Blacktown City and St George City shared the spoils in a vital Round 27 fixture of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition at Landen Stadium on Sunday.
Blacktown City twice had the lead but in the end were pegged back twice by a determined St George City outfit, including a penalty in stoppage time to Kosta Petratos that gave the visitors an important away point.
The first real chance of the encounter belonged to St George City in the opening minute of play when a cross from the right reached Franco Maya lurking with intent on the edge of the box and he, with a powerful left-foot drive, forced a great save from Tristan Prendergast down low to his left.
Blacktown City replied in the 8th minute when a shot from distance by Carlos De Oliveira was well neutralised by the St George custodian.
In the 20th minute a counter-attacking move by the home side saw Grant Lynch feed the ball delightfully from the right to De Oliveira in the middle, but under pressure the latter fluffed his lines and sent the ball wide much to the despair of the home supporters.
In the 33rd minute Blacktown City missed a penalty which was awarded when Lynch was brought down on the edge of the box following a corner and referee Stephen Lucas had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. However, Travis Major was unable to convert the penalty which was turned away for a corner by a fantastic diving save from ‘keeper Yaren Solez. It was Major’s second spot kick miss in two weeks.
Despite the setback though the home side was able to break the deadlock only a few minutes later. A precise cross by Tyren Burnie on the right reached Lachlan Campbell who, with a clinical finish from just inside the box, sent his volley crashing into the bottom left hand corner of net. Blacktown City continued to pressure St George’s goal late in the half and it was Lynch who crossed dangerously from by-line in the 42nd minute to find Jak O’Brien in the middle, but his header was just over the crossbar from very close range.
In the second half St George City equalised in the 52nd minute. A long ball down the right reached a dashing Pedro Ferrari who found himself with too much space at his disposal and he simply chipped over an out-coming Prendergast. It was hardly the start that Blacktown City desired but for St George it was just what the doctor ordered, after a sluggish finish to the first half which then saw coach Mirko Jurilj make three halftime substitutions to add vitality to his team.
In the 65th minute Adan Berry fired a curling rocket from distance which sailed narrowly wide of the target as Blacktown City tried to get out the quagmire that St George had now set for their opponents.
And they indeed managed to do just that in the 68th minute when a low cross from the right by Major reached Jak O’Brien in the middle and he neatly placed the ball into the back of the net to give his side the lead once again.
In the 84th minute St George City almost equalised in a rather bizarre incident. Kosta Petratos gave the ball to Daniel Alessi and the visiting captain chipped over ‘keeper Prendergast and hit the crossbar when Blacktown City were clearly expecting an offside call and had almost stopped playing.
Late in the game came the vital penalty to St George City who equalised when Campbell downed Alex Kyriacou in the box and referee Lucas awarded the penalty.
Prior to the penalty being taken, referee Stephen Lucas sent Ignacio Palacios off after he received his second caution of the game.
Kosta Petratos then stepped up to the mark and sent the ‘keeper the wrong way with a textbook penalty.
After the game Blacktown City coach Mark Crittenden was clearly disappointed not to have secured all three points.
“It got away from us again, just like it did when we played them over at their home,” he said.
“At the end of the day it was two long balls from them that we didn’t deal well enough with and then we didn’t take some of our chances when we had them.
“They pressed us for about 15 minutes in the second half and they obviously got the equaliser and then I thought we did enough to win the game, but we gave away a penalty ourselves right at the end.
“We were still trying to chase APIA but now we can’t, so that’s the disappointing part of today. However, we put ourselves in position to keep trying and hopefully a top two place will come our way.”
On the other hand St George City coach Mirko Jurilj was also somewhat disappointed to have secured only one point.
“It’s a good point but I thought that we could have got something more out of that game” he said.
“In the first half they had a lot of possession but we had the better opportunities.
“We made three substitutions at halftime to bring some more life into us and it worked. Blacktown are last year’s champions, they are a very good team and to come here and stop their eight-game winning streak says a lot about this group and the way this club is headed.
BLACKTOWN CITY: 2 (Campbell 37’, Jak O’Brien 68’)
St GEORGE CITY: 2 (Ferrari 52’, K. Petratos 90+2’ pen)
Sunday 6th August 2023
Landen Stadium Seven Hills
Referee: Stephen Lucas
Assistant Referees: Matthew Harris and Arinath Gobinath
Fourth Official: Jackson Mackie
BLACKTOWN CITY: 1. Tristan Prendergast, 4. Lachlan Campbell, 5. Grant Lynch, 7. Travis Major, 8. Jak O’Brien (6. Matthew Lewis 82’), 12. Tyren Burnie, 15. Ignacio Palacios, 16. Ben Berry, 18. Nicholas O’Brien, 19. Adam Berry, 22. Carlos De Oliveira (9. Reuben Awaritefe 70’).
Substitutes not used: 14. Caleb Jackson-Brown, 20. Cayden Henderson, 21. Charles Mendy, 42. Own Henderson.
Yellow Cards: Palacios 87’, Campbell 91’
Red Cards: Palacios 92’
St GEORGE CITY: 1. Yaren Solez, 2. Pedro Ferrari, 3. Daniel Alessi, 8. Dominic Cox, 10. Paolo Mitry (7. Nathan Roberts 46’), 11. Kosta Petratos, 14. Dean Pelekanos (24. Alex Kyriacou 79’), 16. Mohammed Khamis (4. Brendan Hooper 46’), 23. Franco Maya, 30. Presley Ortiz (70. Maki Petratos 46’), 99. Matthew Keremelevski.
Substitute not used: 9. Marley Peterson, 12. Jack Kenny.
Yellow Cards: Pelekanos 34’, Keremelevski 44’, Jurilj 85’
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Jak O’Brien (BC)
2 – Daniel Alessi (StG)
1 – Grant Lynch (BC)
By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Joe Russo