APIA Leichhardt Tigers have solidified their PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Premiership credentials with a hard fought 1-0 opening Heritage Round win against historic rivals Sydney United 58 at Lambert Park on Saturday.
A thunderous second half volley from substitute Matthew West was the difference between the two sides in a tense encounter.
It was a valuable three points for the home side as they ended the eight-game unbeaten run of Mark Rudan’s Reds.
Both teams were like a bull at a gate during the opening stages of the match.
It was an intense battle with neither APIA or United 58 willing to give an inch.
Through the skilful play of Tasuku Sekiya the home side found began to look threatening in attack.
The midfielder was a constant menace to the United 58 defence as he terrorised through the middle of the field.
While APIA were beginning to threaten they lacked the finishing required to take the lead.
Sydney United 58 had their first chance of the game in the 22nd minute when a curling Panny Nikas free kick failed to hit the back of the net.
Only a minute later the visitors went inches away from taking the lead when Tomislav Uskok hit the cross bar with a looping header from a corner kick.
APIA went straight back on the offensive and on back to back chances were unable to get a foot to crosses which went across the face of goal.
The best chance of the first stanza fell to the home side in the dying stages of half.
Corey Bizco fired into the side netting after he volleyed a rebound from United 58 keeper Thomas Manos who had just made a diving save to deny a break away Jordan Murray.
The second half followed a similar trend with the Tigers pushing hard for a goal.
The visitors weren’t going to let APIA have it all their own way with Yutaro Shin’s shot on goal denied by a great save from Turnbull.
Turnbull was at it again with another incredible save in the 70th minute to deny another Nikas free-kick.
Manos proved he was up to the challenge as well stopping a dipping Sekiya free-kick.
After 75 minutes APIA finally found a break though courtesy of a sublime finish in traffic from West.
Despite being surrounded by four opposition defenders at the edge of the 18-yard box, the Englishman unleashed with his weak foot and fired a powerful drive into the net.
Sydney United 58 pushed hard for an equaliser but they lacked the finish required to hit the back of the net.
The final whistle was music to the ears of the APIA faithful with their team extending their lead at the top of the table.
You couldn’t wipe the smile off the face off jubilant APIA coach Danial Cummins
“I couldn’t be happier to get the three points tonight. They are an incredible side and pushed us all the way,” he said.
“Our guys were outstanding today. We had to change a few things structurally during the week and to the boys credit they all did their job and kept fighting to the end.
“They were throwing everything at us at the end and the boys did well to hold strong and claim the win.”
Sydney United 58 defender Petar Markovic rued the end to his side’s eight game unbeaten streak.
“Deflated is the feeling in the locker room after that match, the boys are very upset and are hurting from a tough loss,” he said.
“At halftime we felt very much in with a shot of winning but we lost our way for a moment and it cost us.
“All we can do is keep our heads up and learn from this defeat moving forward.”
The Edensor Park based club may have a new name to add to its list with the return of former Golden Boot winner Chris Payne to its playing stocks for next weekend’s round 13 home clash against the Rockdale City Suns.
While the Tigers have a short turn over as they entertain PlayStation4 National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s outfit SD Raiders on Tuesday evening at Lambert Park for a round 7 Westfield FFA Cup clash with the winner earning a spot in the coveted Round of 32. This match will be live streamed on the PS4 NPL NSW Facebook page with coverage commencing at 7:30pm
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC: 1 (West 75’)
Sydney United 58 FC: 0
Saturday, May 27 2017
Lambert Park. Leichhardt
Referee: C. Fisher
Assistant Referees: A Giev & J Adabjou
Fourth official: S Andrews
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 22. Luke Turnbull, 2. Nathan Millgate, 3. Paul Galimi, 7. Sean O’Connell, 8. Corey Bizco (4. Josh Symons 79’), 11. Jordan Murray (9. Matthew West 68’), 13. David D’Apuzzo (10 Franco Parisi 73’), 15. Themba Muata-Marlow, 16. Sean Symons, 19. Brandon Lundy, 20. Tasuku Sekiya
Substitutes not used: 1. Ivan Necevski, 12. Dominic Cox
Yellow Cards: Millgate 67’, O’Connell 82’
Sydney United 58: 21. Thomas Manos, 3. Riley Woodcock, 5. Anthony Tomelic (9. Adrian Vranic 77’), 6. Tomislav Uskok, 7. Yutaro Shin, 8. Mat Sim (16. Stepjan Paric), 17. Matthew Bilic, 18. Glen Trifirio, 20. Petar Markovic, 23. Panny Nikas, 32. Nic Olsen (14. Nick Stavroulakis 55’)
Substitutes not used: 2. Ante Vrilic, 40. Lucas Pervan,
Yellow Cards: Uskok 71’, Paric 86’,
3. Luke Turnbull (APIA)
2. Matthew West (APIA)
1. Tom Manos (SU58)