MARKO Jesic had the Ilinden faithful’s hopes on his shoulders as he stood over a spot kick.
He had already scored a 30 yard goal of the season contender, but this was so much more important. The Suns’ attacker scored, giving his side the lead for the first time in this six goal thriller.
They held on, winning 4-2, after a late goal by Toufic Alameddine iced the cake. Rockdale scored their first three points of the season and for a week at least, banishing the memories of the horrendous opening seven weeks which cost coach Branko Culina his job.
It was a rollicking encounter, in which both sides were willing participants.
Chris Triantis scored first, then came the spectacular equaliser from Jesic. Theo Kofinas put United 58 ahead again, before former Red Alec Urosevski dragged the Suns to level terms for the second time.
Then came Jesic’s moment. The noise at Seymour Shaw was truly magnificent when the ball rolled into the back of the net, as the tension and angst of the first seven weeks was released, lifting the roof at their temporary home in Miranda. Alameddine’s stoppage time goal was the piece de resistance, as he raced away on the counter attack and finished with nerves of steel.
It was nearly the perfect start for the Suns, but Urosevski’s audacious overhead kick, in only the second minute, flew wide of Jayden Diacono’s goal. The goalkeeper was again deputising for the injured Justin Pasfield.
How Rockdale keeper Tomislav Arcaba must have wished he had nothing to do in the fifth minute, when a cross from the right looked to be an easy claim. Somehow the ball squirmed free and Triantis was on hand to stab the ball home. Most missed the goal, having looked away when Arcaba seemingly had the ball safe in his grasp.
The Suns’ keeper redeemed himself though, making a few stellar saves, without which his side would have come away with nothing.
The first came only a few minutes after the goal, when the live-wire Matthew Bilic bore down on goal, only for Arcaba to make a strong save at the near post. His next saves, in the 20th minute, were even better. Indeed the second must be one of the saves of the season.
Robbie Mileski made Askin Oygur look silly, nutmegging him on his way to a one-on-one opportunity, but Arcaba spread himself brilliantly. The ball bobbled its way out to the right and when Triantis lashed a shot at goal, Arcaba showed unbelievable reflexes to touch the ball over the bar.
Any doubts after the first goal were well erased with this pair of stops.
Mitchell Stamatellis copped a heavy knock 25th minute when he went to shot from the edge of the area and for a moment looked unable to continue, but the United 58 midfielder soldiered on.
New player/assistant coach Paul Reid forced a comfortable save from Diacono just before half time, before Urosevski saw his late chance blocked too.
The touch paper was lit only 60 second after the restart when Jesic scored his first, and what a goal it was. The Rockdale number 10 was 30 yards from goal when he hit a dipping, swirling volley the arced high into the air, before coming down into the back of the net via the post. Diacono was bamboozled by the goal, which evoked memories of Joe Cole’s goal for England, against Sweden, at the 2006 World Cup.
Arcaba made a sharp stop to deny Triantis, but he couldn’t stop United 58 taking the lead again, when Kofinas bundled home Bilic’s corner.
Rockdale City showed they are made of stern stuff though, and Urosevski scored a quite lovely goal to level the score for the second time. Neat interplay with Jesic saw Urosevski with the chance to shoot, and he did willingly, arrowing a shot past Diacono with half an hour to play.
Richard Cardozo came on for United and was heartily booed by the Suns’ faithful. Cardozo scored 17 goals in 2013 when Rockdale City made the grand final, but his former fans were not impressed to see him turn out in United colours.
The mood changed significantly only a few minutes later though, when Jesic showed nerves of steel to convert his penalty, and finally kick start Rockdale’s season.
Rockdale City Suns 4 (Jesic 46′, PEN 68′, Urosevski 59′, Alameddine 90+1′)
Sydney United 58 FC 2 (Triantis 5′, Kofinas 52′)
Sunday May 3, 2015
Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referees: Thomas Lee and Matthew Cassidy
Fourth Official: Karl Davies
Rockdale City Suns: Arcaba; Murayama, Oygur (C), Petrillo, P Savor, Reid, Jesic, El Hafianne, Iwamoto (Alameddine 56′), Tanoski (I Savor 90+4′), Urosevski (Taneski 77′)
Substitutes not used: Bradasevic, Pandolfo
Yellow cards: Petrillo 69′, P Savor 75′, Arcaba 88′
Sydney United 58 FC: Diacono; Dragicevic, Haydar (C), Kofinas, Camera (Cardozo 63′), Bilic, Triantis (Cindric 83′), Mileski, Paric (Zuvela 66′), Stamatellis, Nikas
Substitutes not used: Babic, Tomic
Yellow cards: Paric 41′, Dragicevic 50′, Haydar 68′
3- Marko Jesic (RCS)
2- Tomislav Arcaba (RCS)
1- Chris Triantis (SU58FC)
– by Matthew Lopez, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Editor, at Seymour Shaw Park