Blacktown City continue to make the race for the 2019 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20s Premiership interesting, dropping points for the fifth time in six weeks to see their lead at the top of the table cut to just two points at the end of Round 19.
Blacktown were held to a 0-0 draw with nine-man Rockdale on Sunday afternoon, while the top five picture became clearer as Sydney Olympic and Marconi Stallions fell to defeats against APIA Leichhardt and Mt Druitt. Elsewhere, Sutherland Sharks and Sydney FC both wrapped up their finals places with wins over Wollongong and Sydney United respectively.
Match of the Round: APIA Leichhardt Tigers 2-0 Sydney Olympic, Sunday 1.15pm at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt took a big step towards securing their place in the top five with a crucial win over Sydney Olympic at Lambert Park on Sunday afternoon, with goals from Zeke Prisuda and Jacob Ritchie helping the Tigers hold onto fourth for at least another week.
APIA dug in well through the second half as Olympic threatened to make a comeback, but the Tigers made the most of their chances to pick up their second win in a row as they begin to look ahead to the finals.
Olympic, meanwhile, now sit four points behind fifth-placed Rockdale having played one game more, and will need a number of results to go their way to sneak into the top five.
Olympic started quickly, winning the ball deep in their own half before moving play up the field to Ali Hamdan, whose shot on the run was saved well by Luke Turnbull. The visitors came at APIA again, but a ball into the box from Alex Gollan was easily taken by the goalkeeper.
Zeke Prisuda had a golden opportunity to open the scoring midway through the first half when the ball ran for him across the penalty area after a strong run from Zander Regan, but the APIA striker cut under his shot and sent the ball flying over the crossbar.
Olympic finished the half with an effort from distance; Mitchell Ward sending the ball just wide of the post after a cleared corner fell to him on the edge of the area.
APIA were gifted an opening goal just five minutes after the restart when Ericson Ehiozee’s backpass was taken by Zeke Prisuda; the striker rounding the goalkeeper before finishing from a tight angle into an empty net.
Olympic picked up where they had left off after conceding and continued to roll forward in search of a goal, only now from a more difficult position.
Mitchell Ward had another crack at goal from outside the area, this time curling a good free kick over the wall only for Turnbull to scramble the ball away in a crowded six-yard box.
The visitors had thought they’d equalised late in the half when Ericson Ehiozee turned the ball past the goalkeeper after Genki Kohyama saw his shot saved, but the flag was raised and play was called back for offside despite desperate protests from the Olympic forwards.
APIA had defended well for much of the second half and were rewarded for their efforts with a second goal five minutes from time; a ball from the right slammed home by substitute Jacob Ritchie to round out a confident performance by the side from Lambert Park.
21st July, 2019 – Lambert Park, Leichhardt
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC 2 (Prisuda 50’, Ritchie 86’)
Sydney Olympic FC 0
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC: 42. ABOUCHAAYA Carnil, 35. BERNAUER Oscar, 43. FIORESE Gian, 37. GRAOROVSKI Alexander, 36. MELLINO Nathan, 33. NICHOLS Peter, 40. PRISUDA Zeke, 34. REGAN Zander, 45. STELIO-PRASAD Kashmir, 22. TURNBULL Luke, 31. WARD Cameron
Yellow cards: Nichols 86’
Sydney Olympic FC: 28. AGOSTINO Salvatori, 20. CONSONI Ezequiel, 31. EHIOZEE Ericson, 21. GOLLAN Alex, 34. HAMDAN Ali, 37. KOHYAMA Genki, 9. PAVICEVIC Radovan, 56. PANUCCIO Giovanni, 25. PETRATOS Dimi, 29. SUTOMO Brian, 36. WARD Mitchell
Yellow cards: Sutomo 10’, Kohyama 43’, Gollan 86’
Saturday 20th of July 2019
Wollongong Wolves 0-2 Sutherland Sharks, 4pm at Win Stadium
Sutherland Sharks eased to a 2-0 win over Wollongong Wolves on Saturday at Win Stadium, a result which took the visitors within two points of Blacktown City at the top of the table.
James Temelkovski and Matthew Taverniti were on target for the Sharks, who are moving up the gears as they begin to look towards to the finals.
Their fifth win in a row has taken them a point clear of third-placed Sydney FC, with an extra game to play over the Sky Blues.
Wollongong’s third defeat in the last five weeks keeps them in tenth place, now ten points off fifth. With a five point buffer down to eleventh-placed Hakoah Sydney City East, Wollongong can only look ahead to next week’s match against Blacktown City at Lily Homes Stadium.
Marconi Stallions 1-3 Mt Druitt Town Rangers, 5pm at Marconi Stadium
A 3-1 loss to Mt Druitt on Saturday afternoon signals the end of another season for Marconi Stallions, who end Round 19 nine points behind fifth-placed Rockdale City Suns.
Marconi began the year poorly and were unable to recover despite a relative upturn in form over the second half of the season.
Wins over Sydney United and Hakoah gave Marconi hope towards the end of June, but defeats to Sutherland and now Mt Druitt leave the Stallions languishing in mid-table.
Riley Ellem and Ali Dulleh scored for the visitors, who picked up their third win in a row but remain seven points adrift of the top five.
Sunday 21st of July 2019
Rockdale City Suns 0-0 Blacktown City FC, 2.30pm at Ilinden Sports Centre
Blacktown City continue to stumble towards the finish line, with their fourth draw in six matches leaving the leaders just two points clear of second-placed Sutherland Sharks at the end of Round 19.
Trent McClenahan and Samuel Shainfield saw red for Rockdale, but the hosts were somehow able to hang on for a point that keeps them four points clear of Sydney Olympic in fifth place.
Unable to find a way past the nine-man opposition, Blacktown have now won just once in their last six matches. They’ve scored only five goals in the same run of games, a worrying statistic for the team at the top as they begin to turn their focus towards the finals.
Their early season form has allowed for this late dip, but the knockout games will not be so forgiving.
Hakoah Sydney City East FC 1-1 Manly United, 3pm at Hensley Athletic Field
Hakoah Sydney City East and Manly United shared the points after a 1-1 draw at Hensley Athletic Field, a result that means little for either side or the rest of the competition with only a few weeks of the season remaining.
Jay Hirschowitz opened the scoring for Hakoah in the first half, but the hosts were unable to hang on for their third home win of the season as Manly’s Lachlan McGrath equalised after the break.
Manly sit ten points off the top five in ninth, while Hakoah are five points further behind in eleventh place.
Sydney United 58 FC 0-2 Sydney FC, 3pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney FC have secured their spot in the top five with a game to play after taking all three points at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon; a 2-0 win over Sydney United giving the Sky Blues an eight-point buffer between themselves and sixth-placed Sydney Olympic.
Sydney FC could still claim second place if results go their way, but should be confident of at least finishing third if they win their final match against APIA Leichhardt Tigers in a weeks’ time.
Sydney United’s seventh defeat in a row leaves them eight points behind eleventh-placed Hakoah Sydney City East, with this defeat coming after a 1-0 defeat to APIA during the week.