THERE was action, excitement and plenty of goals as APIA Leichhardt Tigers cruised to a 5-3 win against Blacktown Spartans in its PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s clash at Lambert Park on Sunday.
An incredible opening 20 minutes featured five goals as APIA bounced back from going 1-0 down after 60 seconds to leading 4-1 before the midway point of the opening stanza.
A hat-trick to Tasuku Sekiya as well as goals to David D’Apuzzo, and Nick Olsen ensured victory for the home side despite Futa Nakamura’s double and Anthony Praia’s goal for Blacktown.
Fans hardly had a chance to take their seats before Ben De Haan’s Blacktown Spartans were on the scoresheet with a 1-0 lead.
Only 50 seconds after kick-off, Futa Nakamura hit the back of the net when he broke free of the APIA defence and finished cooly past a diving Ryan Norval.
Seconds later the Spartans were at it again when Nakamura forced a big save from Norval in the APIA goal.
It took a few minutes for the home side to find its way but when APIA clicked into gear it started an incredible 11 minutes of football.
Franco Parisi’s silky touch created APIA’s first goal in the 9th minute when Sekiya volleyed the midfielder’s perfect delivery past Spartans keeper Carlos Saliadarre.
Only three minutes later the Tigers made it 2-1 when Tasuku Sekiya scored a great candidate for goal of the season.
The Japanese import beat three players on the right side of the penalty area before smashing a blistering shot into the top left corner.
David D’Apuzzo’s long range effort in the 16th minute made it 3-1 for APIA.
The midfielder loaded up after receiving the ball 20 yards from goal with his shot too powerful for a diving Saliadarre to parry.
Blacktown had no answers for the APIA onslaught and Nick Olsen added to the scoring spree in the 21st minute when he tapped home an inch perfect cross from Sekiya.
A free kick to Luka Dukic was the visitors first chance since the opening minutes but the central defender’s cannoning drive crashed against the crossbar before being cleared into safety.
Blake Powell’s 22 goals last season were always going to be a tough act to follow for 20 year old striker Jordan Murray.
The Wollongong bred youngster flashed plenty of ability in the first half of Sunday’s clash to justify why he is regarded so highly by the APIA faithful.
Blacktown gave themselves hope for a comeback in the 45th minute when Anthony Proia scored after a well weighted assist from Shu Sasaki.
Blacktown started the second half with renewed vigour and Amaury Gaulthier nearly helped the visitors to the perfect start.
Gaulthier broke free after finding space and looked sure to score before a desperation block from APIA’s D’Apuzzo.
Less than 10 minutes later Nakamura put Blacktown back in the match with his sublime finish from the edge of the penalty area which cut the Spartan’s deficit to 4-3.
Tempers began to flare as the second half progressed with heavy tackles coming in thick and fast from both sides.
The game was wide open but neither side truly had the cutting edge.
With nine minutes left in the match, Sekiya cemented victory for the home side with a sublime finished from inside the box to make it 5-3.
A late push from Blacktown failed to eventuate as APIA clung on to win an exciting display of attacking football.
APIA coach John Carnevale praised his players after the match.
“Despite the first and last minute of the first half, I felt we played some of our best football during the first 45 minutes of today’s match,” he said.
“We have been creating chances all season and today to score four goals in 11 minutes was a great display of what the boys can do.
“We need to work better at closing down the opposition in the final third but overall it was a strong performance today.
Spartans captain Saliadarre said it was the same old story from his Blacktown side.
“We are creating plenty of scoring opportunities but again our defence is letting us down,” he said.
“You can’t expect to win matches if you’re not disciplined in defence.
“Until we fix our defensive structure we will struggle to get results.”
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 5 (Sekiya 9, 12’, 81’, D’Apuzzo 16’, Olsen 21’)
Blacktown Spartans: 3 (Nakamura 1’, 67’, Proia 45’)
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: J. Lewis
Assistant Referees: A. Giev and T. Lee
Fourth Official: A. Mansour
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 92. NORVAL Ryan; 2. MILLGATE Nathan, 4. BARTELS Bradley (19. HASEGAWA Kento 90’) 5. HOOPER Brendan, 10. PARISI Franco, 11. MURRAY Jordan (6. AUSTIN Luke 83’), 13. D’APUZZO David, 16. SYMONS Sean, 20. SEKIYA Tasuku, 21. MUATA-MARLOW Themba, 23. OLSEN Nicholas (8. BIZCO Corey 73’)
Substitutes not used: 50. TUXFORD Blake, 3. FSADNI Matthew
Yellow Cards: Muata-Marlow 70’
Red Cards: Nil
Blacktown Spartans: 1. SALIADARRE Carlos, 5. DUKIC Luka, 7. SASAKI Shu, 8. OTT Jacob, 9. PROIA Anthony, 10. NAKAMURA Futa, 14. MORTON Hayden, 15. WHITESIDE Thomas (4. MUTCH William 77’) 17. TOMIHIRO Hyams, 20. TOSI Ben (3. TANNER Josh 90’ ), 25. GAULTHIER Amaury (11. CRIGHTON Jordan 71’)
Substitutes not used: 41. NASCIMBEN Domenic, 39. MOOY Alex
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
3- Tasuku Sekia (APIA)
2 – Jordan Murray (APIA)
1 – David D’Apuzzo (APIA)