After every round of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues Men’s season Team of the Week brings to focus the best players from that weekend.
A tightly fought contest between Blacktown Spartans and Manly United ended in a thrilling draw, which saw both sides waste chances in front of goal. Tough tackling defender Luka Dukic stamped his authority in defence with some strong tackles, giving the Manly attack very little room with the ball. Despite Dukic’s stellar efforts, the visitor’s pressed relentlessly, with skipper Brendan Cholakian unleashing some stylish shots that whizzed just past the goal. The striker worked tirelessly up front as he searched for the match-winner, but ultimately the sides couldn’t be split, having to settle with the 1-1 result.
Despite committing a comical error that put his side on the back foot, Ibrahim Haydar made amends with a commanding performance in defence, lifting Parramatta to a 2-1 win over Bonnyrigg. An own-goal in the 14th minute gifted Bonnyrigg an early lead, however the Parramatta captain lifted his intensity up a gear in the second half, continually shutting down the home side’s intimidating attack. Ante Tomic again showed his class with an excellent display before half-time, darting around the Bonnyrigg goal-keeper before getting a deft touch to seal the goal. Tomic went on to secure his brace in the second term and earn man-of-the-match as well.
In a week where Leicester City captured the imagination of the football world, it was their former goal-keeper Paul Henderson who starred for Sydney Olympic in a heart-stopping win over Hakoah. The veteran shot stopper, who made 63 appearances for the English Premier League Champions, made some stunning saves to deny Hakoah’s strikers, who let loose shot after shot at the Olympic goal. However Henderson didn’t buckle, his expert performance paying off with Olympic snatching a 3-1 win in the dying minutes.
Rockdale City Suns held on to record a 3-2 win over Blacktown City, with the return of crafty midfielder Blake Ricciuto inspiring his side. After spending much of the week in hospital, the Rockdale midfielder was on fire in the opening exchanges, and deservedly scored the first goal in the 13th minute with a clinical finish from just inside the penalty area. Ricciuto was a machine in midfield, regularly providing good ball forward. He was ably supported by striker Dylan Macallister, who secured Rockdale’s second goal with a superb touch. The former Olyroo turned provider in the second half when his header was pounced on by Hristijan Tanoski.
Sydney United 58 consolidated their place on top of the ladder with a comprehensive win against APIA. Young gun Masato Mochizuki produced an excellent display in defence, sounding a warning shot to the competition on the sheer depth of talent that Mark Rudan has at his disposal. Mochizuki made regular bursts down the left edge and showed no signs of nerves when facing APIA’s attack. Panni Nikas picked up man-of-the-match honours with a standout performance in midfield, and a perfectly executed penalty that gave his side an early lead. Nikas controlled the tempo of the game beautifully, applying continuous pressure to APIA that saw his side record a 3-0 win.
The final Match of the Round saw Sutherland continue their slide down the ladder after a 3-1 loss to Wollongong. Chilean striker Nicolas Bernal continued to shine in his first National Premier League season, leaving the Sharks defence clueless with some smooth runs and ball play. Bernal had notched up a brace by the 32nd minute and almost had a hat-trick a few minutes later. A great performance from Darcy Madden also helped to spark the home side, with some electrifying runs down the right wing. The Wollongong defender capped of a dominant first half with a goal that gave his side a healthy lead that proved too difficult to chase.
GK – Paul Henderson – Sydney Olympic
LB – Masato Mochizuki – Sydney United 58 FC
CB – Luka Dukic – Blacktown Spartans
CB – Ibrahim Haydar – Parramatta FC
RB – Darcy Madden – Wollongong Wolves
LM – Ante Tomic – Parramatta FC
CM Panni Nikas – Sydney United 58 FC
RM – Blake Riccutto – Rockdale City Suns
ST – Dylan Macallister – Rockdale City Suns
ST – Brendan Cholakian – Manly United
ST – Nicolas Bernal – Wollongong Wolves