A dramatic last-minute own goal saw Manly United secure a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over an unfortunate Hakoah Sydney City East at Cromer Park on Sunday afternoon.
Following an uneventful first period, the contest sprung to life moments after the interval as Hakoah marksman Amaury Gauthier capitalised on a miscued defensive header from Sam Gallagher, lobbing the visitors into the lead.
Manly struck back on the hour mark thanks to a thumping Brendan Cholakian header, which brought the healthy Northern Beaches crowd to life.
In a see-saw encounter, momentum regularly changed hands as both outfits struggled to stamp authority upon the contest; however one final twist to the tale arrived in the 89th minute.
Just as it appeared they would have to settle for a share of the spoils, Bradley Walker’s desperate attempted clearance was misdirected into the back of his net, cruelly handing all three points to a euphoric Manly side.
As has been characteristic of both sides on many occasions this season, a tense arm-wrestle unfolded early with neither goalkeeper seriously troubled in the opening half an hour.
Addison Sayan was energetic for the visitors, unleashing a couple of sighters that were wide of the mark.
However it was their custodian Ryan Norval who stood between Manly and the lead late in the half.
A back-post header Dejan Pandurevic on 37 minutes was miraculously palmed away by the shot-stopper.
Then four minutes later, a Hakoah defensive lapse saw Manly’s corner bounce on the six-yard box, forcing a flying Norval into keeping out a stinging Brendan Cholakian header that appeared destined for the top right corner. Moments later, an even more impressive reaction save denied Bradley Macdonald’s close-range volley, ensuring both sides would head into the sheds at level pegging.
However the break appeared to arrive at the wrong time for a Manly side who were belatedly gaining steam, as their opponents broke the deadlock two minutes into the second half.
Sam Gallagher attempted to nod a long-distance defensive clearance back to Dylan Mitchell, however he horribly scuffed his header, inadvertently releasing a lurking Amaury Gauthier through on goal.
The striker made no mistake with a delightful chip, silencing the Cromer faithful.
Gauthier almost doubled his tally in the 47th minute, exposing a shaky Manly defence to find himself one-on-one with Mitchell, however the custodian stood up with a comfortable low stop to keep his team in the contest.
The momentum then shifted back to the hosts on the hour mark, as Dejan Pandurevic unleashed a precise delivery from the corner flag.
Cholakian wriggled his way free yet again, and this time made no mistake with a commanding header into the bottom corner.
Following the equaliser, Hakoah’s greatest threats arrived courtesy of their rapid counter attack.
Substitute Harry Jones was almost the hero on 80 minutes, as he found himself in behind and face to face with Mitchell. However Manly’s ever-reliable number one collected a fairly tame effort from the midfielder.
With an injection of pace from substitutes Nikola Taneski and Charles Mendy, the closing stages saw the hosts grow in the belief that they could snatch a victory.
And it took a turn of fortune late on to achieve exactly that.
Adam Parkhouse ghosted his way onto the end of a back-post cross, before chesting it down and laying the ball back into a danger area that appeared to be covered by Hakoah defenders.
However before the home fans could let out one last sigh of disappointment, they were shocked by a skewed clearance which evaded Norval and nestled in the back of the net, sparking scenes of elation as Manly were handed all three points in dramatic fashion.
Manly coach Paul Dee was impressed by both his side’s show of character on the day and campaign so far as a whole.
“We just conceded a really silly defensive error, but I think the team showed good resolve to stick to the game plan and attack in numbers,” he reflected.
“We want to be hard to beat at home and haven’t lost at all since Round 1.
“The team has been structurally sound, but we just needed that little bit of quality in the final third to capitalise on some of the opportunities we’ve created.
“Despite missing a number of opportunities today, it was really pleasing to see the team not stop in their attempts going forward and believe in themselves until the end.”
On the other hand, Gavin Rae attempted to grasp the positives from a cruel result.
“Obviously it was very disappointing the way the game finished up,” the Hakoah boss said.
“Our squad is down to the bare bones at the moment due to injuries and suspensions.
“The boys put in a huge effort and I thought we dominated for periods of the game.
“We will regroup and take some of today’s positives moving forward.”
Manly United will hope to continue their seven match unbeaten run on the road when they face Rockdale City Suns at Illinden Sports Centre next Sunday afternoon, whilst Hakoah will endeavour to get their season back on track as they lock horns with Sydney United at Edensor Park on the same day.
Manly United FC 2 (Brendan Cholakian 59’, Bradley Walker OG 89’)
Hakoah Sydney City East 1 (Amaury Gauthier 46’)
Sunday 28th April, 2019
Cromer Park, Dee Why
Referee: Adrian Arndt
Assistant Referees: Scott Edeling, Maggie Price
Fourth Official: Aidan Lee
Manly United FC: 1. Dylan Mitchell, 2. Kieren Paull, 4. Travis Oughtred, 5. Sam Gallagher, 7. Sam Wilson, 8. Dom Ferguson (6. Joseph Fox 92’) ,10. Brendan Cholakian, 11. Adam Parkhouse, 13. Scott Balderson (9. Nikola Taneski 64’), 14. Dejan Pandurevic (12. Charles Mendy 72’), 23. Bradley McDonald
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Samuel Benton, 17. Lewis Miccio,
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Hakoah Sydney City East: 1. Ryan Norval, 2. Connor Shaddock, 4. Bradley Walker, 7. Addison Sayan, 8. Oliver Green, 9. Shohei Okuna, 11. Jack Green (17. Harry Jones 71’), 13. Robert Ezekiel, 14. Jordon Koton, 24. Amauri Gauthier, 60. Takayuki Noji
Substitutes Not Used: 41. Thomas Rozman, 3. James Combes, 10. Nathan Roberts, 16. Hristijan Tanoski
Yellow Cards: Oliver Green 77’
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Bradley Macdonald (MU)
2 – Brendan Cholakian (MU)
1 – Amaury Gauthier (HK)
– By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Reporter Chris Curulli (Twitter handle @ChrisCurulli)