Mani Gonzalez proved the difference at Lily Homes Stadium on Sunday afternoon as Blacktown City overcame Marconi Stallions 1-0 in Round 10.
Gonzalez scored midway through the first half, hitting a clever shot past Nenad Vekic after finding space on the right.
Marconi’s cause was hardly helped by Yianni Nicolaou, who earned himself a red card just minutes after the halftime break to leave the Stallions a man down as they chased the game.
The Stallions rallied well in the second half, but Blacktown were able to see out the pressure to edge their first win since Round 6.
With as many as five starters in the Stallions line-up who wore the Blacktown City colours recently, it was also a first up win for the hosts with this match labelled a ‘grudge’ match between the two.
Marconi took immediate control of the game, spreading play well across the park as they slowly probed the Blacktown backline.
Despite enjoying the bulk of possession early on, the Stallions were unable to create anything to threaten Tristan Prendergast in the Blacktown goal.
Indeed, Blacktown came closest to opening the scoring the first few minutes. Matt Lewis found space on the left flank to whip a quick ball across the box for Adam Berry, but there was too much pace on the cross and it dropped out of play at the back post.
Blacktown continued to roll forward and broke the deadlock against the run of play on the twenty-minute mark: Leroy Jennings pushed across from the left and fed the ball to Joey Gibbs, who laid a pass off for Mani Gonzalez on his right.
Running onto the ball from deep, Gonzalez had an age to set himself for the first-time shot, which flew past Nenad Vekic and into the Marconi goal.
Blacktown might’ve doubled their lead soon after when Gonzalez sprinted down the right before hitting a low ball to the near post with Jennings arriving, but Vekic came across and was able to put the forward off where he might otherwise have found the back of the net.
Halftime came and went, with no apparent end to the constant fouling which interrupted the flow of the first half.
Jennings took the ball down the left side, slowing to cut a cross into the box, but was hacked down from behind by Yianni Nicolaou before he could get the ball away. A second yellow card was quickly followed by a red; Nicolaou leaving his side to finish the match with only ten men.
Blacktown looked to capitalise on their advantage immediately. Gonzalez played a low cross into the box for Berry who knocked the ball up and volleyed towards the top corner, but Vekic scrambled well to tip the shot over the crossbar.
Marconi seemed somewhat energised by their situation, and poured forward in search of an equaliser as the half wore on. Mirijan Pavlovic flicked a ball onto Mitch Mallia at the top of the box as pressure mounted on the hosts, but he could only swipe his volley across goal and out of play.
Blacktown weathered the storm and ended the match in relative comfort: Mason Versi might’ve finished Marconi off with a minute of injury time remaining when he danced through the Stallions backline before cutting a shot back across the goalkeeper, but the ball ricocheted off the post and was cleared out of danger.
Mark Crittenden was full of praise for his players after taking the game to Marconi and coming out on top.
“It was a tough game, we know Marconi’s style, we know they like to go long and get balls up around the 18 yard box.
“We knew it was going to be a bit of a scrap and we scrapped well, we created chances and held on.
“They had a boy sent off, and full credit to them for going for it, but we fought hard, the intensity was great, and it’s a great three points.”
Blacktown City FC 1 (Gonzalez 21’)
Marconi Stallions FC 0
Sunday, May 12 2019
Lily Homes Stadium, Seven Hills
Referee: T. Plasto
Assistants: R. Osborne, D. Horst
Fourth official: P. Reynolds
Blacktown City FC: 1. PRENDERGAST Tristan, 3. COLLINS Daniel, 5. LYNCH Grant, 6. LEWIS Matt, 8. ARAUJO Daniel, 9. GIBBS Joey, 11. GONZALEZ Mani (15. VERSI Mason), 12. CAMPBELL Lachlan, 17. ASKEW Dakota, 19. BERRY Adam, 22. JENNINGS Leroy (23. BRAGG Daniel)
Yellow cards: Lynch 28’, Jennings 37’
Marconi Stallions FC: 1. VEKIC Nenad, 2. MILLGATE Nathan, 3. SPERANZA Giorgio, 4. SPERANZA Roberto, 7. O’CONNELL Sean, 9. FRANGIE Anthony (12. ANDREW James), 10. JESIC Marko. 11. MALLIA Mitch, 21. PAVLOVIC Mirjan, 23. VELLA Brandon (28. FERNANDEZ Martin), 13. NICOLAOU Yianni
Yellow cards: Nicolaou 25’, 47’, R. Speranza 82’, Pavlovic 86’
Red card: Nicolaou 47’
3: Joey Gibbs (BC)
2: Mani Gonzalez (BC)
1: Daniel Araujo (BC)