A PLEASANT evening in Bossley Park saw Marconi Stallions take on local rivals Sydney United 58 in the traditional derby that ended with honours even.
As expected the opening minutes were turgid and harsh and played at a frenetic pace with each trying to out-muscle the other to gain the upper hand.
Stjepan Paric played a short corner to Chris Triantis and his cross found the United 58 strike force offside in the fifth minute of play as the visitors attempted to create the first telling opening of the match.
Marconi had their first effort well stopped by Anthony Costa in the 10’ minute when Milorad Simonovic shot at goal.
Mirjan Pavlovic replied three minutes later, shooting wide with Alec Urosevski haring through the middle with blistering pace for a ball that never arrived, the early pass perhaps was the better option.
Urosevski did well to control the ball moments later when finding space against two Marconi defenders only to scuff another shot at ‘keeper James Chronopoulos. He followed this up less than sixty seconds later with a better shot but again straight at the Stallions custodian.
The visitors were getting into better position in front of goal but final ball option and a series of scuffed attempts saw the score board unused but it was surely only a matter of time before a break through from one of the protagonists.
Marconi, playing out from the back, were picking their passes in playing controlled football but the moves broke down around the edge of the area as United 58’s defence closed the gaps with some aplomb. They never looked stretched as the Stallions probed for an opening.
Urosevski played a first time ball in mid air for Pavlovic whose first touch took him beyond the Stallions defence and Chronopoulos but just too hard to control legally to find the back of the net on the half-hour mark. It was a majestic through ball that beggared belief from the rising star Urosevski.
Like two Chess Grand Masters it was attack and counter in an equally balanced tie, each knowing the others game and moves and balancing their actions which for the purist was fascinating but for the fair weather fan somewhat of a let down.
In the final minute of the half Ante Tomic stole the ball and rounded his marker to send in a left footed looping cross to the back stick that was headed woefully wide at full stretch for United 58 leading to scoreless first period and all to go for in the second stanza.
Marconi were content to sit back and soak up the pressure it appeared, whether by fault or design, and then hit on the break and they did it well in the opening period.
Pavlovic forced Chronopoulos into a fine full length save in the 47’ when spinning in the box that had the ‘keeper down smartly to his left to palm clear.
The response was immediate when Shu Susaki broke down the left and centred for Simonovic whose effort had Costa pulling off a smart reaction save as the game sprang into life.
A Jared Lum corner was skied over the bar, and almost out of the ground, in a well worked routine by Ali Haydar in the 53’ much to the disdain of the gathered Marconi faithful however chances were starting to come thick and fast.
Paul Carter replaced Lum with Marco Sama in the 57’ in an attempt to shuffle his attack but it almost backfired when Pavlovic was found with a long pass out of defence and blasted toward the target only to see Chronopoulos again manage to hold on to the ball as the play became stretched.
The deadlock was finally broken when Pavlovic powerfully found the net for United 58 in the 69’ minute to give the visitors a deserved lead.
Sama should have restored parity almost at once but fired straight at Costa in the visiting net.
Apart from the occasional highlight the remainder of the game was as tense as the preceding minutes with half-chances the best on offer and little in the way of goalmouth action.
Marconi sub Brenton Rhodes found time to make his way into the book for a foul on Urosevski late on but the final whistle blew and visiting United 58 grabbed the bragging rights or would have but for the final minute of the game when Marconi were awarded a spot kick that saw Sama net the equaliser after Stamatellis was adjudged to have handled in the area.
Paul Carter stated afterwards: “I’m too far away to comment on penalties but the referee was pretty adamant about it and I think the draw was a fair result. I don’t think they really threatened us except from corners and free-kicks hut having said that I don’t think we really pounded them either.
“We have a pretty thin squad at the moment and I’m quite proud of what the players are doing and with results in recent weeks I felt we deserved that little bit of luck at the end tonight.”
It was a bitter pill for United 58 coach Mark Rudan who confided: “It’s been the story of our season this year, another last minute goal conceded. I thought we deserved the points. We created more of the opportunities, threatened more throughout the game and it’s another one that got away.
“If you look back at the games that have gotten away this season and we simply have to work smarter and better than we have been and a lot of players are getting chances this year, a lot more game time as well and I’m just hopeful that they’ll learn from it and become better players for the experience.”
Footnote: Congratulations to Luka Glavas and his partner on the recent addition to their family
Marconi Stallions 1 (Marco Sama 90’ pen)
Sydney United 58 1 (Mirjan Pavlovic 69’)
Saturday 26th July, 2014
Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
Referee: Ryan Shepheard
Assistant Referees: Adam Coombes & Lance Greenshields
Fourth Official: James Tesoriero
Marconi Stallions: 22.James Chronopoulos ©, 2.Mitchell Thompson, 3.Ali Haydar, 4.Trent Barton, 6.Jared Lum (9.Marco Sama 57), 10.Milorad Simonovic, 15.Tomislav Mijic, 17.Sean Drewery (11.Harrison Brown 81), 18.Jake McGing, 20.Shu Susaki, 23.Chris Nunes (5.Brenton Rhodes 74)
Substitutions not used: 1.Nathan Campbell, 21.Zakeriya El-Rich
Yellow Cards: Barton 29, Rhodes 87
Red Cards: Nil
Sydney United 58: 1.Anthony Costa, 4.Nathan Sherlock, 6.Mitchell Stamatellis, 7.Mirjan Pavlovic (41.Joel Chianese 89), 8.Ante Tomic, 9.Robert Milevski (19.Matthew Bilic 71), 10.Chris Triantis, 12.Ivan Pavlak, 16.Stjepan Paric, 18.Alec Urosevski, 20.Ibrahim Haydar ©
Substitutes Not Used: 3.Antony Tomelic, 17.Theo Kofinas, 30.Jayden Diacono
Yellow Cards: Urosevski 27
Red Cards: Nil
– By Micky Brock, National Premier Leagues Mens 1 Reporter at Marconi Stadium