Round 1 of the 2019 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s season saw Sydney United Sports Centre play host to a tense stalemate between Sydney United 58 and a ten-man Rockdale City Suns outfit on Sunday night.
The eagerly-anticipated clash between two historic rivals ended scoreless, despite the visitors playing a man down for over an hour following new recruit Sasa Macura’s 31st minute dismissal for two cautions.
It was also a return to his former ground with Panni Nikas, the much hyped signing for the Suns, being kept quiet by his former teammates.
Notably, a frenetic conclusion saw United 58 custodian Thomas Manos stand tall to deny clear-cut chances for Howard Fondyke and substitute Alec Urosevski, whilst his teammate Glenn Trifiro failed to convert two golden opportunities up the other end.
The hosts may well have snatched all three points in second half stoppage time, as Matt Sim’s curling effort was denied by the woodwork to the dismay of the spirited Edensor Park faithful.
All in all, both Miro Vlastelica and Paul Reid will extract many positives from their team’s opening outing, however the former may well be the more frustrated boss considering his side’s inability to capitalise upon their numerical advantage.
As both sides pressed early to try and kick off their season in style, Sasa Macura’s over exuberance proved costly, as he picked up a yellow card 22 minutes in.
Minutes later the former Manly United midfielder was caught in a clumsy challenge on Yianni Perkatis, leading referee Kurt Ams to award him a second caution without any real hesitation or argument.
Sydney United 58 stalwart Matt Sim forged the brightest opportunities of the first period, however none of which seriously concerned Rockdale’s shot-stopper David Bradasevic.
Rockdale appeared composed considering the circumstances they found themselves in, and continually sent out warning shots to their eleven-man opposition.
Manos was called into action by a powerful low Jonathan Groznadovski shot on 42 minutes, while Nikas’ best shot at silencing the critics on his return to Edensor Park saw a 47th minute free kick deflected to safety by the United wall.
The match clicked up a gear in the final half an hour as both sides traded blows in search of the elusive opener.
Trifiro saw his header sail narrowly over the bar after he was set up by a pinpoint Yianni Fragogiannis delivery, before Fondyke had a first-time wonder-strike denied spectacularly by Manos.
Trifiro then had the goal at his mercy on 76 minutes, but sent his close-range effort high and wide.
With two minutes of regulation time remaining Urosevski found himself one-on-one with the ‘keeper, but a strong Manos palm held firm to stand between Rockdale and all three points.
One of the final plays of the game saw Sim wriggle his way into a sight on goal, before unleashing a precise curling effort that appeared destined for the top corner.
However the ball would instead graze the crossbar, and both sides were forced to settle for a single point to kick off their 2019 campaign.
Post match, both managers offered a positive outlook on the result:
“At the end of the day we were happy,” United boss Miro Vlastelica said.
“We created a few chances that we could have scored on another day but we didn’t. We just need to be a bit more clinical in front of goal.
“You would like to win all of your games but we are going to build from here.
“At the end of the day a point’s a point.”
Paul Reid echoed his sentiments, adding further congratulations to his side’s reaction in a tough set of circumstances.
“I am proud of the boys,” he revealed.“It’s not easy playing with ten men, especially away from home. It was very hot out there, and for the effort that the boys put in I am very proud of them.
“I said to them at half time that if we defended like we did we will create a couple of chances.
“If it was eleven vs eleven we would have gone on and won the game, I know that.
“All in all, we were unlucky not to nick one at the end we’ll take the point and look forward to next week against Marconi.”
Reid’s Suns will carry plenty of confidence as they travel to Marconi Stadium next Saturday night, whilst Sydney United 58 will also search for their maiden victory of the season on the road against Blacktown City FC on Sunday afternoon.
Both teams will welcome back a number of their players who were missing from today’s clash.
United 58 in particular will be getting the services of Patrick Antelmi back from suspension with defender Adrian Vlastelica hopefully returning to the squad. The Red will also welcome a new edition in the form of former Mariner Josh Macdonald.
While for the Suns, Jordan Figon is edging closer to match fitness after playing in the club’s 20s on Sunday with the return of a few suspended players.
Sydney United 58 0
Rockdale City Suns 0
Sunday 10th March, 2019
Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referees: Lance Greenshields and Patrick Teleki
Fourth Official: Danny Horstead
Sydney United 58: 21.Thomas Manos, 3.Jordan Roberts, 5.Anthony Tomelic, 6. Petar Markovic, 8.Matthew Sim, 11.Yianni Perkatis, 14.Nicholas Stavroulakis, 15.Tariq Maia (2. Joshua DeRossi 90’), 18.Glenn Trifiro 20.Christian Gonzalez (13.Sam Perry 57’), 22. Yianni Fragogiannis
Yellow Cards: Nick Stavroulakis 61’, Yianni Perkatis 94’
Red Cards: Nil
Rockdale City Suns: 1.David Bradasevic, 2. Daniel Petkovski, 3.Mick Neill, 6.Kang Hoon Cho (7.Alec Urosevski, 68’), 9.Jonathan Grozdanovski, 15.Nicholas Petrillo, 17.Matthew Lecce (16.Alex Malfara 79’), 19.Patrick Savor, 18.Sasa Macura, 20.Howard Fondyke (5.Jake Trajkovski 84’), 23.Pani Nikas
Substitutes Not Used: 22.Max Rowston, 21.Blake Currey
Yellow Cards: Sasa Macura 22′, 31’, Pani Nikas 59’
Red Cards: Sasa Macura 31’
3 – Tom Manos (SU)
2 – Jonathan Grozdanovski (RCS)
1 – Yianni Fragogiannis (SU)
-By Christopher Curulli