Rockdale City Suns continued its climb up the League ladder with a very important second win of the season in the home clash against Manly United FC.
A tremendously warm and sunny day welcomed Manly United to Rockdale City Suns for an encounter that meant much to each in the context of their seasons to-date, with the home side coming off the back of their first win and their opponents attempting to maintain their steady progress in the standings.
In the end, it was to be Rockdale who inflicted a 4-2 loss on their visitors.
Richard Cardozo and new recruit Paul Reid made themselves busy from the outset along with Sash Tirovski in a furious opening 5’ minute spell that had Rockdale hurtling along like a runaway train but not creating a decent clear cut opening as they pushed Manly back.
The midfield battle, as expected, became intense as each contrived to steal a march yet United were slowly but surely fighting back however struggled to find their rhythm in the heat.
Colin Iley produced the first effort on goal for Manly in the 19’ minute but when clean through with only Diego Barcena to beat he scuffed the shot and the ball trickled delicately to the goalkeeper, much to the relief of the Suns faithful.
An injury to Reid in the 20’ minute saw the player receive treatment on the pitch giving the grateful participants ample time to take on fluids on an unseasonably hot day in Rockdale.
In the 24’ minute there was an incident that had the sparse crowd on their feet when Cardozo curled the ball around Dylan Mitchell between the sticks for Manly that hit the right-hand upright, went across the face of goal, hit the opposite post and came back into the field of play and away to safety. The same player then attempted an audacious lob from 40-yards moments later that went well wide of the mark as Manly were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Manly’s reply was from a free-kick in the 28’ minute that was sent over the bar from Matthew Sim from the angle of the box as their forays forward were rare occasions.
Seiya Kawamura was caught offside as the Suns pressed home attacks but with nothing to show for their early dominance it was still anyone’s game in a very entertaining meeting between two equally matched sides on the day.
Kawamura did have the ball in the back of the net in the 38’ minute only for Brendan Gan to be pegged for offside as the Suns were closing.
For all the forward momentum of Rockdale it was Manly who had shown a resolute line of defence without looking too uncomfortable.
Cardozo floated in free-kick with 6’ minutes to go that was met by the head of Gan but unable to gain enough purchase to steer it wide of Mitchell who did well to grasp the ball down by his shoe laces.
Sim hit one on the spin as the half drew to a close that went out for a throw-in, after skewing off the boot with the visitors rallying.
Shortly after, terrific work down the Suns’ left by Max Burgess saw a pullback for Cardozo but good defending saw the ball blocked out to Reid on the edge of the box only for his thunderbolt to be deflected away for a corner in a classic counter-attacking move.
The closing moment of action came from the resulting corner that saw Kawamura flash his shot wide of the mark with Mitchell rooted to the spot between the sticks.
There had been plenty of excitement during the first 45’ minutes with only a lack of goals making it incomplete, a statistic surely about to change during the second period.
United came out firing in the second-half with Askin Oygur and Sam Munro twice required to block at close-range and from the second corner the ball found its way to ex-Suns defender Joshua Lawson on the edge of the box and his shot was well saved by Barcena who needed to be down sharply to his right to parry around the post.
The breakthrough came when Cardozo was able to hold the ball up in midfield and lay it off for Kawamura to side-foot a curling shot beyond the wrong-footed Mitchell in a clinical and perfectly executed manoeuvre and little more than Rockdale deserved.
With Manly now forced to push on further up field it came as little surprise when they were caught a second time 4’ minutes later when Cardozo found the time and space to chip the onrushing Mitchell to double the lead.
It was an uphill task for the visitors now and any hope of getting something from the game rested with them being able to maintain their shape as Rockdale threatened to run riot.
Max Burgess, the 18-year old who made his debut last season for the Suns, netted his first senior goal in the 75’ minute with an exquisitely taken effort that again left Mitchell stranded in the Manly net as the home side really began to find the open spaces behind the Manly defence and exploited them mercilessly.
Manly got a consolation from a free-kick through Sim in the 78’ minute however Rockdale went immediately up the other end and substitute David Talevski increased the lead to three once more in truly end-to-end football.
It was crazy defending by both however it was Rockdale who were in the ascendancy and looked the likelier to add to their haul as Manly could only hit on the break. A freakish finish to one such move saw Scott Balderson put the ball in the Rockdale net after a pinball session inside the six yard box.
