LAST year’s champions Bonnyrigg White Eagles have made amends for their opening round defeat against Rockdale City Suns earlier this season by posting a 1-0 win in a blockbuster encounter at Ilinden Sports Centre.
In a game that had both the Rockdale and Bonnyrigg fans on the edge of their seats for the majority of the game, it was a solitary penalty to Robbie Younis in the dying moments of the match that sealed it for the visitors.
It was the home side who created the first realistic chance of the game in the 13’ minute when Tadhg Purcell linked up with Sean Symons. Purcell put a nice ball through to Symons who was lurking out on the left where the speedy forward still had plenty of work to do as he took on the Bonnyrigg defensive line.
Symons deft touch on the ball to turn inside his defender brought the Rockdale faithful to their feet as he fired off a shot on target that was only negated by the cat-like reflexes of Bonnyrigg keeper Matthew Nash diving low to his left to prevent an early Rockdale goal.
The wake-up call was just what the visitors needed as a high looping corner by Ken Chun in the 17’ minute from out on the left found the imposing height of striker Aaron Peterson who rose high above the defensive line to angle a header toward the net. Unfortunately for Peterson he couldn’t quite get enough on the ball and it sailed over the bar.
The danger bells were ringing for the Suns as yet another corner in the 24’ minute, this time from out on the right side, found Nikola Zonjic whose shot from the middle of the box was blocked and rebounded to teammate Peterson. The Bonnyrigg striker fired off a shot at point-blank range from the far post only to be brilliantly blocked by Rockdale keeper David Bradasevic.
Rockdale returned serve in the 33’ minute after Nikola Taneski, Symons and Purcell all combined well to get in behind the Bonnyrigg defensive line. Taneski delivered a nice ball from the centre of the park to Symons who seemed to be everywhere throughout the opening stanza.
Symons then crossed to Purcell in the box where the Suns striker probably should have opened up his side’s account, but instead rushed his shot and put it wide of the near post.
The home side appeared to have the ascendency in the latter stages of the opening half and created another opportunity in the 43’ minute after Taneski was brought down out on the left. An ensuing perfectly weighted free-kick found the feet of an unmarked Paul Kohler where the Suns captain connected sweetly with the ball on the half-volley, but instead of putting into the back of the net from close range, sent it high up over the bar to ensure that the contest would remain scoreless at the break.
The epic arm-wrestle continued well into the second-half with Bonnyrigg’s Chun determined to get his name on the scoring sheet.
The 51’ minute saw the visitors come close when the energetic Chun latched onto a cross from out on the right. Chun’s on-target left-foot thunderbolt looked certain to find the back of the net, but Bradasevic was again equal to the task by getting the faintest of fingertips onto the ball to send it up over the bar and out of harm’s way.
Symons also continued his dominance when he took on the Bonnyrigg defence and showed some turn of speed with the ball to get deep into the opposition’s half. A looping cross from out on the left by Symons found Taneski on the far post, but the forward was well marked and despite getting a boot to the ball, sent it over the bar.
In end-to-end entertaining action, Bonnyrigg hit back with yet another opportunity in the 63’ minute after Chris Tadrosse crossed from wide out on the left for a fast-finishing Peterson. The towering striker appeared to be somewhat wrong-footed as he arrived at the ball and simply chipped it to Bradasevic who made an easy save.
The crowd were again on their feet mere seconds later as Rockdale counter-attacked with a swoop of their own. A neat cut back pass from the left edge of the box by Idriss El Hafiane found an unmarked Paul Reid who fired off a powerful shot that rose above the bar to keep the game scoreless.
As with the latter stages of the first-half, Rockdale were again gaining momentum, but everything they threw at the visitors the Bonnyrigg defensive line somehow managed to repel the Suns numerous raids.
However, tragedy struck for the home side when a hand-ball saw a penalty awarded against Rockdale’s Kohler in the box, effectively signalling that patience had eventually prevailed for the vistors.
Replacement forward Robbie Younis made no mistake from the spot in the 86’ minute to steal the game for the visitors in the dying moments of a thoroughly entertaining display of football.
“I’m ecstatic, but that sure was a tough win,” claimed a jubilant Bonnyrigg coach Brian Brown.
“This was always going to be a tough game as we’ve had three great contests against Rockdale this year as Branko’s team always makes it hard for us.
“We tried to open things up in the second-half, we changed our formation a bit and both teams had some real good chances. I thought their keeper pulled off some outstanding saves as did our keeper in a real tight game.
“I think in the first-half both sides matched each other, the conditions were tricky, it was windy, the pitch is a bit bumpy, but the second-half it was much more open and it created a great spectacle to watch.
“From a team point of view our boys worked hard and I think we’ve gone eight games now and in seven of those we’ve maintained a clean sheet, so it’s those kinds of figures that keep you up at the top of the table.”
Rockdale coach Branko Culina agreed that both teams put on a great spectacle, but was bitterly disappointed that his side did not capitalise on the chances created.
“Tell me one game where we shouldn’t have walked away with the full three points this season,” quipped Culina when asked about the loss.
“It’s a collective problem of not being able to take chances and giving away silly goals.
“When you dominate a game like we did today and create so many chances, and then you give that goal away – it’s just not good at all.”
Despite the result, both sides remain firmly entrenched in the top five on the National Premier Leagues IGA NSW Mens 1 ladder as the competition heads into the second-half, and the all-important business end of the season.
Bonnyrigg play three of their next four games at home and will be looking to cement their spot in the top three starting next Saturday evening when they host the struggling Manly United outfit at Bonnyrigg Sports Club, while Rockdale head on out to Edensor Park next Sunday afternoon as they take on last season’s premiers Sydney United 58 FC who will be looking to improve on their somewhat disappointing opening half to their 2014 campaign.
Rockdale City Suns 0
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1 (Robbie Younis 86’ (pen))
Sunday June 1, 2014
Ilinden Sports Centre, Rockdale
Referee: Adam Susz
Assistant Referees: Andrej Giev and Nicholas Backo
Fourth Official: Gareth Hadden
Rockdale City Suns: 22.David Bradasevic; 3.Steven Hesketh, 4.Sean Symons (16.Daniel Barac81’), 5.Paul Reid, 6.Takuya Murayama, 8.Paul Kohler (C), 9.Tadhg Purcell, 11.Nikola Taneski(17.Hristijan Tanoski 67’), 12.Idriss El Hafiane, 14.Patrick Savor (13.Ben Cornish 64’), 19.ThembaMuata-Marlow
Substitutes Not Used: 2.Andrija Petkovic, 24.Blake Horton
Yellow Cards: Paul Reid 72’
Red Cards: Nil
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 1.Matthew Nash; 4.David Vrankovic, 5.Chris Tadrosse (C), 6.Nikola Zonjic,7.Tynan Diaz (9.Robbie Younis 59’), 8.Alex Canak (2.Alex Mansueto 90+3’), 12.Dylan Fox, 18.AdrianUcchino, 19.Aaron Peterson, 21.Ken Chun (37.Adam Jenner 85’), 35.Terry McFlynn
Substitutes Not Used: 16.Howard Fondyke, 20.Tristan Prendergast
Yellow Cards: Alex Canak 45’
Red Cards: Nil
*Player Ratings have now been hidden with the official ‘Team of the Year’ to be announced after round 22 of the IGA NPL NSW Mens 1 competition
-By Gary McDonald, National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 Reporter, at Ilinden Sports Centre