It wasn’t only the new scoreboard at Lambert park which shone brightly as APIA Leichhardt Tigers secured a resilient 1-0 PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s win against Rockdale City Suns on Saturday.
Tasuku Sekiya’s eight-minute goal was the difference as APIA clung onto victory at home against a fast finishing Suns team.
Despite the tight scoreline, the home side controlled proceedings and we unlucky not to have scored more.
Rockdale looked uncomfortable at times and struggled to find the cutting edge which has helped them hold their third spot on the PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s competition ladder.
With the home support behind them, it was job done for APIA as they continue their late season resurgence.
APIA were on the offensive from the opening whistle.
Driving through the middle of the park, the home set the pace early and had Rockdale nervously on the back foot.
The aggressive strategy paid dividends after only eight minutes.
A long throw from Nathan Millgate was flicked on by Nathan Elasi with Tasuku Sekiya in position to hammer home from only six yards.
It was one-way traffic early on and APIA should’ve doubled its lead but was let down by loose finishing.
Nathan Elasi headed wide after 19 minutes and then had a shot blocked two minutes later as Rockdale clung on.
APIA’s Sean Symons was in the right place at the right time after 25 minutes when he blocked a rasping Rockdale shot. It was the visitors first real chance of the match.
The match began to ebb and flow with half chances traded between both teams.
With the minutes winding down until the break, Nick Olsen spurned the best chance of the half.
The APIA winger sprayed his shot high and wide after Tasuku Sekiya found him unmarked on the penalty spot.
The home side took the one goal advantage into the break. It was just reward for a determined and industrious first half.
It was a more even match in the early stages of the second half.
Rockdale found an extra gear when they returned to the field with Peter Makrillos directing the attack.
Chances to Makrillos, Blake RIcciuto and Urosevski tested the skills of stand in APIA gloveman Blake Tuxford.
However, APIA would not relent and for every chance the visitors had the home side did too.
Corey Bizco was denied by the woodwork in the 77th minute and Sekiya blasted over the bar as APIA battled for victory.
Just as he did in the first half, Sean Symons blocked a Rockdale shot to deny a golden chance for the visitors.
However time would be Rockdale’s biggest enemy as the final seconds expired to stop their final push for a competition point.
APIA coach Danial Cummins praised the resolve of his players after the match.
“They dug deep and against a very talented Rockdale team,” Cummins said.
“I was very nervous in the dying stages as Rockdale pushed hard for an equaliser. We did very well to hold on.
“We have been building over the past few weeks and starting to live up to our potential.”
“It was a great win and I know it will only push us to lift our game through the final weeks of the season.
Rockdale’s Paul Reid felt the match was an opportunity lost.
“It just wasn’t our night tonight,” he said.
“We conceded early and just couldn’t find our rhythm in the first half which really cost us.
“Consistency is what we are aiming for but tonight we were just off the pace and unable to compete at the level I know we are capable of. “
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 1 (Sekiya 8’)
Rockdale City Suns: 0
Saturday, July 2. 2016
Lambert Park, Leichhardt.
Referee: S. Lucas
Assistant Referees: J. Park & N. Wotton
Fourth Official: M. Reidy
APIA LEICHHARDT TIGERS: 50. Blake TUXFORD, 2. Nathan MILLGATE, 6. Luke AUSTIN, 8. BIZCO (10. Franco PARRISI 79’), 9. Nathan ELASI (11. Jordan MURRAY 66)’, 15. Themba MUATA-MARLOW, 16. Sean SYMONS, 18. Adrian UCCHINO, 20. Tasuku SEKIYA, 22. Zane SOLE, 23. Nick OLSEN
Substitutes not used: 19. Brandon LUNDY, 17. Adrian VLASTELICA, 1. Christian THEUMA
Yellow Cards: Murray 87’, Sole 28’, Symons 90’
Red Cards: Nill
ROCKDALE CITY SUNS: 1. David BRADASEVIC, 2. Daniel PETKOVSKI, 4. Trent MCCLENAHAN 6. Blake RICCIUTO, 7. Alec UROSEVSKI. 8. Aleks CANAK (11. Hristijan TANOSKI 65’) , 9. Dylan MACALLISTER, 10. Peter MAKRILLOS,16. Isaac SAVOR (12. Idriss EL HAFIANE 71’), 17. Toufic ALAMEDINE
Substitutes not used:. 22. Andrew BAZI, 19. Patrick SAVOR, 14. Aleks LEKORSKI
Yellow Cards: Makrillos 86’, McClenahan 7’, Ricciuto 67’, Tanoski 81’
Red Cards: Nil