North Shore Mariners have made a strong start to their maiden National Premier Leagues NSW campaign as they shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw with APIA Leichhardt on Saturday a match that acted as the opening game for the 2020 season.
The Champions got themselves off to a strong start in the new battle of Lambert Park as a first half header from the ever-ready Chris Payne put them into the lead on half-time.
APIA were disappointed to lose control of the contest and not hold onto the three points as their second half performance cost them dearly.
For newcomers North Shore Mariners, they acquitted themselves well in their National Premier Leagues NSW debut.
The newly promoted side held their own and earned a point from a fizzing and energetic Emmanuel Peters volley and get off the mark.
Both sides opened the game at a fast pace.
Dom Nasrabadi, deputizing for Corey Biczo, pounced on an erratic pass from the Mariners defence to force his effort wide.
The Mariners responded through Daniel Dias who hooked a shot wide inside the area.
APIA defender Themba Muata-Marlow peeled off well at a corner to thump a header straight at Mariners keeper Ryan Wood followed by an Adrian Ucchino volley that was blocked away as the Champions started to find their groove.
The chances continued to pile up for APIA. Nasrabadi delivered the perfect cross onto the head of marksman Payne who flashed his header wide.
Payne atoned for his miss with the opener in the 41st minute.
The set piece was swung in as the striker craned his neck to nod home, 1-0.
APIA Leichhardt took the advantage into the break after an even first half.
North Shore Mariners had coach Joe Haywood’s words ringing in their ears as they opened the second half with a pair of headers that were dealt with superbly by APIA custodian Ivan Necevski.
APIA aimed to give themselves a two-goal buffer through Sean Symons, who had a pair of shots that flew wide of the goal.
Ucchino got into the act with a fierce strike but Mariners custodian Wood held the ball.
Determined to not christen their new home with a defeat, North Shore Mariners piled on the pressure in the closing stages.
Daniel Saric flicked a header onto the bar then Damir Prodanovic’s volley in a crowded area was held.
The Mariners found joy in the 78th minute when the ball fell perfectly for Peters to thrash a volley home after a goalmouth scramble for 1-1.
Not content with a point, the Mariners pushed forward for a winner in the final ten minutes.
Daniel Dias weaved through APIA defenders like city traffic but sent his shot straight at custodian Necevski as time ticked down.
North Shore had one final chance deep into added time to snatch the points.
Captain Chris Lindsay stood over the free-kick, delivered into the throng of bodies as Braden Cheng broke free rattled the crossbar. Subsequent follow up shots were blocked as the teams were forced to share the points tonight.
APIA Leichhardt coach John Calleja was disappointed that his side couldn’t take claim victory in round one but remained positive with his side’s performance.
“I’m a bit disappointed with the result.
“I thought we shaded the first half to have the lead.
“Credit to North Shore Mariners who fought hard and went for everything,” Calleja said.
“I thought we looked rusty in the second half. Execution was off like we were one or two games short. Now we move onto next week.”
For North Shore Mariners coach Joe Haywood, he was delighted with the first hit-out from his side in the National Premier Leagues Mens 1 and picked up their first points against the 2019 Champions.
“Overall I thought we did well in our first game in NPL1 and we showcased what we are capable of doing.
“As a start in this league, it’s a good one,” he said.
“I thought we battled well especially with some set pieces that rattled the bar.
“There is stuff to work on but we were happy to have taken the point in the end.”
North Shore Mariners 1 (Peters ‘78)
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 1 (Payne ‘42)
Saturday, Feburary 29 2020
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: T. Danaskos
Assistant Referees: E. Kocbek & M. Allum
Fourth Official: J. Ewin
North Shore Mariners: 1. WOOD Ryan, 2. SMAHEL Rainer, 3. LINDSAY Chris, 6. JAMBA Brian, 7. FORLICO Hugo (19. SARIC ‘64), 9. CHENG Braden, 11. PETERS Emmanuel, 16. DIAS Daniel, 18. SMITH Mitchell, 22. EDWARDS Casper (30. SFILIGOI ‘69), 23. PRODANOVIC Damir (26. OLANIRAN ‘77)
Unused Substitutes: 14. PIRIZ Jesse, 21. TINKER Joel
Yellow cards: Cheng
Red cards: nil
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 1. NECEVSKI Ivan, 3. GAILIMI Paul, 4. SYMONS Joshua, 6. PAYNE Christopher, 7. NASRABADI Dominion (9. COX ‘67), 10. PARISI Franco, 13. D’APUZZO David (19. GIBBS ‘82), 15. MUATA-MARLOW Themba, 16. SYMONS Sean, 18. UCCHINO Adrian, 21. KOUTA Michael
Unused substitutes: 14. HUGHES Lachlan, 17. SCIBILIO Patrick, 22. TURNBULL Luke
Yellow cards: D’Apuzzo, J Symons
Red cards: nil
3: Emmanuel Peters (NSM)
2: Josh Symons (APIA)
1: Brian Jamba (NSM)
By National Premier Leagues NSW Reporter Justin Davies (@JustDavies90)