MANLY United FC was the toast of the peninsula football community after beating Sydney United 58 FC 1-0 at Cromer Park.
Mark Rudan had an embarrassment of riches on his team sheet, but the home side were not to be denied on a very chilly evening.
Chris Payne scored the winner after 39’ minutes, in a contest which epitomised Manly’s team spirit.
Payne, Jimmy Oates and Brendan Cholakian were lively from the outset, while Ante Tomic and Daniel Bragg had some good early touches for the Reds.
Manly were dealt a blow on 24’ minutes when skipper Graeme Forbes was forced from the field with injury.
Roberto Speranza was his replacement, and after a nervous start, he soon began to shine.
With 26’ minutes played Leigh Egger should have opened the scoring.
Cholakian sent in a great ball from the right, but the centre back snatched at the chance and a certain goal went begging.
35’ minutes in Manly youngster Dylan Whitlock lashed a shot goalwards, only to find Ibrahim Haydar block his effort.
It didn’t matter, with Paul Dee’s men taking the lead moments later.
Cholakian capitalised on some shambolic defending and unselfishly laid the ball square to an unmarked Payne, who had time to control the ball and knock it in from a metre out.
Payne should have grabbed a second moments later but shot wide of the target from eight yards.
The striker was in the thick of the action all night and on 49’ minutes stung the palms of United keeper Anthony Costa after he was played in by Oates.
Egger hit the crossbar from the resulting Cholakian corner and you sensed it was going to Manly’s night as their desire was plain for all to see.
Rudan made a triple substitution after 69’ minutes with Matthew Bilic, Richard Darko and Luka Glavas all thrown into the fray.
The trio had little impact as the home side closed in on victory, defending as if their lives depended on it.
When referee Michael Weiner blew fulltime, Manly celebrated as if they had won a grand final.
Rudan gathered his troops in for some home truths, scarcely able to believe his team had finished the game empty handed.
Manly coach Dee was understandably chuffed when reflecting on the outcome
“It was nerve wracking last 30 minutes,’’ he said.
“We had total belief the boys could do it, they just had to withstand some of the pressure they put on us.
“They have a star-studded team and we held them out.”
His opposite Rudan said it was just one of those games.
“We gave them a gift (goal) and that was the difference,’’ he said.
“Mistakes happen, but we won’t change the way we play.
“I thought we outplayed them in most parts of the match, we just have to improve in big moments.”
Manly United FC 1 (Chris Payne 39’)
Sydney United 58 FC 0
Saturday June 21, 2014
Cromer Park, Cromer
Referee: Michael Weiner
Assistant Referees: Andrej Giev and Thomas Lee
Fourth Official: Lachlan Keevers
Manly United FC: 1.Dylan Mitchell, 2.Jimmy Oates, 3.Leigh Egger, 4.Graeme Forbes, (11.Roberto Speranza 24’) 5.Josh Lawson, 6.Josh Ward, 8.Danny Grant, (12.Dom Ferguson 79’) 9.Chris Payne, 10.Brendan Cholakian, 15.Rhys Williams, 31.Dylan Whitlock (22.Jack Green 76’)
Substitutes not used: 20.Tonu Liiband, 21.Patrick Weir
Yellow cards: Payne 58’, Speranza 65’
Red cards: Nil
Sydney United 58 FC: 1.Anthony Costa, 35.Daniel Bragg, 41.Joel Chianese, (24.Richard Darko 69’) 20.Ibrahim Haydar, 16.Stepjan Paric, (19.Matthew Bilic 69’) 7.Mirjan Pavlovic, 14.Mitchell Speer, 6.Mitchell Stamatellis, 8.Ante Tomic, 18.Alec Urosevski, (11.Luka Glavas 69’) 3.Jacob Esposito
Substitutes not used: 29.Diego Barcena, 15.Mark Cindric
Yellow cards: Stamatellis 41’, Bragg 73’
Red cards: Nil