Rockdale City Suns have roared back into form with a solid 3-0 win against Hakoah Sydney City East at Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday.
It was a rampant Rockdale performance with a Jordan Figon brace and Harris Gaitatzis poached goal at the death enough to secure a much needed three competition points for the Paul Reid coached side.
Figon netted after only five minutes to settle the nerves of a shaky Suns side, but they weren’t going to have it all their way with an injury ravaged Hakoah side putting up fierce resistance.
Indeed, the visitors would probably have counted themselves unlucky to go into the half-time break a goal behind after profligate finishing left them scoreless.
Rockdale wrapped up the win late when a Gaitatzis strike and a solo Figon ensured Hakoah would go home empty handed.
The Suns took the lead in the fifth minute when Blake Ricciuto pulled the ball back for Jordan Figon to sweetly curl an effort into the keeper’s top left hand corner.
The timing and execution in the greasy conditions was impeccable and settled the nerves of the home team. Rockdale had started on the front foot and made Hakoah pay.
Rather than go into their shell, Hakoah pressed immediately for an equaliser and but for poor final ball option should have found their way through the packed Suns defence.
The match settled into a game of attrition for a period as the early enthusiasm was hampered by the worsening conditions. The visitors adopted the high press forcing Rockdale to play out from the back or pump it long to alleviate the pressure.
Hakoah came close through Duncan Stewart but desperate defending forced the ball out for a corner.
It was classic attack and counter football, push and run, but when Trent McClenahan was upended 30-yards out on the half-hour, Alec Urosevski floated the free-kick toward the back stick. After bobbling around it fell to Rucciuto who acrobatically clipped it over the bar with the keeper caught in no-mans land. It was a tough attempt but Hakoah were let off the hook.
Anthony Bouzanis pulled off a magnificent save against Urosevski in the 38th minute when the striker was put through one-on-one to keep Hakoah in the game. It was terrific work from the gloveman who had had little to do in truth. Bouzanis stopped Toufic Alameddine moments later with a deft tackle just outside the box.
At the other end, Covic commanded his area with aplomb and plucked many a cross out of the air with the air of confidence that comes with experience.
The football being played was of a high calibre, however Hakoah would have felt a little cheated going to the break a goal down.
With no changes at half-time, the visitors got the second period underway and soon found themselves back under pressure.
Hakoah found themselves further behind when Ricciuto’s header wrong-footed Bouzanis but was wide of the far post until Harris Gaitatzis stole in at the back post to net at the second attempt. It had been coming and the warning signs went unheeded.
Again Hakoah pushed on and again last ditch defending kept them at bay with all hands to the pump for Rockdale however Covic was in fine form to pluck the ball out of the air from a Jones free-kick that was arrowing toward the top corner.
Alameddine came close on the break to extending the lead further when Rockdale hit on the counter in the 70’ minute, his shot narrowly wide of the upright.
Nicholas Petrillo was shown a straight red card for bringing down Andre De Jong as the last defender, leaving Rockdale to play out the last ten minutes with 10-men.
Gavin Rae made the final substitution as the visitors valiantly attempted a rescue mission against the odds, but were caught on the break again when Figon collected the ball and went on a solo run before firing past Bouzanis to complete the rout in stoppage time.
While the home win meant a lot to the Rockdale players and fans, for coach Paul Reid it was the clean sheet which was the biggest success.
“We spoke about it during the week about the amount of goals we’ve been conceding,” he said.
“To keep a clean sheet is always nice but I think the way we went about the game today is the most pleasing thing from this result.
”We got the early goal and probably should have been another couple up at the break but we talked at the interval and didn’t let it affect us.
“We played some good football and it was a comfortable win in the end against a strong side. We haven’t done that for a while and we won’t be getting carried away.
For opposition coach Gavin Rae it was a performance which was below their usual standard.
“I felt we lacked a bit of quality today at times. It just didn’t happen for us today,” said Rae.
“It was a big effort from the guys and we’ve asked them to keep going due to a few injuries in the squad.
“As frustrating it was today, it is what it is and that’s football.
“We tried to push forward, press high and try to get the final product but it just didn’t come against a tough side.
“I’ve told the lads we’re not going to win every game but we are certainly a better side than we showed tonight. We have much more quality than that but we just didn’t produce it here.”
Rockdale City Suns 3 (Figon 5’, 90’, Gaitatzis 58’)
Hakoah Sydney City East 0
Ilinden Sports Centre, Rockdale
Sunday, 13th March 2018
Referee: Ben Abrahams
Asst. Refs: Joon Park & Hugh White
Fourth Official: Matthew Reidy
Rockdale City Suns: 1.Ante Covic, 2.Daniel Petkovski, 4.Trent McClenahan, 6.Blake Ricciuto, 7.Alec Urosevski (14.Brayden Sorge 83’), 10.Harris Gaitatzis (12.Idriss El Hafiane 88’), 15.Nicholas Petrillo, 17.Toufic Alameddine (9.Bai Antoniou 78’), 19.Patrick Savor, 21.Michael Neill, 23.Jordan Figon,
Substitutes not used: 11.Jonathan Grozdanovski, 25.Jake Soutter
Yellow Cards: Ricciuto 80’
Red Cards: Petrillo 80’
Hakoah Sydney City East: 1.Anthony Bouzanis, 3.Michael Kouta, 6.Cameron Draper, 8.Oliver Green, 10.Andre De Jong, 13.Robert Ezekiel, 17.Harry Jones (7.Jack Green 75’), 19.Dom Cox (5.Mitchell Stamatellis 80’), 20.James Combs (30.Connor Eldridge 84’), 21.Duncan Stewart 60.Takayuki Noji
Substitutes not used: 16.Joshua Orchard, 40.Michael Figueira
3 – Figon (RCS)
2 – Gaitatzis (RCS)
1 – De Jong (HSCE)
-By National Premier Leagues NSW reporter Micky Brock