BLACKTOWN City FC remain the yardstick in the PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 competition following a hard-fought 2-1 win against Manly United on Sunday afternoon at Cromer Park.
Attacking dynamo Danny Choi was the difference, with his two first half goals oozing class.
The home side was lively from the outset, with the likes of Brendan Cholakian, Brad McDonald and Daniel Saric causing problems for the Blacktown defence.
Despite that, Sasa Macura should have scored for the visitors after just seven minutes, but skewed his effort wide.
Choi went even closer after 17 minutes, only for Manly goalkeeper Dylan Mitchell to deal with the strike comfortably.
Blacktown City’s Travis Major was the next to go close for Blacktown and really should have scored with 27 minutes played.
He found himself with only Mitchell to beat, but his shot from an acute angle looped over the crossbar.
Nine minutes later, Major redeemed his miss by turning provider, playing in Choi.
The man with dancing football feet composed himself before slotting a sharp effort past Mitchell to open the scoring.
Blacktown City FC doubled their lead after 42 minutes.
A casual pass from Manly’s Sam Gallagher was pounced upon and Choi didn’t need a second invitation, producing a slick effort at the near post to silence the crowd in the Lucas Neill Grandstand.
United entered the break shell-shocked, but continued to play its brand of football when it returned for the second half.
Early in the second half a mazy run from Cholakian almost resulted in a goal, but his effort flashed wide.
The skipper was not to be denied moments later, and on 57 minutes, the star halved the deficit.
A pinpoint delivery from Adam Parkhouse was all "Choc" needed, volleying past Nenad Vekic to make it 2-1.
Both sides cleared their bench in the last half an hour, with only half chances following as the game drew to a close.
Blacktown City FC rode their luck at times, but in the end Choi proved to be the match winner.
Skipper Zach Cairncross was also a rock in defence, showing why he is one of the best players in the competition.
A dejected Paul Dee knew his team was up against it after gifting the league leaders two goals late in the first stanza.
"You can’t do it at any level, and against a classy team like Blacktown City you are just asking for trouble,” the United boss said.
"I did like the way we fought back, but we still came up short.
"Our next two games against Sutherland and Sydney United 58 FC are huge, if we win them we will be on track to sneak into the finals."
His opposite Mark Crittenden was relieved to leave the peninsula with three points.
"I knew it was going to be a dog fight, it usually is against Manly,” he said.
"It was important we won, we were coming off the back of three straight draws.
"We are in a good position, you always want to control your own destiny.
"Putting it simply, we need to keep winning if we are to finish Champions."
Manly United 1 (Brendan Cholakian 57′)
Blacktown City FC 2 (Danny Choi 36′, 42)
Sunday July 19, Cromer Park
Referee: Adam Susz
Assistant referees: Adam Vainauskas, Mitchell Clark
Fourth official: Samuel Grasso
Manly United: Mitchell, Bragg, (Ferguson 64′) Cholakian, Gallagher, Lobb, McDonald, Oughtred, Pandurevic, Parkhouse, Saric, (Castelnuovo 90′) Williams (Payne 71′)
Substitutes not used: Catlin, Kuleksi
Yellow cards: Gallagher 37′, Bragg 51′
Red cards: Nil
Blacktown City FC: Vekic, Speranza, Lewis, Major, Macura, (Parkatis 61′) Choi, Evans, Fragogiannis, Tomaras, (Araujo 69′) Antelmi, (Grozdanovski 78′) Cairncross
Substitutes not used: Timotheou, Prendergast
Yellow cards: Macura 24′, Perkatis 70′
Red cards: Nil