Marconi Stallions and Northbridge Bulls shared points in a hard-fought battle that ended in a 2-2 draw at Marconi Stadium on Saturday evening.
An early goal to Lachlan Rose was answered by Marko Jesic in the 29th minute to see the sides in a 1-1 deadlock at the half-time break before substitute Moudi Najjar took back the lead in the second half and Jesic completed his brace and equalised yet again, converting a penalty late in the game.
Marconi’s winning run came to an end against the young side that had bolstered their team with a number of A-League level players for the occasion, however they remain unbeaten for eight National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s games.
The draw demonstrates Northbridge’s ability to stand up against the experienced teams in the competition and will likely give them some confidence as they head into the second leg of the season and fight to get off the bottom of the table.
The visitors came out to the park with plenty of fire, creating some goal-scoring opportunities in the first minutes of the match.
Rose came close to a goal in the 6th minute, but the offside flag was raised to keep the striker hungry.
Northbridge came back for more in the 14th minute through Jed Drew, but the attempt couldn’t find the target.
Their perseverance paid off in the 17th minute as the Bulls opened scoring through Rose.
Drew played a ball into Rose, who was well positioned in front of goal and clinically tapped the ball in to finish.
Marconi were poised to equalise in the 24th minute as Chris Hatfield made a run forward and played a ball in front of Charles Lokolingoy to run onto.
Lokolingoy drew out Northbridge Bulls ‘keeper Nicholas Suman but slid his attempt to the right of an open goal.
The equaliser would come in the 29th minute for the Stallions as captain Jesic made magic happen yet again.
Connor Evans whipped the ball into the area from outside the 18-yard box to a well-placed Jesic in front of goal and the captain tidily controlled the ball and struck it into the netting to even the playing field.
Marconi had another chance that would have put them in front just minutes later but Lokolingoy sent it soaring over the bar.
The hosts were back on the attack in the 36th minute as Lokolingoy received the ball just inside the 18-yard box and cut to Hatfield, who sent it on target but Suman was ready to deny.
Marconi earned a free kick in the 38th minute after Sam Gulisano was brought down while charging forward.
Domenic Costanzo, who has pulled off some terrific free kicks so far this season, sent his strike soaring over the woodwork.
Jed Drew came hunting for the visitors in the 42nd minute, trying some tricky footwork to get through Roberto Speranza but his effort went wide.
Both sides retreated to the sheds for the half-time break with a goal apiece as they looked to regroup and take hold of the match.
Roberto Speranza had a goal-scoring opportunity for the hosts in the 46th minute, as the ball fell to him from a free kick, but his shot went directly to Suman.
While both sides had their chances, Northbridge took back the lead in the 56th minute through substitute Najjar, despite some confusion as the offside flag was raised.
While Najjar collected and shot an impressive strike from the edge of the 18-yard box and into the netting, Rose and Drew looked to be standing in an offside position when the shot was taken, causing the lineswoman to raise her flag.
After discussion, referee Sam Kelly blew his whistle and pointed to the halfway mark, awarding the goal.
Marconi substitute Thomas James was brought down inside the area in the 82nd minute, causing the referee to blow his whistle and point to the spot.
Jesic stepped up to take the penalty and calmly converted to equalise for the second time for the Stallions – it was his eleventh goal of the NPL NSW Men’s campaign with the Stallions skipper in red hot form.
It was end-to-end football for the final period as both teams were searching for a winner but neither team was able to find it, finishing the match with a 2-2 draw.
Marconi coach Peter Tsekenis was pleased his side was able to get something out of the match, especially considering the talented players that were brought into the Northbridge squad this week.
“The team that was on the park, if you look at the list, wasn’t the team that’s sitting at the bottom of the table,” he explain.d
“They brought some reinforcements and you can see why some of these boys played at A-League level and they’re gonna give you a bit of grief, but I thought we contained them.
“I thought we had the better chances, I thought if we took our chances at the right time we probably would have got the result but it was a tough game.
“It probably could have gone either way when you don’t take your chances but we’ll take the draw and move on.
“Credit to the boys they stuck in there and sometimes you get a loss out of a game like that and we clawed our way back and could have and should have easily won that.”
Marconi Stallions FC 2 (Marko Jesic 29’, 82’)
Northbridge Bulls FC 2 (Lachlan Rose 17’, Moudi Najjar 56’)
Saturday, 14 May, 2022
Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
Referee: Sam Kelly
Assistant Referees: Matt Staples and Anastasia Filacouridis
Fourth Official: Aaron Bloch
Marconi Stallions: 1. Nenad Vekic, 2. Nathan Millgate, 3. Giorgio Speranza, 4. Roberto Speranza, 6. Domenic Costanzo (17. Martin Fernandez 73’), 7. Chris Hatfield (9. Thomas James 65’), 8. Connor Evans, 10. Marko Jesic, 11. Charles Lokolingoy, 13. Samuel Gulisano (23. Brandon Vella 65’), 22. Taylor McDonald
Substitutes Not Used: 18. Adrian Valenti, 19. Zac Cairncross, 20. Dion Shaw
Yellow Cards: Hatfield 12’, Costanzo 17’, McDonald 71’,
Red Cards: Nil
Northbridge Bulls: 1. Nicholas Suman, 2. Jack McLoughlin, 3. Nathan Dimou, 7. Mason Wells (6. Moudi Najjar 45’), 8. Brodie Clarkson, 10. Rory Jordan (19. Lachlan Sepping 71’), 14. Alhassan Toure (9. Diego Bonilla 65’), 15. Eddie Caspers (11. Stephan De Robillard 71’), 16. Oliver Jones, 17. Jed Drew (13. James Cakovski 83’), 31. Lachlan Rose
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Levi Kaye
Yellow Cards: Dimou 38’, Jones 82’, Sepping 89’
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Marko Jesic (MS)
2 – Lachlan Rose (NB)
1 – Connor Evans (MS)