Just six rounds remain of the 2019 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20s season, with just five points separating second from sixth as the race for the top five turns into the final straight.
Blacktown City won for the first time in three weeks to hold their ten-point lead at the top of the table at the end of Round 16, while Sydney FC jumped up into second place as APIA Leichhardt dropped points away to Rockdale. Sutherland are clinging onto fifth place after a big win at Sydney United 58, and Sydney Olympic are edging closer to the Sharks in sixth after picking up a point away to Wollongong Wolves.
Blacktown City FC 1-0 Manly United FC, 1pm Sunday at Lily Homes Stadium
Blacktown City’s first win in three matches didn’t come easily. James Demetriou scored a brilliant solo goal in the first half to put the runaway competition leaders in control at the break, but Manly United committed themselves well after conceding and might consider themselves unlucky to have come away from Lily Homes Stadium empty-handed.
The hosts took their time to settle into the match, with Manly pushing forward in numbers – and at pace – at any given opportunity.
Jamie Glover broke from a cleared corner and ran at the Blacktown backline before he was hauled down by William Mutch, who earned himself an early yellow card for a cynical foul. Maximilian Rogers stepped up to take the set piece, but the chance was wasted after he dipped his free kick straight into a Blacktown defender behind the wall.
Rogers had another chance to make an impact on the scoreline soon after when a cross from deep on the right wing was flicked onto the forward at the back post, but the ball wouldn’t drop quickly enough for him and he sent a looping volley well over the crossbar.
Blacktown shattered Manly’s illusion of control midway through the first half when a poor touch from Bryce Harry allowed Carlos De Oliviera to release James Demetriou on the left; the Blacktown man sizing up a shot before hitting the ball sweetly across the goalkeeper and inside the far post to give his side the lead.
Buoyed by their opener, Blacktown pressed for a second before the break but Daniel Colosimo and De Oliviera were unable to apply a finishing touch to long balls into the box, with Ryan Baker comfortable between the sticks.
Manly won another freekick soon after the restart from which they earned a corner, but William Martin could only flick the ball wide of the back post after an inviting cross from Rogers.
Rogers continued to combine well with Lucas Rainbird on the right flank, taking the ball to the edge of the area before playing Glover in only for the Manly forward to swing a wild half-shot, half-cross well off-target.
The visitors were in control for much of the second half but Blacktown didn’t sit back on the ball, and might have scored a second when Devante Clut drifted across the top of the box before poking the ball out to Suleyman Bangura, who flashed a low ball across the face of the goal and beyond the far post.
A final chance to add to the scoreline fell to Alexander Purves when Ryan Baker rushed to clear a long ball only to pass it straight to the Blacktown substitute, but his long-range attempt fell just short and just wide as the keeper jogged back into position.
Blacktown City FC 1 (Demetriou 25’)
Manly United FC 0
23rd June, 2019
Lily Homes Stadium
Blacktown City FC: 21. MUTCH William, 29. COLOSIMO Daniel, 14. DAVIES Henry, 34. BANGURA Suleyman, 32. DE OLIVIERA Carlos, 24. BANDIERA Jackson, 18. BARTOLOTTO Josh, 10. DEMETRIOU James, 20. NISKI Dylan, 26. AGANOVIC Alen, 33. GALLO Anthony
Yellow cards: Mutch 3’, Aganovic 66’
Manly United FC: 22. GLOVER Jamie, 18. KMET Luca, 33. ZAHRA Tallon, 31. ROGERS Maximilian, 25. CAVALIERI Luca, 35. VARVARESSOS Ben, 40. BAKER Ryan, 48. HARRY Bryce, 30. RAINBIRD Lucas, 36. MCGRATH Lachlan, 21. ASHTON Finn
Yellow cards: McGrath 76’
Sydney FC 3-0 Mt Druitt Town Rangers, 5pm at Lambert Park
Sydney FC moved into second place on the ladder after a comfortable 3-0 win over Mt Druitt at Lambert Park on Saturday afternoon; goals from Mitchell Mattison, Antonio Saracino and Cameron Peupion giving the Sky Blues a crucial win ahead of next week’s match against Blacktown City.
This match was the first in six in which Sydney managed to keep a clean sheet, and also only their third in which they have scored more than two goals. Sydney could yet be overtaken by APIA Leichhardt, who sit two points behind with a game in hand after washouts last weekend.
Mt Druitt, for their part, remain tenth after their third loss in four matches, and sit nine points adrift of fifth with only six rounds remaining.
Rockdale City Suns 2-2 APIA Leichhardt Tigers, 1pm at Ilinden Sports Centre
A draw between Rockdale and APIA on Sunday afternoon kept both sides level on points in fourth and third place respectively, with a three-point gap now opening up between fifth and sixth.
Jonathan Grozdanovski and Jake Trajkovski helped give Rockdale a lead at the break, but the Tigers came back in the second half to earn an important point on the road: with a game in hand against Sydney United to come, they could yet leapfrog Sydney FC into second place.
Rockdale will be frustrated to have dropped points at home again, with only two wins in eight games at Ilinden Sports Centre. They will turn their attentions to next week’s match at Belmore Sports Ground against Sydney Olympic, while APIA can look forward to a return to Lambert Park to take on Hakoah.
Wollongong Wolves 1-1 Sydney Olympic, 1pm at Win Stadium
Sydney Olympic’s Brian Sutomo opened the scoring in the first half at Win Stadium on Sunday afternoon but Ezequiel Consoni undid all of his side’s good work when he rushed out of goal after the break and brought down Bul Juach on the edge of the area, earning himself a straight red card.
Ericon Ehiozee pulled on the gloves in the goalkeeper’s absence but wasn’t at all comfortable between the sticks, and fumbled a routine header from Juach to help Wollongong earn a late point.
Wollongong are six points behind fifth-placed Sutherland in ninth place at the end of Round 16, while Sydney Olympic now find themselves just three points behind the Sharks with a game in hand against Hakoah to come this week.
Hakoah Sydney City East 0-1 Marconi Stallions, 3pm at Hensley Athletic Field
Hakoah’s Round 15 clash with Sydney Olympic was washed out, giving the eleventh-placed side extra time to prepare for the visit of the Stallions.
Still, a week’s rest did little to help Hakoah Sydney City East as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at home to Marconi Stallions on Sunday afternoon; their fourth loss in five matches.
Damian Tsekenis scored the only goal of the game to leave Hakaoh just four points ahead of Sydney United, while simultaneously giving his side a crucial win as they make a late charge for the top five.
Marconi’s first win in four weeks takes them within five points of the finals places, with a match against Sydney United to come next weekend.
Sydney United 58 2-5 Sutherland Sharks, 3pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
By halftime at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon, Sutherland Sharks had already stormed into a 4-0 lead over Sydney United 58.
The hosts scored twice in the second half to add some semblance of respectability to the scoreline, while the Sharks added another to record their biggest win of the season to date.
A win here was a must for Sutherland and they delivered in style to maintain a three-point lead over sixth-placed Sydney Olympic, who have a game in hand over the Sharks.
Sydney United, meanwhile, returned from a week off to fall to their third consecutive defeat, a string of results which keeps them rock bottom of the ladder.