A Danny Choi free kick was all it took as Blacktown City edged APIA Leichhardt Tigers 1-0 during PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Round 10 action at Lambert Park on Sunday.
While Choi’s dead ball effort was the only goal of the game, the match featured plenty of attacking football.
Jordan Murray should have given the home side the lead in the 7th minute when he unleashed a shot on goal but goalkeeper Nenad Vekic was equal to the task.
Both side’s failed to capitalise early in the piece but their ambition was obvious.
Danny Choi’s first free kick of the game forced a save from Ryan Norval but the shot stopper was always in control.
APIA had its own dead ball chance and Nick Olsen’s effort was palmed over the crossbar by Nenad Vekic.
APIA probed down the flanks and through the middle but a deep lying Blacktown defensive line countered the pace of APIA’s front men.
Choi sent over a corner in the 34th minute which was headed back across goal for Joey Gibbs to hammer acrobatically toward the net, but Norval came to the rescue with a tremendous point blank save.
Norval wasn’t so lucky two minutes later when Choi took a quick free-kick that left him stranded and gave Blacktown the lead.
The Tigers were playing a controlled and balanced style of football but found themselves behind at the break.
Stern words in the sheds at the interval lead to a determined APIA team in the second half.
After 60 minutes substitute Adrian Ucchino clipped a delightful ball over the Blacktown defence but APIA striker Jordan Murray made his run fractionally too soon and was unable to slip the offside trap.
Danny Choi attempted a cross in the 69th minute which took a wicked deflection and had Norval scrambling back to keep it out of his net
APIA was forced to throw caution to the wind against a well-structured City oufit.
A length of the field move involving Choi and Riku Sasaki ended with Mitch Mallia firing just wide of the upright in the quickest City counter attack of the night.
Murray was unlucky in the 88th minute when his header crashed against the crossbar despite beating City goalkeeper Vekic.
The result was not what APIA coach Daniel Cummins had ordered.
“I’m proud of the boys first and foremost,” he said.
“We were so much better with our structure and our shape was better and I thought we turned in a much improved performance.
“There’s still a couple of things I’m not happy with but I can’t fault the boys effort. This week at training they’ve been switched and we will prove we are a better side than where we sit on the table.
Mark Crittenden said APIA were a team he was wary of.
“We gave a very disciplined performance tonight because we know what they’ve got in their squad and the table doesn’t really indicate what a good football team they can be,” he said.
“We set up differently with Sash (Macura) and Zach( Cairncross) out. We set up to ensure we had numbers behind the ball and congest space.
“They nearly got the goal back at the end when (Jordan) Murray headed against the bar and sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t. Tonight it went in our favour so I can’t grumble.”
APIA Leichhardt 0
Blacktown City: 1 (Choi 36’ )
Sunday, 15th May, 2016
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: Michael Weiner
Assistant Referees: Ray Osborne & Val Bertuccioli
Fourth Official: Michael Bailey
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 92. NORVAL Ryan 2. MILLGATE Nathan, 4. BARTELS Bradley, 6. AUSTIN Luke, 10. PARISI Franco ©, 11. MURRAY Jordan, 13. D’APUZZO David (19. HASEGAWA Kenta 89’), 15. MUATA MARLOW Themba, 17. VLASTELICA Adrian (18. UCCHINO Adrian 45’), 22. DUNCAN Stewart (12. COX Dominic 88’) 23. OLSEN Nick,
Substitutes Not Used: 5. HOOPER Brendan, 50. TUXFORD Blake
Yellow Cards: Millgate 38’, Vlastelica 42’, Austin 43’
Blacktown City: 1. VEKIC Nenad; 3. SPERANZA Giorgio, 4. SPERANZA Roberto, 6. LEWIS Matthew ©, 7. MAJOR Travis, 9. GIBBS Joey, 10. EVANS Conor, 11. CHOI Danny Seung-Joo (12. GROZDANOVSKI Jonathan 86’), 16. ANTELMI Patrick (14. MALIA Mitchell 65’), 17. BEUMIE Lewis, 21. SASAKI Riku
Substitutes Not Used: 15. ASKEW Dakota, 18. DANDAN Isaac, 20. PRENDERGAST Tristan
3 – Danny Choi BC
2 – Nick Olsen ALT
1 – Jordan Murray ALT
-By PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Micky Brock