For the second consecutive week, skipper Matthew Lewis proved to be the match winner as his spot kick sealed a hard-fought three points for Blacktown City against Manly United at Cromer Park on Saturday night.
For both sides the result offered a similar story to their season openers last weekend.
Manly often appeared disjointed in the final third and were punished for a momentary lapse of concentration.
On the other hand Mark Crittenden’s men excelled defensively, allowing for them to grind out another victory by the narrowest of margins.
A scrappy opening ten minutes set the tone for a tight first half where neither side seriously threatened their opponent’s penalty area.
Manly were marginally brighter early on, however the only opportunity they were able to create was a speculative long-range effort from Scott Balderson which sailed over the crossbar.
Blacktown showcased their customary defensive solidity however struggled to penetrate a similarly stubborn Manly back four.
The second half saw proceedings begin to open up with a handful of opportunities for both sides.
The evening’s first clear sight on goal arrived after 54 minutes as Dejan Pandurevic tricked his way past his marker and rattled the palms of Prendergast from close range.
Then after being majorly subdued during the first period, former Manly flyer Charles Mendy placed his stamp on the contest.
The attacker was released in behind after 62 minutes, and as he charged through on goal he was brought down by the outstretched leg of Manly skipper Sam Gallagher.
Lewis’ spot kick sent Dylan Mitchell the wrong way as he calmly slotted home into the bottom right corner.
Mendy continued to haunt his former club as moments later he found himself through again, but his low strike was denied by a smart Mitchell save.
The visitors almost doubled their lead on 73 minutes as Adam Berry’s long rang rocket flew narrowly wide of the top right corner.
Manly then began to push hard for an elusive equaliser as substitute Richie Cardozo’s in-swinging corner was tipped over the crossbar by Tristan Prendergast.
Paul Dee’s other substitution almost paid dividends as Jamie Glover’s flick-on at the near post was scrambled wide.
The hosts so nearly snatched a point at the death from the boot of Brendan Cholakian, however the tricky midfielder’s long-range strike was deflected over the bar.
Cholakian’s following corner evaded everyone inside the crowded Blacktown penalty area, only to drift agonisingly wide of the back post.
Blacktown boss Mark Crittenden was understandably delighted with the gutsy result and warned his side still possess plenty of room for improvement.
“We always try and work hard and keep ourselves organised,” he said.
“Cromer is always a hard place to come to and we knew Manly would be very physical and fit.
“To the boys’ credit we made some adjustments and they played dividends.
“Charles Mendy up front won us the penalty that won us the game.
“It’s been solid but we still have massive improvement to come don’t worry about that. We are nowhere near where we want to be yet.”
On the other hand, Paul Dee was left frustrated for the second week running.
“We had our chances to win that game and we didn’t take them,” he reflected.
“Credit to Blacktown, they were resilient and converted their chance from the penalty.
“We are certainly creating enough opportunities in the final third but haven’t been able to get that decisive final touch.
“I think the brand of football we are playing is quite good and there’s a few positives coming out but those are two similar stories from our first two weeks.”
In round 3 Manly United will continue their search for competition points in 2020 at home to Sydney United 58 while Blacktown will seek to maintain their flawless record when they host Sutherland Sharks.
Manly United 0
Blacktown City 1 (Matthew Lewis 63’)
Saturday 7th March, 2020
Cromer Park, Dee Why
Referee: Adrian Arndt
Assistant Referees: E. Kocbek, H. Fenton-White
Fourth Official: J. Ewin
Manly United: 1.Dylan Mitchell, 2.Kieren Paull, 4.Sasa Macura (23.Bradley Mcdonald 66’), 5.Sam Gallagher, 6.Joseph Fox (24.Jamie Glover 77’), 8.Dominic Ferguson, 10.Brendan Cholakian, 13.Scott Balderson, 14.Dejan Pandurevic, 17.Marley Peterson (9.Richard Cardozo 65’), 22.Paul Katsetis
Substitutes Not Used 20.Mackenzie Syron (GK), 16.Dean Bereveskos
Yellow Cards: Sam Gallagher 63’
Red Cards: Nil
Blacktown City: 1.Tristan Prendergast, 3.Daniel Collins, 5.Grant Lynch, 6.Matthew Lewis, 11.Rhett Desilva (15.Jak O’Brien 84’), 12.Lachlan Campbell, 16.Charles Mendy (21. Will Mutch 81’), 17.Dakota Askew, 19.Adam Berry, 23.Leroy Jennings, 24.Jackson Bandiera (18.Suleyman Bangura 59’)
Substitutes Not Used: 20.Dylan Niski (GK)
Yellow Cards: Matthew Lewis 50’, Grant Lynch 75’, Daniel Collins 91’
Red Cards: Nil
3- Matthew Lewis (BC)
2- Lachlan Campbell (BC)
1- Charles Mendy (BC)