IT wasn’t pretty, but it was a case of job done after Parramatta FC held on to beat Manly United 2-1 on Sunday afternoon at Cromer Park.
Knowing three points were integral in the Round 22 clash to have an outside chance of finishing in the top five, the home side didn’t die wondering, bombing forward at every possible opportunity.
Parramatta, which was battling at the foot of the table with Marconi, had a dream start, scoring in just the third minute.
United keeper Dylan Mitchell punched a ball out from the goalmouth, with the scraps falling to Marco Sama.
The striker, who spent one of his junior winters with Manly, turned and brilliantly lobbed a ball back into an unguarded net from 25 yards.
With 17 minutes played the visitors almost doubled their advantage.
Joshua Gersbach unleashed a strike from the edge of the area which had Mitchell beaten, only to see it cannon off the crossbar and out to safety.
With Brad McDonald and Daniel Bragg pulling the strings for United, it appeared a matter of time before they leveled proceedings.
Keeper Luke Turnbull denied skipper Brendan Cholakian on 28 minutes and moments later a driving effort from Bragg went close to the target.
With 43 minutes on the clock Patrick Gatt cleared a rocket from Bragg out for a corner, and you sensed it was going to be Parramatta’s day.
Two minutes after the break the away side were on their way to three points.
Shayne Ardle pinged a hopeful ball to the far post from the left touchline, which dipped late, nestling in the goal past a stunned Mitchell.
It was a strike worthy of winning any game, and Parramatta’s players celebrated accordingly, knowing it was now a massive mountain for Manly to climb.
Seconds later striker Chris Payne was thrown into the fray, with United going for broke.
When Gatt cleared a second ball off the line, this time from Cholakian on 54 minutes, United were almost resigned to their fate.
Daniel Saric flashed an effort wide on 57 minutes and then Manly did find a way past Turnbull moments later, only for Payne to be correctly called offside by the linesman.
Substitute CJ Arditti was lively after entering the fray late on, and he did peg it back to 2-1 after heading home a pinpoint cross from Adam Parkhouse with 84 minutes on the clock.
United pressed for an equaliser at the death, but in a tussle where it created enough chances to win half a dozen games, lacked finesse at the pointy end of the field.
Parramatta FC coach Franco Cosentino was a relieved man outside the sheds at fulltime.
"I think we deserve to be in this competition, the boys play with heart and desire every week.
"Both our goals were quality, we have a rich history as a club, the aim now is to get better and be a force next season."
His opposite Paul Dee was disappointed to finish the contest empty handed.
"We were the better team, but the result didn’t follow,” the Manly boss said.
"Credit to Parramatta FC, they came here with a plan and in the end, did enough to win.
"I can’t fault the effort of the players, they kept playing our brand of football until the final whistle.
"Most of our guys are re-signed already for next year, it bodes well for our future."
Manly United 1 (CJ Arditti 84′)
Parramatta FC 2 (Marco Sama 3′, Shayne Ardle 47′)
Cromer Park, Sunday August 16, 2015
Referee: Jerry Bitas
Assistant referees: Leigh Pigram, Raymond Osborne
Fourth official: Seb Brennan
Manly United: Mitchell, Bragg, Cholakian, Gallagher, Kuleski, (Payne 48′) Lobb, McDonald, Oughtred, Pandurevic, Parkhouse, (Arditti 64′) Saric
Substitutes not used: Catlin, Whitlock
Yellow cards: Saric 69′
Red cards: Nil
Parramatta FC: Turnbull, Ardle, Clowes, Gatt, Gersbach, Speranza, Tayebi Derazkala, Wright, Mortey, (Symons 86′) Sama, (Chavez 83′) Tsironis (Gullo 78′)
Substitutes not used: Grima, Richards
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil