A late Corey Biczo goal has helped APIA Leichhardt Tigers snatch a point as they were held to a 1-1 draw in their National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s clash against Blacktown City at Lambert Park on Good Friday
Biczo’s goal helped APIA take home a point from a tentative display from both sides with the match only coming alive in the final stages of the clash.
Blacktown’s James Demetriou would’ve have thought he’d won it for his side when he scored off the bench with his first touch of the game at Lambert Park for the second week in a row, but Biczo was on hand a few minutes later to save the day for the hosts.
It was the second low scoring draw in as many weeks for the Tigers who once again missed the chance to take top spot.
APIA settled on the ball early but were slow to move it around, and they struggled to convert possession into anything threatening.
Indeed, Mani Gonzalez was first to register a shot on goal, swivelling to hook a volley from the edge of the area which was easily taken by the goalkeeper.
Blacktown quickly took the initiative and turned possession over, setting a pattern for much of the game of unfulfilled attack after unfulfilled attack.
Gonzalez was fed a ball at the top of the box and took it into his stride to turn and shoot, but Themba Muata-Marlow was alive to the danger and flung himself in front to block.
Both sides seemed content enough with the deadlock at halftime, with no late flurry of action before the break.
Thankfully, the second half began with a little more urgency. An APIA clearance to the edge of the box was lofted back in, with the ball dropping for Mani Gonzalez to hit first time. His fizzing volley towards the top corner seemed certain to break the deadlock, but Ivan Necevski stretched out a hand at the last second to palm the ball away for a corner.
The game began to open up as a clever one-two between Adrian Ucchino and Chris Payne saw Payne slipped through on goal at the top of the box a few minutes later, only for his shot to go sailing over the crossbar.
Leroy Jennings broke forward quickly to create a two-on-two with Mani Gonzalez, but his overhit pass played Gonzalez out too wide to threaten Necevski.
Shortly after, another Blacktown break down the left was given far greater reward. A quick free kick over the top played Versi down the line; the winger beating his man to square a pass across the face of the goal. Arriving right on time was James Demetriou, who scored as a substitute at Lambert Park for the second week running.
A tight match threw up few opportunities for either side, and Demetriou’s goal might have seemed to be a winner.
However, APIA regained their sense of composure and poured forward in search of an equaliser. They got it just four minutes after going behind, with Sean Symons chipping a cross to the back post for Biczo to slam home.
APIA Leichhardt coach John Calleja said his side’s performance wasn’t at the expected level.
“I’m happy in the end with the draw,” he said.
“But I’m also a little bit frustrated.”
“I thought it was a tough game that neither side really wanted to lose. It must’ve been frustrating to watch as a spectator in the first half, both sides just nullified each other.
“They got the goal, and it looked like we weren’t going to get anything out of the game, but our urgency lifted, we created and scored, and we probably had the better of the last five minutes.”
It was a similar sentiment for the visitors.
“We’re disappointed,” said Blacktown’s Mark Crittenden. “To go one up with ten to go, I hoped we could hang on and get the win but full credit to them, they’re a good side too.
“They’re always really good games of football here between these two clubs, and it was nothing different today.
“We came here with a plan, and the boys executed it really well. With ten minutes to go, it was working perfectly – but that’s football. The game’s never over when you’re playing against APIA.”
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC 1 (Biczo 84’)
Blacktown City FC 1 (Demetriou 80’)
19th April, 2019
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: A. Arndt
Assistants: P. Teleki, J. Adabjou
Fourth official: H. Jomaa
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC: 1. NECEVSKI Ivan, 8. BICZO Corey, 3. GALIMI Paul, 21. KOUTA Michael, 12. MCILLHATTON Sam, 15. MUATA-MARLOW Themba, 10. PARISI Franco (11. DE JONG Andre), 6. PAYNE Christopher, 4. SYMONS Joshua, 16. SYMONS Sean, 18. UCCHINO Adrian
Substitutes not used: 7. DIAZ Tynan, 14. GULISANO Samuel, 22. TUXFORD Blake, 14. HUGHES Lachlan
Yellow cards: Ucchino 47’, J. Symons 48’
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), 8. ARAUJO Daniel (23. BRAGG Daniel)
Substitutes not used: 7. CLUT Devante, 20. NISKI Dylan
Yellow cards: Berry 72’
3 – Ivan Necevski (ALT)
2 – Mani Gonzalez (BC)
1 – Sean Symons (ALT)
By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Max Grieve