IT WAS the Franco Parisi show as the veteran number ten’s double helped APIA to a dominant 4-2 win over Rockdale City Suns.
Parisi was on another level, particularly in the second half, when he scored two superb goals within seven minutes of each other to snuff out any hope Rockdale City may have had of making a second half comeback, after the Tigers went into the break two to the good.
APIA had kicked clear early, thanks to a goal from the returning Sean Symons and a penalty from Blake Powell. Rockdale City didn’t have the answers and with Adrian Ucchino and David D’Apuzzo dominating the centre of the park, it was difficult for the home side to get any sort of foot hold in the game.
Things went from bad to worse for the Suns as their captain Askin Oygur was sent off with a quarter of an hour remaining, leaving the embattled Suns to play out the match with 10 men.
They battled gamely though and a double from substitute Marko Jesic added a degree of respectability to the score line.
The writing was on the wall early when a scramble in the sixth minute saw Symons open the scoring. The APIA winger stood to profit at the back post and when the ball came to him, he was unerring with his finish past David Bradasevic.
Ten minutes later the lead was two.
Bradasevic fumbled and as Adam Griffiths and Marc Warren tried to scramble the ball home, referee Adam Weir spotted a foul and a penalty was given. Powell slotted the ball home, sending the Rockdale keeper the wrong way.
The onus was on the Suns to take the initiative, but Michael West and Griffiths stood firm in defence, ably shielded by Ucchino and D’Apuzzo.
Shortly before the half-hour mark, former APIA striker Nick Taneski shot wide, and a few minutes later a Phil Makrys free kick curled just over Ryan Norval’s goal.
A minute before the break, Norval was finally tested and he reacted sharply to turn wide Taneski’s shot.
Rockdale coach Branko Culina reacted by sending on Alec Urosevski for Toufic Alameddine for the start of the second half, but it made little difference as Parisi came into the game.
A Taneski shot was deflected onto the post and out just after the break and a Paul Reid howitzer from range crashed into a crowd of bodies when it looked destined to hit the target.
From there though, it was all Parisi and all APIA.
Ten minutes into the second half, Taneski failed to track a run by APIA fullback Nathan Millgate. The defender whipped in a delicious cross and Parisi volley home, first-time, from the edge of the area.
If that was good, his second was even better. He picked the ball up 30 yards from goal, dribbled at the Rockdale defence and nutmegged Oygur, before sliding the ball into the bottom corner.
It was 4-0 and APIA were laughing, and they could have had a fifth when Powell erred when one-on-one, finding only the side netting.
Jesic had come on for Hristijan Tanoski on the hour mark, and he pulled one back when his free kick from the left evaded everyone, including Norval, before nestling in the back of the net.
As thoughts turned to an unlikely comeback, Oygur saw red for a high tackle on APIA sub Nick Olsen. There was still time for Jesic to curl a beautiful free kick in for Rockdale’s second, but it did little to mask their deficiencies on a day where new-look APIA could be very pleased with their work.
Rockdale City Suns 2 (Jesic 74’, 81′)
APIA-Leichhardt Tigers 4 (Symons 6’, Powell PEN 16’, Parisi 55’, 62′)
Sunday March 15, 2014
Ilinden Sports Centre, Rockdale
Referee: Adam Weir
Assistant Referees: Alexander Goodhew and Luke Morgan
Fourth Official: Kearney Robinson
Rockdale City Suns: Bradasevic; Hesketh, Giannaros, Murayama, Oygur (C); Reid, El Hafiane, Makrys (Iwamoto 60’); Alameddine (Urosevski 46’), Tanoski (Jesic 60’), Taneski
Substitutes Not Used: Dascal, Horton
Yellow Cards: Hesketh 19’, Oygur 21’
Red Cards: Oygur 75′
APIA-Leichhardt Tigers: Norval; Millgate, West (C), Griffiths, Warren (Rhodes 79’); D’Apuzzo, Ucchino, Parisi; Symons (Olsen 71’), Elasi (Kayes 71’), Powell
Substitutes Not Used: Bazi, Biczo
Yellow Cards: Symons 45′
3- Franco Parisi (APIA)
2- Adrian Ucchino (APIA)
1- Michael West (APIA)
– by Matthew Lopez, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Editor