St George City came back from two goals down to equalise in the dying stages of the match to thwart Blacktown City it’s first win in three matches following a thrilling 2-2 draw in a highly entertaining Round 12 clash at Penshurst Park on Saturday evening.
All four goals arrived in the second half, and it was Blacktown City that appeared to be in control of proceeding thanks to goals from Charles Mendy and Nicholas O’Brien.
St George City gallantly clawed their way back into the contest with late strikes to Paolo Mitry and the ever-dependable Maki Petratos.
The opening chance of the encounter didn’t arrive until midway through the first half when a Franco Maya left-footed free kick sailed dangerously over the crossbar from just outside the box, after experienced defender Grant Lynch had committed a silly foul on Maki Petratos to earn himself a yellow card.
In the 32nd minute, a long ball directed towards Jak O’Brien almost reached the galloping Blacktown player, but Nicholas Burke came off his line brilliantly to deny any real opportunity for the visitors.
A minute later there was another half chance to the visitors when a cross from Jak O’Brien on the right reached Mendy in the box but he glanced his header wide of the goal.
In the 41st minute some route-one football from Blacktown City straight from the back almost paid dividends when Carlos De Oliveira flashed his shot dangerously across the face of goal.
The first stanza of play ended shortly as both teams entered the break at 0-0.
The hosts had an early chance at the start of the second half when a Maki Petratos free-kick from just outside the box went a fraction too high.
However, it was Blacktown City that opened the scoring in the 53rd minute in transition.
Play made its way down field and St George City, perhaps expecting an offside call, were caught out at the back as Mendy, through some fierce determination in the box, threaded the ball home with a lovely diagonal finish.
In the 62nd minute Mendy once again had the ball in the back of the net from an acute angle but the assistant referee denied him for offside.
St George City then pressed with a clear determination to equalise and in the 64th minute Presley Ortiz danced his way superbly into the box and turned, only to see his shot end up just wide of the post.
Blacktown City had their turn a few minutes later when a great ball from Mario Shabow found Matthew Lewis on the left, who then put in a cross that Jak O’Brien at the far post couldn’t manage to steer in
Blacktown City then doubled their advantage in the 72nd minute when a wonderful strike from Nicholas O’Brien from some distance ended up in the back of the net and there was very little that goalkeeper Burke could do about it.
Coach and former Blacktown City player Mirko Jurilj made a bold triple substitution in the 76th minute and cleared his bench in an attempt to add a much needed spark to his team and it ended up paying dividends as St George struck two minutes later.
Paolo Mitry with virtually his first touch of the encounter saw his fierce drive from outside the box hit the bottom corner of the net.
In the 82nd minute a Maki Petratos free kick found Tarik Ercan in the area, but his header sailed over the bar as the home side came perilously close to equalising.
In the 89th minute it was Blacktown City’s turn. Tyren Burnie set up Shabow whose shot was wonderfully saved by Burke with his feet.
Into stoppage time the momentum was with St George as they pressed desperately to equalise and they indeed scored in the 91st minute.
The ball bobbed around in the box and Blacktown’s defence failed to clear the danger and it was all the invitation that Maki Petratos needed to fire home from the edge of the box and equalise.
It was no more than St George deserved and it proved that the game is never over until the end, as the visitors appeared to retreat and attempt to defend their lead which in the end slipped away from the 2022 Champions.
Speaking post-match, St George City coach Mirko Jurilj was happy to have comeback from two goals down to see his side earn a point at home.
“I thought that we defended quite well in the first half,” he said.
“However, our ball retention could be better and in the second half we conceded a crazy goal.
“To the boys credit they fought back well and I think whoever has been on the bench for us this year has really made a difference for us.
“As a coach you are always looking for players who can make a difference when they come on and obviously Paolo [Mitry] scored and it gave us a bit of momentum.
“Overall you could say it was a fair result but our effort has been great recently.
“We just need to be a bit more consistent and not be in our shell sometimes.
“They are always a quality opponent and of course they are last year’s Champions, so I am very happy with our effort and comeback.”
On the other hand, Blacktown City coach Mark Crittenden was reflecting on the one that perhaps got away.
“We are dealing with a lot of injuries at the moment, and we really only have about 12 fresh field-players,” he stated.
“However, we were 2-0 in front and I thought that we deserved to be there but some poor mistakes in those last ten minutes led to them scoring their two goals.
“We just didn’t manage the game well enough late on and it came back to bite us.”
ST GEORGE CITY 2 (Mitry 78’, M. Petratos 90’+1)
BLACKTOWN CITY 2 (Mendy 53’, N. O’Brien 72’)
Saturday 22nd April 2023
Referee: Adrian Arndt
Assistant Referees: Matt Staples and James Makris
Fourth Official: Alessandro Llana
ST GEORGE CITY: 1. Nicholas Burke, 2. Pedro Ferrari, 3. Daniel Alessi, 4. Brendan Hooper (10. Paolo Mitry 76’), 8. Dominic Cox (6. Tarik Ercan 69’), 11. Kosta Petratos (20. Aiden Mostofi 76’), 14. Dean Pelekanos (7. Nathan Roberts 76’), 23. Franco Maya, 30. Presley Ortiz (9. Marley Peterson 69’), 70. Maki Petratos, 99. Matthew Keremelevski.
Substitutes not used: 12. Jack Kenny
Yellow Cards: Keremelevski 28’, Ercan 70’, Maya 86’
Red Cards: Nil
BLACKTOWN CITY: 1. Tristan Prendergast. 4. Lachlan Campbell, 5. Grant Lynch, 6. Matthew Lewis, 8. Jak O’Brien, 10. Mario Shabow, 12. Tyren Burnie, 16. Ben Berry, 18. Nicholas O’Brien, 21. Charles Mendy (17. Tatsuya Kato 86’), 22. Carlos De Oliveira (14. Caleb Jackson-Brown 75’).
Substitutes not used: 3. Daniel Collins, 30. Jacob Fernandez, 36. Darian Daghero, 43. Enrico Mazzotta.
Yellow Cards: Lynch 21’
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Matthew Lewis (BC)
2 – Matthew Keremelevski (SG)
1 – Charles Mendy (BC)
By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Joe Russo