ROCKDALE City Suns showed their premiership credentials with a convincing 3-1 victory over Sydney United 58 at Sydney United Sports Centre.
Goals to Sean Symons, Tadgh Purcell and Nikola Taneski cancelled out Mirjan Pavlovic’s opener in fantastic first half.
United have only themselves to blame though, as they lost both Diego Barcena and Theo Kofinas to red cards at the break, apparently for a scuffle between themselves as the teams made their way off for the break.
The Suns gave former Western Sydney Wanderers winger Tahj Minniecon his debut with the winger lighting up the right hand side early in the match.
Rockdale’s early pressure resulted in a series of corners to the Suns but it was United who opened the scoring in the 7′ minute.
After quickly clearing a corner Stjepan Paric released Luka Glavas down the right hand side creating a two on one counter attack. Glavas took on his defender before squaring the ball to Pavlovic who calmly slotted the ball under an oncoming David Bradesevic to give his side a 1-0 lead.
The goal sparked United 58 into action as they moved forward in numbers trying to break down the Rockdale defence once again.
Tadhg Purcell attempted to get Rockdale back into the game in the 21′ minute, attacking a retreating United defence before shooting wide.
A minute later Rockdale had a penalty shout turned down with Sean Symons receiving a yellow card for simulation.
But the in-form midfielder made amends for the caution in the 27′ minute when his curling free kick from wide on the right snuck in at the near post to bring the scores level.
Minniecon had a great chance to put his new side ahead on 31′ minutes after getting on the end of a Paul Kohler cross, only for his deflected shot to end in the hands of Barcena.
The former A-League star was at it again in just two minutes later when he attacked through the middle of the park before passing to Nikola Taneski whose shot deflected out for a corner.
Purcell had another chance to score from the imposing corner with his half volley saved by the leg of Barcena before the ball was cleared.
The constant pressure paid off in the 36′ minute when Sydney United 58 failed to clear a corner, ending in a Minniecon cross headed into the back of the net by Tadgh Purcell, making it 2-1.
Rockdale were not done there as they scored their third goal on the stroke of half time. Right back Takuya Murayama threaded a lovely through ball to Purcell who cut back to a waiting Taneski. The striker took a touch before unleashing a fantastic shot hitting the top right hand corner.
United’s hopes of getting back into the game took a turn for the worse as they were reduced to nine men. As both teams left the pitch Kofinas and Barcena both received their marching orders for an off-field incident.
Rockdale quickly took control of possession with the numerical advantage in the second half, pinning United deep into their half.
Despite controlling the majority of play it took Rockdale until the 60′ minute to have their next shot on goal. After the Suns won a free kick, Symons stepped up to curl the ball around the wall only for reserve keeper John Dimitrakis pulling off a great scrambling save.
Two minutes later Idriss El Hafiane had an attempt from outside the box go flying over the cross bar.
The shooting practice continued in the 74′ minute with Purcell pulling the trigger from 20 yards with the ball sailing wide.
United made it out of their half in the 78′ minute with Speer playing Richard Darko through on goal, but the play was called back for being offside.
Daniel Barac was next to test the keeper with two minutes remaining but his shot went straight to the chest of Dimitrakis.
Following the match Rockdale City Suns head coach Branko Culina said his side had to learn to get on with the job after a dour second half.
“The first half was where the game was won and lost and we did enough,” he said.
“Basically the second half was non-existent – I don’t think either team got anything out of the second half.
“We didn’t take advantage of what happened and I think our attitude was wrong. It was an opportunity to really build on the two goal lead and kill them off.
“We got away with it this time, but if we ever get into this situation again we need to be a bit smarter.”
In the home dressing sheds Sydney United 58 head coach Mark Rudan remained in shock after two of his players were sent off at the half time break.
“The first half I thought we were good value,” he said.
“We got the early goal and then a set piece conceding at the near post – the way we are going now those sort of things are enough to drop players heads and that’s what happened.
“What I saw at half time was the first I have seen anything like it. I was shocked to have the referee come to me and told me he was sending two of my players off for something I didn’t see.
“Apparently they had an argument amongst each other in the tunnel.
“It was just a matter for us having to shuffle and deal with the hand we were dealt.
“I thought the nine players who were out on the park were sensational. I am really proud of their structure and discipline.”
Sydney United 58 FC 1 (Mirjan Pavlovic 7’)
Rockdale City Suns 3 (Sean Symons 27’, Tadhg Purcell 36’, Nikola Taneski 45’)
Sunday June 8, 2014
Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park
Referee: Ryan Shepheard
Assistant Referees: Sarah Ho and Murray Wilson
Fourth Official: Samuel Grasso
Sydney United 58 FC: 1.Diego Barcena; 6.Mitchell Stamatellis, 20.Ibrahim Haydar, 4.Nathan Sherlock, 17.Theo Kofinas, 18.Alec Urosevski, 16.Stjepan Paric, 14.Mitchell Speer, 7.Mirjan Pavlovic (29.John Dimitrakis 46’), 12.Ivan Pavlak, 11.Luka Glavas (c) (24.Richard Darko 46’)
Substitutes not used: 2.Anthony Tomelic, 23.Kaz Patafta, 8.Ante Tomic
Yellow Cards: Mirjan Pavlovic 23’, Ivan Pavlak 26’, Alec Urosevski 39’
Red cards: Diego Barcena 45’, Theo Kofinas 45’
Rockdale City Suns: 24.David Bradasevic; 11.Nikola Taneski, 2.Themba Muata-Marlow, 4.Sean Symons, 10.Tahj Minniecon (16.Daniel Barac 64’), 45.Tadj Purcell, 5.Paul Reid (14.Patrick Savor 73’) , 12.Idriss El-Hafiane, 6.Takuya Murayama, 23.Askin Oygur, 8.Paul Kohler (3.Steven Hesketh 77’)
Substitutes not used: 1.Tomislav Arcaba
Yellow Cards: Sean Symons 22’
Red Cards: Nil
– by Chris Georges, National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 Reporter, at Sydney United Sports Centre