Man of the match Brendan Gan received the ball from a cheeky flick pass from Cardozo and went on to fortunately beat Mitchell when the ball went between the stoppers legs for a fifth goal only for it to be wiped out for offside in stoppage time.
Branko Culina, coach of the Suns stated afterwards:
“In the first-half we played some good football without taking our chances and we just said at the break that we just needed to be patient and the goals will come.
“The conditions were extremely difficult for all the players out there today, the heat was tremendous which sapped the mental and physical strength of the sides so if we were patient and we continued to play after the break the way we had in the first 45’ minutes the opportunities would come.
“This happened so I was quite pleased with the performance and attitude of the squad today if not perhaps the defensive side of our game.
“We’ve said from day one that we are a side that wants to play football and we are slowly achieving that and as each week passes we are getting a better understanding as a team.
“You have to have belief in what you are doing and this group has that so we will keep going and ensure everyone in the team understands their personal responsibilities within the team and as a unit but we are not there yet so taking small steps toward the collective is pleasing.”
Next up for Rockdale is the small matter of Bonnyrigg White Eagles at home on the same day as the A-League Grand Final between the Western Sydney Wanderers v Central Coast Mariners.
“It’s good that we are playing at home again but perhaps it would be better if it were arranged where there were no other games than the Grand Final on that weekend as the junior grades and any aspiring player would surely want to see the showpiece of the big domestic league.”
It is a sentiment echoed by many however Craig Midgley responded after the defeat:
“I thought we played very well in the first-half to be honest and I was a little disappointed when we went in at the break nil-all.
“We’ve played five games this season and played well in four and half of them when only letting in two goals so to cop four today is disappointing to say the least.
“We’ll go back to the training ground and work on that but I had to change a few things at half-time and replace Josh Lawson during the second period. He had been up all night and has not been well and he gave me 50’ minutes today but with no central defensive cover and a squad of just 15-players I didn’t have the man power to cope with that really and I’m not using that as an excuse but it doesn’t help matters.
“We had to chase the game in the second-half and opened up a bit and left ourselves vulnerable to the counter and we got caught a couple of times but I am disappointed with a couple of the goals.
“I am a firm believer that you make your own breaks in football and we’ll turn things around but games like today are part and parcel of football and you don’t need to like them but they do happen from time to time.”
Rockdale deserved their win hard fought as it was and the spring in their step when leaving the field offered plenty for the future whereas Manly looked under the pump without truly being threatened early on yet still came away with nothing to show for their efforts.
Rockdale City Suns 4 (Kawamura 56’, Cardozo 60’, Burgess 75’, Talevski 78’)
Manly United FC 2 (Sim 78’, Balderson 87’)
Sunday 14th April. 2013
Ilinden Sports Centre, Rockdale
Referee: Michael Weiner
Assistant Referees: James Tesoriero and Mitchell Clark
Fourth Official: Robson Battistella
Rockdale City Suns: 1.Diego Barcena; 5.Brendan Gan, 6.Takuya Murayama, 18.Seiya Kawamura (11.David Talevski 71’), 8.Paul Kohler, 10.Richard Cardozo, 13.Sam Munro, 14.Paul Reid (20.Roberto Speranza 62’), 15.Max Burgess, 17.Sash Tirovski (C) (16.Anthony Perri 59’), 23.Askin Oygur
Substitutes Not Used: 4.Michael Cindric, 22.Aaron Liddell
Yellow Cards: Oygur 76’
Red Cards: Nil
Manly United FC: 1.Dylan Mitchell; 2.Leigh Egger, 4.Graeme Forbes (C), 5.Joshua Lawson (3.Roberto Hamad 64’), 6.Daniel Grant, 7.Scott Balderson, 10.Colin Iley, 11.Matthew Sim, 12.Brendan Cholakian, 14.David Cain (25.Dominic Ferguson 72’), 16.Josh Ward
Substitutes Not Used: 8.Sean Seavill, 20.Tonu Liiband, 32.Michael McGinlay
Yellow Cards: Forbes 68’
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Brendan Gan (RCS)
2 – Richard Cardozo (RCS)
1 – Matthew Sim (MUFC)
-By Micky Brock