A second half Grant Lynch goal has helped Blacktown City claim a 1-1 draw against APIA Leichhardt Tigers at Lily Homes Stadium on Sunday.
The City central defender fired home from the penalty spot after 71 minutes to ensure the Mark Crittenden coached side took home a point from a hard fought contest.
Franco Parisi helped give APIA the lead when he delivered a perfect pass to set up Josh Symons for the opener just after the restart.
However, it didn’t last for long with Mason Versi taken down in the penalty area soon after to set up Lynch for the equaliser.
Despite the result APIA and Blacktown City maintain their second and third positions on the ladder.
Neither started the match with fanfare, with Symons struggling to clear the ball a number of times, and Galimi being caught out by Leroy Jennings.
There wasn’t much to write home about in the first ten minutes as either sides live wires attempted to inject life into the match.
Mercurial attacker Franco Parisi came deep to pull the strings for APIA and set free Corey Biczo to keep the Blacktown City defenders focused on 15 minutes.
Blacktown goalkeeper Tristan Prendergast had a few nervy moments in the first half, fumbling a routine cross by Sean Symons and a shot by Adrian Ucchino.
The juices started flowing at Lily Homes Stadium with the hosts having the first clear cut chance of the match.
Mason Versi collected a delightful cross field ball and beat Galimi on the turn but poked the finish just wide of the post.
Joey Gibbs’ free-kick effort had Ivan Necevski sweating as the top corner beckoned, but it wasn’t to be.
The height and presence of Muata-Marlow was missed as two headers by Grant Lynch almost gave Blacktown the lead in the first half. Lachlan Campbell’s deliveries into the box were causing some serious problems for the in form Tigers defence.
With APIA front man Chris Payne struggling for a touch on the ball, The Tigers were being kept to outside of the box ‘Hail Mary’s’ for their attempts at goal.
It was truly a tale of two halves.
APIA Leichhardt came out of the blocks firing with Sean Symons taking on Campbell and Yianni Spyrakis before trying to curl one into the back of the net, unsuccessfully.
Blacktown’s midfielders were getting frustrated, giving away sloppy free-kicks which saw Daniel Collins enter the referee’s book. The following free-kick saw the breakthrough.
The veteran Parisi put the ball on a dime for Josh Symons who headed past Prendergast for 1-0, the momentum well and truly with The Tigers.
APIA kept up their relentless pressure with Payne and Biczo wreaking havoc in Blacktown’s final third.
Leroy Jennings’ efforts were rewarded as he skipped past Symons before cutting back to the waiting Gibbs, he controlled but his shot was tame, safely into the hands of Ivan Necevski.
The breakthrough came for Blacktown as the clock hit 70. Mason Versi charged into the box and got the run on Galimi who brought down the attacker.
Grant Lynch stepped up against Necevski and his penalty, low into the left corner was saved but the defender was quickest on the follow-up.
Two chances for APIA came thick and fast with Parisi breaching the City defence before hesitating to pull the trigger to take the lead. Corey Biczo went on his own and had Blacktown hearts jumping with his low drive.
Chris Payne was almost the hero, bringing down the loose ball on his chest and volleying first time. His shot on 85 minutes, slammed against the crossbar with a huge sigh of relief settling in at Lily Homes Stadium.
It ended all square, a result befitting of these two exceptional teams.
Blacktown goal scorer Grant Lynch was happy about the teams game plan and believes they have a blueprint to build form ahead of the finals.
“I thought I had an all right game to be honest, we had a clear game plan for us,” said Lynch.
“We executed it pretty well, I put my name forward to take the penalty and I was lucky.”
APIA striker Chris Payne was disappointed his side couldn’t maintain their lead following their great results in June.
“We definitely could have had all three”, said Payne. “A draw is a fair result, it was a bit up and down for both sides.”
“The second half opened up for both teams, it’s two points lost for us because we took the lead in the second half.”
APIA Leichardt Tigers take on Sydney Olympic in round 19 while Blacktown City take on Rockdale City Suns next week.
Blacktown City FC: 1 (G. Lynch 71’)
APIA Leichardt Tigers FC: 1 (J. Symons 53’)
Sunday, 7th July 2019
Lily Holmes Stadium, Seven HIlls
Referee: Jack Morgan
Assistant Referees: Nick Blacko, Nathan Watton
Fourth Official: Kyle Hockings
APIA LEICHHARDT TIGERS FC: 1. Ivan Necevski (gk), 3. Paul Galimi, (15. Themba Muata-Marlow, 74’), 4. Joshua Symons, 6. Christopher Payne, 7. Tynan Diaz, 8. Corey Biczo, 10. Franco Parisi, 12. Sam McIllhatton, 16. Sean Symons, 18. Adrian Ucchino, 21. Michael Kouta
Substitutes not used: 14. Lachlan Hughes, 19. Dominion Nasrabadi, 22. Luke Turnbull, 23. Nicholas Stavroulakis,
Yellow Cards: nil
Red Cards: Nil
BLACKTOWN CITY FC: 1. Tristan Prendergast (gk), 3. Daniel Collins, 4. Yianni Spyrakis, 5. Grant Lynch, 6. Matthew Lewis, 9. Joey Gibbs, 12. Lachlan Campbell, 15. Mason Versi (11. Emmanuel Gonzalez 79’), 17. Dakota Askew, 19. Adam Berry, 22. Leroy Jennings (10. James Demetriou 84’)
Substitutes not used: 7. Devante Clut, 20. Dylan Niski, 24. Jackson Bandiera
Yellow Cards: 3. Daniel Collins (50’),
Red Card: Nil