Blacktown Spartans have upset APIA Leichhardt Tigers 3-2 in a pulsating, end-to-end PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s encounter at Blacktown Football Park on Sunday.
It was the Spartans’ first taste of victory in more than a month as goals to star playmaker Jason Trifiro and Andre Carle, as well as an own goal to APIA’s Brandon Lundy ensured the Blacktown Football faithful could celebrate the win.
Franco Parisi and Tasuku Sekiya hit the back of the net for APIA but it wasn’t enough as Danial Cummins side sunk to another heartbreaking loss.
Both sides played an entertaining, attacking style of football throughout the opening stages and at halftime APIA led 1-0 thanks to a well-taken goal by Franco Parisi in the 36th minute.
But it could so easily have been 2-0 after forward Tasuku Sekiya failed to convert an early penalty before skying the rebound over the bar.
In the 21st minute Spartans’ Jason Trifiro hit a shot on target, only to see APIA keeper Blake Tuxford deflect the ball over the crossbar.
Six minutes later, Sekiya looked to have made amends for his penalty miss when he struck home from close range. Unfortunately for the visitor’s, the linesman denied the goal for offside.
On the half-hour mark APIA’s Corey Biczo hit the target from an angle, only to see Saliadarre pull off another fine save.
Five minutes later, APIA’s Zane Sole unleashed a ripper of a shot that just cleared the bar AS APIA piled on the pressure. But it was Franco Parisi who opened the scoring in the 36th minute to give the visitor’s a 1-0 lead.
In an entertaining first half, Spartans’ Jordan Crighton impressed with his penetrating running and accurate passing, while nippy forward Shu Sasaki showed great footwork and ability on the ball. For APIA, Nick Olsen proved to be a handful down the left flank, causing alarm bells to ring in the Spartans’ defence.
Just minutes after the restart, Olsen ghosted his way down the left and had a golden opportunity to score, only to see his effort hit the side-netting.
That miss proved to be yet another costly one as a few moments later, Spartans’ Andre Carle was awarded a penalty after being chopped down inside the box. Carle made no mistake from the spot to level the score at 1-1.
Carle’s equaliser virtually changed the complexion of the match. Sure enough, two minutes later Jason Trifiro gave the home side the lead when he struck a rasping shot from outside the box, the ball deflecting cruelly past APIA keeper Blake Tuxford and into the back of the net.
The Spartans’ mini-rout continued when in the 57th minute, Joshua Tanner appeared to head home to extend his side’s lead to 3-1. But the officials instead awarded an own goal to APIA’s Brandon Lundy.
The Spartans completely dominated APIA for the first quarter of the second half. Crighton was relentless; while Tanner and Trifiro were dangerous whenever they touched the ball. Benjamin Tosi also impressed, while the defensive line held strong.
In the 66th minute a Crighton effort was cleared off the line and a few moments later, APIA’s Olsen shot across the face of goal, but there was nobody home to touch the ball into the net.
In the 74th minute Sekiya made up for his penalty miss when he slotted home a nice goal to bridge the gap to 3-2. APIA were back in the hunt and after being under the pump, finally had a sniff of a comeback.
The Spartans launched another attacking raid in the 76th minute. Tanner leapt above the APIA defence and headed towards goal only to see the ball clatter against the crossbar.
With eight minutes left to play, Crighton made a brilliant run down the left flank but his shot wasn’t hard enough or accurate enough to beat Tuxford. Yianni Perkatis then got in on the act only to see his shot rocket over the bar.
APIA came back hard in the dying stages but just couldn’t finish the job. Sekiya had a half-chance in injury time but a courageous Spartans goalkeeper Carlos Saliadarre denied the APIA forward the equaliser, smothering the ball and ensuring his side of a long-awaited victory.
In the end, Blacktown Spartans finally got the win they’ve deserved for quite some time.
As expected, Spartans coach Ben De Haan was pleased with his side’s performance.
“We finally got the result we’ve been waiting for for so many weeks,” De Haan said. “Despite being on the bottom of the ladder we’ve probably played better football than a lot of our opponents. We’ve created chances but just haven’t been able to score.
“We even did that today, too. We knew they’d try to jump us on the counter, we were aware of that one. But possession-wise and playing-wise we stuck to our guns.”
“We scored goals and we fought hard. There’s not much between winning and losing every week.”
APIA coach Daniel Cummins praised his opponents but he also rued his side’s missed opportunities.
“I’ve been watching the Spartans and they play good football,” Cummins said.
“We knew they had a lot to play for in the second half, and they’d come out firing, and we just never matched their intensity. After they scored their penalty they just lifted.
“The Spartans have been creating chances and missing them week-in, week-out so I don’t think they deserve to sit on the bottom of the table. We also missed that first half pen. If we score then we go into the second half 2-0 up and it’s a different story. Missing chances has been the story of our season.”
Blacktown Spartans 3 (Carle, Trifiro, Lundy OG)
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 2 (Parisi, Sekiya)
Sunday 17 July 2016
Blacktown Football Park, Rooty Hill
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referees: Lance Greenshields, Janoush Adabjou
Fourth Official: Michael Bailey
BLACKTOWN SPARTANS: 1. Carlos SALIADARRE (GK), 3. Joshua TANNER, 6. Yianni PERKATIS, 7. Shu SASAKI, (4. Xavier QUIGLEY 46’) 10. Futa NAKAMURA, 11. Jordan CRIGHTON, 14. Hayden MORTON, 15. Thomas WHITESIDE, 16. Andre CARLE, 20. Benjamin TOSI, 25. Jason TRIFIRO (8. Jacob OTT 83’)
Unused Subs: 2. Jajaw WAND, 37. Aaron WHITE, 41. Domenic NASCIMBEN
Yellow Cards: 15. Thomas WHITESIDE (28’), 6. Yianni PERKATIS (89’)
Coach: Ben De Haan
APIA LEICHHARDT TIGERS: 50. Blake TUXFORD (GK), 2. Nathan MILLGATE, 6. Luke AUSTIN, 8. COREY BICZO (9. Nathan ELASI), 10. Franco PARISI, 15. Themba MUATA-MARLOW, 18. Adrian UCCHINO, 19. Brandon LUNDY (11. Jordan MURRAY), 20. Tasuku SEKIYA, 22. Zane SOLE, 23. Nick OLSEN
Unused Subs: 4. Bradley BARTELS, Ryan NORVAL, 3. Paul GALIMI
Yellow Cards: 2. Nathan MILLGATE
Coach: Daniel Cummins
-By Derek Royal, PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s reporter