 23’, Brad Bartels 31’, Franco Parisi 39’
Red Cards: Adel El Jamal 82’
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 1.Matthew Nash; 8.Alex Canak, 21.Bo Hyun Chun, 16.Howard Fondyke (15.Stephen Hesketh 86’), 10.Mitchell Long, 2.Alex Mansueto, 11.Ben Spruce, 5.Chris Tadrosse, 18.Adrian Ucchino, 9.Robert Younis (19.Aaron Peterson 67’), 6.Nikola Zonjic
Substitutes Not Used: 33.Nikodin Matic, 13.Nikola Stanojevic
Yellow Cards: Ben Spruce 65’
Red Cards: Nil
3- Adrian Ucchino (BWE)
2- Ken Chun (BWE)
1- Alex Canak (BWE)
-By Chris Georges