James Demetriou scored a late goal to give Blacktown City a 1-0 win against Sydney FC in a tense encounter at Lambert Park on Saturday.
Neither side appeared capable of creating a chance in the final third for much of the game, and Demetriou’s goal did little to improve this match as a spectacle.
Still, Blacktown City won’t be particularly concerned by the entertainment on display, as they take three well-earned points back to Lily Homes Stadium at the end of Round 6.
A slow start foreshadowed the game to come, and it was a while before the first proper chances began to fall for either side.
A ball into the area dropped for Jordi Swibel as he charged up from the midfield, but a fierce shot fizzed narrowly wide.
Joey Gibbs was next to go close, snapping a volley over the crossbar after taking the ball down on the penalty spot.
Swibel might well have put Sydney FC in front when a cross found him in space at the back post, but his swerving volley was tipped over by Tristian Prendergast in the Blacktown goal.
The Sky Blues continued to pressure their opponents but could only waste their chances: Marco Tilio reached the byline and hit a shot at goal along the ground, but the ball was blocked on the line by Matt Lewis.
The halftime break seemed to barely affect the rhythm of the match, and both sides settled back into a pattern of keeping the ball in the midfield before committing a foul.
Giuseppe Tilio had a decent opportunity to break the deadlock when he was fed the ball at the back post, but he took a heavy touch and was stretching to reach his shot. Prendergast made another fantastic save, holding up a strong hand to punch the ball over the crossbar.
Blacktown City provided a reminder of their threat when William Mutch drove down the right side before clipping a cross in to the near post, very nearly catching out the goalkeeper as the ball bounced off the upright.
The match appeared to be grinding to a scoreless draw, but came alive late on as Prendergast collected Mutch in a sickening collision at the top of the box.
A few minutes later, substitute Demetriou picked up the ball on the edge of the Sydney FC area and, after cutting inside his defender, curled an inch-perfect shot past the goalkeeper and inside the far post.
Sydney FC could offer up little in response to going behind, leaving Jim van Weeren lamenting a poor result after another strong performance from his players.
“It’s a good learning experience for us as a group. You can be on top, you can dominate the half, you can have the chances, but we want to take our game to the next level and convert some of those chances.
“The boys are down, they felt they were on top. It’s about trying to find the positives, and we need to learn from the negatives and be better next week.”
Blacktown City striker Joey Gibbs said he was pleased to have come away with three points after a tough match at Lambert Park.
“It was a pretty even game, it’s great to get the win but we’re still improving. We’ve got a very new squad and we’ll keep getting more clinical.
“I always thought a goal was coming, we had a lot of the ball. Jimmy came on and made a great impact and finished perfectly.”
Sydney FC 0
Blacktown City FC 1 (Demetriou 79’)
13th April, 2019
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: A. Mansour
Assistants: A. Giev, J. Adabjou
Fourth official: L. Cole
Sydney FC: 1. HEWARD-BELLE Thomas, 6. VAN DER SAAG Harry, 4. MCGING Liam, 3. VAN MEURS Ben, 5. SCIBILIO Patrick (17. TALBOT Callum), 12. TILIO Giuseppe (24. HOLLMAN Jake), 10. TILIO Marco, 13. SWIBEL Jordi, 9. LAMBERTON Hamish (23. MCCARTHY Harry), 8. KING Joel, 7. SKOTADIS Jerry
Yellow Cards: Van Meurs (88′), King (89′)
Blacktown City FC: 1. PRENDERGAST Tristian, 21. MUTCH William (15. VERSI Mason), 4. SPYRAKIS Yianni, 5. LYNCH Grant, 6. LEWIS Matt, 3. COLLINS Daniel, 19. BERRY Adam, 22. JENNINGS Leroy, 9. GIBBS Joey, 11. GONZALEZ Mani (10. DEMETRIOU James), 7. CLUT Devante (8. ARAUJO Daniel)
Yellow Cards: Lynch (25′)
3 – Tristian Prendergast (BC)
2 – Liam McGing (SFC)
1 – Daniel Collins (BC)
-By Max Grieve