APIA Leichhardt Tigers have sent a message to league leaders Blacktown City after a 2-1 win against Sydney Olympic FC at Belmore Sports Ground on Sunday, a loss that saw the Blues exit the top five for now.
APIA raced to an early lead through a David D’Apuzzo penalty before doubling their advantage early in the second half thanks to a Sean Symons goal.
A late to Jinya An strike gave the Tigers some heart palpitations late in the game, but in reality it was too little too late from the home side.
The win moves APIA only three points behind Blacktown City and busts the race for the Premiership title open with three weeks to play.
In the 3rd minute APIA Leichhardt were awarded when Tasuku Sekiya tried a spectacular overhead kick but was adjudged to have been brought down by Mohammad Rahimi in the area
The penalty was converted by D’Apuzzo who sent goalkeeper Paul Henderson to the wrong side.
The game ebbed and flowed to almost the half hour mark when Jordan Murray cut a swathe through the Sydney Olympic defence but in the end, he fired just wide of the intended target.
In the 33rd minute Sydney Olympic really should have equalised when Tom Whiteside made a determined run along the by-line before cutting the ball back to Yu Kuboki who fired just a fraction wide from point-blank range.
A free-kick from Jinya An in the 39th minute from outside the box reached Mitchell Stamatellis but he failed to direct his header on target and the home side went into the break a goal down.
The second stanza of play didn’t get off to a great start for Sydney Olympic as they were left standing in the open for a couple of minutes by their tardy opponents who were in no hurry to exit the dressing rooms.
Three minutes into play, a poor clearance by George Timotheou was easily picked up by Corey Bizco but he fired his diagonal attempt just over the crossbar.
However, the visitors didn’t have wait too long to hit the back of the net again.
Biczo was given far too much space down the right flank and with an accurate cross to the far post found a rampaging Sean Symons who headed home with power from close range.
In the 72nd minute Adrian Ucchino should really have done a lot better with his attempt from the edge of the box, but he couldn’t bring it sufficiently under control and it sailed high.
In the 84th minute Sekiya beautifully played a square ball to Murray who tested Henderson who got down low to make a convincing save.
It was the visitors who had the chance much to the dismay of the home fans who really didn’t have much to cheer about in the second half until they scored in the 86th minute.
Niko Tsattalios from the by-line flicked the ball back, more in hope than anything else, but Jinya An was on hand to score from a metre out and give his side a sniff of a chance.
It wasn’t to be though and the Tigers took home three valuable away points.
After the game a delighted APIA Leichhardt captain David D’Apuzzo spoke about his home side’s win.
“We knew we had to get the job done today and we put on a good performance to get the points,” he said.
“While we have had a good season so far, there are still another three games to go and a lot can happen in these last few weeks so we need to at our best.
“We have the desire and everyone is fighting for each other and today we came up against a physical side which wasn’t easy.”
Sydney Olympic FC: 1 (Jinya An)
APIA Leichhardt Tigers : 2 (D’Apuzzo, S Symons)
Sunday 23rd July 2017
Belmore Sports Ground, Belmore
Referee: B. Abraham
Assistant Referees: K. Robinson, T. Lee
Fourth Official: A. Verma
SYDNEY OLYMPIC FC: 1. Paul Henderson, 4. Tom Whiteside (33. Niko Tsattalios 66’), 5. Yianni Spyrakis, 6. Mitchell Stamatellis, 7. William Angel (19. Darcy Burgess 66’), 8. Jason Madonis, 11, Jinya An, 12. Yu Kuboki, 14. Mohammad Rahimi, 16. George Timotheou, 24. Hagi Gligor.
Substitutes not used: 9. Radovan Pavicevic, 99. Paul Kasetis
Yellow Cards: Henderson 3’, Whiteside 45’, Spyrakis 90’
Red Card: Nil
APIA LEICHHARDT TIGERS: 1. Ivan Necevski, 2. Nathan Millgate, 4. Joshua Symons, 8. Corey Biczo, 11. Jordan Murray (12. Dominic Cox 83’), 13. David D’Apuzzo (7. Sean O’Connell 92’), 15. Themba Muata-Marlow, 16. Sean Symons, 18. Adrian Ucchino, 19. Brandon Lundy, 20. Tasuku Sekiya.
Substitutes not used: 17. Adrian Vlastelica, 22. Luke Turnbull
Yellow Cards: J. Symons 60’, Sekiya 69’, D’Apuzzo 71’, Cox 86’
Red Cards: Nil
-by Joe Russo, PlayStation®National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Reporter, at Belmore Sports Ground