Sydney United 58’s Premiership hopes have taken a major hit after they were held to a 1-1 draw with Northbridge Bulls at Edensor Park on Sunday.
It was a heartbreaking result for United 58 who drop to four points behind league leaders Blacktown City with only five games left in the regular season.
The NPL NSW Men’s current Golden Boot frontrunner Patrick Antelmi opened the scoring for United in the 36th minute but the Bulls finished strongly with Moudi Najjar netting a 76th-minute equaliser on what was his 21st birthday.
United 58 had plenty of chances to snatch a winner but they couldn’t get it done having to settle for a costly draw.
The visitors dominated the opening period, putting their classy football on full display.
United’s first chance came in the opening minutes of the game as Antelmi cut in a picture-perfect ball to Devante Clut at the edge of the box. His effort was sensationally headered away from the goal by Brodie Clarkson.
Danijel Nizic almost found himself in the assist column after his powerful kick sent Chris Payne through on goal, Payne selflessly passed it off the Antelmi who fluffed his golden chance, sending it well over the bar.
Antelmi swiftly recovered from his miss in the 36th minute after he neatly buried his shot past an oncoming Ryan Wood for his side’s opener recording his 14th goal of the year.
The Bulls were on the back foot for the majority of the half, however, they began to find their feet towards the end of the first.
Their closest chance came through Bul Jauch after an excellent cross from Yianni Nicoloau picked out the imposing striker, his forceful header smashed against the bar and was cleared from danger.
United 58 started the second half the way they finished the first, looking the likelier for a goal.
Jordan Roberts impressed down the right side for United all game. His rapid through ball to Antelmi sent him in on goal, his shot looked destined to repeat his efforts of the first half but was denied by a world-class save from Wood.
Northbridge was a much more motivated side in the second half, going toe to toe with the tough United outfit.
Northbridge’s skipper Rory Jordan came closest with his effort after a perfect ball from Juach picked him out at the edge of the area, his shot was denied by a desperate United defence, eager to keep their clean sheet.
Antelmi came within inches of his second moments later, as Jackson Khoury played a dangerous cross into the area. The free-scoring striker’s header was denied by the in-form Wood, keeping his side’s hopes alive.
Northbridge was rewarded with their equaliser in the 76th minute after a defiant run from Nikola Ujdur picked an oncoming Najjar, he weaved his way through the defence and on towards the goal for his side’s first of the evening.
United was longing to regain their lead late in the game and had their chances to do so.
Antelmi found Glen Trifiro making a tantalising run in between the Bulls defence, through on goal Trifiro had a one-on-one with Wood, his efforts however only went as far as the side netting.
With one final chance of the game, Roberts curled a powerful effort towards goal and found the head of Antelmi, the league’s top scorer couldn’t finish his chance seeing his effort sail over the bar as the sides were forced to settle for the draw.
Sydney United 58 will view this as a huge slip-up and one that could see Blacktown City run away with first place after their late win over Sutherland.
Sydney United 58 coach Tomi Vidovic was encouraged by his side’s creativity and was hopeful about their chances going forward.
“It was a performance that had everything we wanted aside from more goals, it’s just simple as that.
“The positive is that we’re creating them, and we take that positivity through to the remaining games because these guys are quality players and eventually they’ll go in, so we look at it from that perspective”.
Northbridge Bulls coach Mile Sterjovski credited the United attack and was proud of his side’s turnaround.
“We were very lucky to have only been one goal down at halftime. United was very good so credit to them, but we turned things around in the second half and created a lot more chances.
“In the end and we could have had another two or three so I’m proud of the boys to come back in the second half.”
Northbridge Bulls FC 1 (Najjar 76’)
Sydney United 58 FC 1 (Antelmi 36’)
Sunday 20th June, 2021
Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park
Referee: T. Danaskos
Assistant Referees: C. Wright and L. Webb
Fourth Official: M. Limnios
Northbridge Bulls FC: 1. Ryan Wood, 4. Nikola Ujdur, 6. Lachlan Sepping (2. Jack Mcloughlin) 8. Kyle Cimenti (16. Jake Jovanovski), 9. Bul Jauch (26. Anthony Krilic) , 10. Rory Jordan, 11. Stephan De Robillard (5. Keanue Ismic), 12. Brodie Clarkson, 15. Eddie Caspers, 17. Yianni Nicolaou 24. Moudi Najjar
Substitutes not used: 18. Diego Bonilla, 21. Anthony Krilic, 40. Griffin Barry.
Yellow Cards: Ujdur, Ismic
Red Cards: nil
Sydney United 58 FC: 1. Danijel Nizic, 2. Cristian Gonzalez, 3. Jordan Roberts, 6. Christopher Payne (5. Anthony Tomelic), 7. Jackson Khoury (15. Tariq Maia), 9. Patrick Antelmi, 10. Devante Clut (17. Matthew Bilic), 14. Andrea Agamenonos (11. Yianni Perkatis), 16. Jacob Poscoliero, 18. Glen Trifiro, 22. Yianni Fragogiannis
Substitutes not used: 20. Jordan Ivanovic, 21, Josip Drlovic, 33. Michael Marcic
Yellow Cards: Perkatis, Antelmi
Red Cards: nil
By National Premier Leagues Reporter, Dominic Criniti (@DominicCriniti)