A 10-man APIA Leichhardt Tigers have claimed an incredible 1-0 win against all odds at Lambert Park on Sunday.
Former Sydney United 58 striker Chris Payne pulled a Rabona kick from his bag of tricks which deflected off Adrian Vlastelica into the back of the net to give APIA the incredible, yet unlikely, victory.
Payne again was to be the hero against his old club after he hit a hat-trick in their round 4 clash at Edensor Park, he broke his former teammates hearts yet again.
The home side was forced to play a man down after only 24 minutes when Themba Muata-Marlow was sent for an early shower for a tug on the shirt of United striker Peter Simonoski.
It made for a tense and thrilling match with neither side giving an inch.
However, United 58 could never take advantage of their extra player and paid the price in the dying stages of the match.
The result keeps APIA in second spot on the ladder while United 58 stay in fourth.
It was a fast paced opening to the match with both teams racing out of the blocks at 100 miles an hour.
The game took a massive turn in the 24th minute when APIA centre back Muata-Marlow was sent off for a cynical tug of Peter Simonoski’s shirt reducing the home team to ten-men.
The dismissal lit a fuse with both sides flying into every challenge with extra venom.
A physical clash on the edge of the box from APIA centre back Josh Symons took down Simonoski and set up the visitors best chance of the first half.
Jordan Roberts unleashed a deadly knuckling free-kick from the edge of the penalty area which was denied by a spectacular diving save from Ivan Necevski.
The game was a battle of attrition and the home side was digging their heels in against a Sydney United team desperate to take the advantage before the interval.
Sim skewed a brilliant chance on goal 35 minutes in when he shook his defender on the edge of the penalty area
It would prove to be the final chance of the half with both sides going into the break deadlocked at 0-0
APIA were unlucky not to take a shock lead 53 minutes when Payne snatched the ball from a loose pass before Parisi’s low cross narrowly missed Biczo’s outstretched leg at the back post.
The home side had found a new lease on life in the second stanza with Parisi the architect as APIA’s counter attack had United 58 on the back foot.
The match was balanced on a knife’s edge mid way through the half with neither side giving an inch.
With the game entering the final ten minutes it was surprisingly a ten man APIA side which had the upper hand.
The Tigers were sitting deep and exploding forward through McIllhatton and Ucchino. It was keeping United 58 honest and limiting the visitors from pushing everyone forward to capitalise on their extra player advantage.
It proved to be United 58’s undoing.
APIA raced forward in the 88th minute through McIlhatton who found Payne on the eastern side of the goal. Payne, cornered by three defenders pulled off a brilliant Rabona kick which deflected off United 58 defender Vlastelica and into the back of the net.
The goal sent APIA’s players and fans into raptures as they took an unlikely 1-0 lead.
United 58 tried to mount a comeback in added time but their efforts mounted to nothing as APIA claimed an incredible victory against the odds.
A jubilant John Calleja praised the heart and resilience of his APIA players to secure the three points when a loss seemed the more likely result.
“It was a fantastic performance from the team. We really fought hard and when Themba was sent off the boys regrouped and kept their structure,” he said.
“We felt confident at halftime that we would be able to take at least a point from the game.
“A performance like that can turn your season around. It can be make or break but we dug in and showed plenty of courage to get a monumental result for the club.
A defeated Miro Vlastelica rued a match which should’ve been a chance for his United 58 side to claim the scalp of a competition rival.
“There is not much you can say about that other than it is very frustrating to lose like that,” he said.
“I thought we were a little bit too cocky when we came out in the second half. We should’ve carried on what we were doing in the first half by dominating possession. We took our foot off the pedal and it’s not good enough.
“We will regroup and bounce back. there is no point dwelling on the result.”
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 1 (A Vlastelica own goal 89’ )
Sydney United 58: 0
Referee: T Danaskos
Assistant Referees: S Edeling & J Bell
Fourth Offical: N Gongolidis
APIA Leichhardt: 1. Ivan Necevski, 3. Paul Galimi, 4. Josh Symons, 6. Chris Payne (Nick Stavroulakis), 8. Corey Biczo (17. Dom Nasribadi), 10. Franco Parisi (14. Lachlan Hughes), 12. Sam McIllhatton, 15. Themba Muata-Marlow, 16. Sean Symons, 18. Adrian Ucchino, 21 Michael Kouta
Substitutes not used: 22. Luke Turnbull, 7.Tynan Diaz
Yellow Cards: Josh Symons 28’
Red Cards: Themba Muata-Marlow 24′
Sydney United 58: 21. Tom Manos, 3. Jordan Roberts, 4. Adrian Vlastelica, 5. Anthony Tomelic, 7. Peter Simonoski, 8. Matt Sim (18. Glen Trifiro 55’), 11. Yianni Perkatis (10. Sebastian Gallegos 65’), 14. Tomislav Uskok, 15. Tariq Maia, 19. Josh MacDonald, 20. Cristian Gonzalez
Substitutes not used: 1. Daniel Sadaka, , 12. Liam Rose, 17. Matthew Bilic,
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