Mount Druitt Town Rangers have cruised to a 3-1 win against APIA Leichhardt FC in a frenetic contest at Popondetta Park on Saturday night.
The Rangers were serenaded onto the pitch by a local bagpiper then proceeded to waltz to three points in front of a bumper crowd.
The victory was also a first for new coach Stewart Montgomery who has kicked off life as an NPL NSW Men’s coach in the best possible fashion taking out four out of six points in the first two rounds.
Cooper Coskerie and John Roberts tallied in the first half, then Mitchell Smith’s counter-attacking goal in the second wrapped it up.
APIA Leichhardt wasn’t able to stem the tide in the first half and paid for it, conceding three goals.
There was a brief thought of a fightback when club icon Franco Parisi thrashed home to make it 2-1, but it was a tough night at the office for the visitors.
Mount Druitt Town Rangers enjoyed the first chance of the contest.
Striker John Roberts turned well for Marc Warren to stroke an effort into the hands of APIA custodian Ivan Necevski.
It took time for APIA to find their groove. Their best effort of the half was from a free-kick which fell to the foot of Harry Callahan, who blazed wide.
The home side continued to control the play and opened up the visitors on several occasions. Warren had another tame effort, and then the veteran snatched the ball off an APIA player for Fumoto Kamada to thrash wide.
The visitors had to make a change half-way through the first half when defender Themba Muata-Marlow came off injured with former Western Sydney Wanderers young gun Mathieu Cordier replacing the big strapping stopper to make his first full NPL NSW Men’s debut.
Mount Druitt got due reward for their dominance just after the half-hour mark. Blake Thompson’s freekick was knocked down smartly for Coskerie to glide home for a 1-0 Rangers lead.
Looking to cement their position further, the home side had another chance when Mitchell Smith found space on the left side but couldn’t get past the frame of Necevski.
Right on the half-time whistle, the Rangers doubled their advantage. Striker Roberts popped up on the left, slalomed into the box and nestled the ball into the bottom corner for 2-0 at the break.
It was a furious start to the second half by both teams. APIA determined to pull back a goal when Franco Parisi and Sam McIllhatton combined to release Adrian Ucchino to slash wide.
APIA would find the goal in the 52nd minute. They stroked it confidently around the box before Parisi thumped it home to make it 2-1.
Mount Druitt continued to pile on the pressure. Mitchell Smith latched onto a wonderful Kamada cross which hit the crossbar. Smith made up for his error moments later after he finished off the break to extend the home side’s advantage to 3-1.
APIA tried to find their way back into the contest and brought on Hassan Jalloh and William Mutch off the bench. Jalloh’s pace helped open up a chance for Blake Powell to sweep wide.
Besides the game on the pitch, Mount Druitt striker Smith kept having a battle with the crossbar. Smith found space again in the box but rumbled the woodwork again as the Rangers chased their fourth goal.
As the game continued to wind down, both teams tried to add to the scoresheet, but both keepers remained resolute. Mount Druitt did enough to secure their first three points of the season.
Speaking post-match, Mount Druitt Town Rangers coach Stuart Montgomery praised his side’s effort against a solid APIA side tonight to bank three points.
“Last two, three weeks we’ve worked on formation, shape and responsibility. Each player did their job, and I thought we were good tonight. Probably could’ve had more.” Montgomery said.
“APIA is a fantastic club, and we want to be at their level. I thought tonight, we outmatched them with intensity but through some excellent football. It was great to see the crowd tonight, and we want to make Popondetta a tough place to play.”
Mount Druitt Town Rangers 3 (Coskerie ‘33, Roberts ‘45+1, Smith ‘54)
APIA Leichhardt 1 (Parisi ‘52)
Saturday 6th March 2021
Referee: T. Danaskos
Assistant Referees: M. Ebrahimi & J. Ewin
Fourth Official: L. Cole
Mount Druitt Town Rangers: 1. SALIADARRE Carlos, 2. MONAHAN-VAIIKA Solomon-Johnn, 3. OUGHTRED Travis, 4. SMITH Mitchell, 6. THOMPSON Blake, 8. PEREZ Jason (10. TSUJIMURA ‘69), 9. ROBERTS, John, 14. KAMADA Fumoto, 17. COSKERIE Cooper, 18. MACEROLA Jared, 33. WARREN Marc (5. FIRTH ‘76)
Substitutes not used: 21. ALLEN Brendan, 26. SUNMOLA Olayinka, 27. CAVALLARO Andre
Yellow cards: Perez, Warren
Red cards: nil
APIA Leichhardt: 1. NECEVSKI Ivan, 4. SYMONS Joshua, 6. CALLAHAN Harry, 7. DIAZ Tynan (2. MUTCH ‘60), 9. POWELL Blake, 10. PARISI Franco, 15. MUATA-MARLOW Themba (11. CORDIER ‘32), 16. SYMONS Sean (3. GALIMI ‘79), 18. UCCHINO Adrian (12. JALLOH ‘60), 20. MCILLHATTON Sam, 21. KOUTA Michael (8. BICZO ‘79)
Substitutes not used: 40. DAVIS Evan
Yellow cards: Symons J, McIllhatton, Callahan
Red cards: nil
3: Mitchell Smith (MDTR)
2: Marc Warren (MDTR)
1: John Roberts (MDTR)
By National Premier Leagues NSW reporter Justin Davies (@JustDavies90)