Sydney United 58 FC has stretched its lead at the top of the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition with a comprehensive 3-0 win against APIA Leichhardt at Lambert Park on Sunday pushing the headline that this could be the club’s year.
Goals to two usual suspects in Panni Nikas, Chris Payne and Robbie Mileski helped Mark Rudan’s side to its seventh straight win.
It was a tough day at the office for APIA who challenged United 58 for most of the match but lacked the killer edge required to take down the competition’s top side.
Only three minutes into the match Panagiotis Nikas was brought down in the box by Sean Symons and Kurt Ams awarded a penalty to Sydney United – their fourth in two games.
Nikas dusted himself off and sent the ‘keeper the wrong way from the spot to give the visitors and early 1-0 lead.
In the 16th minute a delightful cross from the right and was met by a powerful drive from Nicholas Olsen but Theo Kofinas was there to clear it off his own goal line for the visitors.
Sydney United 58 FC responded and doubled its lead. A cross from the left resulted in the ball reaching Chris Payne in the 22nd minute and all he had to do was tap it in against his former club.
It was an easy goal that perhaps the defence could have done a little bit better to clear.
Another chance for APIA arrived in the 25th minute when a lovely corner reached Themba Muata-Marlow who headed the ball just wide of the goal.
In the 28th minute a corner reached Nikas just outside the area and he tried to volley it home unsuccessfully.
The game ebbed and flowed from end to end. In the 30th minute a Tasuku Sekiya free-kick from just outside the area curled over the wall and just wide of the intended target.
Five minutes later a hook shot from Payne was well saved by Norval who then made sure he held onto the ball as the Sydney United 58 FC striker was standing over him ready to pounce.
From one end to the other, the chances kept on coming.
In the 44th minute an audacious shot from some distance by Bradley Bartels missed the goal by the faintest of margins and, right at the death of the first stanza of play, APIA should definitely have taken the lead when a Jordan Murray header went across the entire face of goal.
Sydney United 58 FC goalkeeper Thomas Manos made a great save only three minutes into the second half when he was forced to stop a Murray header.
The Jordan Murray-show continued in the 60th minute: his shot from just outside the box was well parried by Manos.
In the 75th minute a real majestic volley by Brendan Hooper finished just wide of the post but, had it gone in, would have been a goal to remember for the Tigers.
Sydney United 58 FC, under so much pressure, did go up the other end of the field and score in a beautiful counterattacking move. A long ball by Nikas found Payne who back heeled to Robert Mileski who then slotted home for the visitors in the 88th minute.
Late in the game in the 90th minute Nicholas Stavroulakis received his second yellow card and was sent off but by now the game was over.
After the match Sydney United 58 FC’s assistant coach Jerry Bilokapic was happy with the win but certainly was maintaining a level footing.
“It was a battle and APIA is a good side,” he said.
“We came here to get a result and I won’t say that things were pretty, but we did enough to win the game.
“We are playing as a team and we are working hard for each other and that’s the main thing. At training, the boys are putting in and everyone is hungry to play because they want a spot in the team.”
Over in the APIA Leichhardt Tigers dressing room new coach Danial Cummins, their fourth in six months, wasn’t too displeased because the game was more evenly balanced than the final score showed.
“It hurts to lose because this is a proud club with high expectations,” the 38 year old former Tigers defender said.
“We had a clear game plan and it took us about 15 minutes to get the structure right, but once they got that right we played so much better.
“It’s disappointing that we didn’t take all of our chances but they are a good side. If we had put one of those chances away it would have been a different game. I am very proud of our players because they turned up and played well, but the score line will read 3-0 and people who didn’t see the game will think something different.”
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 0
Sydney United 58 FC 3 (Nikas 3’ (pen), Payne 22’, Mileski 88’)
Sunday 1st May 2016
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referees: Joon Park, Nicholas Backo
Fourth Official: Nathan McOrist
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 92. NORVAL Ryan, 2. MILLGATE Nathan, 4. BARTELS Bradley (8. BICZO Corey 61’), 5. HOOPER Brendan, 6. AUSTIN Luke (3. FSADNI Matthew 87’), 10. PARISI Franco, 11. MURRAY Jordan, 16. SYMONS Sean, 20. SEKIYA Tasuku (19. HASEGAWA Kenta 89’), 21. MUATA-MARLOW Themba, 23. OLSEN Nicholas
Substitutes not used: 45. TUXFORD Blake, 17. VLASTELICA Adrian
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Sydney United 58 FC: 21. MANOS Thomas, 3. MOCHIZUKI Masato, 6. PAYNE Christopher, 7. SHIN Yutaro, 8. USKOK Tom 9. TRIANTIS Peter (11. TANESKI Nikola 53’), 10. MILESKI Robert, 14. STAVROULAKIS Nicholas, 17. KOFINAS Theo, 19. BILIC Matthew, 23. NIKAS Panagiotis.
Substitutes not used: 1. DEPTA Andrew, 2. VLISMAS Kristopher, 4. VRLIC Anthony
Yellow Cards: Kofinas 28’, Stavroulakis 63’
Red Cards: Stavroulakis 90’
3- Panni Nikas (SU)
2– Jordan Murray (APIA)
1– Chris Payne (SU)
-by Joe Russo, PlayStation®National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Reporter, at Lambert Park, Leichhardt.