Manly United booked their place in next fortnight’s Grand Final with a professional 2-0 victory over Bonnyrigg, while Sydney Olympic left it late to deal a knockout blow to APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
Major Semi Final
Manly United 2-0 Bonnyrigg White Eagles, Saturday 5pm at Seymour Shaw
Manly United are one step away from clinching the 2016 championship after outlasting a spirited Bonnyrigg White Eagles outfit 2-0 in Saturday’s major semi-final at Seymour Shaw.
Nathan Separovic’s first half penalty was the only difference between the two sides for the majority of the fiercely contested encounter, with Manly only sealing the game late on via a brilliant counter attacking goal from Jacob Caban.
It wasn’t a performance of vintage quality from the Premiers, yet Manly underlined their championship credentials in albeit convincing fashion with Andrew Christiansen’s side at their most canny to repel a flurry of Bonnyrigg pressure in the second half.
The White Eagles will feel they deserved a goal from their endeavour alone – short on numbers and star power, Bonnyrigg created a series of golden chances throughout the match and were only denied a second half equalizer by the slenderest of margins.
Midfielder Andrew Guzman saw what looked like a certain goal cleared off the line shortly after the half-time interval, while stand-in forwards Luke Ivanovic and Dalibor Malesevic will rue a pair of opportunities to level the scores immediately after Separovic’s strike from twelve yards.
Deputizing for first-team starlet Asmir Kadric, it was a physical mismatch for Ivanovic up against a resolute Manly rearguard but the forward toiled diligently on a tough afternoon alongside fellow youngster Malesevic.
The same could not be said about Manly’s Alexander Partridge, who consistently tormented Bonnyrigg down the left hand side with fullback Luke Debrot hauling the jet-heeled winger down in the box after half an hour.
Separovic’s duly converted from the spot despite the best efforts of Bonnyrigg custodian Stevan Savicic, but the White Eagles should have forced an instant reply.
Andre Guzman’s clipped ball from the right evaded the Manly defence and goalkeeper Mackenzie Syron but Malesevic couldn’t readjust his body in time and saw the ball bounce over the crossbar.
The White Eagles continued their search for an equalizer after the restart and it took a fine diving save from Syron to deny Leandro Guzman from outside the box, while Andre Guzman’s shot was cleared off the line at point blank range from the resulting corner.
Defender Taylor McDonald sent a crashing header over the post late on for Bonnyrigg while Malesevic’s goalbound effort was sensationally blocked by a pair of desperate Manly challenges.
The Premiers had remained steadfast during the second half onslaught and finally pieced together an attacking foray of their own five minutes from time, with substitute Jacob Caban finishing off a brilliant transition with a confident steered finish to send Manly to Leichhardt Oval.
Manly United 2 (Separovic 30′, Caban 87’)
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 0
Saturday 27th of August, 2016
Seymour Shaw, Miranda
Manly United: 30. Todd Balneaves, 23. Hamish Galbraith, 12. Henry Gallagher, 24. Aidan Hancock (26. Charlie Baker 64’), 27. Brandon Lemay, 25. Alexander Partridge (7. Jacob Caban 78’), 34. Edward Rinaldi, 28. Mitchell Rooke, 36. Nathan Separovic, 33. Rory Spiers (35. Julian Rinaldi 78’), 1. Mackenzie Syron
Substitutes Not Used: 14. Jesse Piriz
Yellow Cards: 24. Aidan Hancock 20’
Red Cards: N/A
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 23. Damian Cupac (29. Zoran Kolundzic 85’), 24. Luke Debrot (30. Nikola Krljar 85’), 26. Leon Faria, 27. Andre Guzman, 28. Leandro Guzman, 11. Luke Ivanovic, 36. Dalibor Malesevic, 33. Andrija Mandic, 14. Taylor Mcdonald (29. Zoran Kolundzic 90’), 20. Stevan Savicic, 22. Harrison Bagot (8. Amar Adilovic 90’)
Substitutes Not Used: 50. Jordan Geddes
Yellow Cards: 22. Harrison Bagot 27’
Red Cards: N/A
Minor Semi Final
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 1-2 Sydney Olympic, Sunday 1.30pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
Manoli Nicolau’s late strike saw Sydney Olympic come from a goal down to secure passage to next weekend’s preliminary final after defeating APIA 2-1 at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon.
