Newly crowned Waratah Cup Champions Marconi Stallions have kept their finals hopes alive with a 4-2 win against Mt Druitt Town Rangers at Marconi Stadium on Saturday.
A brace to young gun Martin Fernandez set the tone for Marconi before a Marko Jesic penalty and Nathan Millgate strike wrapped up the win for the home side.
Mt Druitt tried to fight back through a late first half goal to Jacob Esposito but it wasn’t to be while Fabricio Fernandez’s second half goal proved to be a mere consolation.
Marconi had a solid start with Giorgio Speranza the first to test Carlos Saliadarre at his near post inside the opening minute.
The Stallions made their intentions clear from the outset.
Fabricio Fenandez fired one straight at Nenad Vekic in reply after a well worked move down the left for the Rangers almost paid dividends.
Marconi continued to press, forcing Mt Druitt to defend deep which in turn made it difficult to break out of their own half.
It took only 12 minutes for the home side to find a breakthrough as Martin Fernandez powerfully headed home to nudge the Stallions ahead.
The goal spurred Mt Druitt on to greater urgency but they didn’t threaten the Marconi goal and cheap turnovers only exacerbated the problem in the middle of the pitch.
John Roberts, who won a recent call-up to the Young Socceroos train-on squad, went down inside the box under a tackle from Millgate that Referee, Michael Weiner, rightly waived away as the visiting support howled for a spot kick in the 26th minute.
A free-kick, given away by Millgate on the edge of the area for handball, was sent in via Fernandez that eluded everyone and bounced awkwardly in front of Vekic who, seeing the ball late, did well to palm it away from danger.
Speranza went on a solo run down the left and fired in an explosive shot that again rattled the woodwork of Saliadarre.
Marconi should have extended the lead moments later when Jesic and James Andrew combined well to split the defence only for the final ball to be cleared.
It was a short reprieve as Marconi grabbed their second, from the spot, through Jesic in the 38th when he sent the ‘keeper the wrong way after Andrew was brought down by Lord Darkoh in the area.
The Stallions went to sleep and against the run of play, Esposito reduced the arrears to one to reignite the match.
Marconi controlled the first-half but found themselves just one goal to the good for the second stanza with a litany of squandered opportunities they may rue at the final whistle.
Mt Druitt restarted with a couple of long range efforts that didn’t bother the ‘keeper but it was a brighter opening from the visitors.
However it was Marconi who netted when Saliadarre fumbled a shot from Martin Fernandez, who had a quiet Waratah Cup Final last weekend, responded to net his second, and Marconi’s third, of the evening.
Toufic Alammedine was introduced to replace Nick Trimble and inject pace into the Rangers side who had to go all out attack if they were to repeat the thrilling 3-3 draw the last time these two met in the reverse fixture.
It played into the Stallions’ hands and further wasted opportunities ensued that would have settled the tie beyond doubt long before the final whistle.
Yet it was Mt Druitt that struck back once more.
Fabricio Fernandez, turned the game again with the aid of a slight deflection that his shot beyond the despairing dive of Vekic to slide in at the base of the upright to again pull the visitors back into the tie.
Once more it was a short lived triumph as another set-piece, this time a corner, found Millgate powering home an unstoppable header in the 79’ minute, great for the fans but enough to give coach’s grey hairs.
Darkoh received a second caution in the 85’ minute to reduce Rangers to ten men effectively ending their threat although it was a mountain this visiting team would be unable to climb.
Giorgio Speranza scuffed a shot goalward in the final minute but it was a comprehensive win at home for Marconi leaving coach
Peter Tsekenis was happy with how his troops performed.
“When you look at the chances created, we should have put it to bed earlier than we did,” he said.
“When you don’t take your chances you let the opposition into the game and Mt Druitt are quite capable of getting back into a match through sheer effort and they got two goals tonight to give us a little bit of a scare but at the end and on the basis of chances created etc. the better team won.
“They are a tricky side but we got the result and I’m pleased with the effort especially as it’s the first time this season we’ve been able to field the same starting side in three consecutive games.”
Rangers coach Aidan Desmond was a visibly upset coach at full-time and spoke about his team really not being in the contest.
“I felt it was a pretty scrappy game where we’ve conceded three from set-pieces and another from the spot,” he said.
“I don’t think there was a good goal scored in the game to be honest.
“We didn’t take ownership in our 18-yard box, defensive lapses, not clearing our lines and tonight we simply were not good enough at it.
“We got ourselves back into the game twice and dumb errors have cost us and from dumb mistakes we’ve let them in.
“Players have to hold themselves accountable for the lapses, it’s not something you can just put behind you after a performance like that.”
Marconi Stallions 4 (Fernandez 12’, 54’ Jesic 38’p, Millgate 79’)
Mt Druitt Town Rangers 2 (Esposito 43’, Fernandez 75’)
Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
Saturday 20 July 2019
Referee: Michael Weiner
Asst.Ref: Nathan McCorist & Raymond Osborne
Fourth Official: Ivica Covic
Marconi Stallions: 1.Nenad Vekic, 2.Nathan Millgate, 3.Giorgio Speranza, 4.Roberto Speranza, 8.Connor Evans, 10.Marko Jesic (14.Peter Pelekanos 89’), 12.James Andrew (40.Damian Tsekenis 80’), 13.Yianni Nicolaou, 16.Liam Youlley, 23.Brendon Vella, 28.Martin Fernandez (7.Sean O’Connell 75’)
Subs not used: 15.Lachlan Sepping, 17.Kristian Sekutkoski
Yellow Cards: Andrew 33’, Millgate 45’
Mt Druitt Town Rangers: 1.Carlos Saliadarre, 3.Joshua Gould, 4.Solomon Monohan-Vaika, 5.Jake Mammone, 6.Blake Thompson, 9.Alex Boyadjian (7.Luke Clifford 78’), 10.Fabricio Fernandez, 12.Nicholas Trimble (11.Toufic Alameddine 55’), 13.Lord Darkoh, 18.Jacob Esposito, 19.John Roberts
Subs not used: 15.Ishmail Hares, 17.Riley Ellem, 25.Mathew Nikolovski
Yellow Cards: (Darkoh 36’ & 85’), Roberts 90+4’
Red Cards: Darkoh 86’
-By National Premier Leagues NSW reporter Micky Brock
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