A BRILLIANT individual performance from Dylan Mitchell was the highlight in Sunday’s 0-0 draw between Manly United and Blacktown City FC at Cromer Park.
The passionate United goalkeeper was a man inspired in front of a healthy crowd on the northern beaches, denying wave after wave of Blacktown City goal bound efforts.
Both teams entered the round 22 PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s clash cautiously.
Blacktown City FC coach Mark Crittenden rested Sasa Macura and Zac Cairncross ahead of the finals starting next week and Manly boss Paul Dee wasn’t taking any chances with Sam Gallagher.
All three players would have missed next Sunday if issued a yellow card.
United needed to win to finish second, but in truth, the visitors didn’t get out of second gear, knowing a point was enough to ensure they will take on Manly again – this time at Lily Homes Stadium.
Blacktown City FC dominated the early proceedings, happy to knock the ball around and play at their tempo.
On 21 minutes Mitchell Mallia had the game’s first shot after being played in by Danny Choi, but it trickled wide of the Manly goal.
With 26 minutes on the clock Manly should have taken the lead.
A brilliant turn by Dejan Pandurevic saw him evade his marker inside the area.
He then squared a ball to the unmarked Adam Parkhouse, who blazed over the crossbar from six yards.
Next it was Blacktown City FC’s spurning an easy chance.
On 31 minutes Riku Sasaki only had Mitchell to beat from point blank range, but fired straight at the shot stopper.
Choi, who began to feature in the game more towards the break, showed what he is capable of on 41 minutes.
His drive from distance required Mitchell to be alert, with the United gloveman parrying the ball out to safety.
Choi again tested Mitchell, this time from a free kick fired in at the near post, but he pushed the effort out for a corner with 43 minutes played.
After the break it was more of the same.
Blacktown’s Travis Mayor tried the spectacular from distance on 51 minutes, but you guessed it, that man Mitchell denied him, tipping the audacious effort over the crossbar.
In the last half an hour, both sides cleared their bench in the search for a winner, but you got the sense it was going to end in a stalemate.
Luke Giverin produced a fierce drive for United which Nenad Vekic did well to hold on 82 minutes, and Mallia couldn’t believe it when he was again denied a goal by Mitchell late on.
The outstanding keeper produced a sharp reaction save on 85 minutes and deep into injury time, how he managed to flick wide a bullet destined for the top corner is still anyone’s guess.
Mallia was sporting a smile at the final whistle, but would have been bemused – if it wasn’t for Mitchell he could have finished with a hat-trick.
Major was a happy Blacktown City FC skipper at full-time.
"We came here (Cromer Park) knowing what we had to do,” he said.
"I thought we shut down their attacking threats and to be honest, were the better team.
"Next week (finals) at our place will be interesting."
Manly’s Brendan Cholakian was also relatively happy.
"Obviously we wanted to win, but we will take the point,” he said.
"It is job done, we finished in the top five comfortably and can now look forward to the semis.
"The lads are pumped, it is a new experience for us and one we are looking to make the most of."
Manly United 0
Blacktown City 0
Sunday August 14, 2016
Assistant referees: L.Pigram, D.Horstead
Fourth official: M.McOrist
Manly United: 1.MITCHELL Dylan, 2.PAULL Kieren, (5.WILLIAMS Rhys 63′) 3.LOBB Jamie, 4.OUGHTRED Travis, 9.CARDOZO Richie, 10.CHOLAKIAN Brendan, 11.PARKHOUSE Adam,(13.BALDERSON Scott 78′) 14.PANDUREVIC Dejan,(16.BERTI Sipan 64′) CANSDELL-SHERRIFF Shane, 21.FOX Joseph, 22.GIVERIN Luke
Substitutes not used: 6.GALLAGHER Sam, 20.CATLIN Shaun
Yellow cards: Paull 42′, Giverin 66′
Red cards: Nil
Blacktown City FC: 1.VEKIC Nenad, 16.ANTELMI Patrick, 11.CHOI Danny, 15.D’CUNHA Shane, 10.EVANS Connor, 6.LEWIS Mat, 7.MAJOR Travis, 14.MALLIA Mitchell, 21.SASAKI Riku,(9.GIBBS Joey 71′) 3.SPERANZA Giorgio, 4.SPERANZA Roberto
Substitutes not used: 5.BORROMEO Jake, 18.MAMONE Jake, 20.NISKI Dylan, 22.FRASER Lewis
Yellow cards: Major 13′, Sasaki 31′, Antelmi 85′
Red cards: Nil