Just two games remain of the 2019 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20s season, as the competition farewells Sydney FC and begins to look ahead to the Grand Final.
Blacktown City have confirmed their place in the showpiece at Bankwest Stadium in little over a week after beating Rockdale City Suns in extra time at Lily Homes Stadium on Tuesday night, while Sutherland Sharks are through to the preliminary final this weekend following a 2-0 win over Sydney FC.
The Sharks face yet another match against Rockdale City Suns – their third meeting this month – as they aim to take out the championship again in 2019.
Major semi final: Blacktown City 2-1 Rockdale City Suns, 7.30pm Tuesday 20 August at Lilys Homes Football Stadium
Both sides traded goals late in the first half to head into the break at 1-1.
Rockdale went in front first after Alexander Malfara opened the scoring from the penalty spot, before Blacktown equalised a little over five minutes later when a looping free kick from Alexander Purves dropped over the goalkeeper and inside at the back post.
Blacktown ended the 90 with ten men following Daniel Bragg’s second half dismissal, but were sure they had found the breakthrough only a few minutes into extra time when Suns keeper Jacob Botic came out to punch a corner from the right, only to get his timing wrong and deflect the ball into the net.
The Premiers celebrated but play was called back for a foul in the box as the corner came in, leaving the two sides level as they went into the final fifteen minutes hoping to avoid a shootout.
Blacktown landed the killer blow with little over five minutes remaining; an unmarked Emmanuel Gonzalez diving onto a ball from the right to head his team in front.
Unable to respond, Rockdale now look ahead to a preliminary final with Sutherland Sharks on the weekend, while Blacktown can rest easy for a week as they prepare to fight for a premiership/championship double.
Minor semi final: Sutherland Sharks 2-0 Sydney FC, 7.30pm Tuesday 20 August at Seymour Shaw
Sutherland Sharks wasted no time in making up for last weekend’s penalty shootout defeat to Rockdale; taking the lead just ten minutes into their minor semi final against Sydney FC on Tuesday night.
James Temelkovski’s hot streak of form continued as he put his side in front shortly after kickoff, wriggling into space on the edge of the area before tucking the ball inside the far post with only the keeper to beat.
Temelkovski was involved again as the Sharks doubled their lead early in the second half; driving down the left before cutting inside and taking a shot at goal from a narrow angle in the six yard box.
The ball looped up off the goalkeeper and dropped perfectly for Thomas Papa, who had an age to set himself for a volley which he sliced into the back of the net.
Nick Dimovski and his players now know the task ahead of them.
The Sharks will need to get through rivals Rockdale City Suns – a familiar opponent in August – if they want the chance to defend their title in the grand final at the end of the month.
-By Max Grieve