Manly United secured their first three points of the 2021 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s season with a tight 1-0 victory over a ten-man Blacktown City outfit at Cromer Park on Friday night.
A first-half goal on starting debut from winger Daniel Fabrizio split the sides, despite a gutsy showing from Mark Crittenden’s men who hung in the contest despite being reduced to ten men for the entirety of the second half after Jak O’Brien’s dismissal.
Despite the outcome it was Blacktown who started the stronger of the two sides, enjoying a strong spell of possession and field position early on.
Carlos De Oliveira had a fierce strike blocked early and Suleyman Bangura fired a warning shot across the face of goal inside 12 minutes as the visitors looked to get off on the front foot.
Manly however weathered the early storm and slowly but surely worked their way back into the contest. Their persistence was rewarded on 34 minutes with the match’s opening, and ultimately decisive, goal.
Evergreen attacker Richie Cardozo played a superb outside-of-the-foot through ball to release Fabrizio in behind, and the Canberra junior calmly rounded a powerless Tristan Prendergast to slot home into an empty net.
Things went from bad to worse for the away side ten minutes later, as Kieren Paull made a lung-busting run forward during a rapid Manly counter-attack.
A mistimed challenge from O’Brien was adjudged to have disrupted a goalscoring opportunity, as the Blacktown midfielder saw red and his side were reduced to ten men for the remainder of the contest.
Despite the numerical disparity, Crittenden’s side continued to keep Manly on their toes during the second stanza.
Their best chance arrived as a scramble in the area saw Grant Lynch eventually flick the ball onto the crossbar and out of play.
As a ten-man City began to tire, the match opened up and Manly nearly doubled their advantage as substitute Luca Kmet was denied by a spectacular stop from Prendergast with 15 minutes remaining.
Approaching stopping time fellow substitute Jack Fulton so nearly caught the Blacktown goalkeeper off his line, saw that effort bounce wide.
Unlike Manly’s last two fixtures, there was to be no late twist to the tale as the Northern Beaches outfit was greeted by an almighty roar from their home fans as they maintained their unbeaten run at the expense of the previously undefeated Blacktown.
Post-game, Adam Griffith was pleased with the result but not entirely satisfied by his side’s performance.
“We probably deserved two wins in the previous two games but we got the win today it wasn’t our best performance,” he said.
“But that’s football we kept a clean sheet. We let them get a little bit more momentum with ten man than I would have liked but it was a good confidence building win for the team as we grinded out the victory where last week we didn’t.
“When we get our noses in front we still need to convert to really seal games but it was a good win for the team.”
Next weekend Manly will hope to build on the result with a difficult away trip to face Rockdale at Ilinden Sports Centre, while Blacktown City will look to bounce back when they travel to take on Sydney United 58.
Manly United FC: 1 (Fabrizio 34’)
Blacktown City FC: 0
Friday, 12 March 2021
Cromer Park, Dee Why
Referee: Sam Kelly
Assistant Referees: Joon Park, Nathan Wotton
Fourth official: Christian Verdicchio
Manly United FC: 19. Sam Benton, 2. KierenPaull, 15. Jesse Piriz, 20. Alen Aganovic, 16. Seiya Kambayashi, 5. Sam Gallagher (C), 24. Finn Ashton (6. Joe Fox 54’), 9. Ben Koop (7. Jack Fulton 85’), 10. Richie Cardozo (12. Luca Kmet54’), 11. Daniel Fabrizio, 14. Dejan Pandurevic(13. Scott Balderson 92’)
Substitutes not used: 18. Lucas Rainbird, 1. Dylan Mitchell
Yellow cards: Cardozo 23’, Fabrizio 75’, Mitchell 84’
Red cards: Nil
Blacktown City FC: 1. Tristan Prendergast, 3. Daniel Collins, 4. Lachlan Campbell, 5. Grant Lynch, 6. Matt Lewis (32. Ryan Attard 77’), 7. Travis Major, 8. Jak O’Brien, 18. Suleyman Bangura, 19. Adam Berry (33. Jacob Maniti 89’), 22. Carlos De Oliveira (29. Nick O’Brien, 11. Rhett Desilva
Substitutes Not Used: 41. Zane Cunico, 26. Tyre Burnie
Yellow cards: Major 23’, Campbell 46’
Red cards: J. O’Brien 43’
3 – Kieren Paull (MU)
2- Daniel Fabrizio (MU)
1 – Carlos De Oliveira (BC)
– By Football NSW reporter and commentator Chris Curulli (Twitter handle @ChrisCurulli