In one of the most entertaining National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s matches of the season, ten-men Northbridge Bulls played out a heroic and thrilling 3-3 draw against former NSL giants Marconi Stallions in Wednesday evening’s rescheduled round 4 fixture.
Both teams were still searching for their first wins of the 2021 season and it was the Marconi Stallions who looked hungry for the three points in the opening half at Edensor Park. The Stallions held a two-goal advantage at the break thanks to goals from Anthony Frangie and skipper Marko Jesic.
Marconi were unable to hold onto the lead and were on the brink of losing but a late, late Stefan Nikolic effort salvaged a point.
Lachlan Sepping brought them back with a thunderous effort before Rory Jordan equalised in the 73rd minute. The Bulls thought they had the winner when Bul Juach swept finished well in injury time but it wasn’t to be as, just like the match against the Sharks in round 1, Mile Sterjovski’s men copped a stinging equaliser in similar circumstances ironically at the same venue.
The Stallions were quickest out of the barriers and put Northbridge Bulls FC custodian Ryan Wood under a heavy workload early in the contest. Anthony Frangie had a shot then Mitch Mallia tested his range against the shotstopper.
The Bulls were dealt an early blow in the 13th minute after Michael Ruhs was shown his marching orders for a dangerous tackle on Connor Evans which sparked a mini melee.
Marconi Stallions made use of their advantage in the 23rd minute. Frangie again in the thick of the action on the left drifted in a devilish cross which evaded everyone and flew into the back of the net and it was 1-nil to the boys from Fairfield.
Looking to press their advantage, Marconi started to turn their trot in a gallop with their second goal of the evening, Liam Youlley’s thrashed effort was saved by Wood but Jesic was on hand to tap home his third of the 2021 campaign and it was 2-o and cruise control for Peter Tsekenis’ men, at least they thought so.
Bulls were on parade late in the first half, having a pair of chances. Liam Rose stood over a free-kick which the former United 58 ace curled wide then in first half stoppage time, Jake Hollman had a tame effort. Despite that burst, the Bulls went into the half down 2-0.
The Stallions kept their foot on the accelerator in the start of the second stanza. Mallia had a cross-cum-shot drift just wide then Brandon Vella set up for Jesic to thrash wide of the post as the Stallions inched closer to their first win of the season.
Northbridge Bulls showed they weren’t going to be trampled. A moment of magic from former Stallion Lachlan Sepping brought the contest back to life. The midfielder unfurled a powerful shot that rocketed into the net, 2-1 and it was game on.
That goal charged the young guns of Northbridge. The Bulls turned the parade into a celebration with their equaliser in the 73rd minute. Some superb play down the wings opened it up for skipper Jordan to sweep home at the near post and it was 2-2 – it was his third goal of the 2021 campaign.
The game started to tilt end to end. Vella had a solid chance when Mallia held the ball up well to give him space to arrow wide of the post. The Bulls, despite the man disadvantage, pressed hard and created some opportunities.
Stallions substitute and former Bull Emmanuel Peters had an ideal chance to settle the contest in the 84th minute when he strode confidently into the box. Peters curled agonisingly wide of the right post.
It seemed like the fairytale was complete in injury time for Sterjovski’s men. Substitute Bul Juach was free in the box and cushioned his effort into the bottom corner for 3-2. It was pure delirium for the Bulls supporters in the stands as the young chargers celebrated which they thought was the winner.
There was one final twist left in this amazing contest. Marconi Stallions pushed forward for one final effort and it was substitute and new recruit Stefan Nikolic that salvaged a point.
Nikolic was ‘Johnny on the spot’ in the box to stroke home making it 3-3 which is how it ended as the full time whistle blew.
A missed chance for the Stallions who have yet to taste a win in 2021 while it was a heartbreaking draw for the Bulls who battled tremendously almost salvaging the three points albeit with ten men for the majority of the match.
Wednesday 24th March 2021
Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park
Northbridge Bulls FC 3 (Sepping ‘68, Jordan ‘73, Juach ‘90+1)
Marconi Stallions 3 (Frangie ‘23, Jesic ‘33, Nikolic ‘90+2)
Northbridge Bulls FC: 1. WOOD Ryan, 2. MCLOUGHLIN Jack, 3. THEPH Theph, 6. SEPPING Lachlan (9. JUACH ‘ 76), 7. HOLLMAN Jake (11. DE ROBILLARD ‘62), 10. JORDAN Rory, 13. SCOTT Walter, 17. NICOLAOU Yianni, 21. ROSE Liam (15. CASPERS ‘62), 24. NAJJAR Moudi, 26. RUHS Michael
Unused subs: 14. PANUCCIO Giovanni, 40. BARRY Griffin
Red cards: Ruhs
Marconi Stallions: 1. VEKIC Nenad, 2. MILLGATE Nathan, 3. SPERANZA Giorgio, 4. SPERANZA Roberto, 6. RODIC Mark, 8. EVANS Connor (12. NIKOLIC ‘78 (24. LAXAMANA ‘90+4), 10. JESIC Marko (21. PETERS ‘65), 11. MALLIA Mitchell (9. COSTA ‘78), 14. FRANGIE Anthony (17. FERNANDEZ ‘65), 16. YOULLEY Liam, 23. VELLA Brandon
Unused subs: 20. SHAW Dion, 24. LAXAMANA Paolo
Yellow cards: Jesic, Millgate
Red cards: nil
3 – Anthony Frangie (MS)
2 – Rory Jordan (NB)
1 – Brandon Vella (MS)
By Justin Davies (@JustDavies90)