A second-half goal from Hristijan Tanoski and a penalty save from Ivan Necevski have secured a crucial three points for Rockdale City Suns at Melita Stadium.
With so much on the line for both the Suns and Parramatta FC, it was evident from the early encounters that both sides were up for the challenge.
For the Suns, the possibility of finals football and safety in the Club Championship relegation battle hinged on taking three points from the trip to Melita Stadium, for Parramatta, survival was the only concern.
The visitors started the stronger side and in the 13th minute brought out the best in goalkeeper Luke Turnbull, as he saved a close range shot by Dylan Macallister, who was beautifully played in by Tanoski.
In the 20th minute, a corner reached Daniel Petkovski in the corner of the box and, as he was inexplicably left unmarked, he volleyed just over the crossbar.
Parramatta FC was certainly pressing and in the 37th minute Shane Ardle had a powerful free-kick from outside the box that was well neutralised by Necevski.
Prior to Ardle’s free kick, the home side had created a few half-chances but finishing had let the Eagles down as none of the shots had forced Necevski into action.
There was an almost immediate reply up the other end when Toufic Alameddine ran down the right hand side and centred the ball for Marko Jesic who drilled the ball towards goal, only to be denied by an ever-alert Turnbull who punched the ball away.
The last action of the first half saw an in-swinging corner from Ardle reach Patrick Gatt at the far post but his header sailed just over the crossbar.
It was arguably the closest the home side had come to breaking the deadlock in the first half of play.
Right at the death Matthew Clowes played a lovely ball through to Joshua Gersbach but he couldn’t find the target. He skyed his shot from a good position much to the frustration of the home supporters.
Early in the second half Parramatta FC’s Marco Sama controlled the ball and shot from just inside the box but Necevski wasn’t to be denied.
In the 53rd minute Rockdale City Suns took the lead. It wasn’t a pretty goal but it was sufficient to break the deadlock and in the end give Rockdale all three points.
Tanoski twisted and tuned on a dime and put the ball in the back of the net with a powerfully angled drive from close range.
A short while later Rockdale City Suns almost doubled their lead when Alameddine broke dangerously on the right and crossed for Macallister but, despite his heroics, he just couldn’t quite reach the ball properly and knocked it wide for a goal kick.
Joshua Symons thought that he would try his luck in the 65th minute with a shot from distance and he wasn’t too far off the mark for Parramatta FC.
In the 79th minute the Suns tried again as they surged forward through Alameddine who shot with intent but, despite a wicked deflection, Turnbull wasn’t to be caught off guard and made a great reflex save.
On 82 minutes Luke Grima went to ground in the box after some pulling from the visiting defence and the referee duly awarded the home side a penalty.
It was Clowes who stepped up to take one of the Eagles’ most important goals of the season, but he was denied a goal – and the Eagles a point – by the heroic Necevski, who saved well to his left.
Late in the game in the 87th minute a powerful shot from Jesic had beaten the goalkeeper but not captain Gatt who cleared off his own line to prevent the visitors from doubling their lead.
After the game Rockdale’s player-coach Paul Reid was very pleased with the three points as his side remained in the hunt for the top five and moved closer to safety in the club championship.
“We knew how important the game was today and obviously not just for our position on the table but also the club championship,” he said.
“It’s in our hands now for next week. We knew it was going to be a tough game because Parramatta was playing for its life, but we deserved the win in the end. I thought that we dominated the game overall.
“The big thing now is the desperation that our players are showing. We have always got on very well as a group and we have been winning a few games 1-0 and we haven’t been conceding goals. That has been the turning point because we have become a lot more tight defensively.”
Over in the Parramatta FC dressing room Franco Cosentino the coach was disappointed but still managed to put on a brave smile.
“It is disappointing because we competed all over the park and we had our opportunities,” he said.
“The boys are shattered at the moment but we have one more game to go and we’ll need to dust ourselves off for next week.
“The last 15 or 20 minutes were really going at it and we also missed a penalty. What do you do? Players all over the world miss penalties but I suppose that sums up our season to be honest.”
Parramatta FC 0
Rockdale City Suns 1 (Tanoski 53’)
Melita Stadium, South Granville
Referee: Robert Nieuwenhuis
Assistant Referees: Leigh Pigram, Janush Adabjou
Fourth Official: Timothy Danaskos
Parramatta FC: Turnbull, Ardle, Clowes, Gatt, Gersbach (Grima 68’), Rezo (Gullo 29’), Sama, Speranza, Symons, Tayebi-Derazkala (Richards 78’), Wright.
Substitutes not used: Tsironis, Williamson
Yellow Cards: Gullo 80’, Grima 90’ + 2
Rockdale City Suns: Necevski, Petkovski, Reid, Murayama, Hesketh, Alameddine (Lekoski 90 + 3’), El Hafiane (Iwamoto 73’), Jesic, Macallister, Tanoski, Savor.
Substitutes not used: Bradasevic, Petrillo, Loupis
Yellow Cards: Reid 36’, Jesic 55’
By Joe Russo, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Reporter, at Melita Stadium