Marconi Stallions have kept their finals dreams alive with a 4-1 demolition of Sydney FC at Marconi Stadium on Sunday.
The win moves the Peter Tsekenis coached Stallions side to sixth in the competition standings, three points behind fifth placed Rockdale City Suns.
The Young Sky Blues opened the scoring after only two minutes thanks to a Jackson Bandiera who cooly finished after a Nenad Vekic save fell at his feet.
It took until just before the interval for the home side to equalise when Mateo Poljak converted from the penalty spot.
Sydney FC took it to Marconi in the first half, it was a far different story in the second stanza.
Hassan Jollah scored a brace against his former side inside nine minutes while Marko Jesic put the icing on the cake to wrap up the 4-1 victory.
Sydney FC had the perfect start to the match with Bandiera finding himself in the right spot at the right time to give his side the lead tapping home after a save from Marconi keeper Vekic fell to him in the penalty area.
Jordan Swibel attempted to double Sydney’s lead in the 6th minute from a free-kick but his effort lacked power and Vekic scooped it up with ease.
The Marconi shot stopper was called into action again soon after when he produced a double save to keep Sydney at bay and with only eight minutes on the clock.
Marconi slowly but surely pinned their opponents back as they searched for the equaliser. However, Sydney were making it difficult for the hosts who looked frustrated at times as they struggled to break down their opponents desperate defending
Marconi had plenty of possession but were unable to create a clear cut chance, Charles Mendy missed a golden opportunity when he failed to get a touch on a ball headed back across the box.
In the 43rd minute Bandiera then turned villain when he upended Sean O’Connell inside the box.
Poljak maintained his composure to restore parity from the spot sending Duro Dragicevic the wrong way.
The swirling wind didn’t help the cause and the home side struggled to come to terms with the tough conditions and were lucky to be heading the break on level pegging.
Robbie Stanton rang the changes for the Blues after the break with Giuseppe Tilio coming on for Andreas Agamemnonos, Peter Tsekenis responded by bringing on Marko Jesic to replace Brandon Vella.
Sydney FC were quick in transition from defence to attack with neat one-touch football, but often outran their support players and found it difficult to create anything of notes.
Charles Mendy struck a fierce left-footed volley that arrowed its way toward the net only for Dragicevic to pull off a magnificent full-length save to deny the Stallions’ striker. With so little to do it was a fine effort from the gloveman.
But he was powerless on the hour mark when Hassan Jalloh stole into the area and slotted home from close range to give the home side the lead.
A double change from Stanton swiftly followed for Sydney, Daniel Maskin and Patrick Scibilio replacing Jordan Swibel and Cameron Devlin respectively as they now chased the match.
The changes mattered little as Jalloh added his second, and Marconi’s third of the afternoon, to give the home team a decent buffer in the remaining 20 minutes.
Marconi had their tails up and were dominating the game and secured a comfortable victory when James Andrew picked up the ball and pulled it back into the path of Jesic to slide home from the edge of the box.
Marc Warren ensured the scoreline when chasing back in the 87th minute with a last ditch tackle inside the area to deny Jeremy Cox from scoring into an empty net.
Andrew almost had the last word when twice during a goalmouth scramble, his headers came back off the bar but it wasn’t to be.
“It took us a while to adjust,” said Stallions’ coach Peter Tsekenis.
“Credit to Sydney FC, we gave them some space and they were hurting us, especially with the early goal and perhaps they should have added another.
“Once we stamped our authority on the game I felt we were just a little too good for them today.
“We needed to be quicker in our transition and when threw some fresh legs on we slowed their momentum and were able to start dictating the game. especially
“It was all about the points today to give ourselves a chance of making the finals, that was always our target at the start of the season.”
Sydney FC Coach Robbie Stanton rued what could’ve been after his side’s impressive first half performance.
“We got the early goal and could have had another two,” Stanton said.
“We got penned back after that and I felt we defended really well in the first-half.
“The pitch is really bumpy and the wind didn’t help today. Our players struggled with their touch and even though they were hungry to get themselves back into the game it was always going to be tough when a team like Marconi pressures you.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a little bit in the second-half with some of the goals we conceded but there were some positive signs for us in this defeat.
“We are not going to change the way we play due to the pitch or the conditions, you’ve just to accept it and move on. At end of the day that is football and we were beaten by the better side.”