BONNYRIGG WHITE EAGLES showed their class and Matthew Nash showed his as the hosts came from behind to defeat Sydney United 58.
The match was poised on a knife edge, with Bonnyrigg leading 2-1 and only 13′ minutes remaining, when a cross from United substitute Chris Triantis, found Daniel Bragg unmarked in the middle.
It looked for all money that Bragg would score but he was superbly denied by the cat-like reflexes of Nash, who has been one of Bonnyrigg’s stand out performers all year.
It could have so different.
United took the lead when Mirjan Pavlovic scored with not 60" seconds on the clock, but Bonnyrigg hit back firstly through Adrian Ucchino in first half stoppage time and then through serial goalscorer Robbie Younis.
Pavlovic’s goal was just the opening United needed as Mark Rudan fielded a new look sign without the suspended Diego Barcena and Theo Kofinas and the absent club captain, Luka Glavas.
Joel Chianese made his debut for United in a front three with Alec Urosevski and the promoted Richard Darko.
Bonnyrigg was missing the influential Terry McFlynn in midfield, but they were still able to produce a dominant performance.
After Pavlovic’s opener, United showed a great deal of heart and fight, perhaps borne out of their spirited, nine-man second half performance last week against Rockdale City.
But their good work was undone by a goalkeeping error by Anthony Costa in stoppage time of the first half.
The goalkeeper flapped at Tynan Diaz’s cross and Ucchino levelled the scores from close range.
Bonnyrigg flexed their muscle in the second half.
Diaz was selfish in the 63′ minute when he shot at Costa’s near post, when instead he should have squared to Younis or Aaron Peterson.
It mattered not as they took the lead in the 71′ minute.
Peterson’s cross from the right was deadly accurate and Younis was left with the relatively simple task of heading in, albeit nicking the post as it flew past Costa.
Then came Nash’s save. Bragg was only a matter of yards away when he connected with Triantis’ inch-perfect cross, but Nash sprung to his right, reacting instantly to get two strong hands to the ball and turn it away from danger.
Peterson flashed a shot wide shortly after as Bonnyrigg tried to put the game away.
United were struggling to mount any sort of comeback with neither Triantis nor half time introduction Kaz Patafta able to really influence the match.
Patafta’s ballooned volley late on summed up the limp second half performance from United, who in the end were simply out muscled and out played by their in-form neighbours.
Sydney United coach Mark Rudan said after the game: "We started well obviously and we’ve started well in the last few games.
"We had to change the side a lot with a mixture of injuries and suspensions.
"It was a tough match away from home on a bumpy pitch, against a team that hasn’t conceded in a long time.
"You have to give credit to Bonnyrigg, they’re a good side. They created some good chances in the second half. Our work ethic was really strong though."
Bonnyrigg coach Brian Brown was pleased with the performance of the White Eagles.
"I think it was a great performance in difficult circumstances," he said.
"The pitch was a bit bumpy, but other than the first five minutes, we dominated.
"We’re not trying to base our team on being tight at the back, it’s just the way it’s worked out.
"Our way of playing is to try and score goals, and we created a lot of chances today."
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 2 (Adrian Ucchino 45+1′, Robbie Younis 71′)
Sydney United 58 FC 1 (Mirjan Pavlovic 1′)
Sunday June 15, 2014
Bonnyrigg Sports Centre, Bonnyrigg
Referee: Chris Young
Assistant Referees: Leigh Pigram and Andrej Giev
Fourth Official: Adam Vainauskas
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 1.Matthew Nash; 4.David Vrankovic, 5.Chris Tadrosse, 6.Nikola Zonjic, 7.Tynan Diaz (13.Adam Jenner 87′), 8.Alexander Canak, 9.Robbie Younis (21.Ken Chun 78′), 12.Dylan Fox, 16.Howard Fondkyke, 18.Adrian Ucchino, 19.Aaron Peterson (2.Alexander Mansuetto 90+2′)
Substitutes not used: 20.Tristan Prendergast, 17.Mitchell Osmond
Sydney United 58 FC: 1.Anthony Costa; 4.Nathan Sherlock (5.Anthony Tomelic 37′), 6.Mitchell Stamatellis, 7.Mirjan Pavlovic (18.Kaz Patafta 46′), 8.Ante Tomic, 9.Alec Urosevski, 13.Richard Darko (10.Chris Triantis 72′), 14.Mitchell Speer, 20.Ibrahim Haydar, 22.Joel Chianese, 35.Daniel Bragg
Substitutes not used: 29.John Dimitrakis, 12.Ivan Pavlak
– by Matthew Lopez, National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 Editor, at Bonnyrigg Sports Centre