Sydney United 58 FC has salvaged a 2-2 draw against Rockdale City Suns in an action-packed PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s clash at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday.
A 78th minute goal to who else but Panny Nikas ensured the Reds secured a point from the clash after two Suns goals early in the second half.
Strikes to Aleksander Canak and Trent McClenahan had Rockdale in pole position going into the final moments of the game before Nikas struck his second goal of the game that happened to be his tenth of the season.
It was an emotion charged contest, with Nikas sent off in the final exchanges for a second caution, but neither team had the final killer touch to secure the win.
Going into the match both teams were missing key personnel with the home side minus the likes of suspended Tomislav Uskok as well as the injured Yianni Fragogiannis while the likes of Chris Payne and Yianni Perkatis were awaiting international clearances while the Suns were missing captain Daniel Petkovski.
Chances were at a premium in the opening exchanges with both teams giving up very little.
However, Rockdale started to find their rhythm and through marksman Jordan Figon and Canak the visitors began to put unite 58 under pressure.
In the 20th minute Rockdale were inches away from taking the lead when Alex Urosevski fired into the side netting after some silky buildup play.
The visitors were forced to make an early change brining on Toufic Alameddine when captain Steven Hesketh succumbed to an injury in the 35th minute.
United 58 tested Rockdale shot stopper Ante Covic from range with Nikas unleashing from 26 yards out.
It was a change in momentum for the home side and they took full advantage.
By the 40th minute the Reds took the lead when Nikas ghosted into the box, after some gritty build up play by returning skipper Nick Stavroulakis who was in the wars for the majority of the match putting in a captain’s performance, before placing his shot past the outstretched arms of Covic.
Rockdale pushed to equalise late and were denied on three occasions by brilliance from United 58 shot stopper Thomas Manos.
Manos was forced to make 3 saves before his defenders could clear off the line in a frantic scurry in the box.
Manos then backed up with an incredible diving save moments later to ensure his side went into the break with a 1-0 lead.
Rockdale maintained their intensity in the second half and pushed hard for an equaliser.
Despite controlling much of the attack it wasn’t until the 67th minute that the visitors finally found the back of the net.
Trent McClenahan hammered home from the edge of the penalty area after Manos’ clearing punch fell straight to Rockdale defender’s feet.
Only four minutes later Rockdale struck again when Canak finished off a slick passing move to make it 2-1 for the visitors.
Sydney United 58 weren’t going to let their rivals take the game that easily and after some Nikas brilliance the mercurial midfielder scored his second for the match and levelled proceedings.
The final ten minutes were a tense flurry of chances as tempers flared and frustrations boiled over.
Both sides traded chances as the game became and end to end battle of who could find the killer blow.
Nikas had one final chance to steal the result but he was unable to break free of his defender before being caught up in a scrap with Ricciuto.
Nikas was shown a second yellow card and sent off in the 90th minute as the match came to a heated close.
After the match, United 58 keeper Manos said it was a sombre mood in the sheds.
“The feeling is disappointment mostly.
“We controlled the game at times and managed to score a late equaliser but we could’ve won it,” he said.
“It was a good performance today but we know we are better than this.”
Rockdale City Suns midfielder Idriss El Hafiane praised his team mates for their resilience during what was a tough encounter.
“To get a point from this match after backing up from the midweek Westfield FFA cup was a massive result
“We showed a lot of heart on the field today. It was a game we could’ve won but It is always hard to get points at Edensor Park so we are happy taking home a point.
Sydney United 58: 2 (Nikas 39’ 78’)
Rockdale City Suns: 2 (67’ McClenahan, Canak 71’)
Sunday, June 4 2017
Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park
Referee: Adrian Arndt
Assistant Referees: N Backo & P Teleki
Fourth official: A Lyndon
Sydney United 58: 21. Thomas Manos, 3. Riley Woodcock, 5. Anthony Tomelic, 7. Yutaro Shin (9. Adrian Vranic 68), 8. Matthew Sim, 14. Nick Stavroulakis, 17. Matthew Bilic, 18. Glen Trifiro (2. Anthony Vrilic 73’), 20. Petar Markovic, 23. Panny NIkas, 32. Nick Olsen (16. Stjepan Paric 45’)
Substitutes Not Used: 25. Nathan Bertolissio
Yellow Cards: Nikas, Paric, Vranic
Red Cards: Nikas
Rockdale City Suns: 22. Ante Covic, 3. Steven Hesketh (17. Toufic Alameddine 35’), 4. Trent McClenahan (5. Paul Reid 85’), 6. Blake Ricciuto, 7. Alec Urosevski (11. Jonathan Grozdanovski 70’), 8. Aleks Canak, 10. Harris Gaitatzis, 12. Idriss El Hafiane, 14. Brayden Sorge, 16. Isaac Savour, 23. Jordan Figon,
Substitutes not used: 1. David Bradasevic, 21. Michael Loupis,
Yellow Cards: El Hafiane
Red Cards: N/A
*Player Ratings hidden with points going towards the Team of the Year to be released at the conclusion of the 2017 PS4 NPL NSW Men’s season