IF THERE was any question about Blacktown City’s Premiership credentials then Sunday’s 3-1 win against APIA Leichhardt Tigers put it beyond doubt.
The Mark Crittenden coached side’s brand of counter attacking football was too much for the previously undefeated APIA at Lilly’s Football Centre.
The win stretched Blacktown City’s perfect record this season to four wins from four games.
Matt Lewis’ and Patrick Antelmi’s goals from the penalty spot in the first half and a Joey Gibbs thunderbolt in the second stanza were all it took for the home side it what was another impressive performance from the reigning champions.
Despite controlling possession for much of the match, APIA never truly threatened a tight Blacktown back line marshalled by captain Zach Cairncross.
Antelmi, earning a start up front following a big performance off the bench against Parramatta, created chance after chance for the home side.
However it was the enterprising run of Mitch Mallia which created Blacktown’s first goal as he was cut down in the box, with referee Stephen Lucas quickly pointing to the penalty spot. Lewis hammered home to give Blacktown a 1-0 lead.
It was deja vu for APIA when Antelmi added another from the spot in the shadows of half time.
Lucas once again pointed to the spot after Danny Choi was cut down by APIA defender Daniel Petkovski, who struggled throughout.
An injury to Mallia early in the second half gave Gibbs his opportunity, and it took him only 10 minutes to make an impression, when he scored Blacktown’s third goal of the game in the 55th minute. His shot from close range burst through the hands of APIA keeper Andrew Bazi, who should have done much better.
Bazi himself was only playing because Ryan Norval, outstanding last week, was injured. APIA’s goalkeepers have endured a musical chairs situation so far this season.
Wave after wave of Blacktown counter attacks threatened to turn the match into a blowout but poor finishing saved the blushes of APIA.
In the dying moments of the game, a neat finish by Blake Powell, after he was beautifully played in by Franco Parisi, stopped the home side from claiming a clean sheet, but for APIA it was far too little, far too late.
The victory has Crittenden confident his side is on the right path.
It was a solid performance today. After the week off the team put in a big performance against quality opposition,” he said.
“We can’t get too ahead of ourselves as there are a lot of good teams in the competition but I’m happy with where things are at after five rounds.
“The boys really stood up and played some good football.”
After his side’s first loss of the season, APIA coach Billy McColl said he will look to quickly move focus to the next round of the competition.
“You can’t expect to go through the whole season without losing a game or two,” he said.
“We have had some players unavailable which has made it difficult but I don’t think we are too far off the pace.
“We were shown up a few times today but we will regroup and bounce back in our next fixture.”
Blacktown City FC 3 (Lewis PEN 27’, Antelmi PEN 45’, Gibbs 55’)
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 1 (Powell 81′)
Referee: Stephen Lucas
Assistant Referees: Lance Greenshields and Christian Layland
Fourth Official: Tristan Harris
Blacktown City FC: Vekic; Antelmi, Beumie, Cairncross, Choi (Perre 90’), Evans, Lewis, Macura, Mallia (Gibbs 51′), Speranza, Tomaras (Araujo 68′)
Substitutes not used: Prendergast
Yellow Cards: Tomaras 30’, Cairncross 73’
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: Bazi; D’Apuzzo (Kayes 80′), Elasi, Millgate, Olsen, Parisi, Petkovski, Powell, Studman, Symons, Warren (Bizco 72’),
Substitutions not used: Rhodes, West
Yellow Cards: Petkovski 45′, Studman 90’
3 – Danny Choi (BCFC)
2 – Zach Caircross (BCFC)
1- Sasa Macura (BCFC)