A Franco Parisi masterclass has led APIA Leichhardt Tigers to a comprehensive 5-1 demolition of Rockdale City Suns at Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday.
The wily APIA veteran showed that class is permanent as he scored a brace in a dominant display from the centre of the park as the Tigers embarrassed Rockdale yet again.
The Suns had the better start to the match with star winger Alec Urosevski netting 32 minutes in, but it would prove to be the only time the home fans would have reason to smile.
Sean Symons struck back for APIA on the cusp of half time to even the ledger before Parisi and striker Chris Payne took over the second stanza with a pair of goal scoring doubles to secure another big win for the Leichhardt side.
The match started in dramatic style with Payne firing on goal only five seconds in but it deflected off a Rockdale defender for a corner.
After the early scare the match settled into a battle for midfield supremacy with little in the way of goalmouth action and neither keeper troubled.
That changed on the half-hour when Sean Symons broke down the right and centred for Payne who glanced goal ward only for David Bradasevic to palm away.
However, it was the Suns who turned defence into attack with Urosevski cutting in from the right to thunder past Ivan Necevski in the 32nd minute to open the scoring for the home side with a sweetly struck shot.
It was a comedy of errors that led to the equaliser with Sam McIllhatton and Corey Biczo having shots blocked before Sean Symons pounced on the loose ball to fire home. The Suns had chances to clear but fluffed their lines.
In stark contrast to the opening half hour, the final 15 minutes were frenetic, fast paced and furious. Bradasevic was called upon in the dying moments when McIllhatton forced the ‘keeper into a last ditch save.
Jordan Figon was unlucky when scuffing a shot straight at Necevski with a half chance opening for the home side after 52 minutes, but it was Parisi, the wily old campaigner, at the other end who found the net four minutes later to give the visitors the lead for the first time in the match.
McIllhatton, after good work to wriggle free in the box, played it to Payne who fired wide as APIA upped the ante and pressed for high.
A desperate tackle in the box by Josh Symons needed to be perfectly timed to deny Urosevski and was with no result from the following corner. Once more the Suns’ striker was able to steal a yard down the right and gallop into space.
Payne, a player difficult to keep quiet, scored APIA’s third after 66 minutes when out muscling his defender and finding himself alone in the box to place the ball beyond Bradasevic. Rockdale, in pushing forward, had been caught at the back and left with a mountain to climb.
Parisi added the icing on the cake when strolling through unopposed in the 79th minute and with elegant poise picked his spot with ease to slot home with his last action of the game.
Payne put on the cherry in the 86th minute with a thunderous shot to make it 5-1.
Taneski and Urosevski tried for a consolation but with the Tigers proving fierce in defence they couldn’t breach the back line again.
It was a bitter pill for Rockdale to swallow and with much soul searching after the whistle no comments were made available after the four-goal onslaught of the second-half.
APIA boss John Calleja was delighted after the game and revealed Sean Symons goal on the cusp of the interval was a major turning point.
“It was a different team talk at the break after our equaliser and the boys were very positive in the change rooms,” he said.
“We went on with the job in the second-half, which was pleasing, and we felt if we got one there would be more to follow.
“We got better position in wider areas and were able to use the ball with greater efficiency and were able to expose them and it paved the way for the win.
“Obviously we’re delighted for the boys tonight and the win, it was a tougher match than the score suggest.”
Rockdale City Suns 1 (Urosevski 32’)
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 5 (S.Symons 42’, Parisi 56’,77’, Payne 66’, 86’)
Ilinden Sports Centre, Rockdale
Sunday, 23rd June, 2019
Referee: Jack Morgan (VIC)
Asst. Refs: Nathan Wotton & Ellie Hayes (NNSW)
Fourth Official: Paddy Reynolds
Rockdale City Suns: 1.David Bradasevic, 2.Daniel Petkovski, 7.Alec Urosevski, 8. Alex Canak, 11.Leigh Egger, 12.Idris El Hafiane (20.Howard Fondyke 84’), 15.Nick Petrillo, 17.Matthew Lecce, 18.Sasa Macura, 19.Patrick Savor, 45.Jordan Figon (10.Nikola Taneski 63’)
Subtitutes not used: 5.Jake Trajkovski, 9.Jonatahn Grozdanovski, 22.Max Rowston
Yellow Cards: Petkovski 35’, Canak 67’, Egger 76’
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 1.Ivan Necevski, 3.Paul Galimi, 4.Josh Symons, 6.Chris Payne, 7.Tynan Diaz (17.Sam Gulisano 84’), 8.Corey Biczo (19.Dom Nasrabadi, 46’), 10.Franco Parisi (5.Nick Stavroulakis, 80’), 12.Sam McIllhatton, 16.Sean Symons, 18.Adrian Ucchino, 21.Michael Kouta,
Subtitutes not used: 14.Lachlan Hughes, 22.Luke Turnbull
Yellow Cards: Nasrabadi 77’
Player Ratings have now been hidden due to the second half of the season commencing.
By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Micky Brock