Newly crowned 2020 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Premiers Rockdale Ilinden booked its Grand Final ticket to Marconi Stadium for the ‘Big Dance’ after a devastating display defeating Sydney Olympic 3-0 at the Ilinden Sports Centre on Saturday night.
Steve Zoric’s men brought their season form into the crucial semi-final clash as they proved far too hungry for their opponents whose defensive errors ended up being their downfall.
Rockdale kicked things off with a great opening goal in the 29th minute thanks to a stunning Michael Neil strike. It was some decent build up play from the Ilinden back-line that saw Banri Kanaizumi launch a long ball forward that saw Patrick Savor expertly nod it through to a rampaging Neill who ripped the leather off the ball with a venomous strike sending the home fans into raptures.
Neill then turned the game on its head with two minutes remaining before the break after picking up a loose ball and playing a lovely one-two, was brought down in the box by Olympic’s Jason Madonis.
Referee Katie Patterson had no hesitation but awarded the penalty which was expertly dispatched by Japanese import Tomoki Wada.
It was a hammer blow for the Blues who went into the half knowing they needed a herculean effort in the second to get back into the match.
It wasn’t to be for Ante Juric’s men as it was Game, Set and Match in the 57th minute when young gun Jaden Casella pounced on yet another defensive blunder by Olympic.
Benjamin Van Meurs gave a poor ball away which was picked up by the elusive Amaury Gauthier. The ace marksman slipped Casella through who did well to finish a crafty move and it was then and there the hosts realised they’d be playing at next Sunday’s NPL NSW Men’s Grand Final.
The day’s earlier match in the Grade 20s Semi-Final saw Sydney FC prove too strong for Rockdale Illinden coming home with a 3-1 victory.
A brace from 16-year-old sensation Aiden Mostofi and Anton Milnaric cancelled out Nathan Manno’s goal that sent the Sky Blues into next Sunday’s Grade 20 Grand Final.