ROUND eighteen of the Grade 20s competition played out over the weekend, with two matches washed out at Rockdale and Parramatta as Blacktown City held their place at the top of the ladder with only four rounds of the regular season remaining.
The match of the round saw Sydney United 58 record a thrilling 5-3 win over APIA Leichhardt Tigers at Lambert Park on Sunday afternoon.
Match of the Round
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC 3-5 Sydney United 58 FC, Sunday 2.15pm at Lambert Park
Sydney United 58 took all three points in a see-sawing Match of the Round at Lambert Park on Sunday afternoon, braces from Lachlan Roberts and Adrian Vrlic helping the visitors to a 5-3 win over APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
APIA scored before the match could settle into any sort of discernable pattern, setting the pace for the game to come. Receiving a long ball from the midfield that sailed over the Sydney United backline, Lachlan Scott turned to bear down on goal and, under pressure from two defenders on his back, hit a strong finish under goalkeeper Luke Babic, whose heavy touch wasn’t enough to stop the ball from squeezing behind him and into the net.
1-0 up after just five minutes, the home side nearly had a second minutes later when Scott nutmegged a defender and slipped a pass through for Angelo Zvezdakovski on the edge of the area, but he pulled his shot wide of the far post. Scott played provider again for Michal Rydzewski, putting a ball down a channel on the right for the man to run onto, but he scuffed his shot to let the ball roll easily for the goalkeeper.
The visitors began to build towards something approaching momentum, winning a series of free kicks in their attacking half, and scored just before the half hour through Lachlan Roberts, who put the ball past Christopher Moore in the APIA goal after his own blocked shot fell back to him on the volley.
Roberts’ goal invigorated the visitors, and they pushed forward with purpose in search of a second. A sublime run from Jordan Koton through a maze of defenders nearly resulted in a solo wonder goal, but he dug too far under the ball and grazed the crossbar with his shot. Minutes later, Koton slid a pass through for Roberts on the right side, and the striker cut the ball back for Anthony Vrlic in the centre, who placed a hard shot under Moore to give Sydney United a 2-1 lead less than ten minutes before the break.
Sydney United 58 opened the second half on the front foot, determined to strengthen their position before APIA found a way back into the match. Just five minutes after the restart, the visitors had their third goal – and now a two-goal cushion – when Christian Gonzalez scrambled a pass across to Vrlic in the six-yard box, who bundled the ball across the line for a 3-1 lead.
APIA reacted well to conceding a third goal so soon after the halftime break, and hit back two minutes after Vrlic’s second goal when Lachlan Scott rumbled past two United defenders before cutting the ball back across the wrong-footed Babic to take APIA back to within a goal of their opponents.
Barely six minutes later, Sydney United restored their two-goal advantage with another goal from Lachan Roberts, the striker swinging his boot at a blocked Koton shot from a few metres out to score his second goal of the match.
Any hopes of an APIA comeback surely died just after the hour mark when Matthew Cook received his second yellow card for a clumsy foul on the edge of his own box, leaving the home side with ten men for the final half hour. Ten minutes later, they conceded a penalty when Jason Perez pushed Christian Gonzalez in the box as he ran away from goal, and Gonzalez stepped up to convert the spot kick to give his side a commanding 5-2 lead.
APIA found a strange burst of energy late in the half, and ended the scoring – and the match – with a goal from Cameron Stephan in the 87th minute, a shot that snuck under Babic from a very tight angle on the left.
As always, APIA coach Danial Cummins looked for positives in the defeat: "We were good for the first 25 minutes, and then we lost our way. We lacked discipline and shape which left us exposed, and they took full advantage of that.
"We start the first half of matches well and finish the second half well, but we lose our way a bit in-between – we’ve got a few rounds left to work on that, and we want to finish the season well."
Said United coach Davor Bajsic: "For some reason we tend to start slow, but we reacted well to copping a goal early and went from there. We kept playing our style – keeping possession and playing the ball forward – and never fell into the trap of being forced into playing the long ball."
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC 3 (Scott 5′, 51′, Stephan 87′)
Sydney United 58 FC 5 (Roberts 28′, 57′, Vrlic 36′, 49′, Gonzalez 71′)
Sunday July 19, 2015
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC: Adattini, Alassmi, Cook, McCarron, Moore, Perez, Rydzewski, Scott, Van Den Berg, Vlastelica, Zvezdakovski
Substitutes: Casali, Grasso, Koliomihos, Rinaldi, Stephan
Sydney United 58 FC: Agamemnonos, Babic, Briskoski, Gonzalez, McGing, Roberts, A. Vlismas, K. Vlismas, Vrlic, Koton, Bertolissio
Substitutes: Ephraim, Hasiuk, Fraser, Kermack, Mala
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC 2-1 South Coast Wolves FC, at Bonnyrigg Sports Club
Bonnyrigg recorded their third win of a difficult season at Bonnyrigg Sports Club on Saturday afternoon, beating South Coast Wolves 2-1 for their second victory in as many weeks. Behind 1-0 at halftime, two second half goals were enough for Bonnyrigg as they consigned the Wolves to their eighth loss in nine games. Bonnyrigg edge closer to lifting off the bottom of the table after the win, and are now level with Rockdale City Suns with eleven points – though Rockdale have a game in hand on the competition’s last-placed side.
Marconi Stallions FC 0-3 Sydney Olympic, at Marconi Stadium
Marconi suffered an unexpectedly comprehensive defeat at the hands of Sydney Olympic at Marconi Stadium on Saturday afternoon; two goals from Adrian Vranic and one from James Andrew securing a 3-0 win for the visitors. Olympic continue their charge towards finals with their fifth consecutive win, and only their third clean sheet of the 2015 season, while Marconi will look ahead to next week’s fixture against Blacktown City to take back top spot on the competition ladder.
Parramatta FC v Blacktown Spartans FC, WASHED OUT
Manly United FC 1-4 Blacktown City FC, at Cromer Park
Marconi’s 3-0 loss to Sydney Olympic on Saturday left the door wide open for Blacktown City to take hold of first place on the Grade 20s ladder with a win over Manly United, and they weren’t about to turn down the invitation, recording a 4-1 win at Cromer Park on Sunday afternoon. Two of Blacktown’s goals came from Sam Perre, and Jonathan Grozdanovski and Juan Zapata each contributed one while Lachlan McLean scored a consolation goal for Manly in the second half.
Rockdale City Suns FC v Sutherland Sharks FC, WASHED OUT
– by Max Grieve, PS4 National Premier Leagues Grade 20s Reporter