Sydney United 58 has jumped into top spot of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition as Round 8 came to a close on Sunday.
With only three weeks left in the regular season, the battle for Premiership honours is set to go down to the wire.
United 58 claimed a massive victory against rivals Marconi to move ahead in the title race.
Rockdale Ilinden’s big win against Sydney FC has them only a point behind, while Sydney Olympic’s loss meant they drop to third, two points behind the leaders.
It was a big week for APIA Leichhardt and Blacktown City who both claimed vital victories after a long winless run.
APIA Leichhardt 1 (Payne 85′) – Mt Druitt Town Rangers 0 at Lambert Park
A Chris Payne penalty has helped APIA Leichhardt to their first win in a month defeating Mt Druitt Town Rangers 1-0 at Lambert Park on Friday.
It was a much-needed victory and a sure confidence booster for APIA who have struggled during the rebooted season.
The visitors made a fast start to the match and were inches away from taking an early lead when a long-range effort cannoned off the upright in the sixth minute.
APIA forced two big saves from Rangers keeper Carlos Saliadarre midway through the half as both teams traded chances without capitalising.
The match remained deadlocked at 0-0 during the half-time interval, but it looked destined to change with APIA making a strong case after the restart.
Some desperate defending from Mt Druitt denied a brilliant APIA chance in the 64th minute, but it all came unstuck for the visitors eight minutes from time when Payne won his side a penalty.
The veteran marksman fired into the back of the net from the spot to secure all three points and the win.
Manly United 1 (Cholakian 24′) – Blacktown City 2 (Lewis 19′, Bangura 28′) at Cromer Park
A brilliant attacking performance in the first half has helped Blacktown City to their first win of the rebooted season as they defeated Manly United 2-1 at Cromer Park on Friday.
It was Blacktown’s first win in eight weeks with the three points moving them off the bottom of the ladder.
The visitors made a rapid start to the match and had Manly on the back foot early.
Blacktown was rewarded for their early endeavour winning a penalty in the 17th minute.
City’s Lewis had his spot-kick saved by a sensational diving effort from Manly shot-stopper Dylan Mitchell. Still, unfortunately for the home side, the ball bounced straight back to the Blacktown skipper who fired into the net with his second effort.
Manly hit back almost immediately courtesy of a powerful, driven free-kick from captain Brendan Cholakian which deflected off a defender and into the back of the net to make it 1-1.
The action was end to end, and in the 29th minute, Blacktown took the lead once again.
Suleyman Bangura swooped on an errant backpass from Manly’s defence on the edge of the penalty area before firing into the back of the net with a composed shot past the outstretched arms of keeper Mitchell.
Bangura went inches away from scoring another on the cusp of half-time when a long-range shot sailed narrowly wide.
Blacktown continued to have the ascendency in the second half with Adam Berry hitting the crossbar from a sublime curling free-kick after 62 minutes.
Scott Balderson had a late chance to snag an equaliser for the home side, but it was expertly saved as City clung on to end their winless streak.
Western Sydney Wanderers (Auglah 46′, 60′) v North Shore Mariners (Smith 26′) at Valentine Sports Park
A second-half brace from the highly talented Ali Auglah has helped Western Sydney Wanderers to a 2-1 come from behind victory against North Shore Mariners at Valentine Sports Park on Saturday.
The 18-year-old striker fired moments after the restart to score an equaliser before securing the win with a composed penalty.
It was the Mariners who had started the stronger of the two sides and took a 1-0 lead after 26 minutes when Mitchell Smith made the most of an enterprising run from Charles William to score from 10 yards out.
North Shore would hold onto their lead until the half-time interval before Western Sydney found an equaliser on seconds after the restart.
Auglah tapped past the keeper to finish a rapid Wanderers counter-attack which went from one end to the other in less than 10 seconds.
Only 15 minutes later the Wanderers would take the lead when Auglah fired from the penalty spot after Chris Lindsey was taken down inside the edge of the box.
The Mariners pushed for an equaliser, but it wasn’t to be with the Wanderers clinging on for the win and all three competition points.