The Blues looked on course for a disappointing minor semi-final exit when APIA captain Dominic Cox broke the deadlock from the penalty spot early in the second half following a controversial penalty decision.
Cox’s opener provoked a determined response from Olympic, with skipper James Combes taking vengeance on his role in the earlier penalty concession with an emphatic header from a corner that was turned home amidst a crowd of bodies by Jake De Marigny.
Having forced an equalizer through sheer grit, Nicolau completed the comeback in fortunate circumstances when his long-range strike took a hefty deflection off APIA defender Paul Galimi before looping over a stranded Blake Tuxford.
Olympic have now won six games in a row and face Bonnyrigg White Eagles in next Sunday’s preliminary final, while an eliminated APIA side will sorely lament their failure to capitalize on a slew of chances created in their last two defeats.
George Sidis’ side were convincing victors over Olympic in their previous meetings this season but there were no signs of a rollover in Edensor Park as the competition outsiders once again highlighted their newfound resilience.
Just as in last Sunday’s penalty shootout defeat to Bonnyrigg, it was a contest in which the Tigers ultimately paid for their profligacy in front of goal.
Competition top scorer Duncan Stewart endured a similarly frustrating afternoon, sending an early one on one opportunity wide and forcing Ezequiel Consoni into a comfortable stop late in the first half.
The APIA marksman also flashed a glancing header inches past the post in the opening forty five minutes as the Tigers edged closer to breaking the deadlock.
A tame encounter was ignited early in the second stanza when APIA were awarded a penalty for an altercation in the box between Combes and Matthew Stewart.
What appeared an innocuous challenge near the byline gave Dominic Cox the chance to open the scoring and the APIA captain duly converted from twelve yards to further incense the Olympic faithful.
Fortunately for the visitors it proved the contest’s turning point, with Combes playing a key role in the Olympic equalizer fifteen minutes later after a gigantic leap to win the ball from Michael Loupis corner set up De Marigny with a simple finish from close range.
APIA pushed to reassert their dominance and should’ve retaken the lead when Adrian Vlastelica blazed over the crossbar after the Tigers defender found himself free at the back post.
But substitute midfielder Nicolau provided the knockout blow on the cusp of full-time with his long-range effort deceiving Tuxford to ensure the Blues return to Sydney United Sports Centre in next Sunday’s grand final qualifier.
“The boys showed a lot of character to come back from that” said a relieved John Theodoropoulos after the match.
“We felt APIA were probably a little bit rattled from last week.
“To beat them after losing twice earlier in the season is very satisfying.”
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 1 (Cox 57’)
Sydney Olympic 2 (De Marigny 73’, Nicolau 87’)
Sunday 28th of August, 2016
Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park
Referee: M. Bailey
Assistant Referees: R. Osborne & M. Howeth
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 36. Stephan Adattini, 28. Matthew Cook, 8. Dominic Cox, 3. Paul Galimi, 38. Samuel Gulisano, 26. Benjamin Mccarron, 31. Duncan Stewart, 30. Matthew Stewart (33. Patrick Bentley 74’), 50. Blake Tuxford, 37. Julian Francis Van Den Berg, 17. Adrian Vlastelica
Substitutes Not Used: 29. Christopher Phillips, 35. Cameron Stephan, 32. Dario Travia, 40. Matthew Williamson
Yellow Cards: 36. Stephan Adattini 65’
Red Cards: N/A
Sydney Olympic: 82. Nikita Andricopoulos (81. Aedon Kyra 83’), 38. Stephen Athanaseris, 50. James Combes, 85. Ezequiel Consoni, 15. Jake De Marigny, 16. Oliver Green, 40. Steven Katsionis, 52. Michael Loupis (39. Manoli Nicolau 66’), 51. Sebastian Malfara, 37. Eoin Montford, 84. Brian Caulker
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Evan Davis, 49. Adrian Hadjisocratous, 48. Peter Liasko
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
-By Jacob Windon