Mt Druitt Town Rangers have fought back to snatch a 1-1 draw in a hard-fought clash with Rockdale Ilinden at Popondetta Park on Saturday night.
A Travis Oughtred headed goal in the 69th minute ensured the Rangers took home a point, cancelling out Rockdale midfielder Tomoki Wada’s earlier strike.
Both side’s had their chances to win the match late but were unable to find the back of the net.
Rangers’ leading scorer, Jack Stewart, was lively in the opening stages in a battling performance but soon slipped back into a midfield slot.
There was plenty of early pressure from both sides, with Mt Druitt’s John Roberts wasting a brilliant scoring opportunity in the seventh minute when he fired over the bar before Tarek Elrich hit the post shortly after
Forced to soak up the early onslaught, Rockdale stood strong at the back but quickly transitioned on the counter.
Urosevski hammered a low free-kick toward the goal and straight into the arms of Carlos Saliadarre after Marc Warren entered the book for a foul on Wada just outside the area on the half-hour.
Rockdale created another couple of half-chances, and Rangers’ could have been more proficient with the final ball, perhaps, but it remained goalless at the break.
Fumoto Kamada chased down a long ball and pulled it back for Stewart to fire over.
Rockdale replied through Wada, who hammered home a thunderous shot at the other end to break the deadlock and give the visitors the lead.
Brayden Sorge forced Saliadarre into a spectacular save after a surging run to the edge of the box.
A succession of corners for the home side and sustained pressure led to the equaliser off the head of Travis Oughtred, and once again, the points were up for grabs in a thrilling encounter.
Stewart thought he had snatched a winner in the 75th minute, but his swivelling effort from the edge of the box was tipped wide of the post by a sensational diving save from Bradasevic.
He was at it again moments later after a powerful run down the right and cutting inside to see his effort slip over the bar.
Substitute George Tucson-Firth fired a left-footer narrowly wide for Rangers before Uroseveki missed a chance for Rockdale at the other end.
Blake Thompson cleared off the line from Mick Neill in stoppage time to ensure both teams went home with a point.
Mt Druitt boss Stewart Montgomery rued what could’ve been for his side but felt it was an overall strong performance.
“We should have had a couple of goals in the first half, and we didn’t convert that and went into the break at nil-all, and we had another clean sheet, so there was a lot of positives,” he said.
“Our defensive shape and structure were good, but we needed to transfer that into goals at the other end when we frustrated them in midfield into turning over the ball.
“We didn’t take the opportunities we created, but we responded well after going behind, but we knew it would be a tough game but also, we would have gone equal top on points if we had won, so it’s also a bittersweet result for us.”
Rockdale coach Steve Zoric said his side paid the price for their second-half slip-up.
“It was a soft goal we conceded after going ahead, we didn’t put enough pressure on the ball carrier, but after three tough games in a week, it is what it is,” he said.
“We probably controlled the game for much of the opening half and came home strong before the break.
“You know a match like this will always be a tough encounter, and we could have won had we taken the opportunities we created, but we’ve still only lost a single game so far, and we move on to the next match.”
Mt Druitt Town Rangers 1 (Oughtred 69’)
Rockdale Ilinden 1 (Wada 52’)
Popondetta Park, Emerson
Saturday 1st May 2021
Referee: Christian Verdicchio
Assistant. Referees: Hugh Fenton-White & Logan Jones
Fourth Official: Anastasia Filacouridis
Mt Druitt Town Rangers: 1.Carlos SALIADARRE, 3.Travis OUGHTRED, 6.Blake THOMPSON, 7.Jack STEWART, 8.Jason PEREZ, 9.John ROBERTS (5.George TUCSON-FIRTH 70’), 10.Takumo TSUJIMURA (2.Solomon-Johnn MONOHAN-VAIIKA 60’)14.Fumoto KAMADA, 17.Cooper COSKERIE, 21.Tarek ELRICH, 33.Marc WARREN
Substitutes not used: 4.Mitchell SMITH, 13.Robert FANELLA, 18.Jared MACEROLA, 22.Jake MAMONE
Yellow Cards: Warren 30’, Coskerie 90+2
Red Cards: Nil
Rockdale Ilinden: 1.David BRADASEVIC, 2.Daniel PETKOVSKI, 3.Michael NEILL, 5.Banri KANAZUMI, 6.Daniel ARAUJO (13.Zac SFILIGOI 76’), 7.Alec UROSEVSKI, 8.Tomaki WADA, 9.Bai ANTONIOU, 11.Samuel GULISANO (23.Kyle CIMENTI 52’), 14.Brayden SORGE, 19.Patrick SAVOR
Substitutes not used: 10.Amaury GAUTHIER, 22.Andrew DI BLASIO, 99.James TEMELKOVSKI
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Wada (RI)
2 – Stewart (MDTR)
1 – Warren (MDTR)
By National Premier Leagues NSW reporter Micky Brock