IT WAS not a night either goalkeeper will look back on fondly as both Andrew Bazi and Matthew Nash made terrible mistakes, but it was Nash’s Bonnyrigg who escaped with a 3-2 win against a gallant APIA-Leichhardt Tigers at Lambert Park.
APIA-Leichhardt played the majority of the game with only 10-men after Blake Powell was dismissed in the 31′ minute. Given that, it was a sterling performance from the ten that remained on the park throughout the entire 90′ minutes, but a late lapse meant that it was all for nothing.
Aaron Peterson’s late header was like a dagger through the heart of those in claret and blue, who had worked so hard to try and secure a point.
Bazi and Nash will want to forget their performances quickly though.
After Peterson had given Bonnyrigg an early lead, APIA managed to haul themselves level through a well-taken Matthew Mayora goal. Then disaster struck.
David Vrankovic’s cross from the right looked to be an easy take for Bazi, and should have been. Somehow though, the APIA goalkeeper managed to drop the ball backwards and it dribbled over the line, almost in slow-motion. Bazi stayed down and for a moment looked badly injured, but his pride would have been hurting more than anything, especially given how well he has played this season.
For a while it looked as if he’d been bailed out by his opposite number, the usually reliable Nash. Only seven minutes after Bazi’s howler, Marc Warren’s corner floated in over the head of the Bonnyrigg gloveman, who also dropped the ball. APIA’s captain Michael West was on and to force the ball over the line and level the scores. A draw would have been the fair result.
Instead, with 94′ minutes on the clock, Chris Tadrosse’s free kick was whipped in from the right, and Peterson applied the finishing touch.
With Paul Galimi out, David D’Apuzzo returned in an unfamiliar right back role, while Brad Bartels moved into the centre where he played exceptionally well, winning the ball with aplomb and distributing nicely.
Bonnyrigg flew out of the blocks and nearly took a fourth minute lead when Adrian Ucchino unleashed a shot from distance that crashed back off the cross-bar. It was a warning sign for APIA, and when Alexander Canak’s jinking run took him into the area it looked certain that he would score, but his composure deserted him as he lashed over the bar.
The pressure tolled when Peterson opened the scoring in the ninth minute.
The Bonnyrigg striker was given too much space to line up a shot from 25 yards and he duly obliged, firing into the bottom corner with the aid of the post.
For a few moments it looked as if the White Eagles would run away with the game. Peterson shot again from just inside the box and hit the post but this time the ball bounced to safety.
It took a while for APIA to find their stride, but they had a decent chance to equalise in the 18′ minute. Mayora’s strength was telling at Rockdale last week and he was again excellent. His cross from the right found the onrushing Brad McDonald, but he couldn’t tame his shot and it flew wide and high.
Just after the half hour mark, Powell received his marching orders, receiving a second yellow card for an offence that seemed to be nothing more than a minor disagreement with a Bonnyrigg defender. Nevertheless, the APIA striker took an early shower.
With 38′ minutes on the clock Bonnyrigg again had a chance to extend their lead and once more they were denied by the woodwork. D’Apuzzo’s mistake gifted an opportunity to Peterson, but he wastefully hit the bar with the goal at his mercy.
APIA regrouped and scored an excellent equaliser just five minutes after the break.
McDonald took too long when one-on-one with Nash, who produced a good save, when the ball came back to the right hand side for Daniel Fogarty. The live-wire winger cut the ball back to Mayora, who hit a sweet first time volley into the bottom corner. It was a deserved goal for both APIA and the player.
But in this match, drama was never far away. Only two minutes after Mayora’s goal, Vrankovic’s cross from the right drew out Bazi’s horrendous mistake, though to his credit he did recover with a few late saves.
Then, as APIA were wondering there their luck had gone, Nash obliged with his own blooper to gift West a rare goal and make the score 2-2, a minute shy of the hour mark.
The match settled thereafter and it was Bonnyrigg who was trying to score with APIA content to try and hit on the counter-attack, the clever ball play by Bartels a feature.
Fogarty raced clear in the 82′ minute and shot powerfully towards goal, but he was denied by the alert Nash.
Two minutes later, Younis was denied by Bazi, as both goalkeepers traded saves this time.
A minimum of three minutes added time was indicated and it was in the 94′ minute when Bonnyrigg was awarded a free kick on the right. Tadrosse stood over it and delivered a curling ball onto the forehead of Peterson, who glanced his header into the back of the net.
A game that was full of drama had a fittingly dramatic ending.
Bonnyrigg coach Brian Brown was bitterly disappointed at his side’s second half performance, despite managing to steal three points.
"It could have been all over in the first 30 minutes, but the second half performance was unacceptable," Brown said.
"We stopped playing completely. You’ve got to give APIA some credit for their effort.
"I’m actually upset, not relieved. The only good thing about this game was the three points. The performance, particularly in the second half, was completely unacceptable."
APIA-Leichhardt coach Billy McColl was proud of the effort his ten-men displayed and thought they were good value for a point or three.
"The boys played well, especially playing with 10 men for so long," McColl said.
"I’m proud of the commitment shown by the 10 players. I thought the sending off was a bit harsh, but the referee has to call it as he sees it.
"It was a fantastic effort, full of grit and the right attitude. In the second half we exposed Bonnyrigg and with a bit of luck we could have beaten them."
APIA-Leichhardt Tigers 2 (Matthew Mayora 50′, Michael West 59′)
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 3 (Aaron Peterson 9′, 90+4′, Andrew Bazi OG 52′)
Sunday July 27, 2014
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: James Lewis
Assistant Referees: Craig Fisher and Joon Park
Fourth Official: Katie-Louise Patterson
APIA-Leichhardt Tigers: 1.Andrew Bazi; 4.Bradley Bartels, 5.Michael West (C), 6.Marc Warren, 7.Stephen Kayes, 8.Bradley McDonald, 9.Blake Powell, 10.Franco Parisi, 11.Daniel Fogarty, 13.David D’Apuzzo, 15.Matthew Mayora
Substitutes not used: 40.Stefan Giglio, 3.Jamie Lobb, 17.Matthew Castelnuovo, 19.Blade Richards, 20. Luke Clifford
Yellow Cards: Blake Powell 11′, David D’Apuzzo 13′
Red Cards: Blake Powell 31′
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 1.Matthew Nash; 4.David Vrankovic, 5.Chris Tadrosse, 6.Nikola Zonjic, 8.Alexander Canak (14.Jordan Crighton 68′), 9.Robbie Younis, 12.Dylan Fox, 16.Howard Fondyke (2.Alexander Mansuetto 82′), 18.Adrian Ucchino, 19.Aaron Peterson, 21.Bo Hyun Chun (11.Ben Spruce 90+5′)
Substitutes not used: 22.Liam Gobbo, 13.Brian Griffin-Colls
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
– By Matthew Lopez, National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 Editor