Blacktown City joined APIA Leichhardt Tigers at the top of the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s table after a streetwise 2-0 victory over Hakoah Sydney City East at Lilys Football Centre on Sunday afternoon.
Mitchell Mallia’s sublime first half free-kick and a header from City defender Zach Cairncross helped the hosts build an unassailable 2-0 lead at the break.
Mark Crittenden’s side needed to ride their luck at times during the second half, with Hakoah denied twice by the post, Blacktown diligently ground their way to three points.
City trail the ladder-leading Tigers on goal difference with the Lambert Park outfit three goals ahead of the 2016 PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Champions on the competition table.
Hakoah remain rooted in mid-table after their run of four unbeaten games came to a halt at the hands of their Blacktown opponents.
The visitors will lament a strong start to the match in which Gavin Rae’s side battled well and enjoyed a few early sights on goal. Fullback Cameron Draper dragged a shot wide after venturing forward and combining with Jack Green, while Green later forced Blacktown City goalkeeper Tristan Prendergast into a good low save at the near post.
But Hakoah’s opening stanza approach was undone by a piece of brilliance by Mallia, who was fouled on the edge of the box by Jordan Mundell before striking an unstoppable dipping free kick past Hakoah custodian Anthony Bouzanis.
Having failed two score in their two previous matches against Sydney United 58 and APIA Leichhardt Tigers the hosts looked to have ended their mini goal-drought in style and continued to lift the intensity after breaking the deadlock.
Bouzanis denied Mallia a quick-fire double after the City forward beat Gavin Rae with a lovely piece of skill but it would only delay the onslaught for the visitors who conceded from the resulting corner, with an unmarked Cairncross nodding home Daniel Araujo’s clipped delivery at the back post.
The Hakoah keeper pulled off another superb save to deny Grant Lynch Blacktown’s third. Lynch surged into the area after combining with Mallia in the penalty box, but couldn’t lift the ball over the onrushing Bouzanis.
Hakoah rallied well in the second half and went on to dominate possession but were unable to carve a way through an expertly-marshalled City rearguard.
Rae’s side struck the foot of the post when Andre De Jong let fly from range, while Mallia continued to wreak havoc on the counter attack and saw a hattrick of second half chances go wide.
The City attacker ought to have sealed the killer third goal his side were searching for in the last ten minutes after getting in behind a tiring Hakoah defence on another occasion but Bouzanis made another excellent stop.
Hakoah were denied by the post again when Jack Green tried to turn home a free kick after a mini-scramble inside the area but despite their efforts were unable to find a route back into the contest.
Blacktown City assistant coach Luke Roodenburg hailed a professional performance from his side.
“We knew we had to win today with APIA winning last night and maybe could have killed the game off a little earlier in the second half but we’re really happy with the win.
“We’ve been in a little bit of a rut in the past few weeks so we would’ve taken an ugly 1-0 win today.
“It’s important to stay at the top half of the table, obviously the goal is to win the league but we’ve got a tough game against Bulli FC in the Westfield FFA Cup on Wednesday night.
“We want to make the last 32 in the cup so hopefully the boys get through tonight and give Wollongong a good game on Wednesday”.
Blacktown City 2 (Mallia 33’, Cairncross 42’)
Hakoah Sydney City East 0
Sunday 28 May 2017
Lilys Football Centre, Seven Hills
Blacktown City: 8. Daniel Araujo, 19. Zachary Cairncross, 15. Shayne D’Cunha, 10. Connor Evans, 9. Joey Gibbs (12. James Andrew 77’), 6. Matthew Lewis, 5. Grant Lynch, 14. Mitchell Mallia (22. Yuta Konagaya 84’), 1. Tristan Prendergast, 3. Giorgio Speranza, 4. Roberto Speranza
Substitutes Not Used: 30. Lewis Beumie, 21. Bo Hyun Chun, 20. Matthew Symes
Yellow Cards: 19. Zachary Cairncross 76’
Red Cards: N/A
Hakoah Sydney City East: 15. Dean Bereveskos (8 Paul Orgad 46′), 1. Anthony Bouzanis, 10. Andre De Jong, 6. Cameron Draper (38. Connor Shaddock 75′), 42. Anthony Frangie, 41. Jack Green, 33. Oliver Green, 11. Jordan Mundell, 31. Gavin Rae (7. Aleksandar Lekoski 60’), 17. Gideon Sweet, 4. Bradley Walker, 2.
Substitutes Not Used: 2. Remy Wolanski, 45. Michael Figueira
Yellow Cards: 31. Gavin Rae 54’
3 – Connor Evans (BCFC)
2 – Mitchell Mallia (BCFC)
1 – Anthony Bouzanis (HSCE)
-By PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Jacob Windon