SYDNEY United 58 were rampant as they put five past ten-man South Coast Wolves, running out 5-1 winners at Sydney United Sports Centre with the win dedicated to their midfield maestro Nick Stavroulakis.
The United faithful showed their support for Nick Stavroulakis, who is recovering after an incident during the Westfield FFA Cup match against APIA Leichhardt, and the "Stay Strong Stava" banner was a lovely backdrop to a superb win, undoubtedly achieved with the midfield warrior in mind.
The South Coast Wolves came out and placed immediate pressure on the home team.
Christopher Price had the first effort for the away team but Justin Pasfield was up to the task.
Not long after and the Wolves had a deserved lead. Samuel Matthews burst through and from the edge of the box, volleyed beyond Pasfield who was left with no chance.
United struggled to get into the game and were most dangerous from set pieces in the early stages. United couldn’t take control in the midfield and it seemed the absence of Stavroulakis was keenly felt.
From their first real foray forward, the home side showed the quality they possess as Matthew Bilic found the net. Great work by Robbie Mileski down the left by-line saw him cut the ball back for Bilic who made no mistake with the finish.
Only a minute later and Mileski was at it again, this time taking James O’Rourke one on one. Moving into the box, United’s number 9 beat his marker with O’Rourke left with no option but to take the attacker down. The referee had to point to the spot, and also produced a red card for the Wolves defender.
Stjepan Paric stepped up to take the spot kick, sending Thomas Manos the wrong way and giving United the lead.
Jordan Murray looked to get his side back into the match minutes before half time but Pasfield got his fingertips to the effort from distance.
Four minutes after the restart and United extended their lead. Paric was brought down in the box and the young man dusted himself off to step up and put the ball into the back of the net.
It was complete domination from the home team as the 10 man Wolves started to get over run by United.
United substitute Panny Nikas was called into immediate action and only two minutes into his NPL debut for United, he was fouled in the box. Nikas stepped up and scored his first of the season, making for a dream start in United colours.
To Wolves’ credit though they continued to push, looking for a consolation goal. David Stojic almost had one, catching Pasfield off his line but his effort was just wide.
Nikas picked up his second in the 87th minute after Mileski played a delightful ball to the back post, finding the head of the number 23, who nodded the ball into the back of the net. In stoppage time, another substitute, Mark Cindric almost brought the house down with a pile driver from distance but his effort smacked off the upright.
Seconds later and Nikas thought he’d have a go from 25 metres out in search of his hat-trick but Manos made a great save.
South Coast Wolves coach Nahuel Arrate wasn’t happy after his teams performance
“You can’t just play half an hour of a game you need to play 90 minutes, it’s just not good enough," he said. “We showed we’re far behind where we should be.
“They executed well, we didn’t and we paid the price.”
United coach Mark Rudan was obviously pleased with the result.
“They came out firing, no different to last weeks performance and credit to them," Rudan said.
“All the pressure was on us but we came good in the end. We made the decision to play Chris Triantis, it was his first match of the season and after the initial period he did very well.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries and a lot of first teamers out but we don’t use that as an excuse as someone else needs to slot in.
“It’ll be a real competition for places and our depth is phenomenal, it’s up to the boys to give me a headache."
One of those boys was Panny Nikas, who scored twice on his NPL debut for the club.
“Any substitute has to make an impact on the game and everybody knows Panny’s quality so he was itching to come on," Rudan said.
“I thought at the time in the game it was his time to come on and we have to ease him in as there are no guarantees in this team.”
Stjepan Paric gave up a potential hat trick for Nikas to score his first goal from the spot and Rudan said it was indicative of his side’s team spirit.
“Stjepan was happy to pass the responsibility to Panny and we’re a team and there are no individuals here, that’s how we are and all about.”
Sydney United 58 FC 5 (Bilic 30’, Paric PEN 32’, PEN 49’, Nikas PEN 64’, 87’)
South Coast Wolves FC 1 (Matthews 10’)
Monday April 6, 2015
Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park
Sydney United 58 FC: Pasfield; Tomic (Nikas 62′), Mileski, Triantis (Tomelic 71′), Dragicevic, Camera, Paric, Kofinas, Bilic, Haydar, Zuvela (Cindric 87′)
Substitutes not used: Diacono, Proia
Yellow cards: Tomic
South Coast Wolves: Manos; Alsaad, Madden, Griffin (Lavalle 59′), Baldacchino, Price, Stojic, Simonoski, O’Rourke, Matthews (Codrea 74′), Murray (Welch 59′)
Substitutes not used: Hamilton, Fielding
Yellow cards: Stojic
Red cards: O’Rourke
3 – Robbie Mileski (SU58)
2 – Stjepan Paric (SU58)
1 – Panny Nikas (SU58)
– by Nikola Pozder, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Reporter, at Sydney United Sports Centre