APIA Leichhardt Tigers had all the killer instinct at Bonnryigg Sports Club as they powered to a 3-0 win over Bonnyrigg White Eagles on Saturday night.
Nathan Elasi, Adrian Ucchino and David D’Appuzzo all got on the scoresheet for the Tigers as they took an unexpectedly comfortable win at Bonnyrigg Sports Club.
The battle between second and third in the PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 penultimate round offered a glimpse of the Finals Series to come.
The Tigers were convincing winners on the night, but on another occasion the scoreline could easily have been reversed, such was APIA’s ruthlessness and Bonnyrigg’s wastefulness in front of goals.
The contrasting fortunes at either end was illustrated after just three minutes of play.
In quick succession, a Tynan Diaz free-kick and another Bonnyrigg set play from the corner caused the APIA defence plenty of headaches as the ball was battered towards the APIA goal, only to be beaten clear at the third time of asking.
APIA lost Adam Griffiths minutes later, which will leave the club with a nervous wait on his fitness ahead of finals.
The clearance was a good one, as it found its way to Elasi who drove towards the opposite end of the pitch, keeping his defenders at bay with a couple of lovely shimmys before knocking the ball out of his feet and beyond a helpless James Chronopolous to give the visiting side an early lead.
The goal was the catalyst for more good play from APIA as a confident looking Tigers outfit grew in stature, but the White Eagles responded well, fashioning a decent opportunity for Adam Jenner with some nice transitional play that released the right winger into the right-hand side of the box.
Jenner could not capitalise on the opportunity and scuffed a low-shot into the side netting.
Brad Bartels repeated the feat at the other end when he was well found down his own right flank only to find the side netting as well.
The White Eagles looked threatening from set pieces and despite some good deliveries from Diaz – who was playing his 100th game for the club – no one could get on the end to score. When they did, the APIA defence was well up to the challenge.
Elasi should have doubled his and his team’s lead after 22 minutes when he found himself unmarked in the box but could not convert a lovely Bartels cross, heading over the bar.
David Vrankovic responded in similar fashion at the other end when his outstretched boot could not find a fizzing cross which flashed dangerously across the face of Ryan Norval’s goal.
The two teams headed into the break with the score 1-0, but the Tigers did not waste any time building on that lead in the second half.
With the second half less than10 minutes old, APIA had scored two goals to take its lead to 3-0, courtesy of goals from Ucchino and D’Appuzzo.
Ucchino scored his second free-kick in as many weeks in the 51st minute, this time via a sizeable deflection off the APIA wall.
D’Appuzzo got in on the act only three minutes later when his late run to the far post found him unmarked to nod home a lovely cross form the right wing.
With the game well out of reach for Bonnyrigg, the sting was taken from the game as a brilliantly marshaled APIA defence restricted Robert Younis and Aaron Peterson to speculative efforts at best.
The game rolled along to full-time without many chances of not for either side, leaving APIA coach Rod Williams delighted with his side’s efforts.
“I thought first couple ofminutes they thre everything bar the kitchen sink and losing Adam Griffiths early didn’t help, but we recovered well,” Williams said.
“I thought we played some very good football. If you look at the squad over the last seven or eight weeks its been a depleted squad with quite a number of players out … but the club’s done very well in spite of that.
“Going into finals, we’re happy with the performances. We’re matching it with the best as we showed tonight.”
Bonnyrigg White Eagles coach Brian Brown said the match was a timely reminder of the importance of taking your chances – particularly heading into the cut-throat world of finals football.
“I think the second half we were really outmuscled. Credit to APIA, they’ve come out to play,” Brown said.
“In the first half we struggled with the final third, the final ball. We pretty much dominated that half, apart from an early goal, but the final pass was never good enough.
“It’s always concerning to lose, even more so when its at home and 3-0, but we just need to sort ourselves out … but the guys didn’t stop trying and even at 3-0 down they were trying hard.”
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 0
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 3 (Elasi 2’, Ucchino 51’, D’Apuzzo 53’)
Saturday August 8, 2015
Bonnyrigg Sports Centre
Referee: Stephen Lucas
Assistant Referees: Danny Horstead and Joon Park
Fourth Official: Adam Vainauskas
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC: Chronopoulos, Diaz, Jenner (Caira), Kokado, Miller, Peterson (Spruce), Tadrosse, Vrankovic (Gil),Younis, Zonjic, Fox
Substitutes not used: Matic, Douglas
Yellow Cards: Younis 25’, Fox 45’
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC: Bartels, D’Appuzzo, Elasi (Rhodes), Griffiths (Kayes 4’), Millgate, Norval, Olsen, Parisi, Studman, Ucchino, West
Substitutes not used: Biczo, Moore, Vlastelica
Yellow Cards: West 40’, Ucchino 61’, Studman 63’
-By Matthew Galea, National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Editor, at Bonnyrigg Sports Club