Manly United were crowned Premiers in a thrilling final day of action in the PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s U20’s season, while there were thrillers in Wollongong, Blacktown and Pagewood as the regular season drew to a close.
Match of the Round
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 2-0 Sutherland Sharks, 1.00pm at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt ensured the Tigers will play a home final in the 2016 finals series after dispatching Sutherland Sharks 2-0 in a clinical performance at Lambert Park.
Duncan Stewart’s second half strike proved decisive for George Sidis’ side after the former Manly forward outmuscled Sharks defender Dau Akol en route to goal before nudging the Tigers ahead to dampen the visitor’s premiership claim.
It was another moment of ice-cold ruthlessness in front of goal from the competition golden boot winner, who underlined a sensational 2016 campaign with his 21st goal of the regular season.
Stewart was pivotal in doubling the lead for the hosts later in the second half, charging back into the midfield to rob Sutherland of possession before sliding in teammate Cameron Philips who coolly converted APIA’s second.
Although the Tigers eventually fell three points short of the Premiership as a result of Manly United’s 1-0 win over Blacktown, it was nonetheless a convincing display from the hosts that will undoubtedly galvanize the third-place finishers ahead of the championship play-offs.
Against a Sutherland side who claimed more fanciful odds of stealing the premiership from under the noses of Manly prior to kick off, it was the hosts who highlighted their championship credentials after a battling display at Lambert Park.
It was a much anticipated encounter that promised to provide an intriguing counter-narrative to events unfolding at Cromer Park, where the competition leaders Manly needed to defeat Blacktown to secure their premiership triumph.
But it proved to be an underwhelming climax to what resembled a hugely fascinating final afternoon of action in the PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s U20’s competition as APIA ground their way to a gritty result with minimum fuss.
The visiting Sutherland side arrived at Lambert Park with several notable absentees and were unable to produce the mammoth attacking display needed to turn the premiership race in their favour.
Allan Edmondon’s side were similarly undermanned in the back third and often struggled to contend with the likes of Stewart and Philips prowling on the edge of the box.
They had shot stopper Nikolas Loe to thank for holding the Tigers out in the first half, denying Philips’ long range effort early on while the Sutherland custodian was forced into a fine stop with his feet after Stewart bullocked his way into the box midway through the opening stanza.
“We made a few bad mistakes today”, said Sharks manager Allan Edmondson following the match.
“It’s been tough for us recently – they caught us on a bit of a downward slide having drawn the last two matches and we’ve had bad luck with injuries in recent weeks.
“But in the Under 20’s the aim is to produce quality first-team players and we’ve done that again this season.”
APIA Leichhardt manager George Sidis praise his side’s victory and said the imminent finals series will be impossible to call.
“It was great to get the result today but we go into next week expecting a very tough game no matter who we play.”
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 2 (Stewart 64’, Philips 79’)
Sutherland Sharks 0
Sunday 14th August, 2016
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: Brandon Louric
Assistant Referees: Philip Di Matteo & Ethan Ryan
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 36. Stephan Adattini, 34. Bradley Bartels, 38. Samuel Gulisano, 26. Benjamin Mccaron, 29. Christopher Philips, 35. Cameron Stephan, 31. Duncan Stewart, 30. Matthew Stewart, 25. Julian Francis Van Den Berg, 17. Adrian Vlastelica, 40. Matthew Williamson, 2. Nicholas Azzane, 7. Marty Turpenen
Yellow Cards: 38. Samuel Gulisano
Red Cards: N/A
Sutherland Sharks: 25. Dau Akol, 18. Jarrod Benham, 13. Jeremy Cox, 38. Judd Duncan, 40. Michael Kouta, 29. Daniel Krkovski, 21. Nikolas Loe, 33. Thomas Papa, 27. Nathan Roberts, 12. Lukas Stergiou, 31. Robert Watson, 113. Harry Callahan, 8. Harrison Quirk
Yellow Cards: 40. Michael Kouta 57’, 8. Harrison Quirk
Red Cards: N/A
Manly United 1-0 Blacktown City, 1.00pm at Cromer Park
Manly United were crowned 2016 Premiers with a 1-0 victory over Blacktown City at Cromer Park.
Travis Cooper scored the lone goal in the first half to seal a superb premiership win for Andrew Christiansen’s men, who recovered steadily from two consecutive draws and title challenges from Sutherland Sharks, Bonnyrigg White Eagles and APIA Leichhardt Tigers to claim the Under 20’s first silverware of the season.
The result also spelt the end of Blacktown City’s campaign with the reigning champions missing out on fifth spot by three points.
Wollongong Wolves 2-3 Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 1.00pm at WIN Stadium
Bonnyrigg White Eagles fought back from a goal down twice to claim second place on the competition ladder with a 3-2 victory over Wollongong at WIN Stadium.
The Wolves opened the scoring through Jake Trew and cancelled out Harry Tucker’s equalizer when Jack Lombo put Wollongong back in front deep in the second half.
But the White Eagles delivered an inspired response to surge in front with a rare double from Kosta Zarafetas guiding Stephen Sigmund’s side to an important victory, one that gifts the outfit second place and a week off in the finals series.
Blacktown Spartans 2-3 Sydney Olympic, 1.00pm at Blacktown Football Park
Sydney Olympic made sure of their participation in the finals series with a 3-2 win over relegated Blacktown Spartans at Blacktown Football Park.
The Spartans were playing for pride in their last match in the top flight and despite clawing their way back to parity through goals to Sallu Kamara and Christopher Loucos following a 2-0 deficit at half-time, Samuel Jacob’s side were unable to end the campaign with a win.
Olympic’s half-time lead proved unassailable in the end, with the Blues marching into the finals series on the back of goals from Michael Loupis, Peter Liaskos and Brian Caulker.
Rockdale City Suns 5-1 Parramatta, 1.00pm at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City Suns farewelled a miserable 2016 campaign with a crushing 5-1 defeat of Parramatta at Ilinden Sports Centre.
While the result wasn’t enough to lift the Suns off the foot of the competition in table, a four-goal haul from Aleksandar Lekoski and a lone strike from Andrew Gioiosa ensured Rockdale ended the season on a resounding high.
Parramatta meanwhile a respectable eighth following a bright finish to the season for Mark Zecchin’s side.
Hakoah Sydney City East 4-3 Sydney United 58, 1.00pm at Hensley Athletic Field
Kevin Lopes hit a hattrick as Hakoah Sydney City East signed off in style at Hensley Athletic Field with a 4-3 win over Sydney United 58.
The seven goal thriller saw Hakoah race to an unassailable 4-1 lead at half-time with Peter Skanaj netting his first goal of the Under 20’s campaign alongside Lopes’ treble to break a run of five straight defeats for the division newcomers.
Sydney United 58 made the scoreline respectable through goals to Marcus Donatiello, Jack Stewart and Dimitrios Petratos but following an exhaustive effort in last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Premiers Manly, it proved too much of a head start for the Reds who end the season in eleventh position.
– By Jacob Windon