Rockdale Ilinden FC have ended a horror run of six straight defeats against APIA Leichhardt after holding on for a 1-1 draw at Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday.
An Alec Urosevski goal late in the first half looked like it was enough to give Rockdale their first win against APIA since 2013.
However, Adrian Ucchino had other idea’s curling a brilliant free-kick into the back of the net in the 39th minute to ensure the two teams shared the spoils.
The result means both sides are still yet to lose after their opening three games for the season.
Rockdale were quickly out of the blocks when Tomoki Awada found Sam Gulisano open in the box but he fired wide.
Sean Symons replied soon after but his effort was straight at the keeper.
Franco Parisi got in on the action when he found Chris Payne inside the area but the striker, unable to get the ball under control, blasted over the woodwork.
Amaury Gauthier was denied by a brilliant reaction save by APIA shot stopper Ivan Necevski in the 14th minute after latching onto a long ball over the top.
Urosevski opened the scoring in the 32nd minute when he slipped the ball past Necevski to complete a rapid counter-attacking move.
APIA responded quickly through Adrian Ucchino.
The midfielder hit the back of the net with a sensational curling free-kick from what appeared an impossible angle.
Rockdale custodian David Bradasevic saved his side from going into the break down on the scoreboard when he dived to deny Payne.
APIA kicked-off the second period with more determination and soon had Rockdale on the back foot in the early minutes with a last ditch block by Brayden Sorge denying a Sean Symons effort.
Gauthier and Jordan Figon both had chances denied with APIA’s defence struggling against Rockdale’s rapid counter attacks.
The game began to open up midway through the second half with the ball going end-to-end without truly threatening the goals.
Parisi hit the woodwork in the 65th minute after being played in by Payne, before the pair connected again moments later as Payne fired wide.
A goal seemed inevitable in a thrilling closing 20 minutes but neither side could find a breakthrough.
APIA coach John Calleja felt a draw was a fair result in what he called a tightly contested contest.
“Both sides played really well, Rockdale came out with a game plan and we took a little time to adjust to it,” he said.
“Once we adjusted I felt we controlled the game well, although we were a little slow in our possession and movement at times.
“Unfortunately we weren’t good enough to take them and a draw is a fair result at the end of a tough 90 minutes.”
Rockdale coach Steven Zoric said his side’s ability to execute the game plan helped nullify APIA’s strenghts.
“We set-up to play in between the lines,” stated Zoric after
“It allowed more space for our midfield players to surge into when they picked the ball up and go at APIA.
“That was evident in our goal when we picked the ball up deep and set up Alec (Urosevski) in between to two centre-backs for him to run onto.
“We knew we would get joy playing this way against them and if we can get our midfield onto the ball they can start knocking it around a bit giving our defence a little bit of respite too.
We had our chances in the game, as did they, and our finishing wasn’t perhaps as good as we’d like but we remain unbeaten this season.”
Rockdale Ilinden 1 (Urosevski 32’)
APIA Leichhardt 1 (Ucchino 39’)
Ilinden Sports Centre, Rockdale
Sunday, 15th March 2020
Referee: Adrian Arndt
Asst. Refs: Andre Gieve & Matt Staples
4th Official: Manuel Limnios
Rockdale Ilinden FC: 1.David BRADASEVIC, 2.Daniel PETKOVSKI, 3.Mick NEILL, 6.Banri KANIZUMI, 7.Alec UROSEVSKI, 8.Tomoki WADA, 11.Amaury GAUTHIER (10.Nikola TANESKI 75’), 14.Brayden SORGE, 18.Sam GULISANO, 19.Patrick SAVOR (15.Mohamed AHMED 34’), 23.Jordan FIGON (4.Mitchell STAMATELLIS 82’)
Substitutes not used: 5.Jake TRAJKOVSKI, 39.Andrew DI BLASIO
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
APIA Leichhardt: 1.Ivan NACEVSKI, 3.Paul GALIMI, 4.Josh SYMONS, 6.Chris PAYNE, 7.Dom NASRABADI (8.Corey BICZO 46’), 10.Franco PARISI (9.Jeremy COX 77’), 13.David D’APUZZO, 15.Themba MUATA-MARLOW, 16.Sean SYMONS, 18.Adrian UCCHINO, 21.Michael KOUTA
Substitutes not used: 2.Camil ABOUCHAAYA, 14.Nick STAVROULAKIS, 22.Luke TURNBULL
Yellow Cards: Payne 58’, J.Symons 62’, Ucchino 85’, D’Apuzzo 87’
Red Cards: Nil
Man of the Match
3 – Galimi (AL)
2 – Wada (RI)
1 – Urosevski (RI)
By National Premier Leagues NSW Reporter Micky Brock