Man of the moment Adam Parkhouse claimed a sensational hat trick as gate crashers Manly United soured Sydney United 58’s night of Premiership celebration with a 4-2 win at Sydney United Sports Centre.
Inspired by former Wigan attacker Parkhouse and the excellent Brendan Cholakian, Paul Dee’s visitors offered a classic counter-attacking showing to stun the Reds in driving rain.
The resounding win underlined Manly’s bid for the 2016 Championship as Parkhouse’s treble and Sam Gallagher’s first-half strike demonstrated what the Northern Beaches side is capable of.
Dee’s men gave the competition frontrunners one of the sternest tests of their Premiership-winning campaign in a gripping reverse fixture at Cromer Park back in Round 10 and while it was a similarly engrossing affair in Edensor Park, Mark Rudan’s Reds were simply outfought and outclassed by Manly on their coronation night.
The newly-crowned Premiers enjoyed a moment to savour in the first-half when United 58 stalwart Matthew Bilic thundered in a ferocious curling strike to equalize after Gallagher’s opener and saw leading marksman Chris Payne extend his advantage in the race for the golden boot with a sublime 21st goal of the season.
But they were mere consolations on an evening where Manly both avenged their Waratah Cup final defeat to the Reds last month and announced themselves as a genuine competition threat.
The seasiders looked intent on spoiling the night from the first minute and flexed their attacking muscles early on with Brendan Cholakian and Richie Cardozo linking dangerously around the box.
Cholakian and Cardozo have proven themselves two of Manly’s most prized assets in what has been a stellar season for United and the dynamic duo were instrumental in constructing the breakthrough for the visitors.
With the Reds hemmed inside their own box, a floated delivery from Cholakian was acrobatically cleared by Panni Nikas and lashed back at goal on the volley by Sam Gallagher with the ball striking United defender Theo Kofinas on its way past Reds shot stopper Thomas Manos.
The Reds hit back in stunning style just minutes later. As United 58 threw bodies into the box in search of a reply, Bilic deceived everyone on the left edge of the box and unleashed a fabulous curling strike that flew past Manly gloveman Dylan Mitchell and into the top corner.
Nikola Taneski might’ve put the hosts ahead after another promising surge forward but Manly silenced the home crowd again when Parkhouse ghosted in at the back post to steer the visitors back in front.
Manly resumed their scintillating display of counter attacking football in the second half and Parkhouse was denied one of the individual goals of the season after leaving a slew of United 58 defenders for dead before clipping the woodwork with a delicate lob.
But the jet-heeled winger didn’t have to wait long to atone and doubled the advantage for Manly after getting on the end of Dejan Pandurevic’s sumptuous cross from the right following another Cholakian-inspired transition.
Parkhouse claimed his hat trick midway through the second half after flicking Cholakian’s delivery past Manos at the near post, capping a sensational individual display and a hugely impressive team performance from Manly.
It’s rumoured a couple of Hyundai A-League clubs are looking at the lively winger with a notable identity and club legend who was present at the match, Western Sydney Wanderers head coach Tony Popovic watching on as well as Adelaide United.
“It was a great performance from the guys and I’m really happy to get three goals”, said Parkhouse after the match.
“We knew the Blacktown City result before the game and we’re pushing for a home semi-final so we will have got a great deal of confidence from how we played today.”
Late in the match, the home side went down to ten men as defender Yianni Fragogiannis was shown a straight red card for lashing out at a Manly United opponent which put a further dampener to Sydney United 58 FC’s Premiership party.
Sydney United 58 2 (Bilic 35’, Payne 74’)
Manly United 4 (Gallagher 29’, Parkhouse 44’, 63’, 73’)
Sunday 7th August, 2016
Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United 58: 19. Matthew Bilic (7. Yutaro Shin 59’), 22. Yianni Fragogiannis, 17. Theo Kofinas, 21. Thomas Manos, 23. Panagiotis Nikas, 6. Christopher Payne, 11. Nikola Taneski, 24. Jacob Tratt, 18. Glen Trifiro, 5. Nathan Bertolissio
Substitutes Not Used: 10. Robert Mileski, 20. Tomislav Uskok, 40. Gabriel Koliomihos, 16. Anthony Vrlic
Yellow Cards: 8. Peter Triantis 74’
Red Cards: 22. Yianni Fragogiannis 88’
Manly United: 17. Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, 9. Richard Cardozo (16. Sipan Berti 70’), 6. Sam Gallagher, 3. Jamie Lobb, 1. Dylan Mitchell, 4. Travis Oughtred, 14. Dejan Pandurevic (7. Travis Cooper), 11. Adam Parkhouse (18. Daniel Bragg), 2. Kieren Paull, 10. Brendan Cholakian, 21. Joseph Fox
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Shaun Catlin, 24. Aidan Hancock
Yellow Cards: 18. Daniel Bragg 81’
Red Cards: N/A
-By Playstation 4 NSW NPL reporter Jacob Windon