Sydney United 58 jumped to second on the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s ladder after grinding out a 2-0 victory against Rockdale City Suns at llinden Sports Centre on Sunday evening.
A first half brace to striker Chris Payne was the difference in a fiery and entertaining encounter, which saw 10 yellow cards and one red card shown
In a game of two halves, United 58 dominated in the attacking third during the first stanza before Rockdale returned serve in the second with a flurry of missed opportunities.
Sydney United 58 came out of the blocks early with captain Nick Stavroulakis finding the feet of Panni Nikas in the 3rd minute. The enigmatic midfielder took on the defence before his dangerous cross sailed over Rockdale goalkeeper David Bradasevic, just missing Payne at the back post.
The visitors continued their onslaught two minutes later with a slick counter attack ending in Yutaro Shin’s effort hitting the side of the net.
Nikas again found himself in the action in the 10th minute, picking the ball up on the edge of the box before his shot was well saved by Bradasevic.
Rockdale finally found their feet with a long ball wrong footing the United 58 defence in the 13th minute. Toufic Alameddine brought the ball down before his impending attempt was thwarted by a sliding United 58 defender.
United 58’s early dominance turned into the opening goal in the 19th minute. After great lead up play, Panni Nikas dribbled the ball into the box beating a defender on his way before his pin point low cross beat a diving Bradasevic to allow a free Payne to slot home.
Rockdale had a great chance to strike right back just three minutes as Alex Canak headed the ball through to a flying Alec Urosevski from a goal kick. The striker beat Theo Kofinas before his shot across the goal was well saved by a diving Thomas Manos.
The missed chance almost came back to haunt the Suns in the 27th minute when Nikola Taneski closed down a Nicholas Petrillo clearance seeing the ball fall to his feet with the goal at his beckoning. Petrillo had Bradasevic and the post to thank with a fine save from Taneski’s shot before Payne’s follow up effort bounced back off the right hand upright.
Alameddine started to take more control of the ball for the home side and in the 35th minute when he set up fellow midfielder Peter Makrillos outside the box but the former Stoke City youth player quality shot was too high.
Three minutes later Rockdale were at it again with a fantastic counter attack. Makrillos and Blake Ricciutto combined well with the latter putting Urosevski through on the left. The attacker took the ball to the byline before his attempted cut back was easily saved out for a corner by Manos.
It would be United 58 however who would take a 2-0 lead in the 39th minute when Matthew Bilic’s deep corner was headed back to Payne by Yutaro Shin, with the former taking a touch and striking the ball under Bradasevic.
The home side had a fantastic chance to get one back on the stroke of half time when Urosevski got on the end of a through ball again, this time rounding Manos but pushing the ball across the face of goal.
Bradasevic was called into action almost immediately after the break with the keeper pulling off a diving save to his right off a clever strike by Nikas.
The save spurred Rockdale into action as their control of possession created a host of chances while United 58 sat back and countered.
In the 50th minute a poor Manos clearance fell to the feet of Alameddine but the right winger took a touch before rushing his shot wide.
United 58 almost extended their lead a minute later when Payne found space in the box off a long ball. The striker brought the ball down well but his shot just creeped under Bradesevic. As the ball trickled to the goal, former A-League defender Trent McClenehan slid to clear the ball off the line and keep his side in the match.
Manos gave the Suns another chance in the 59th minute when he failed to take hold of an aerial ball, leading to Ricciutto chipping the ball goal bound only for Makrillos to miss a header at the back post.
Rockdale player/coach Paul Reid turned to his bench in the 63rd minute, bringing on Dylan Macallister for left back Isaac Savor.
The move almost paid immediate dividends as Alameddine threaded a lovely through ball on the right to Canak who took the ball towards the goal before cutting back to an advancing Urosevski whose shot was well saved by Manos.
United 58 were not resting on their laurels with both Payne and Nikas seeing shots go just over the bar within minutes of each other.
With minutes remaining United’s defence continued to stand strong with both Yianni Fragogiannis and Theo Kofinas blocking a number of shots to secure the win for their side.
The final nail in Rockdale’s coffin came in injury time as captain Daniel Petkovski received two yellow cards within as many minutes to be sent from the field.
Following the match Sydney United 58 head coach Mark Rudan said he was extremely proud of his side’s winning effort.
“I thought the 2-0 lead at the break flattered them, it could have been more we hit the post and had a few more chances,” Rudan said.
“We came in at half time and discussed what Rockdale had to go which was to come out at us. The second half was completely different, they through everything but the kitchen sink at us and credit to them for doing that.
“But the mentality of the players, the strength in character they showed to not allow Rockdale to get through was just terrific.
“You’ve got to be solid and we certainly showed for long periods in that second half that we were up to the task and that pleased me probably more than the first half.”
In the home dressing room Rockdale City Suns coach Paul Reid was very frustrated to not take anything out of the game.
“To be honest they were they better team in the first half, in the first half hour they came out firing and deserved their 2-0 lead,” Reid said.
“Early on we were good but after that they were winning every first ball and if they weren’t winning that they would win the second ball.
“In the second half there was only one team in it. I said to the boys after the game the difference is if we took our chances we would have been back in the game.
Rockdale City Suns 0
Sydney United 58 2 (Payne 19’, 39’)
Venue: Ilinden Sports Centre
Referee: Adrian Arndt
Assistant referees: Janush Adabjou, Val Bertuccioli
Fourth official: Matt Reidy
Rockdale City Suns: 1. David Bradasevic, 2. Daniel Petkovski ©, 4. Trent McClenehan, 5. Paul Raid, 6. Blake Ricciuto (11.Hristijan Tanoski 79’), 7. Alec Urosevski, 8. Alex Canak, 10. Peter Makrillos (12. Idriss El Hafiane 71’), 15. Nicholas Petrillo, 16. Isaac Savor (9. Dylan Macallister 63’) , 17. Toufic Alameddine,
Substitutes not used: 22. Andrew Bazi, 3. Steven Hesketh
Yellow Cards: Makrillos 44’, Petrillo 78’, Petkovski 91’, 93’
Red Cards: Petkovski 93’
Sydney United 58: 21. Thomas Manos, 2. Kristopher Vlismas, 3. Christopher Payne (10. Robert Mileski 87’), 7. Yutaro Shin, 8. Peter Triantis, 11. Nikola Taneski, 14. Nick Stavroulakis ©, 17. Theo Kofinas, 19. Matthew Bilic, 22. Yianni Fragogiannis, 23. Panni Nikas
Substitutes not used: 1. Andrew Depta, 3. Alex Vlismas, 12. Anthony Vrkic, 13. Matthew Donatiello
Yellow Cards: Payne 39’, Nikas 43’, Taneski 60’, Stavroulakis 69’, Manos 70’, Mileski 91’
3- Thomas Manos (SU)
2- Chris Payne (SU)
1- Yianni Fragogiannis (SU)
-By Chris Georges