Marconi Stallions fought back twice to grab a late point against a determined Mount Druitt Town Rangers side in a thrilling 3-3 draw on Saturday night at Popondetta Park.
The Town Rangers showed they were made of stern stuff, as the team sat in eleventh fell behind early but scored twice to take a half-time lead through Toufic Alameddine and Luke Clifford.
After defending their goal for much of the second half, Fabricio Fernandez’s delightful chip looked to have sealed their second win but it was more late heartbreak for the hosts.
For the visitors, a point was gathered through sheer will and determinism.
Marko Jesic gave the Stallions the perfect start before they were pegged back. Mirijan Pavlovic kept fighting until the end, picked up a brace to ensure the Stallions picked up a precious point away from home.
Looking to keep their hot form going, the Stallions dove into their work early.
Pavlovic and Jesic linked well to prize open the defense before Giorgio Speranza swept an effort goalbound which was blocked for a corner.
From a poor giveaway, the Stallions took the lead.
Pressure forced Rangers skipper Matthew Clowes turn over the ball to Liam Youlley who threaded it through to Jesic. The striker cushioned the ball into the back of the net for 1-0 lead.
James Andrew looked to double dip for the Stallions.
He broke down the right side, cut inside where his powerful effort was denied as was the follow up as the Town Rangers took a sharp intake of breath.
Right near the half hour mark, Mount Druitt equalised through Toufic Alameddine.
The attacker who had the home side’s first shot minutes earlier, latched onto a pass from Fernandez and smashed the ball home for 1-1 draw and it was game on.
The home fans were up celebrating again in the 29th minute.
A floated free-kick again found Alameddine and the attacker clipped a smart ball to the penalty spot for a waiting Clifford to sweep home for 2-1 lead.
Stung by the two quick goals, Marconi tried to find an equaliser before the break.
Andrews went close again in the 31st quickly followed by Pavlovic and Jesic.
All their efforts and series of corners were gobbled up by Rangers keeper Carlos Saliadarre as the home side took their advantage to the break.
The pattern continued in the second half as the Stallions held the majority of possession.
Jesic cut inside and fired high in the 49th as a signal of intent.
Andrew again showed his class with a touch that created a chance that Saliadarre gathered again.
Whilst they were on the back foot, the Rangers had a series of chances themselves.
Alameddine flashed wide in the 54th then Lord Darkoh dug out an effort in the 62nd, as a reminder of their prowess to the visitors.
Coming off his sparkling performance last weekend against Sutherland, Mitchell Mallia twisted well inside the box before he shot high.
The former A-League man was key in the Stallions equaliser with a quarter of the contest to go.
Mallia provided a precise knockdown from a direct ball to find Pavlovic in the box. The veteran attacker didn’t make a mistake from close range and made it 2-2, as the Stallions smelt more goals were on the menu.
If they were still euphoric about their equaliser.
A rapid Rangers counter attack brought them back down to earth.
Clifford took the final touch, where he shot straight at Stallions’ keeper Nenad Vekic.
Another counter from the Rangers gave them the once more.
Fernandez was on the end of the counter this time, the striker weighed up the options, before he chipped Vekic, making it 3-2 – a similar goal he scored against Sydney United 58 last weekend.
It was another late heartbreak for the Rangers however.
Stallions broke through exciting young prospect Martin Fernandez who slipped the ball to Pavlovic, the striker made it a brace, 3-3, as the visitors answered right back.
Wanting all three points, the Stallions pushed forward once more, substitute Nathan Millgate stooped to get to a header but could only direct it wide as the points were shared on a cold night in the West.
Speaking afterwards, Mount Druitt Town Rangers boss Aiden Desmond lamented their late concession but admitted there is plenty to take from the result.
“We got off on the wrong foot but got in at half-time 2-1.
“The boys showed a lot of resolve and character in the second half but credit to Marconi, they are a very good side and punished our mistakes.
“There is belief in the boys. We had opportunities that we couldn’t convert, but now we go back to training and move onto next week.
“That is the beauty of football isn’t it.” finished Desmond.
For Marconi Stallions coach Peter Tsekenis, he rued the points that were dropped but remained positive about the amount of chances his side created, as they kept their unbeaten streak alive.
“If tonight was a boxing match, the referee would have thrown in the towel. That’s how much they got hit. Things didn’t go our way, the side got frustrated as we chased the game. We got a point which is pleasing.
“There is plenty of spirit in the group.
“We needed to capitialise on our chances.
“We’re on a good run with this unbeaten streak and move onto a big clash next week.”
Mt Druitt Town Rangers 3 (Alameddine ‘27, Clifford ‘29, Fernandez ‘89)
Marconi Stallions 3 (Jesic ‘17, Pavlovic ‘75, ‘91)
Saturday 27 April 2019
Popondetta Park, Emerton
Referee: Michael Weiner
Assistant Referees: Lance Greenshields & Peter Teleki
Fourth Officials: Samuel Quinn
Mt Druitt Town Rangers: 1. SALIADARRE Carlos, 4. MONAHAN-VAIIKA Solomon-John, 5. MAMONE Jake, 6. THOMPSON Blake, 7. CLIFFORD Luke, 8. CLOWES Matthew, 9. BOYADJIAN Alex, 10. FERNANDEZ Fabricio, 11. ALAMEDDINE Toufic (15. COSKERIE ‘83) 12. TRIMBLE Nicholas, 13. DARKOH Lord
Unused subs: 2. SATOH Hiten, 17. GOMEZ Jordan, 18. LONG Christian, 25. NIKOLOVSKI Mathew
Yellow cards: Clowes ‘55 Fernandez ‘73 Lord ‘88
Red cards: nil
Marconi Stallions: 1. VEKIC Nenad, 3. SPERANZA Giorgio, 4. SPERANZA Roberto, 10. JESIC Marko, 11. MALLIA Mitch, 12. ANDREW James (28. FERNANDEZ ‘68), 13. NICOLAOU Yanni, 16. YOULLEY Liam (2. MILLGATE ‘84), 19. CAIRNCROSS Zach, 21. PAVLOVIC Mirijan, 23. VELLA Brandon
Unused subs: 5. BALDACCHINO James, 14. PELEKANOS Peter, 17. SEKUTKOSKI Kristian
Yellow cards: Speranza ‘78 Youlley ‘80
Red cards: nil
3 – Mirijan Pavlovic (MS)
2 – Toufic Alameddine (MDTR)
1 – Carlos Saliadarre (MDTR)
By Justin Davies