MARCONI Stallions hosted traditional rivals APIA-Leichhardt at their venue in what is always one of the classic encounters in Australian football, and this one was no different.
There were two goals that were worthy of particular mention – Marconi’s opening goal and APIA’s fourth – but in the end it was a footballing lesson from the Tigers who scored a convincing 5-2 win.
There were also two red cards in what can only be described as one the best games of the season so far, even if it is only three rounds old.
The match opened with Marconi scoring in the fifth minute of play when Milorad Simonovic let loose a pile-driver from some distance. It was a wonderful goal, one that the highlight reel will surely include at the end-of-year functions.
In the 13th minute the Stallions should have been two ahead when a wonderful cross from the left found Damien Travis charging towards goal and he should have scored, but APIA keeper Andrew Bazi miraculously pulled off a save and then stopped Travis from scoring the rebound.
The Tigers then started to awaken and in many ways took control for the remainder of the half. In the 19th minute a powerful shot from Marc Warren from outside the box forced goalkeeper Sam Nastic to punch the ball away in what was their first real salvo of the encounter.
In the 29th minute APIA Leichhardt, after consistent pressure, equalised. A spectacular volley by Nick Olsen found the back of the net after he received a pinpoint accurate cross from Franco Parisi on the left, once he had delightfully dribbled past a Stallions defender.
In the 40th minute the same combination nearly put the Tigers ahead when Parisi beautifully found Olsen who shot just wide of the intended target. The 31 year old Parisi is certainly enjoying himself out there on the park once again.
A short while later referee Chris Young correctly gave a penalty to APIA Leichhardt when Blake Powell crossed the ball from the right and Chris Nunes somehow jumped in the air and handled. From the spot Powell scored with such composure that goalkeeper Sam Nastic went diving the wrong way and the ball went into the opposite corner of the net.
The players were barely warm in the second half when, in the 48th minute, Chris Nunes received a second yellow card and left the home side with ten players. There can be no doubt about referee Young’s decision on both occasions and certainly Nunes didn’t argue when the red card came out.
The teams were even a short while later when Marc Warren received his second yellow card for an attacking foul and once again there was absolutely no doubt about the referee’s decision.
It didn’t stop APIA, who in the 69th minute scored another beautiful goal. A cross from the left by Olsen found the head of Powell who somehow was denied a goal by a miraculous save by Nastic who turned the ball onto the crossbar, but the rebound was easily tapped in by former A-League player Adam Griffiths.
Simonovic charged towards APIA’s goal in the 72nd minute but his shot was narrowly over the crossbar for the Stallions but in the 83rd minute Blake Powell hit the back of the net with a goal that will even outdid Simonovic’s early strike
A long ball forward was played to Powell and somehow, on the run with his left foot, he struck a fierce volley over the head of goalkeeper Nastic and under the cross bar, the ball arrowing into the back of the net with immense precision.
In the 88th minute it was all too simple when APIA Leichhardt scored for the fifth time when a Griffiths ball found Olsen in the area and his header, without actually facing goal, went in over the goalkeeper and via the far post.
There was some consolation, however scant, for Marconi when a 91st minute a cross from the right found Jared Lum who flicked it in from the near post to make the score 5-2.
It could have been 5-3 as APIA switched off again in the final moments, but Simonovic was denied by a superb reaction save by Bazi.
APIA playmaker Franco Parisi spoke about his team’s passion and enthusiasm for the game.
“It’s very positive and it’s everything that we have worked towards,” he said. “We are taking every game one at a time and it wasn’t the best of starts today but we responded very well and had five unanswered goals.
“It was very important for us today to come to Marconi and get the points. It’s a bit more emotional than other games but at this stage every game is worth three points and we’ll take it that way.
“The whole commitment of the club, internally and externally, the players in the team, the coaching staff and the board of directors have put in a collective effort and there are a lot positive vibes about with the club, the ground, some new players and it all allows the team to lay well.”
APIA-Leichhardt head of football Rod Williams echoed similar sentiments.
“It’s a long season but it’s good squad and I am very impressed with the way they have played,” he said. “The vibe at the club is brilliant and it’s a great squad and, as a coach, I love to see the football that they are playing.”
Over in the Marconi Stalliions dressing room the mood was somewhat more sombre after their third consecutive defeat. Coach Paul Cater spoke honestly about the game and current situation.
“Of course it’s disappointing and it’s the last thing that you want,” he stated. “We are playing in patches and in the first 25 minutes we had them mesmerised but they got back in the match with different errors from us.
“We have nine new players at the club and it’s getting that right and we have at the moment five injured. It’s a tough slog but I’m responsible and I’ll stay responsible as it’s nothing to do with the players.”
Marconi Stallions 2 (Simonovic 5’, Lum 90+1’)
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 5 (Olsen 29’, 88′, Powell PEN 43’, 83′, Griffiths 69’)
Saturday March 29, 2015
Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
Referee: Chris Young
Assistant Referees: Patrick Teleki and Alex Long
Fourth Official: Timothy Danaskos
Marconi Stallions: Nastic; Austin (Brown 57’), Lum (C), Mijic, Nunes, Press (Appiah 61’), Rhodes, Drewery, Simonovic, Thompson, Travis (Taleski 67’)
Substitutes not used: Boyadjian, Sekutkoski
Yellow Cards: Nunes 33’, Austin 35’, Brown 71’, Mijic 79’
Red Cards: Nunes 48’
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: Bazi; D’Apuzzo (Symons 67’), West (C), Griffiths, Millgate, Olsen, Parisi (Elasi 72’), Studman (Petkovski 63’), Ucchino, Warren, Powell.
Substitutes not used: Biczo, Norval
Yellow Cards: Studman 33’, Warren 36’, Millgate 80’
Red Cards: Warren 62’
3. Blake Powell (ALT)
2. Nicholas Olsen (ALT)
1. Franco Parisi (ALT)
– by Joe Russo, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Reporter, at Marconi Stadium