A defiant performance from Manly United FC saw the visitors twice level against a dominant Bonnyrigg White Eagles to grab a 2-2 draw on Saturday night at Bonnyrigg Sports Centre.
Manly bravely held off wave after wave of Bonnyrigg attacks to prevent the league leaders running away with the match as Sean Seavill and Colin Iley cancelled out Aaron Peterson and Adrian Ucchino’s goals.
Iley’s late equaliser sees Bonnyrigg relinquish their spot at the top of the table to Sutherland Sharks who grabbed a big win up on the Central Coast while the result sees Manly United remain comfortably in ninth-spot, well off contention for a finals berth and well clear of the relegation battle unfolding below them.
The continual downpour of the day created slippery conditions for the fixture which was tightly contested throughout.
The rain held off for the first-half as Bonnyrigg looked to assert authority from the outset as they stroked the ball around from kick off to control the early tempo.
While the hosts were holding the greater early possession it was Manly who began the more incisive going forward as they created a trio of early chances.
Seavill created the first opening when he stole possession from Ucchino in midfield before releasing Matthew Sim into the box; Sim’s powerful effort flashed narrowly past the near post.
Seavill then attempted to break the deadlock himself soon after when Bonnyrigg’s backline afforded him a yard of space on the edge of the box yet the midfielder dragged his finish wide of Matthew Nash’s far post when he perhaps should have tested the keeper with a shot on target.
Manly threatened once again minutes later, this time from the dead ball as Sim curved a dangerous free kick beyond the far post; Iley centred the ball with a cushioned header only for captain Chris Tadrosse to intervene with a crucial clearing header.
Bonnyrigg’s central defensive pairing of Alex Mansueto and Vuko Tomasevic soon settled things down at the back with the assistance of Howard Fondyke who dropped deeper from midfield to nullify Manly’s counterattacking threat.
The adjustment allowed the hosts to regain the composure and begin to create chances of their own; their first notable chance was Mitch Long’s effort from the edge of the box midway through the opening half which appeared goal bound when it took a slight deflection en route to goal only for the ball to strike the near post and deflect clear.
Bonnyrigg’s next chance just after the half hour mark saw Peterson break the deadlock while Manly goalkeeper Dylan Mitchell was left blushing in his wake.
A long ball in behind Manly’s backline drew Mitchell off his line only for Peterson to beat Mitchell to the ball, deftly head it over the stranded keeper, and then tuck the ball calmly into an open goal to open the scoring for the home side.
Manly looked to respond instantly as Sim looked to have played Seavill through on goal with their next attack only for Mansueto to recover smartly and outmuscle the midfielder with a vital challenge.
Both sides had chances to add another goal to the score sheet as Fondyke fired well over from range for Bonnyrigg while Sim twice fired a free-kick into the wall at the other end after Tomasevic had pulled down Iley on the edge of the box.
With half-time looming Manly then took full advantage of a defensive error to draw level and change to mood of both dressing rooms during the interval.
A seemingly routine interception for Tomasevic skipped off the defender’s studs in the slippery conditions and Seavill accepted the gift, pouncing to fire the levelling goal past Nash as the sides went into the break at 1-1.
Bonnyrigg coach Brian Brown would have been livid to have conceded so soon before the interval whistle yet his side appeared to have responded well to his half-time team talk as they created a golden opportunity soon after the restart.
Ucchino was the architect, cutting inside his marker on the right flank before delivering a low cross to Robbie Younis who took a brilliant first touch to turn the ball onto his stronger left foot before uncharacteristically blasting his finish wide when he appeared odds on to score.
The hosts continued to threaten as Mansueto headed a Tadrosse corner over while Manly still looked to hit Bonnyrigg on the counterattack as they continued to break forward with speed when the chance looked on.
Peterson came close to restoring Bonnyrigg’s lead and doubling his tally soon after when Bo Hyun Chun threaded a smart pass to him in the edge of the box; Peterson then utilised his close control to glide past James Oates before firing his low finish inches wide of the far post.
Bonnyrigg continued to look the more likely to move ahead and did so just after the hour mark after Chun used his studs to lightly roll the ball into Ucchino’s path on the edge of the box.
With Manly’s defence wrong-footed by the masked pass Ucchino then produced a sublime first-time shot that curled beyond Mitchell and into the top corner to put his side back in front.
