The National Premier Leagues NSW competition is back and it was all action during a thrilling opening round.
Rockdale Ilinden finished the 2020 regular season in first place and will maintain that mantle to start the season with a big win to kick start the new campaign.
Sydney FC and Sydney United 58 also took home three points from their matches as the only other winners from this weekend’s fixtures.
APIA Leichhardt and Blacktown City shared the spoils in their clash on Saturday, while the Sutherland Sharks marked their return to the competition with a dramatic 2-2 draw against Northbridge Bulls.
All matches throughout the opening round paid tribute to former Rockdale midfielder Idriss El Hafiane who passed away earlier this year.
Manly United 1 – Mt Druitt Town Rangers 1 at Cromer Park
The National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s returned in style on Friday night as a spectacular header from Manly United’s Seiya Kambayashi broke Mount Druitt Town Ranger’s resolve to seal a 1-1 draw deep into stoppage time at Cromer Park.
Sydney’s Northern Beaches played host to the competition’s opening fixture which kicked off in frenetic fashion, as both sides traded blows early on.
Mt Druitt opened the scoring early in the second half through John Roberts and looked to be on track to take home all three points.
However, Manly had other ideas as Kambayashi nodded home in the 92nd minute to secure a draw in dramatic fashion.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Rangers who also lost star recruit Tarek Elrich to injury only 15 minutes into the contest.
Marconi Stallions 0 – Sydney FC 1 at Marconi Stadium
Sydney FC has opened their National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s campaign in style with an upset win against Marconi Stallions at Marconi Stadium on Friday.
A second-half strike to substitute Jaiden Kucharski was the difference as the Young Sky Blues snatched all three points from a wasteful Marconi outfit.
The Stallions controlled large portions of the contest and looked to have the visitors on the ropes throughout much of the first half.
However, Sydney FC’s resolute defence held strong to open their campaign with a win.
Sydney Olympic 0 v Sydney United 58 1 at Belmore Sports Ground
Reigning champions Sydney United 58 edged out fierce rivals Sydney Olympic 1-0 in the opening round of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s at Belmore Sports Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
A Chris Payne penalty proved decisive as United 58 claimed the bragging rights in their derby clash against Sydney Olympic.
United 58 coach Tomi Vidovic collected a win in his first official match in charge
It was a mostly cagey affair with neither side creating many stand out opportunities to score.
Payne’s veteran nous helped him win the penalty which he would later score to win the match.
Northbridge Bulls 2 – Sutherland Sharks 2 at Sydney United Sports Centre
A late equalizer has helped Sutherland Sharks snatch a 2-2 draw in dramatic fashion against Northbridge Bulls at Sydney United Sports Centre on Saturday night.
Oliver Green’s header deep in added time secured the boys from the shire a point only moments after the Bulls scored an injury-time goal of their own through Rory Jordan’s spectacular overhead kick.
It was a solid first outing for Northbridge Bulls
The young side showed tremendous fight to equalise through Charles William then looked to have the winner with Jordan’s sublime finish.
Goals from James Andrew and Green showed there is plenty to admire for the Sharks in 2021.
Blacktown City 0 – APIA Leichhardt FC 0 at Lily Homes Stadium
Blacktown City FC and APIA Leichardt Tigers shared the points after a scoreless draw in their Round 1 clash at Lily Holmes Stadium on Saturday night
While both teams put on threatening attacking displays during the 90-minute battle, it was the defence of both teams that showed that they are teams to be reckoned with in the 2021 New South Wales National Premier Leagues Men’s season.
Travis Major was unlucky not to score in a brilliant performance on his return to Blacktown.
APIA will be happy to take a point away from a difficult contest which very easily could’ve gone the way of the home side
Rockdale Ilinden FC 4 – Wollongong Wolves 0 at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale Illinden have given former star midfielder Idriss El Hafiane, who died earlier this year, a fitting send-off as they cruised to a 4-0 win against Wollongong Wolves at Ilinden Sports Centre
It was an emotional day for the reigning Premiers as they celebrated the life of their former teammate.
A double to Alec Urosevski was followed by a Kyle Cimenti brace as Rockdale eased to a big win to open their 2021 NPL NSW campaign.
Wollongong struggled in their opening clash and coach Luke Wilkshire will have plenty to think about ahead of round 2.