APIA Leichhardt Tigers made the ultimate comeback to defeat Rockdale City Suns 4-3 in an entertaining match at Lambert Park.
The seven goal thriller started with Rockdale taking a deserved 3-0 lead within the opening 40 minutes with goals to Marko Jesic and a double to Alec Urosevski.
Tigers captain Michael West pegged one back for his side on the stroke of half time before goals to Nicholas Olsen, Brett Studman and Blake Powell completed the victory.
Rockdale started the match on the front foot pressuring the APIA defence high while moving the ball around with aplomb.
Their deserved first chance came in the 13th minute when Idriss El Hafiane played a great through ball to Toufic Alameddine whose shot went wide of the mark.
Paul Reid was the next to play a through ball two minutes later finding wide man Urosevski. The former Sydney FC striker fought the ball away from Nathan Millgate before sending his shot across the face of goal.
The chances woke up the Tigers who created one of their own in the 17th minute with an advancing Marc Warren only able to shoot directly to the chest of a waiting David Bradasevic.
Rockdale continued to attack with venom and got the just reward three minutes later.
Jesic got on the end of a great counter attack before being fouled in the box, leaving the referee no choice but to award a penalty. Jesic dusted himself off to strike the ball into the bottom right corner to give his side a 1-0 lead.
In-form APIA Leichhardt striker Blake Powell tried to get his side back in the game single handily in the 29th minute, winning the ball after a Rockdale mistake before beating two defenders but his shot was easily saved by Bradasevic.
The keeper immediately created an assist for his side with a long ball leading to Rockdale’s second.
Bradasevic’s clearance was headed softly back by Brett Studman. Norval hesitated, allowing Alec Urosevski to get to the ball first, before finding the back of the net from an acute angle to make it 2-0.
Urosevski bagged his double minutes later finishing a beautiful play to make it 3-0. Paul Reid won the ball off Warren before attacking and passing the ball to Alameddine on the right whose low cross was converted.
APIA finally got into the game two minutes before the break with captain West leading by example, poking the ball home from a corner which Rockdale failed to clear.
The home side had a glorious chance to score their second on the stroke of half time with Millgate’s cross finding a free Powell who fluffed his point blank header.
Rockdale came out of the blocks firing in the second half with Norval forced to pull off a fantastic diving save in the 46th minute from an El Hafiane shot from distance.
It would be APIA however that would strike first in second stanza with Powell feeding Nick Olsen on the right. He took a touch before slotting the ball into the far corner to make it 3-2.
Urosevski kept causing Millgate troubles down the left hand side and in the 60th minute created another opportunity for his side. The striker took the ball to the byline before cutting back to an oncoming Jesic whose shot was saved by the legs of Norval.
The attacker had another chance three minutes later getting between players to receive a ball over the top only for Studman to hurry back and block the shot.
Hristijan Tanoski and Urosevski combined in the 71st minute but the latter could not test the keeper sending his volley well over the cross bar.
Bradasevic almost made a shocking mistake on 74 minutes, slapping the ball away from the goal after Corey Biczo’s cross nearly crept into his near post.
The missed opportunities came back to haunt Rockdale in the 80th minute when Studman headed the ball into the net from a corner to equalise.
Just minutes later they took the lead for the first time in the match after Powell scored from the penalty spot to make it 4-3.
Following the match Tigers head coach Rod Williams said he was ecstatic his side’s attitude to come back and win the game.
“I thought Rockdale coming here today was never gong to be easy and in the first half they threw everything at us bar the kitchen sink,” he said.
“We knew they would try to use to use their pace out wide and to be fair to them they did it well in the first half.
“Second half we came up with a plan to turn it around and I think we did just that.
“A couple of times I thought in the final third probably the decision making was lacking a little bit.
“But the second half showed the character of a team that is willing to battle and to be fair I think from the second half we have the just deserved result.”
In the away dressing rooms player/coach Paul Reid was bitterly disappointed with the loss.
“First 40 minutes were probably the best 40 minutes you can imagine to play,” he said.
“It’s unacceptable to be up 3-0 and lose 4-3. We had our chances in the second half.
“We did concede at the worst times – it is never a good time to concede- but to cop one before half time and just after half time.
“We had a couple of chances to go 4-2 up but just poor decision making from our team and then a couple of goals in quick succession.
“We’re conceding goals from set pieces where we should be marking. It is just a bit of sloppiness.
“But we’ll take some positives from our first 40 minutes and try to turn that into a full 90 minutes.”
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 4 (West 43’, Olsen 51’, Studman 80’, Powell PEN 84’
Rockdale City Suns 3 (Jesic 21’ PEN, Urosevski 30’, 40’)
Sunday May 31, 2015
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: Glen Leckie
Assistant Referees: James Tesoriero and Mitchell Clark
Fourth Official: Hayden Tutbury
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: Norval, Elasi (Biczo 62’), Kayes (Griffiths 69’) , Millgate, Olsen (Symons 78’), Parisi, Powell, Studman, Ucchino, Warren, West (C)
Substitutes not used: Bazi, Petkovski
Yellow cards: Kayes 39’, Warren 45+2’, Parisi 64’, West 67’, Ucchino 75’
Rockdale City Suns: Bradasevic, Alameddine (Taneski 77’), El Hafiane, Hesketh, Jesic, Murayama, Oygur, Petrillo (Iwamoto 89’), Reid, Tanoski, Urosevski
Substitutes not used: I Savor, P Savor, Visnic
Yellow Cards: El Hafiane 32’
3- Paul Reid (RCS)
2- Michael West (ALT)
1- Brett Studman (ALT)
– by Chris Georges, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Reporter, at Lambert Park