THE PS4 National Premier League’s NSW Grade 20s competition kicked off in earnest over the weekend.
The Match of the Round saw the APIA-Leichhardt Tigers edge a 1-0 win over Rockdale City Suns at the Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon.
MATCH OF THE ROUND
Rockdale City Suns 0-1 APIA-Leichhardt Tigers, at Ilinden Sports Centre
APIA Leichhardt Tigers edged a 1-0 win against Rockdale City Suns in a tight opening round match of the PS4 National Premier League NSW Men’s 1 Grade 20s at the Ilinden Sports Centre.
Neither side could find a breakthrough in a first half dominated by half-chances and cynical fouls, but APIA’s Zac Ribeiro broke the deadlock with a simple finish in the 71st minute to give his side a deserved lead.
The opening minutes were cagey, as could be expected in the first game of the season, with APIA defender Stephan Adattini earning himself a yellow card in the third minute. Both sides were content to give away largely insignificant fouls high up the field, though this eventually gave way to a more open game as APIA began to dominate possession.
Rockdale City’s early shots were from long range, while APIA sought to put together more intricate moves to find a way to goal; Scott Lachlan and Ribeiro combining well up front to win free-kicks in dangerous positions for the visitors. With 12 minutes gone, Ribeiro went close with an effort from the left side.
The home side looked to inject some urgency into their general play after spending long periods out of possession, and began breaking well with Caleb Russell and Max Sherry, though APIA soon settled back onto the ball.
Lachlan was ever-present; slipping through Raffaele Moniaci for a one-on-one which was saved well by Blake Horton in the Rockdale goal, and keeping up constant pressure on the opposition defensive line. Minutes before halftime, he won a corner from which Adrian Vlastelica grazed the crossbar, before breaking through to score a goal which was called back for offside.
APIA picked up where they left off after the halftime break, and had the ball in the back of the net again in the 52nd minute when Ribeiro followed up a shot from Moniaci after it had glanced off the inside of the post. Again, however, the goal was ruled out for offside, and Ribeiro earned himself a yellow card for protesting the decision.
Rockdale City had a greater number of clear cut opportunities in the second half, none more so than in the 62nd minute: played in behind the APIA defenders, Caleb Russell could only manage a tame shot after the ball got stuck between his feet.
Both midfields began to stretch as the game wore on, and APIA eventually made their physical superiority tell. Lachlan was played through on the left side and slid a square ball across the face of Horton’s goal which was met by Ribeiro inside the six yard box. It was a deserved lead; APIA having arguably had the better chances all afternoon.
Rockdale pushed hard in the closing minutes, but never truly threatened APIA’s lead. Sherry fired a swerving shot at the visitors goal, but the keeper saved well, having had relatively little to do for most of the game. A late free kick, taken by Rockdale’s Vincent Giannini, was sent high and wide, and APIA finished 1-0 winners.
APIA coach Danial Cummins was understandably pleased with his team’s performance after the game. “We’ve got a bit of work to do and we’ve still got a young team, but I’m really proud of how they went out in the second half. We’ve got a few big weeks ahead of us, and a few injuries to deal with, but this is the best possible start.
“We came away from here last season having lost pretty heavily and we knew it’d be tough today, but the boys have trained well up to now and I’m proud of their efforts.”
“It was a tight game,” said Rockdale coach John Calleja. “We were disappointed to not get anything from the first half because I thought we dominated early on.
“We didn’t really play well in the second half, and you have to give credit to Leichhardt for taking the sting out of our attack. In the end, they probably deserve the result.”
Rockdale City Suns 0
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 1 (Ribeiro 71’)
Sunday March 15, 2015,
Rockdale Ilinden Sport Centre
Rockdale City Suns : Horton, Dubocanin, Giannini, Kagaras, Petrillo, Russell, Savor I., Savor P., Sherry, Tipevski, Woo
Substitutes: Bodon, Grbevski, Jacques, McGinn, Visnic
Yellow Cards: Nil
APIA Leichardt Tigers: Moore, Adattini Alassmi, Cook, Cox, McCarron, Moniaci, Perez, Ribeiro, Lachlan, Vlastelica
Substitutes not used: Koliomihos, Rydzewski, Walker, Zvezdakovski, Rinaldi
Yellow Cards: Adattini 2’, Ribeiro 52’
-By Max Grieve, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Grade 20s Reporter, at Ilinden Sports Centre
ROUND 1 REVIEW
Marconi Stallions 2-2 Parramatta FC at Marconi Stadium
Four goals were shared evenly between Marconi and Parramatta in the opening game of the Grade 20s season, with Noah Chianese and Ryan Peterson scoring for the home side.
Sutherland Sharks 9-1 Blacktown Spartans at Seymour Shaw Park
The Sharks crushed the Spartans by an 8 goal margin on Saturday afternoon, with Charles Lockolingoy scoring 4 of his side’s nine goals. Sharks player Jayden McLeod was awarded a late red card.
Sydney Olympic 3-1 South Coast Wolves at Belmore Sports Ground
Sydney Olympic began 2015 with a routine 3-1 win over South Coast Wolves, with Jason Madonis scoring a brace and Jason Green contributing a third.
Manly United 1-0 Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC at Cromer Park
Christopher Arditti scored the only goal of the game as Manly United recorded a 1-0 home win over Bonnyrigg White Eagles on Sunday afternoon.
Blacktown City 2-5 Sydney United 58 at Lily’s Football Centre
Sydney United 58 came away from Blacktown City with a resounding 5-2 win, with goals from Blacktown’s Juan Zapata and Jonathan Grozdanovski cancelled out by efforts from players including Lachlan Roberts and Alex Vlismas.
– By Max Grieve, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Grade 20s Reporter