ROUND nine of the grade 20s competition was played out over the weekend, with 25 goals scored across the six matches on Saturday and Sunday.
This week’s match of the round saw Manly United snatch a draw at the death against Sydney United 58 on Sunday afternoon; the visitors completing a two-goal comeback to draw 2-2.
Match of the Round
Sydney United 58 FC 2-2 Manly United FC, 1pm Sunday at Sydney United Sports Centre
Trailing 2-0 at halftime in their match against Sydney United 58 at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon, Manly United finished the second half with two late goals to stage an unlikely comeback to draw 2-2.
Sydney United went ahead in the first half through Kyle Cimenti and Alexander Vlismas, and should arguably have closed out the match early in the second, but Manly goals in the 88th and 90th minutes,one from Hamish Gailbraith and Lachlan McClean, gifted the away side a share of the points.
The pattern of the first half was established right from the outset: Manly held possession well but were slow and laboured in attack, while the home team were content with sitting back and hitting their opponents on the break, with Richard Darko on the left flank and Tariq Maia through the middle. Manly’s forward moves broke down repeatedly on the edge of the United 58 box, with Tommy Morrissey particularly wasteful with his passes, and failed to register any truly threatening shots on goal.
Manly paid for their profligacy in the 17th minute when Sydney United scored the match’s first goal against the run of play. Skinning his marker on the right, Lachlan Roberts whipped a cross to Kyle Cimenti at the near post, and the striker opened his body to deflect a right-footed shot past Dylan Mitchell in the Manly goal.
Manly reacted badly to going behind: frustrated in their attempts to attack the Sydney United goal, and frequently giving up possession to their opponents, they gave away a series of cynical fouls on the half hour as they sought to keep the deficit to one.
Beyond a lone Manly corner, the first half became one-way traffic fare, and Sydney United doubled their lead in the 34th minute through Alexander Vlismas, who followed up a Darko header against the post with a well-struck volley that found the top right corner from 18 yards. The half ended with a yellow card for Sydney United’s Joshua Briskoski, and the home team 2-0 ahead.
Sydney United should have extended their lead further early in the second half when Cimenti found himself clear through on goal, but Dylan Mitchell stood up well to deny the striker his second of the afternoon. Manly began to come into the game as the half wore on, and Sydney United sat deep in defence as Christopher Arditti, Morrissey and McLean all had shots blocked on the fringes of the penalty area.
Mitchell made an impressive double save as the hour approached; blocking an initial shot from Sydney United’s Lachlan Roberts, before turning to claw the bouncing ball off the line. Manly continued to pile players forward while the home side broke back on the counter, with Roberts enjoying open space to run in on the right wing when his side had the ball. The visitors’ defence stretched wider as they looked for a way back into the match, and had their goalkeeper to thank for holding Tariq Maia and James Temelkovski at bay.
With minutes remaining, Manly snatched what appeared to be little more than a consolation goal through Lachlan McLean when he slotted Arditti’s squared pass into an empty net to make it 2-1. Sydney United, though, were rattled, and conspired to give up a second goal to Gailbraith, in the 90th minute; the striker flicking Sipan Berti’s cross past goalkeeper Luke Babic to level the game at 2-2. The match restarted, and the final whistle blew shortly after to end any hopes of a goal to find a winner.
Sydney United 58 coach Davor Bajsic was naturally disappointed with the result, but found positives in his team’s performance. "We had a lead of 2-0 at halftime, and created five or six chances in the first 20 minutes of the second half – we should have scored the third goal to make sure of it.
"I can’t blame the defence for what happened in the last few minutes. Our strikers should have finished the game off earlier in the half, but we were a bit shaken after they scored their first goal, and the players let the pressure get to them a bit. I can’t blame anyone for the result."
Manly coach Louie Dimitropoulos said his side were extremely fortunate to earn a draw, saying that Sydney United 58 would have been thoroughly deserving winners: "We were lucky. They had way more chances than us – we were just lucky we had Dylan Mitchell in goal.
"They were better than us all over the park, and we didn’t deserve to come away with a result of any kind. The only thing I’m happy with is the point."
Sydney United 58 FC 2 (Cimenti 17’, Vlismas 34′)
Manly United FC 2 (McLean 88′, Gailbraith 90′)
Sunday 10th May, Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United 58 FC: Babic, Borovickic, Briskoski, Cimenti, Darko, Gonzalez, Maia, Sherlock, Vlismas, A., Vlismas, K., Roberts
Substitutes: Agamemnonos, Hasiuk, Temelkovski, Vrlic
Manly United FC: Arditti, Berti, Galbraith, Gallagher, McLean, Roca, LeMay, Ferguson, Zarantonello, Morrissey, Mitchell
Substitutes: Calderan, Catlin, Gibson, Castelnuouo, Hancock
Blacktown Spartans FC 2-1 Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC, at Blacktown Football Park
Bonnyrigg scored their fourth goal of the season at Blacktown Football Park on Saturday afternoon but it wasn’t enough to overcome Blacktown Spartans, who won their first match since round two to go seven points clear of the White Eagles at the bottom of the ladder. Goals from Blacktown’s Domenic Dileo and Aaron White secured the win for the home side, while Mark Rizoski scored the only goal for the visitors.
Parramatta FC 1-5 APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC, at Melita Stadium
APIA arrived at Melita Stadium for their match against Parramatta FC three points behind their opponents on the table, and found themselves one place above them on goal difference at the final whistle after recording a comprehensive 5-1 victory on Saturday afternoon. Mark Warren scored twice for the Tigers, with Alessandro Colandrea, Lachlan Scott and Michael Rydzewski all also on the scoresheet. Parramatta’s quest for consistent form continues: they haven’t earned points in consecutive games since the second round.
Sutherland Sharks FC 1-2 Marconi Stallions FC, at Seymour Shaw
Sutherland Sharks have slipped out of the top two for the first time all season after losing 2-1 to Marconi Stallions at Seymour Shaw, their third match in four in which they have dropped points. Patrick O’Shea scored the lone goal for the home team, while Brandon Vella andZac Sfiligoi provided the goals for the Stallions. With the unlikely away win, Marconi go five points clear in first on the ladder.
Blacktown City FC 6-3 Sydney Olympic, at Lilys Football Centre
Blacktown City FC came out on top in a nine-goal thriller against Sydney Olympic at Lilys Football Centre on Sunday afternoon, with both Juan Zapata and Jonathan Grozdanovski recording hattricks for the home side, while Thomas and Daniel Bonomy scored the visitors’ goals. Olympic travelled to Blacktown in fourth place, but the loss –their second in three games – saw them switch places with their opponents, dropping to sixth.
South Coast Wolves FC 0-0 Rockdale City Suns, at Win Stadium
South Coast Wolves and Rockdale City Suns played out a 0-0 draw at Win Stadium on Sunday afternoon; a result which moved the Wolves ahead of Sutherland Sharks on the table into second place, after the Sharks’ loss to Marconi on Saturday. Rockdale, meanwhile fell one place to eleventh, now five points ahead of Bonnyrigg White Eagles.
– By Max Grieve, PS4 National Premier Leagues Grade 20s Reporter