Blacktown City FC swept aside Marconi Stallions in their Major Semi Final at Lilys Football Centre on Sunday afternoon to book their place in the Grand Final this week. Meanwhile Sydney Olympic continued their dream run with a comprehensive 5-1 defeat of Sutherland Sharks at Sydney United Sports Centre on Saturday night.
Blacktown City FC 3-1 Marconi Stallions FC, Sunday 1.15pm at Lilys Football Centre
Goals from Juan Zapata and Eoin Montford gave the Premiers a 2-0 lead at halftime, before Zapata struck again in a closely-fought second half to secure a relatively comfortable victory for the Premiers.
Marconi won two early corners but both were cleared downfield as Blacktown looked to find their feet after enjoying an extra week off before their first match of the finals series.
Any fears of rustiness were quashed inside the first four minutes, when Juan Zapata and John Grozdanovski combined just inside the penalty area to give the home side an early lead. Zapata played in Grozadanovski with a neat diagonal ball that the striker the held up well before dishing a pass off to Zapata, who continued his run towards the penalty spot and slotted a simple shot under Kristian Sekutkoski in the Marconi goal.
The Stallions responded with shots from range from Ryan Peterson Noah Chianese, neither threatening Blacktown keeper Tristan Prendergast. Marconi appeared somewhat lethargic in attack, particularly in contrast to their efforts last weekend, when they beat Sutherland 3-2 in the preliminary semi final.
Twenty minutes after their first goal, Blacktown struck again: Zapata won a freekick under pressure from Claudio Fabiano, and Sam Perre stepped up to hit a low, driven shot outside the wall and towards Sekutkoski’s exposed far post. The goalkeeper got down well to save the initial shot but could do little about the follow up after spilling the ball at Eoin Montford’s feet; the Blacktown player cleaning up with a tap-in to double his side’s lead.
Unbeaten in their last fourteen matches and eager to stretch the run to fifteen, Blacktown sought to strike a balance between defense and attack as Marconi looked to mount a comeback. Sebastian Malfara cut a path from the right wing across to the top left corner of the box before laying the ball back for Peterson to shoot, but he sliced his foot across his shot and the ball slid high and wide.
Keen to put a lacklustre first half behind them, Marconi started on the front foot again; enjoying early possession but struggling to string together passes in the final third to create a clear-cut opportunity for the forwards.
Marconi tired fairly quickly in the second half – as they had in the first – and did well to hold their shape as Blacktown stormed forward in numbers in search of a third goal to kill the game off. Grozdanovski took the ball in his stride at the top of the box and hurdled a sliding defender as he took a touch towards Sekutkoski, but he wrapped his foot too far around his shot and dragged the ball across the face of the goal.
Grozdanovski had another chances when he chased down a similar ball running towards goal just moments later, but found himself fighting with his own teammate, Juan Zapata, for possession; the two eventually sorting themselves out to send a ball through a crowded box to Sam Perre, who grazed the crossbar with a shot from range.
Marconi continued to struggle against the tide and conceded again as the match passed the hour mark: Grozdanovski again held up play with his back to goal before turning and squeezing the ball across for Zapata, who ran onto the pass and poked home his second goal of the afternoon.
It might’ve been four just minutes later when Sam Perre had a free kick on the right side of the box, but he whipped the set piece over the wall and again hit the crossbar, leaving Marconi still trailing 3-0.
The visitors scored what amounted to little more than a consolation goal eight minutes from time: Jack Press carried the ball clear of the Blacktown defence and shot back across Prendergast, burying his shot through the keeper’s legs. Sensing that they might still have been in the game, the Stallions stacked their forward line and pushed for a second to put some pressure on Blacktown, but they left it too late: Blacktown were able to weather the late storm, and progressed to the grand final in two weeks’ time with a 3-1 win.
Blacktown City’s John Carnevale was pleased with a job well done, and will look forward to a second week’s rest after booking a place in the grand final.
“We had the week off, and it’s always a bit of an unknown how you’ll bounce back after a week off, but we came out strong and got a couple of early goals.
“We eased off a little in the second half – we knew that they were going to come onto us and push forward so perhaps we were concentrated a little more on defence, but we still created five or six chances that we might’ve put away on a different day. The boys have been in great form, we’re on a good run, and we’re looking forward to taking on Marconi or Olympic in a few weeks.”
Marconi coach Nick Dimovski will have been disappointed that his side could not harness the same energy that they showed in their 3-2 win over Sutherland Sharks in the preliminary semi final last Sunday, but will look forward to a second crack at a place in the grand final when Marconi take on Sydney Olympic next week.
Blacktown City FC 3 (Zapata 4′, 64′, Montford 24′)
Marconi Stallions FC 1 (Press 82′)
Sunday August 30, 2015
Lilys Football Centre
Blacktown City FC: Beumie, Flottmann, Grozdanovski, Hadjisocratous, Montford, S. Perre, R. Perre, Prendergast, Timotheou, Zapata
Subs: Dimitriadis, Figueira, Shabow, Tengbeh, Gonzales
Marconi Stallions FC: Appiah, Chianese, Donatiello, Fabiano, Fitzpatrick, Malfara, Peterson, Press, Schmidt, Sekutkoski, Sfiligoi
Subs: Stewart, Vella, Roebuck, DeMarigny, Andricopolous
Sutherland Sharks 1-5 Sydney Olympic, 6.45pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney Olympic continued their dream run towards the PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Grade 20s grand final with a comprehensive 5-1 defeat of Sutherland Sharks at Sydney United Sports Centre on Saturday night.
Just a week after scoring three goals in Olympic’s epic 5-4 win over Sydney United 58 in their elimination semi final at Lambert Park, Adrian Vranic notched another hattrick as Olympic set about a first half demolition of the Sharks, heading into the break 4-1 up.
Michael Trajkovski and Jack Green rounded out the scoring for Olympic while Bai Antoniou scored the only goal for the Sharks in their fifth straight loss, a disappointing end to a season that began with five straight victories.
Next weekend, Olympic head to Lilys Football Centre to take on Marconi Stallions for a place in the grand final in two weeks’ time, where the winner will face Premiers Blacktown City FC.
– by Max Grieve, PS4 National Premier Leagues Grade 20s Reporter