BLACKTOWN Spartans returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over the Rockdale City Suns in a lacklustre affair at Ilinden Sports Centre.
The lone goal of the match came two minutes before half time with Corey Biczo taking advantage of a defensive miscommunication to poke the ball into the back of the net.
Rockdale gave a much better showing in the second half but were unable to break a stubborn Spartans defensive outfit.
Wet and windy conditions did not help the teams as the Spartans resorted to a long ball game.
The match could have been very different after Blacktown’s slow start as within two minutes as they passed the ball directly to Rockdale striker Nikola Taneski whose shot was well saved by Carlos Saliadarre.
The mistake awakened the Spartans who started pressuring the Rockdale defence and almost had a two goal lead in the 9′ minute when a corner hit the top of the net as Suns keeper Tomislav Arcaba missed the ball.
Elsid Barkhousir was put through on goal a minute later but Themba Muata-Marlow retreated well to slide and block the striker’s shot.
The league leaders kept the pressure on in 19′ minute as Greg Kondek found space behind the Rockdale defence on the left hand touchline, squaring the ball to an advancing Corey Biczo whose shot was well saved by Arcaba.
Rockdale started to take control of possession in the middle of the first half, passing the ball around the edge of the Spartans box but unable to unlock the visitors defence.
The goal finally came in the 43′ minute when Biczo made amends for his earlier miss. The attacker took advantage of a miscommunication between Rockdale’s centre back pairing of Askkin Oygur and Muata-Marlow, sneaking past the duo and getting a foot to the ball to see it past the oncoming Arcaba.
Rockdale were eager to get their equaliser early in the second half with wingers Sean Symons and Tahj Minniecon both causing havoc to the Spartans defence.
As they committed numbers forward the Suns were almost caught on the counter in the 50′ minute with Ray Miller finding Biczo with a long ball but the latter’s early shot flew wide of right hand post.
Symons played a neat one-two with Tadgh Purcell three minutes later to open the Blacktown defence but the former’s shot was well blocked.
Former A-League player Paul Reid tried something different from a free kick in shooting distance on 57′ minutes, faking a shot to release Minniecon on the right hand side. The speedster made his way into the Spartans box but his cross was well cut off by a diving Saliadarre.
The Spartans were not resting on their laurels as Biczo and Mitchell Long both forced great saves out of Arcaba in the 64′ and 72′ minute.
As the match entered the final five minutes Rockdale sent numbers forward in hope for a late equaliser, but it wasn’t to be with the Spartans holding out for the victory.
Following the match Blacktown Spartans head coach Ben De Haan said he was happy his team stuck to the tactics set out on a difficult pitch.
“It was purely result based today – that’s all it was about,” he said.
“You can’t come here to play, the ground is atrocious and so were the conditions.
“We’ve been taught a couple of lessons on wet, boggy pitches on Sunday afternoons. People have played like that against us in the last couple of weeks and got the result.
“It is results based for the next eight weeks so we will be working hard.”
In the home dressing room Rockdale City Suns head coach Brank Culina was left frustrated with the result.
“Credit to (Blacktown Spartans), we knew they would set up the way they did,” he said.
“It was more about physical presence and the battle and they are more physical than us.
“In the end I thought we copped a soft goal as well. Their goalkeeper kicks the ball out, we miss it and then two of our players are caught out.
“It was always going to be a tough game because of the conditions. “
Rockdale City Suns 0
Blacktown Spartans 1 (Corey Biczo 43’)
Sunday June 15, 2014
Ilinden Sports Centre, Rockdale
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant referees: Adam Weir and Joon Park
Fourth Official: James Tesoriero
Rockdale City Suns: 1.Tomislav Arcaba, 11.Nikola Taneski, 19.Themba Muata-Marlow, 4.Sean Symons, 10.Tahj Minniecon (21.Hristijan Tanoski 77’), 45.Tadgh Purcell (14.Patrick Savor 63’), 5.Paul Reid , 12.Idriss El-Hafiane, 6.Takuya Murayama, 23.Askin Oygur (c), 8.Paul Kohler
Substitutions not used: 22.David Bradasevic, 17.Tony Lo, 3.Steven Hesketh
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
Blacktown Spartans: 1.Carlos Saliadarre (c), 5.Luka Dukic, 9.Elsid Barkhousir (17.Connor Evans 74’), 3.Nathan Millgate, 6.Greg Kondek (19.Reid Taylor 85’), 8.Ray Miller, 10.Emmanuel Giannaros, 13.Corey Biczo, 14.Jacob Ott, 15.Mitchell Long, 16.Benjamin Tosi (20.Tomislav Cirjak 68’)
Substitutions not used: 18.Zac Freeburn, 40.James Stojcevski
Yellow Cards: Greg Kondek 55’, Nathan Millgate 79’, Jacob Ott 93’
Red Cards: Nil
– by Chris Georges, National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 Reporter, at Ilinden Sports Centre