Manly United moved two points clear of second-placed Sutherland at the top of the competition ladder, while there were big wins for Sydney Olympic and Blacktown City in Round 19 of the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20’s.
Match of the Round
Blacktown City 3-0 Rockdale City Suns, 1.00pm at Lilys Football Centre
Blacktown City have clung onto their position in the top five after cruising to a 3-0 win over Rockdale City Suns at Lilys Football Centre.
The reigning champions had registered an alarming one win in their last eight prior to kick off but Ben Wright’s side proved too canny for the visiting Illinden outfit despite what was an indifferent showing at home.
George Firth’s first-half strike was complimented by a smashing free-kick from Dakota Askew while leading marksman Jonathan Grozdanovski added a third having seen several earlier efforts brilliantly denied by Rockdale gloveman Harrison.
The score line may have carried more resonance for Blacktown without the presence of the visiting goalkeeper, who offered several moments of class for the visitors, especially in the second half where City established their dominance.
And having conceded six to Manly United and APIA Leichhardt in consecutive weeks, it was the travelling Rockdale side who began the encounter with a great deal of promise, especially on the counter attack with Aleksandar Lekoski hitting the side netting early on.
But it didn’t take long for Blacktown to take a firm grip on the contest. Grozdanovski started a slew of chances for the hosts after seizing on a loose piece of distribution from Devenish-Meares, while City went close moments after when midfielders Isaac Dandan and Mason Ireland linked inside the box for the former to send the Rockdale keeper into another routine stop.
The hosts were searching for an intricate route to goal but when they broke the deadlock it was a simple switch of play from Dandan to find the run of Firth who cooly swept City into the lead.
It sparked a brief spell of response from Rockdale, who saw Lekoski’s header cleared off the line in the final moments of the first half, while Blacktown’s substitute keeper Dylan Niski, on in place of the injured Luca Gallo, began the second stanza with a flying save to deny Rockdale midfielder Andre Gioiosa.
But it would prove to be the only genuine moments of danger from the visitors who were put on the back foot midway through the second half. Blacktown’s Askew had previously flashed a free-kick inches over the bar but doubled his side’s advantage on his next attempt: a fiercely driven effort from distance that eased any hanging concerns for the home side.
It was an uncharacteristically wasteful afternoon for Grozdanovski who was twice outfoxed by Devenish-Meares one on one, but Blacktown’s leading goalscorer finally got the better of the Rockdale keeper after a sensational run from Jake Borromeo, who burrowed his way past a pack of Rockdale defenders before Grozdanovski sliced in his 11th goal of the campaign.
The victory places Blacktown back into the finals positions, aided by Wollongong’s 1-1 draw with Sutherland on Saturday evening.
Although it wasn’t a resounding statement of intent from the reigning champions, Blacktown custodian Ben Wright praised his troops for grinding out a critical result.
“It wasn’t the type of football we need to play but getting the result was more important than anything today.
“We’ve had no luck over the past eight weeks – at times I’ve only had nine players at my disposal and it looks like we’re about to lose two more of our boys overseas.
“But I’m confident we still have a side that can make the top five and do things this season.”
Blacktown City 3 (Firth 29, Askew 64’, Grozdanovski 87’)
Sunday 24th July, 2016
Lilys Football Centre, Seven Hills
Blacktown City: 1 D. Niski, 23 J. Borromeo, 24 J. Mamone, 25 C. Long, 26 M. Ireland, 27 B. Sacco, 28 G. Panayi, 29 L. Fraser, 31 R. Speranza, 32 J. Dodds , 33 J. Grozdanovski, 34 D. Askew, 35 I. Elkhaldi, 36 I. Dandan, 37 G. Firth, 40 L. Gallo
Yellow Cards: 26 M. Ireland 45’, 35 I. Elkhaldi 77’
Red Cards: N/A
Rockdale City Suns: 14 A. Lekoski, 20 S. Dubocanin, 25 A. Visnic, 26 Z. Nicolis, 27 D. Burgess, 28 Y. Petratos, 31 J. Nicolaou, 32 J. Petkovski, 34 C. Hancock, 36 A. Gioiosa, 40 H. Devenish-Meares, 41 J. Mushaba, 43 K. Maude, 44 J. Trajkovski
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
Sutherland Sharks 1-1 Wollongong Wolves, 4.30pm at Seymour Shaw
Sutherland Sharks dropped crucial points at home against Wollongong Wolves in a 1-1 draw at Seymour Shaw.
Nikola Djordjevic’s first half strike saw Wollongong lead at half-time but Sutherland restored parity through Daniel Krkovski to earn an important point.
Wollongong slip out of the top five in place of Blacktown City while Sutherland trail leaders Manly by two points.
Sydney Olympic 5-1 Hakoah Sydney City East, 1.00pm at Belmore Sports Ground
The finals hopes of Hakoah Sydney City East took a costly beating after the division newcomers were thumped 5-1 by Sydney Olympic at Belmore Sports Ground.
A Michael Loupis brace and goals from Adam Voloder, Manoli Nicolaou and Sebastian Malfara landed Olympic’s biggest win of the season as the Belmore side kept their slim finals chances alive.
Hakoah’s match in hand could still prove vital despite a six point gap to fifth-placed Blacktown City, while Olympic are five points off the pace.
Manly United 2-1 Blacktown Spartans, 1.00pm at Cromer Park
Manly United extended their lead at the summit of the table to two points after outlasting Blacktown Spartans 2-1 at Cromer Park.
Sipan Berti and a Blacktown own goal proved enough for Andrew Christiansen’s side to steer clear of second-placed Sutherland, while Adrian Epifanino’s effort was not enough for Spartans to claim a result to keep their finals hopes alive.
Blacktown remain seven points behind fifth-placed neighbours Blacktown City with three matches remaining.
Sydney United 58 0-2 APIA Leichhardt Tigers, 2.00pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
APIA Leichhardt Tigers cruised to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Sydney United 58 to strengthen their position in the top five.
Goals to Matthew and Duncan Stewart, the latter with his seventeenth of the season, made it a routine day at the office for George Sidis’ side who move into third position on the competition ladder.
Despite a late-season revival in recent weeks, Davor Bajsic’s Sydney United 58 are now on course to finish in the bottom three with three weeks remaining.
Postponed: Parramatta v Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 5.00pm at Melita Stadium
– By Jacob Windon