IT has taken four weeks but APIA Leichhardt Tigers has finally found its groove.
The John Carnevale coached side has cruised to a 3-0 win in its PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s clash with Hakoah Sydney City East at Hensley Athletic Field on Saturday.
After below par performances across its first three matches, APIA kicked into gear against competition new boys Hakoah as Nick Olsen and Tasuku Sekiya found the back of the net.
The result was a warning sign to the rest of the competition to not write off the Lambert Park side despite a bumbling start to the campaign.
The first salvo was fired after only five minutes as an incredible volley from Sekiya handed a 1-0 lead to the visitors.
A delightful long ball from halfway was played in by the mercurial Franco Parisi before Sekiya unleashed his acrobatic finish.
The strong home crowd was caught unawares when APIA doubled their lead in the 18th minute.
A powerful diagonal drive from Sekiya after a throw in hit the back of the net to make it 2-0.
In the 31st minute Nicholas Olsen should really have put the Tigers three up when his powerful header clattered off the crossbar.
There was almost an instant reply by the home side when a corner reached Nathan Bowden-Haase but his header was just wide of the mark.
The first half ended with a flurry of yellow cards as frustration took its toll on the Sydney City East players.
Kevin Lopes provided the home fans with excitement in the 49th minute but the Hakoah striker’s header was just wide of the mark.
APIA Leichhardt should have punished a defensive error by Jacob Bandur in the 58th minute when Jordan Murray took advantage of a loose ball.
However the young striker could only fire his shot over the crossbar.
However, the smattering of APIA fans didn’t have long to wait for their side to make it 3-0 when Sekiya turned provider in the 60th minute.
The Japanese import delivered a cross from the right and an unmarked Olsen headed home.
In the 77’ minute a free-kick from the left by Sean Symons finished just over the crossbar, while the reply Hakoah’s Lee Jones replied with a free-kick that sailed just wide at the other end of the park.
Late in the game Jones had another free-kick curl over the wall and narrowly wide, while a powerful drive from Rae called APIA shot stopper Ryan Norval into action with a reflex save.
APIA Leichhardt coach John Carnevale was delighted to secure his team’s first win of the season.
“It was a very solid display tonight and the boys showed great discipline,” he said.
“It has been coming and I am really proud for the boys with the way they have played.
“We knew it would be a tough game here away against Hakoah especially after their last victory. But we stung them early and that set the platform for the game.
In the Hakoah Sydney City East dressing room coach Mark Robertson, the former Sydney FC and Perth Glory player, was not displeased with his side’s performance.
“Look it was a three-goal deficit but we kind of let ourselves down a bit,” he said.
“The first goal was route one down the middle with a decent finish, the second one occurred when we fell asleep at the throw-in and we were poor for the third one.
“We didn’t really create many opportunities for ourselves but it was probably the first half that cost us. It was great to have the home support tonight and it’s a great venue. We love the crowd, we love the kids and we want as many as possible to come down here to support us if we give a good account of ourselves.”
Hakoah Sydney City East: 0
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 3 (Sekiya 5’, 18’, Olsen 60’)
Saturday, April 2 2016
Hensley Athletic Field, Pagewood
Referee: K. Jones
Assistant Referees: J. Park and A. Giev
Fourth Official: A. Lyndon
Hakoah Sydney City East: 1. COSTA Anthony; 4. WALKER Brad, 5. BOWDEN-HAASE Nathan, 10. GILMARTIN Deklan, 11. RAE Gavin, 12. ABBOTT Steven (23. DE JONG Andre 80’), 14. JONES Lee, 15. BANDUR Jacob, 17. MUNDELL Jordan, 18, D’MELLO Aaron, 31. LOPEZ
Substitutes not used: 3. BLUMBERG Dylan, 16. ANDRICOPOULOS Costa, 20. McKENZIE Matthew, 24. BLANCO Richard
Yellow Cards: Lopez 43’, Bowden-Haase 45’, Mundell 45’ + 2, D’Mello 85’
Red Cards: Nil
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 92. NORVAL Ryan; 2. MILLGATE Nathan, 10. PARISI Franco (12. COX Dominic 90’), 11. MURRAY Jordan (4. BARTELS Bradley 70’), 13. D’APUZZO David, 16, SYMONS Sean, 18. UCCHINO Adrian, 19. HASEGAWA Kenta (3. FASDI Matthew), 20. SEKIYA Tasuku, 21. MUATA-MARLOW Themba, 23. OLSEN Nicholas.
Substitutes not used: 1. LIIBAND Tonu
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Themba Muata-Marlow (ALT)
2 – Tasuku Sekiya (ALT)
1 – Ryan Norval (ALT)
-by Joe Russo, PlayStation®National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Reporter, at Hensley Athletic Field.