Blacktown City has roared back into Premiership contention after fighting back to claim a massive 4-2 win at Sydney United 58 on Sunday afternoon thanks to a pair of Daniel Bragg goals from the penalty spot.
Patrick Antelmi put United ahead inside a quarter of an hour, before Bragg equalised from the spot barely three minutes later.
Joey Gibbs nodded Blacktown in front early in the second half before Bragg scored his second, while Leroy Jennings added a fourth before Matt Sim came off the bench to score a late consolation for the hosts.
The result moves Blacktown up to third on the table on 23 points. Only one point behind second placed APIA Leichhardt Tigers and seven behind league leaders Wollongong Wolves.
It was just the revenge the visitors were looking for after they were dumped out of the FFA Cup round 6 clash when United 58 won 2-1 to progress to the final stage of the Cup prior to the round of 32.
Blacktown City took their time on the ball in the opening exchanges; winning a corner which was cleared at the near post before Adam Berry dragged a shot across the goal after driving up through the midfield.
There were seemingly few clear-cut opportunities to break the deadlock before Sydney United did just that. Tariq Maia strode up the left flank and lost the ball before Liam Rose nicked it back on the edge of the box; taking a touch before cutting a pass back for Patrick Antelmi to sweep past the goalkeeper with a clever finish.
The hosts held the lead for all of three minutes before Blacktown levelled at 1-1: Rose brought down Leroy Jennings as the Blacktown man skipped into the area, leaving Tim Danaskos little option but to award a penalty. Daniel Bragg stepped up to spot and smashed the ball into the top left corner of the goal to restore parity.
The game settled somewhat after a frantic start, though play tended to swing from end to end with little patience in the midfield. Maia might have tested Tristan Prendergast in the Blacktown goal but took too long to get his shot away as he tried to dribble through a crowded box, while Joey Gibbs had a chance at the other end which was easily held by Thomas Manos.
Blacktown pushed to go ahead before the break, with Jennings, Bragg and Gibbs looking dangerous down the right as the visitors rolled forward. Lachlan Campbell was particularly adventurous in attack, and very nearly opened up the Sydney United defence only for Jennings to hit a weak shot at the keeper.
Joey Gibbs was not so wasteful when the ball came to him at the back post ten minutes after the restart, burying Dakota Askew’s cross past a helpless Manos to give Blacktown the lead.
A further ten minutes into the half, and Blacktown had their third: new signing and fan favourite Tomislav Uskok handled the ball in the area to give away a second penalty, which Bragg dispatched with ease.
Blacktown threatened every time they went forward: Mani Gonzalez nearly pulled off a spectacular solo goal as he skipped across the top of the box before playing a one-two at the near post, but the return ball was cut out by Matthew Bilic.
Leroy Jennings added a fourth as the clock wound down, stabbing the ball past Manos after a freekick was flicked on towards the back post by Grant Lynch.
Gibbs drove a free kick over the bar after good work from an electric Rhett DeSilva, before Sydney United substitutes Matt Sim and Christian Gonzalez combined to snatch a late consolation goal but nonetheless it was a damaging blow for the hosts.
“We started ok,” said long serving stalwart Petar Markovic.
“There were 15, 20 minutes where we looked good but then we were punished for our mistakes.
“It’s a short turnaround to the Cup game on Wednesday, so we’ll look to take the positives from today.
“We scored two good goals, and we know we can do better.”
“They’re always tough affairs, these matches against Sydney United,” said Blacktown City coach Mark Crittenden after his side secured its fourth consecutive win.
“We knew it would be, but we were reasonably confident heading into this one.
“We’ve strung a few games together and we’re all working for each other, so we just need to keep doing what we’re doing for the last few weekends.
“There’s a long way to go and the competition is very even, so we’ll keep working on our own performances and see what that does for us.”
Sydney United 58 FC 2 (Antelmi 14’, Sim 90’)
Blacktown City FC 4 (Bragg 17’, 64’, Gibbs 54’, Jennings 77’)
Sunday, 2 June, 2019
Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park
Referee: T. Danaskos
Assistants: A. Powers (Capital Football), A. McConachie (Capital Football)
Fourth official: K. Griffiths-Jones
Sydney United 58: 21. MANOS Thomas, 3. ROBERTS Jordan (23. VLASTELICA Luke), 17. BILIC Matthew, 6. MARKOVIC Petar (8. SIM Matt), 5. TOMELIC Anthony, 19. MACDONALD Josh, 12. ROSE Liam, 7. SIMONOSKI Peter, 15. MAIA Tariq (20. GONZALEZ Christian), 9. ANTELMI Patrick, 14. USKOK Tomislav
Substitutes not used: 1. SADAKA Daniel, 4. VLASTELICA Adrian
Yellow cards: Uskok 50’
Blacktown City FC: 1. PRENDERGAST Tristan, 5. LYNCH Grant, 6. LEWIS Matt, 12. CAMPBELL Luke, 23. BRAGG Daniel (3. COLLINS Daniel), 19. BERRY Adam, 22. JENNINGS Leroy (15. VERSI Mason), 8. ARAUJO Daniel, 11. GONZALEZ Mani (35. DESILVA Rhett), 9 GIBBS Joey, 17. ASKEW Dakota
Substitutes not used: 20. NISKI Dylan, HOWARTH Dale
Yellow cards: Versi 83’, Araujo 92’
3 – Daniel Bragg (BC)
2 – Lachlan Campbell (BC)
1 – Thomas Manos (SU58)
By National Premier Leagues NSW reporter Max Grieve