Wollongong Wolves (Okada 19′) 1 – Sydney Olympic 0 at Albert Butler Memorial Park
Wollongong Wolves have injected life into their Premiership hopes edging competition leaders Sydney Olympic at Albert Butler Memorial Park on Sunday.
A Takeru Okada goal midway through the first half was the difference with the Wolves now within three points of top spot after the win.
Wollongong took control of the contest from the opening whistle and appeared a side on a mission as they took the game to their premiership rivals.
In the 19th minute, the home side was rewarded for their dominance when Okada fired past the keeper after dribbling past three Olympic defenders to give Wollongong a 1-0 lead.
It should’ve been 2-0 in the 38th minute when the Wolves won a penalty after the referee ruled a handball in the box against Olympic defender Thomas Whiteside.
However, Thomas James spurned the chance, firing his penalty kick wide with Wollongong taking a 1-0 lead into half-time.
Sydney Olympic bounced back in the second half and found their mojo in attack to put pressure on the Wolves defence.
However, the visitors failed to make the most of their opportunities in front of goal spurning chance after chance.
It would prove to be a deciding factor in the game with Olympic unable to find an equaliser as Wollongong clung on to claim a win and a vital three competition points.
Sydney United 58 (Antelmi 65′, Sim 68′) 2 – Marconi Stallions (Jesic 23′) 1 at Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United 58 has shot to the top of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition with a 2-1 win against local rivals Marconi Stallions.
A second-half flurry from United 58 was the turning point with the home side scoring two goals in three minutes to fight back from 1-0 down.
United 58 were unlucky not to take the lead inside the first 20 minutes when Patrick Antelmi fired into the side netting after going around.
However, it was Marconi who took the lead in the 23rd minute thanks to a textbook set-piece.
Marko Jesic headed home from close range after being set up from a lofted header from Nathan Millgate.
Both sides were creating chances but lacked the finishing touch to capitalise on their opportunities.
Marconi would hold their lead into the half time break, but United 58 was far from a beaten team after the first 45 minutes.
It took only 15 minutes into the second stanza for the home side to hit back with Antelmi completing a sublime passing move.
A brilliant ball from Yianni Perkatis found Glen Trifiro on the edge of the penalty area who then set up Antelmi to tap in with a cutting pass to the back post which dissected the Marconi defence.
Moments later United 58 took the lead thanks to more brilliance from Perkatis.
The midfielder delivered a well-weighted lofted ball over the backline which fell perfectly for Matt Sim to fire past the goalkeeper and make it 2-1 for the home side.
It set up a tense finish to the match, but United 58 were able to cling on and take a vital three competition points which catapulted them to top of the competition ladder.
Rockdale Ilinden (Neill 45′, Gauthier 52, Urosevski 80′, Wada 82′) 4 v Sydney FC 0 at Ilinden Sports Centre
A dominant Rockdale Ilinden has boosted their Premiership hopes with a 4-0 win against Sydney FC at Ilinden Sports.
A Michael Neill goal on the cusp of half-time had Rockdale in the driver’s seat after the first 45 minutes, but it was their three goals in the second stanza which secured the result.
It was a tight contest from the opening whistle with both teams unable to capitalise on their chances.
With the match headed for a scoreless stalemate at the half, Rockdale claimed a surprise goal as Micheal Neill fired in from the left edge of the penalty area after a brilliant run off the win.
Rockdale’s momentum carried on after the restart, and it took less than ten minutes for the home side to double their lead.
Amaury Gauthier delivered a clinical finish from close range to tap home from 6 yards out after a driven cross into the box.
Rockdale made it 3-0 with ten minutes left on the clock when the club’s ‘local baker’ star frontman Alec Urosevski fired into the back of the net after Tomoki Wada stole the ball from the Sydney FC defence.
A quick-thinking Wada claimed a contender for goal of the season in the 83rd minute when he chipped the keeper from 45 yards out after winning a free-kick to make it 4-0 and wrap up the win for Rockdale.