A gutsy 10-man Marconi Stallions has clung on to claim a 0-0 draw against Sydney United 58 at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday
Reduced to 10 men on the cusp of half-time, the stallions dug in to stem the tide of a relentless United attack and snatch a vital point against the odds.
The home side had chance after chance to find a winner but lacked the finishing touch required to break the deadlock.
It was a result which keeps Marconi in the finals race while for United 58 it was yet another opportunity lost.
Marconi spurned a great chance in the 2nd minute Mitch Mallia fired wide after a set up from Marko Jesic.
Jesic had just as much luck finding the target himself when he fired from distance soon after.
United 58 found their rhythm and quickly settled to push the Stallions back during a fiercely contested opening quarter hour.
Marconi shotstopper Nenad Vekic made a brilliant save to deny Matt Sim and the follow up from Josh Macdonald.
In the 38th minute, Peter Simonoski picked up on a mistake from Millgate and tore toward goal but his effort to curl his shot on goal missed the target.
The match sparked into life when Mallia was shown a straight red card for an untimely tackle on Reds central-defender Adrian Vlastelica in the 43rd minute.
It was ungainly rather than malicious but Marconi would have to see out the rest of the half, and indeed the match, playing a man down.
The teams went to the break with the scores locked and it would be a test for both to see if they could withstand being breached or score during the next 45 minutes.
Marconi were under the pump from the resumption of play.
Pacy attacker James Andrew was left ploughing a lonely furrow up top, while Roberto Speranza soon found himself added to a growing list of Stallions’ players in the book. The visiting side, already under pressure, could ill afford any further reckless actions.
Jesic played a long raking ball across field to Martin Fernandez on the right wing but Thomas Manos gathered comfortably.
United 58 were knocking at the door and save for desperate defending from the 10-men, could have opened the scoring barring last ditch clearances.
In the 62nd minute Glen Trifiro fired in a curling free-kick that Simonoski took first time forcing Vekic into a smart reaction save to keep the game scoreless.
Vekic had his work cut out and denied Macdonald for a second time in the match mid-way through the second stanza.
The addition of Patrick Antelmi just made more work for Vekic with his former Blacktown City teammate forcing another save from the veteran glove man.
Marconi had a pair of half chances of their own as Fernandez and Liam Youlley warmed the hands of United 58 keeper Manos, but the momentum was still very much going the way of the home side.
Substitute Sebastian Gallegos spurned United’s best chance of the match when he fired over the bar from only 12 yards out after a brilliant cross from Mat Sim.
Brandon Vella made up the extra player on the right as Marconi pushed forward again but once more the ball went across the face with no touch and out.
United 58 had opportunities of their own but on the day couldn’t find the target and another derby between these two great old clubs would end in stalemate much to the dismay of the home supporters who have not seen their side win since round 14 of the NPL NSW Men’s competition.
“We’ve worked on our play in the final third,” United 58 coach Miro Vlastelica staed at the whistle: “But we need to be more clinical and clever in that area.
“We threw everything at them tonight, but we let ourselves down at times in and around the box.
“We have to accept the point and prepare for our Waratah Cup semi-final against St George FC this Wednesday.”
Stallion’s coach Peter Tsekenis felt his side’s performance was the perfect response to their doubters and proved there is plenty of fight left in the team
“We had our resolve questioned after last week and hopefully this result goes some way to answering that,” he said.
“We had a couple of half-chances but it was hard being down a man for over half the game but we dug in and got a result of sorts.
“I’m proud of what the guys did out there tonight, they worked hard for each other and it showed.”
Sydney United 58 0
Marconi Stallions 0
Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park
Sunday 30th June 2019
Referee: Michael Weiner
Asst. Refs: Andre Giev & Raymond Osborne
4th Official: Sam Quinn
Sydney United 58: 21.Thomas Manos, 4. Adrian Vlastelica, 5.Anthony Tomelic, 7.Peter Simonoski, 8.Matthew Sim, 11.Yianni Perkatis, 12.Liam Rose (9.Patrick Antelmi 67’), 14.Tomislav Uskok, 17.Matthew Bilic, 18.Glen Trifiro, 19.Josh Macdonald (10.Sebastien Gallegos 71’)
Substitutes not used: 1.Nicholas Bilokapic, 6.Petar Markovic, 22.Yianni Fragogiannis
Yellow Cards: Macdonald 68’, Uskok 89’
Marconi Stallions: 1.Nenad Vekic, 2.Nathan Millgate, 3.Giorgio Speranza, 4.Roberto Speranza, 10.Marko Jesic, 11.Mitch Mallia, 12.James Andrew (7.Sean O’Connell 73’), 13.Yianni Nicolaou, 16.Liam Youlley, 23.Brendon Vella, 28.Martin Fernandez (20.Richie Cardozo 83’)
Substitutes not used: 14.Peter Pelekanos, 17.Kristian Sekutkoski, 18.Anthony Trimboli
Yellow Cards: Millgate 10’, Nicolau 42’, R.Speranza 51’
Red Cards: Mallia 43’
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