There’s no catching Blacktown City as they move eleven points clear in first place in the 2019 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20s after Round 13; a weekend which saw plenty of movement on the ladder – just not at the top.
Rockdale City Suns and Sydney FC dropped points while APIA Leichhardt Tigers and Sutherland both won, meaning only a point separates second from sixth ahead of Round 14. Sydney Olympic’s win over Mt Druitt keeps them in touch with the top five, while at the other end of the table Sydney United 58’s loss to Blacktown City means they remain rock bottom.
Match of the Round: Wollongong Wolves 1-2 APIA Leichhardt Tigers, Saturday 4pm at Win Stadium
APIA Leichhardt are up into third after coming from behind to beat Wollongong Wolves 2-1 in Round 13; goals from Camil Abouchaaya and Michael Trajkovski giving the Tigers their first win in three weeks.
Liam Willie opened the scoring just a few minutes after kickoff, with Abouchaaya equalising soon after. Wollongong looked likely to snatch a winner in the second half but will be left to wonder what might have been after Trajkovski won the match from the penalty spot with fifteen minutes remaining.
There were barely four minutes on the clock when Bul Juach picked the ball up inside his own half and took off, leaving Camil Abouchaaya and Gian Fiorese trailing in his wake before squaring a pass to Liam Willie in the centre.
In the clear as he arrived on the penalty spot, Willie could hardly do anything other than put the ball past Michael Van Wulsum to give his side an unexpectedly early lead.
Perhaps even more unexpected was that APIA would equalise almost immediately: a corner in from the left fell to Fiorese, whose stabbed shot at goal was cleared off the line. There was little Luke Kairies could do about the follow-up, however, as Abouchaaya slammed a shot in at the far post to level at 1-1 just two minutes after going behind.
Van Wulsum was let off with a yellow card after picking the ball up outside the area, and conceded a freekick right on the line: Jordan Nikolovski whipped a dangerous ball across the box for Juach, but an APIA defender came across to clear for a corner.
Wollongong continued to press for a goal to restore their lead before the break, with Tory Musumeci very nearly setting up Willie for his second, only for the forward to roll his shot just wide of the far post.
The Wolves controlled the match from the restart but failed to threaten when they had the ball in promising positions. Jake Levy took the ball from the midfield to the edge of the box but looked to run out of options ahead of him, so swiped a shot at goal from distance which was easily claimed by Van Wulsum.
A mistake in the APIA backline could have seen Jordan Nikolovski put Wollongong back in front a few minutes after the hour, as a slip on the ball at the top of the box left him with only the keeper to beat. Van Wulsum held his nerve and dove late to make a spectacular save, keeping his side level as Wollongong began to raise their tempo.
APIA had done little to suggest that they would score the game’s next goal, but were presented with a golden opportunity when Michael Trajkovski was cut down by James Markovic as he streamed into the penalty area.
Trajkovski stepped up to the spot and rolled the ball into the bottom left corner, giving his side the lead for the first time in the match.
Wollongong, seemingly worn out by Michael Van Wulsum’s refusal to concede a second goal, struggled to pick themselves up and could do nothing to keep from sliding into tenth place at the end of Round 13.
Wollongong Wolves 1 (Willie 4’)
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 2 (Abouchaaya 6’, Trajkovski 76’)
1st June, 2019
Wollongong Wolves: 3. ALCORN Joshua, 5. CHAPMAN Timothy, 2. DAY Luke, 14. JUACH Bul, 8. LEVY Jake, 11. MARKOVIC James, 13. MITROVSKI Brendan, 9. MUSUMECI Tory, 15. NIKOLOVSKI Jordan, 10. WILLIE Liam, 12. KAIRIES Luke
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 29. ABOUCHAAYA Camil, 24. TRAJKOVSKI Michael, 31. AZZONE Nicholas, 19. NASRABADI Dominion, 40. FIORESE Gian, 25. REGAN Zander, 32. PRISUDA Zeke, 28. SPARACINO Anthony, 30. VAN WULSUM Michael, 39. WARD Cameron
Sydney FC 0-1 Manly United, 11am at Lambert Park
Jamie Glover scored a wonderful solo goal as Manly United beat Sydney FC 1-0 on Saturday afternoon, running from deep before jinking his way through the penalty area and slipping the ball past the goalkeeper.
The strike gave Manly United their first win since the first week of May, which sees them jump up two places into seventh; three points off the top five.
Sydney FC, meanwhile, drop to fifth as their six-match unbeaten run comes to an end, and will be feeling pressure from the teams below them as they prepare for their Round 14 visit to Marconi Stallions.
Sydney Olympic FC 2-1 Mt Druitt Town Rangers, 1.45pm at Belmore Sports Ground
Sydney Olympic edged their first win since April at Belmore Sports Ground on Sunday afternoon; goals from Michael Gaitatzis and Dimi Petratos helping the hosts to a 2-1 victory over Mt Druitt Town Rangers.
Olympic have been sliding down the table after an impressive start to the season, but still sit sixth and are level on points with fifth-placed Sydney FC. Next week’s trip to runaway leaders Blacktown City makes this result all the more important.
Jordan Gomez was on the scoresheet for the visitors, who fall two places to ninth after their sixth defeat of the season. Mt Druitt would have overtaken Olympic with a win at Belmore Sports Ground, but must instead pick themselves up and look ahead to their Round 14 match against Manly United.
Rockdale City Suns FC 1-2 Marconi Stallions, 2.30pm at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale have lost more ground on competition leaders Blacktown City after falling to a 2-1 defeat at home to Marconi Stallions; Noah Botic’s first half strike rendered meaningless by two from the visitors.
Rockdale remain second but are now eleven points adrift of Blacktown, while APIA and Sutherland sit behind them on goal difference only, in third and fourth place respectively.
Marconi, for their part, move up into eighth after their second win in three weeks. The Stallions will host Sydney FC in Round 14, and sit only four points behind the fifth-placed Sky Blues ahead of next weekend’s clash.
Hakoah Sydney City East 0-3 Sutherland Sharks FC, 3pm at Hensley Athletic Field
Sutherland Sharks cruised to a comfortable 3-0 win over Hakoah Sydney City East to move up a spot to fourth place at the end of Round 13; a point ahead of Sydney FC and level with APIA and Rockdale above them.
The game was locked at 0-0 until a few minutes before the hour, when a free kick was drifted in behind the Hakoah backline and turned in at the near post. A second goal came only a few moments later, as a curling ball across the six-yard box was met by a Sutherland head, before Jarrad Wiley added a third with fifteen minutes remaining.
Hakoah stay eleventh ahead of a Round 14 clash with Rockdale City Suns, and sit just a point ahead of last-placed Sydney United 58. They will be desperate for a result next weekend after a three-match run which has yielded no points, and only one goal.
Sydney United 58 1-2 Blacktown City FC, 3pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
Blacktown City raced into a first half lead at Sydney United 58 and held on after the break to claim a 2-1 win on Sunday afternoon, with their unbeaten run now out to ten matches as they stretch their lead at the top of the table to eleven points.
Dale Howarth was on the scoresheet for the visitors, while Marcus Bimbilovski notched the only goal for the hosts as they lost for the first time since the first week of May.
A win and two draws in the interim hasn’t helped lift Sydney United off the bottom of the table, however, and they remain a point adrift of eleventh-placed Hakoah Sydney City East ahead of their Round 14 match against Wollongong Wolves.
-By Max Grieve