The hosts didn’t stop there as they continued to press forward in search of another goal with looking increasingly threatening as he shot wide before combining well with Tadrosse on the left flank to create further chances for his side.
The skies finally opened back up to let the rain pour down for the final quarter hour of the match to create a scrappy end to the match and aid Manly in their hunt for a late equaliser.
With the clock running down Manly forced a late corner which wreaked havoc in the box as the visitors struggled to get a clean shot off while Bonnyrigg struggled to clear; Iley eventually tucked the ball beyond Nash the wet conditions to dramatically level the scores with minutes remaining.
Bonnyrigg pushed forward in numbers in search of a late winner but it was not to be as Manly held on for their share of the spoils.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles coach Brian Brown was understandably disappointed with the final result having seen his side dominate proceedings only to concede late in each half to drop two valuable points:
“It’s very frustrating,” said Brown.
“I feel for the boys, I thought we pretty much dominated the game in both halves and gave away two reasonably silly goals which is the only way I can describe them.
“The first one we weren’t tight enough and the ball broke for the guy (Seavill) and the second one we had enough chances to clear it.
“We worked hard, I thought we played really hard in the second half, just maybe our decision making in front of goal at time was a bit wrong and our crossing we tried to hit to hard instead of placing it.
“I was pretty happy with the way the boys worked, just the outcome was just not right at the moment.
“It’s just not quite clicking and we’re losing bad goals.
“When you’re dominating the game the way we did we just can’t lose cheap goals like that.”
With the draw now out of the way Brown will turn his focus to next weekend’s top of the table clash with new league leaders Sutherland Sharks as they look to reclaim the top of the table:
“We’ve got Sutherland at Sutherland next week,” said Brown.
“We’ll be up for the battle and we’ll be down there and hopefully we’ll play like we can play.
“If we play like we can then there’s no reason why we can’t go down there and win.”
Manly United FC coach Craig Midgely was delighted with the result having seen his side absorb intense pressure to get a point here tonight:
“To come here and get anything is a big result for a club like us with the resources and the squad we’ve got,” said Midgley.
“I think our goals we had to work hard for.
“I’m a bit disappointed that a lot of goals we concede I feel like we gift them and we’ve got to try and shut that up a bit and be a bit tighter.
“Two goals, whatever time they come, it’s good to get two goals away at a place like this and to get a point is great.”
Injury problems have plighted Manly’s season an Midgely is hoping that this result along with the return of a number of players will help them over the coming weeks:
“Hopefully we’ll get a couple of players back,” said Midgley.
“We have to move forward.
“This will be a little springboard now to take us into the next few games.
“If we’re not positive after a game like that then we never will be.
“Hopefully we’ll get a couple of players back, have a good week in training, then we’ll go again against Rockdale.”
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 2 (Aaron Peterson 31’, Adrian Ucchino 62’)
Manly United FC 2 (Sean Seavill 45’, Colin Iley 86’)
Saturday 22nd of June, 2013
Bonnyrigg Sports Centre, Bonnyrigg Heights
Referee: Kevin Peddie
Assistant Referees: Adam Coombes and James Tesoriero
Fourth Official: Nathan Roberts
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 1.Matthew Nash; 2.Alex Mansueto, 4.Vuko Tomasevic, 5.Chris Tadrosse, 7.Tynan Diaz, 9.Robert Younis (23.David Gullo 78’), 10.Mitchell Long, 16.Howard Fondyke, 18.Adrian Ucchino, 19.Aaron Peterson (14.Jordan Crighton 87’), 21.Bo Hyun Chun
Substitutes Not Used: 3.Masakatsu Tanaka, 15.Steven Hesketh, 33.Nikodin Matic
Yellow Cards: Mitch Long 81’
Red Cards: Nil
Manly United FC: 1.Dylan Mitchell; 2.Leigh Egger, 4.Graeme Forbes, 5.Joshua Lawson, 6.Daniel Grant (25.Dominic Ferguson 63’), 8.Sean Seavill, 10.Colin Iley, 11.Matthew Sim, 14.David Cain (30.Jack Green 79’), 15.James Oates, 16.Josh Ward (24.Tom Morrissey 73’)
Substitutes Not Used: 20.Tonu Liiband, 26.Nathan Sim
Yellow Cards: Leigh Egger 69’, Tom Morrissey 90’
Red Cards: Nil
-By Michael Shoolman