Hakoah Sydney City East has snapped their horror nine game losing run with a hard fought 1-0 win against Marconi Stallions.
A 21st minute header from Dominic Cox was the difference for Hakoah as they upset an error prone Marconi side who are at a huge risk of missing out on finals football with their star studded line-up.
It was a massive result for the Eastern Suburbs based side as they battle against the odds to avoid the wooden spoon and relegation.
It could prove to be an equally big result for Marconi’s finals hopes with Peter Tsekenis’ star studded side once again under-performing.
The first salvo of the game was a corner that reached Mitchell Mallia in the box who fired his shot into the side netting in just the second minute of play.
Hakoah Sydney City East hit back in the 10th minute when Adrian Vranic was denied by Marconi shot stopper Nenad Vekic.
The home side opened their account in the 21st minute when Cox headed home a free-kick from Joshua Swadling after he was left dangerously unattended in the box.
Marconi had a chance a few minutes later when an in-swinging corner from Mallia reached Nathan Millgate but the latter only managed to direct his header wide of the mark.
In the 32nd minute Swadling, again with a free-kick, beat the wall but was denied by a diving Vekic who turned the ball around the post for a corner.
Just prior to the break the predicted Sydney downpour eventuated and Marconi in the haze almost equalised. Mallia fought hard and won the ball before finding James Andrew in a perfect position, who volleyed with intent and only just missed the goal.
After the break the first real chance fell to Hakoah Sydney City East. Cox perfectly played the ball through for Vranic and the Marconi defence, perhaps thinking that he was offside, allowed him a free-shot at goal from close range but luckily for the Stallions Vekic once again proved that he is a custodian of the highest calibre.
Vekic came to the rescue again in the 56th minute. A square ball from Vranic reached Harry Jones who blasted his attempt towards goal but was denied by the ever alert Marconi ‘keeper. It would have been the home side’s second and perhaps a bridge too far for Marconi to come back from.
The momentum was now well and truly with Hakoah. From nothing Swadling tried his luck from some distance but once again to prevent Hakoah doubling their lead it was Vekic at full stretch with a beautiful diving save.
By the 70th minute Marconi had cleared their bench with three second-half tactical substitutions as coach Peter Tsekenis decided to shuffle his deck of cards.
And, as the inconsistent rain returned with a vengeance, it was Roberto Speranza who fired for the visitors from well outside the box only to find the side netting.
Amaury Gauthier on the end of some router-one football found himself with a decent chance in the 81st minute but his volley skidded just wide of goal much to the relief of the Marconi defence.
The same player had almost the same chance a minute later but once again it was the same final result: Gautier volley and ball just to the right of the post.
After the game former Scotland international Gavin Rae, now coach of Hakoah, managed to smile.
“It has been a while since we won but it was a fantastic performance tonight from us,” he said.
“I am happy because the boys played really well from start to finish. We are a good team with good players, but to be in the position we are [on the ladder] is very disappointing.
“I am very proud of tonight’s performance because Marconi is a great team and this is definitely a great result for us which could have been more if we had have taken all of our chances.”
His counterpart Peter Tsekenis was clearly disappointed with his side.
“What is there to say besides the fact that it seemed to me that we didn’t really want to win it,” he said.
“I am disappointed with many aspects our game tonight but in the end it is about determination and that is maybe what we lacked. We are a good team that didn’t show it tonight and it was an opportunity lost.”
HAKOAH SYDNEY CITY EAST: 1 (Cox 21’)
MARCONI STALLIONS: 0
Sunday, 23rd June 2019
Hensley Athletic Field, Eastgardens
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referees: Scott Edeling, Patrick Teleki
Fourth Official: Nick Kour
HAKOAH SYDNEY CITY EAST: 1.Ryan Norval, 2.Connor Shaddock, 5.Steve Katsionis, 6.Dominic Cox, 8.Oliver Green, 11.Jack Green, 12.Joshua Swadling (9. Shohei Okuna 87’), 13.Robert Ezekiel, 14.Jordan Koton, 17.Harry Jones, 23.Adrian Vranic (24.Amaury Gauthier 78’).
Substitutes not used: 25.Max Ephraim, 50.Zachary Sapsford, 60.Taka Noji.
Yellow Cards: Katsionis 83’, Koton 87’
Red Card: Nil
MARCONI STALLIONS: 1.Nenad Vekic, 2.Nathan Millgate, 3.Giorgio Speranza, 4.Roberto Speranza, 7.Sean O’Connell (28.Martin Fernandez 70’), 10.Marko Jesic, 11.Mitchell Mallia, 12.James Andrew, 16.Liam Youlley, 19.Zac Cairncross (13.Yianni Nicolaou 62’), 23.Brandon Vella (20.Richie Cardozo 59’).
Substitutes not used: 14.Peter Pelekanos, 17.Kristian Sekutkoski.
Yellow Cards: Cairncross 38’, Cardozo 92’
Red Cards: Nil
Player Ratings have now been hidden due to the second half of the season commencing.
By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Joe Russo