IT was the sort of match that required a mistake to decide it and so it proved as Rockdale’s Nikola Taneski took advantage of Marconi defender Tomislav Mijic’s error to score the only goal of the game.
Rockdale City needed to win given their precarious top-five situation and they did the business in a tight match on a cold night at Marconi Stadium.
It is a wonder that neither goalkeeper complained of frostbite, so little were they called into action during a 90′ minutes almost entirely devoid of goal mouth action, even if Rockdale were the better side over the course of the match
In the end, Branko Culina would have been happy to get out of there with the points.
There was 68′ minutes on the clock when Askin Oygur’s hopeful ball forward caught out Mijic, who criminally let the ball bounce over his head.
Taneski pounced, using his considerable pace to reach the loose ball first. He showed great strength and tenacity to hold the ball with Mijic all over him, and then great composure to slot the ball, left footed, past James Chronopoulos.
It was Taneski who had the match’s other genuine opportunity. A well-timed run saw the attacker one-on-one with Chronopoulos but Taneski went for power rather than precision and the Marconi goalkeeper was able to repel the shot with his knee.
Culina picked Taneski, Tadhg Purcell, Toufic Alameddine and Marko Jesic, with the latter playing in behind Purcell. It meant that Tahj Minniecon was only a substitute.
Taneski was looking the most lively, but in the 17′ minute Jesic was away, only to he hauled down by Ali Haydar. He was booked for his crude tackle; some thought it should have been more.
Jesic then thumped the free kick towards goal but it was straight at Chronopoulos.
Marconi was struggling to get a foothold in the game and couldn’t assert any control over proceedings.
Sean Symons’ free kick was the next attempt on goal, a few minutes before half-time, but his free kick was low and wide.
Paul Carter introduced Zak Elrich in place of Marco Sama just before the hour mark, and Culina responded by sending on Minniecon for Purcell.
Minniecon immediately was involved, receiving a beautifully weighted long pass from the silky Oygur, before cutting inside and lashing a shot into the side netting.
Taneski’s goal followed, at last breaking the deadlock and encouraging Marconi to chase the game.
Shu Sasaki, who had been quiet all night, sent in a devilish cross that Arcaba did well to catch over his head.
Then, Milorad Simonovic flashed a shot wide with ten minutes to go.
Rockdale City could have put the game to bed when a clever pass saw Minniecon through, his touch taking him around Chronopoulos. The Rockdale number 10 tried to cut the ball back but Chronopoulos was able to block the cross out for a corner.
"We were under the pump a bit in the first half, and obviously we’re unhappy to lose 1-0," Marconi captain Chronopoulos said.
"You win some, you lose some. That was three points lost. We looked a bit scrappy at times."
Rockdale’s coach Culina was happy to be on the positive end of the scoreline, but again lamented his side’s tendency to not put games away.
"I thought we were the better side, especially in the first half," Culina said.
"We were unlucky and at the end of the day, Marconi came out to try and spoil the game, to sit deep and make it hard for us.
"I keep saying to the boys, it would be nice to play for 60′ minutes knowing the game was won, but we always seem to leave the game open for the entire 90′ minutes."
Marconi Stallions 0
Rockdale City Suns 1 (Nikola Taneski 68′)
Saturday July 12, 2014
Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
Referee: Stephen Lucas
Assistant Referees: James Tesoriero and Adam Coombes
Fourth Official: Kelly Jones
Marconi Stallions: 22.James Chronopoulos (C); 2.Mitchell Thompson, 3.Ali Haydar, 6.Jared Lum, 9.Marco Sama (21.Zak Elrich 59′), 10.Milorad Simonovic, 15.Tomislav Mijic, 17.Steven Drewery (16.Bright Appiah 75′), 18.Jake McGing, 20.Shu Sasaki, 23.Christopher Nunes
Substitutes not used: 1.Nathan Campbell, 4.Trent Barton, 14.Bruno Antelmi
Yellow Cards: Ali Haydar 17′, Christopher Nunes 40′, Tomislav Mijic 47′
Red Cards: Nil
Rockdale City Suns: 1.Tomislav Arcaba; 4.Sean Symons, 5.Paul Reid, 6.Takuya Murayama, 7.Toufic Alaeddine (14.Patrick Savor 72′), 8.Paul Kohler, 11.Nikola Taneski, 12.Idriss El Hafiane, 18.Marko Jesic, 23.Askin Oygur (C), 45.Tadhg Purcell (10.Tahj Minniecon 60′)
Substitutes not used: 22.David Bradasevic, 3.Steven Hesketh, 21.Hristijian Tanoski
Yellow Cards: Askin Oygur 19′, Patrick Savor 89′
Red Cards: Nil
– By Matthew Lopez, National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 Editor, at Marconi Stadium