Rockdale Ilinden FC has returned to winning ways after securing a hard-fought 1-0 victory over APIA Leichardt at Lambert Park on Sunday afternoon.
A missed penalty from APIA skipper Sean Symons just moments before halftime haunted the home side as an 87th-minute goal from Alec Urosevski earned the visitors a crucial three points away from home.
It was a tense match between the two sides as they battled for an important three points in the closing stages of the NPL New South Wales Men’s competition.
While both sides enjoyed their share of chances in the opening stages of the first stanza, a penalty just before the break was the defining moment of the first 45.
Referee Kurt Ams pointed to the spot in the 46th minute as APIA Leichardt’s Sam McIlhatton was pulled down in the area.
Sean Symons stepped up to take the penalty for the home side, but Rockdale’s custodian David Bradasevic managed to read the penalty well and palmed Symons’ shot.
Bradasevic’s expert save fell back to the feet of Symons, who fumbled over it before releasing a second effort, which was cleared by Rockdale’s defensive line leaving the score at 0-0 at the half-time break much to the dismay of the local APIA supporters who braved the cold and rainy conditions in Sydney’s Inner West.
The defensive stability of both teams was tested in the second stanza, with both keepers managing some quality saves to keep the game goalless.
Tomoki Wada looked poised to take the lead for Rockdale in the 73rd minute, however, his effort was stopped by Ivan Necevski.
Urosevski managed to get on the end of Necevski’s save, but his strike soared high over the crossbar.
The visitors continued to mount pressure on the home side, with their efforts paying off in the 87th minute.
Antoniou played a ball to Urosevski in a dangerous position in front of goal, and the striker clinically finished, sending his shot past Necevski to score the first and only goal of the match.
APIA Leichardt continued to push for an equaliser in the final stages of the game, however it wouldn’t come to fruition, with the game finishing 1-0 to the visitors.
Rockdale coach Steve Zoric was pleased his team was able to execute their game plan and take three points from the match.
“I felt like it was a tight game,” he explained.
“Probably a goal that we deserved in the end, I would say.”
“It’s been a tough time for us, so we’ve just got to now carry on.”
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get the results in the FFA Cup but it came to fruition tonight and I just hope that we can continue that now going forward.”
APIA Leichardt Coach Paul Dee praised his team’s effort despite the result.
“I think our guys did well to put a lot of pressure on and hold good field position and create chances,” he said.
“I think we play a high tempo, and we are aggressive in our press, and we roll up and try and dominate teams in their half, so I just want to maintain the effort.
“We’ve got the Waratah Cup, we’ve got the FFA Cup, and we’ll keep going whilst we’re still a chance in the league and try to get as many points as we can.”
APIA will take on the Wollongong Wolves this coming Wednesday at Macedonia Park in the Waratah Cup Elimination Final at 7:30pm with the winner to host Mt Druitt Town Rangers in the Semi-Final. The match will be shown Live on Football NSW’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
Rockdale Ilinden FC 1 (Alec Urosevski 87’)
Sunday 20th June, 2021
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referees: L. Greenshields and M. Price
Fourth Official: A. Bloch
APIA-Leichhardt: 1. Ivan Necevski, 2. William Mutch, 4. Josh Symons, (6. Harry Callahan (21. Michael Kouta 75’), 8. Corey Biczo (9. Blake Powell 56’), 11. Matthieu Cordier, 15. Themba Muata-Marlow, 16. Sean Symons, 18. Adrian Ucchino (10. Franco Parisi 75’), 19. Peter Kekeris, 20. Sam Mcilhatton
Substitutes Not Used: 7. Tynan Diaz
Yellow Cards: Corey Biczo 31’, Sean Symons 66’
Red Cards: Nil
Rockdale Ilinden FC: 1. David Bradasevic, 3. Michael Neill, 5. Banri Kanaizumi, 6. Daniel Araujo, 7. Alec Urosevski, 8. Tomoki Wada, 9. Bai Antoniou, 14. Brayden Sorge, 15. Mitchell Stamatellis, 16. Mohamed Ahmed (19. Patrick Savor 72’), 11. Samuel Gulisano (10. Marie Gauthier 63’)
Substitutes Not Used: 13. Zac Sfiligoi, 22. Enrol Ordonez Suarez, 24. Jayden Anevski, 38. Jad Moussa
Yellow Cards: Daniel Araujo 76’
Red Cards: Nil
By Football NSW Reporter Madeline Riley (@madelineriley23)