SYDNEY United 58 remain atop of the PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 ladder after a 1-1 draw against APIA Leichhardt Tigers at Sydney United Sports Centre.
A dire first stanza was quickly forgotten, when the tense affair came to life in the second half after Sydney United 58 took the lead through a great free kick from Chris Triantis.
APIA responded from the spot with Blake Powell slamming the ball into the net after his penalty was initially saved by Jayden Diacono.
The start of the match failed to live up to high expectations, with both sides trying to win the midfield battle early.
Diacono, in goal for United 58 after the late omission of Justin Pasfield, did not look out of place and he came off his line to claim the ball from a Tigers free kick in the 12thminute.
APIA slowly took control of the middle of the park, and forced Diacono into action again within four minutes, as he easily saved two Nathan Elasi shots.
United started pressing their opponents and in turn created chances of their own. After great lead up play by Triantis and Panni Nikas the latter laid off to Stjepan Paric who took a touch before blasting well over the bar.
Robbie Mileski then had a glorious chance when he was sent free one on one with Ryan Norval, after Triantis dispossessed Adrian Ucchino, only for the referee to call the play back with the striker in an offside position.
Minutes later Nikas was in the thick of the action again when the ball was cut back from the byline but his shot deflected off the back of Nathan Millgate and out for a corner.
Tigers veteran Franco Parisi had Diacono rooted to the spot in the 43rd minute but his deft chip went narrowly wide.
United quickly turned defence into attack with Triantis’ powerful low cross to an oncoming Ante Tomic cleared by a sliding Millgate.
But it was APIA who would have the final chance of the half, Adam Griffiths rising well to head on to Powell, whose shot was well saved by Diacono at the near post.
Sydney United 58 came out from the sheds firing in the second half and hit the back of the net within three minutes thanks to Nikas, only for the goal to be disallowed for an offside call.
The home side would not be denied two minutes later, with a fantastic free kick by Triantis curling over the wall and into the bottom left hand corner to give them the 1-0 lead.
Triantis’ confidence was high after the goal but he could not control his next shot, firing over the bar in the 55th minute.
APIA tried to get back into the game in the 63rd minute with a nice play started by Adrian Ucchino leading to a Powell header flying straight to the chest of Diacono.
The visitors then had a penalty shout waved away after United right back Daniel Dragicevic looked to have handled the ball in the box.
Sean Symons was left with his head in his hands after his free kicked bounced off the cross bar and out for a goal kick in the 71st minute but it wouldn’t be long before his side equalised from the spot.
Diacono came off his line to punch the ball clear only to take out an oncoming Millgate. The goalkeeper saved the spot kick to his left but the ball fell at the feet of Powell, who slammed it into the net to level the score.
United 58 had a penalty shout of their own turned down in the 85th minute when Robbie Mileski looked to have been brought down but the referee waved it away as the game ended in a stalemate.
Following the match APIA Leichhardt Tigers head coach Billy McColl said he was happy with his side’s second half performance.
“The first half the less we write about it the better it is,” McColl said.
“The second half we started playing the game correctly but at the end of the day we will take the point away from home.
“We take it one week at a time. We are five to six weeks from gelling as a side and when we do we will be very competitive and lethal.”
In the home dressing sheds Sydney United 58 head coach Mark Rudan was positive about the result.
“I thought we definitely had the better of the opportunities particularly in either side of the 18 yard box,” he said.
“I think possession-wise it was quite even, they didn’t really threaten us, we had a young goalkeeper in goals.
“But we came up against a very good opponent and APIA will certainly be up there this year.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t pick up all three points I think we were good enough based on the chances we created.”
Sydney United 58 FC 1 (Triantis 50’)
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 1 (Powell 73’)
Sunday April 26, 2015
Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park
Referee: Michael Weiner
Assistant referees: Daniel Stack and Matthew Cassidy
Fourth Official: Karl Davies
Sydney United 58 FC: Diacono, Bilic, Dragicevic, Haydar (C), Kofinas, Mileski, Nikas, Paric, Stamatellis, Tomic (Cardozo 75’), Triantis (Zuvela 79’)
Substitutes not used: Cindric, Tomelic, Babic
Yellow cards: Kofinas 11’, Bilic 70’, Nikas 88’
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: Norval, D’Apuzzo (Griffiths 41’), Elasi, Millgate, Olsen, Parisi, Powell, Studman, Symons, Ucchino, West (C)
Substitutes not used: Bazi, Kayes, Petkovski, Scott
Yellow Cards: Millgate 15’, Griffiths 58’, West 90’
3- Chris Triantis (SU58)
2- Nathan Millgate (ALT)
1- Panni Nikas (SU58)
– by Chris Georges, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Reporter, at Sydney United Sports Centre