APIA LEICHHARDT hosted South Coast Wolves on a very wet night at Lambert Park which still looked a pretty picture before the start of the game with its magnificent artificial surface.
As the game wore on, and the rain came down incessantly, it was a miracle that any football was played at all, but somehow it was and in the end, the Tigers prevailed by three goals thanks in particular to two late goals from Blake Powell.
Powell now has 11 goals in eight games, and has scored in every match this season. Some feat.
Wolves did play a large portion of the match with ten men though, and in trying conditions their effort couldn’t be faulted.
After 16 minutes, a counter-attacking move saw Bradley Welch charge dangerously towards goal and fire a shot across the face of goal, but it finished just wide and the Wolves didn’t manage to break the deadlock in this tight encounter at this stage.
APIA Leichhardt took the lead in the 24th minute when Brett Studman forced the ball in from close range after a free kick from Franco Parisi from the right was swung across to the far post for the centre back to bundle home.
In the 34th minute Brendan Griffin fired from outside the box for the visitors and the ball sailed over the crossbar, but two minutes later South Coast Wolves found themselves a player short. Sam Matthews was shown a straight red for a challenge from behind on Adrian Ucchino and the referee, jogging on the spot, had no hesitation in extracting a red.
In the 39th minute South Coast should really have equalised when Peter Simonoski played the ball to David Stojic who fired it straight onto the crossbar. The first half ended shortly afterwards but really it could have gone either way, such was the closeness of the contest.
As the second half got underway the rain started in relentless fashion but once again it was the artificial surface that allowed the game to continue, for a lesser surface would have already flooded a while ago.
In the 67th minute, the first real shot in anger in the second stanza of play arrived when Nick Olsen for the home side fired just wide of the intended target after a good run.
As the rain teemed down Nathan Elasi crossed the ball from the by-line and Blake Powell from close range scored APIA’s second goal, in the 78th minute.
The conditions were so bad that a game of football tried to break through even though mud wrestling may have been more appropriate.
APIA Leichhardt scored their third goal in the 87th minute to put the game well beyond reach for the South Coast Wolves when Powell threaded the ball in delightfully from the right.
After the game APIA Leichhardt’s coach Billy McColl was pleased to take all three points in such an encounter.
“It was a very good contest and even with ten men the Wolves played well,” McColl said. “I am very happy when a team wins 3-0 anytime but we took our opportunities in a great game until the puddles arrived.
“The team has played well because the club has brought in a lot of new players but it’s looking good and we are still three or four weeks are away from gelling.”
South Coast Wolves mentor Nahuel Arrarte was philosophical in the circumstances.
“Obviously we are not going to make excuses because it was wet,” he said. “They are a good side and played well in the conditions but I am very proud of my team because even with ten men we played well.
“I thought we were in with a chance but they have players like Blake Powell and other experienced players and full credit to them. Our commitment and effort was great and I couldn’t be more proud of the boys today.”
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 3 (Studman 24’, Powell 78’, 87’)
South Coast Wolves 0
Saturday May 2, 2015
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: Ryan Shepheard
Assistant Referees: Andrej Giev, Luke Morgan
Fourth Official: Daniel Stack
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: Bazi, Millgate, West, Kayes (Petkovski 83’), Powell, Parisi, Elasi, Studman, Symons, Ucchino, Olsen
Substitutes not used: Rhodes, Cox, Scott, Moore
Yellow Cards: West 37’, Symons 73’
South Coast Wolves: Manos, Alsaad (Baldacchino 58’), Madden, Griffin, Price, Stojic, Simonoski, O’Rourke, Welch (Lombo 76’), B.Zucco (Murray 58’), Matthews
Substitutes not used: Hamilton, Fielding
Yellow Cards: Welch 24’, Griffin 89’
Red Card: Matthews 36’
3. Blake Powell (ALT)
2. Stephen Kayes (ALT)
1. Adrian Ucchino (ALT)
– by Joe Russo, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Reporter, at Lambert Park