Manly United have extended their unbeaten run to eight games with a classy 3-0 win over Northbridge Bulls at Sydney United Sports Centre on Saturday afternoon.
Another win for Manly means they have put themselves in prime position for a finals berth, as they continue in pursuit for the top spot.
After dominating the opening period of the game Manly were met by a determined Northbridge side that held them out for the majority of the half.
The resilient defence of the hosts was finally cracked in the final minutes of the half, with Seiya Kamabayashi and Matthew Sim finding the back of the net to give the visitors a two-goal advantage.
Manly secured the win in the late stages of the game through a brilliant header from Jesse Piriz in the 79th minute giving the visitors their third.
Manly proved their quality in the opening stanza getting a firm grip on the game and calling the Northbridge defence into action early on.
Despite the visitors strong start, it was the Bulls who came closest to an opener with their first attack of the game with James Cakovski’s piercing effort just fizzing over the bar.
After an opening period of dominance from the hosts, the game became free flowing with the sides trading chances in transition from defence to attack.
Manly continued in pursuit for an opener and had a chance go begging when Kambayashi played Thomas Fay through on goal, with his close range effort sailing over the bar.
The visitors’ defence began to feel the pressure of the hosts as Jack Greenwood denied Eddie Caspers to keep the score level.
With just minutes remaining in the first half, it was Manly who struck first through Kambayashi after he neatly slotted his chance courtesy of a selfless pass from Dominic Ferguson.
The visitors extended their lead just moments later after a brilliant ‘one-two’ pass combination from Finn Ashton gave Sim a one-on-one with Levi Kay, where he placed his chance past the keeper at the front stick.
The goals from Kambayashi and Sim saw Manly go into the break with a deserved two-goal lead.
The young Northbridge side played the majority of the second half with a high intensity and showcased plenty of physicality against their older opponents.
Showing plenty of promise in attack, it was the hosts who came close again with another long range effort from Cakovski just missing the target.
Manly were denied a third in the 63rd minute as Fay’s deflected shot bounced off the bar and into the path of Kristian Santich, who narrowly missed the frame of goal.
The visitors sealed the result in the later stages of the game with a perfect corner from Kambayashi finding Piriz who picked out the top corner with a brilliant header.
The Bulls pushed hard until the final whistle and would not give up with their off-ball pressing and fast-paced attacks.
Manly held on for the win, with three goals sealing three important competition points.
Northbridge coach Mile Sterjovski credited an experienced Manly side but saw some positive signs from the Bulls.
“It was a bit of an ugly game and they played it better, they have the experience and the kind of players that like those kind of games and do it well,” he said.
“In the five minutes before halftime we lost a bit of concentration, we gave the ball away and they punished us, we gave it our all but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.”
Manly coach Adam Griffiths was impressed with his side’s attacking output despite a number of key absences.
“It’s a difficult game to come out here against a young team and keep that focus, today we ticked another box in terms of pushing for the title, because these games are the hard ones,” he said.
“We had a lot of players out and the positive is we managed to score goals with key players out, we’ve got to return still that haven’t played all year that can really make this team purr.
“I felt we could have finished them early and they were very dangerous on the transition and we are short on players so I had to rely on the young players.”
Northbridge Bulls FC 0
Manly United FC 3 (Kambayashi 39’, Sim 42’, Piriz 79’)
Saturday 18th June 2022
Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park
Referee: Hassan Jomaa
Assistant Referees: Cameron Wright and Ayad Naji
Fourth Official: Manwel Limnios
Northbridge Bulls FC: 20. Levi Kaye, 2. Jack McLoughlin 3. Nathan Dimou, 9. Diego Bonilla (19. Jacob Maniti 79’), 11.Stephan De Robillard, 13. James Cakovski (18. Sebastian Hernandez 79’), 14. Marcus Sparacino (7. Mason Wells 68’), 15. Eddie Caspers (4.Anthony Sparacino 63’), 16. Oliver Jones, 17. Jed Drew, 21. Matthew O’Donoghue (5. Anthony Krilic 79’).
Substitutes Not Used: 22. Griffin Barry.
Yellow Cards: Caspers 55’, McLoughlin 85’
Red Cards: Nil
Manly United FC: 2. Kieren Paull (27. Hunter Elliott 57’), 3. Jesse Piriz, 4. James Oates, 5. Thomas Fay, 7. Seiya Kambayashi, 8. Dominic Ferguson (6. James Georgaklis 63‘), 11. Matthew Sim (29. Marcus Lal 68’), 12. Finn Ashton, 15. Kristian Santich, 18. Lucas Rainbird, 19. Alen Aganovic, 20. Jack Greenwood
Substitutes Not Used: 24. Mitchell Mattison, 31. Max Martinello, 41. Jack Obern
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Written by National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter, Dominic Criniti @DominicCriniti