National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Round 11 saw Manly United bring high flying Rockdale Ilinden back down to earth in a tight encounter that was only divided by a penalty from Bruno Mendes in the first half.
Both sides had their chances but in the end the visitors displayed a touch more grit to claim all three points.
The opening salvo of the game arrived in the 7th minute when a free kick by Jade Casella for Rockdale Ilinden was well parried by goalkeeper Jack Greenwood, but only as far as Mitchell Stamatellis who seemed certain to score from close range, yet somehow Finn Ashton courageously got in the way and ball went over for a corner.
It was a close call but Manly United survived the scare thanks to Ashton’s great defending.
Manly then replied in the 10th minute when Seiya Kambayashi ran down the right flank but goalkeeper David Bradasevic came out, narrowed the angle for the shot and forced the ball wide for a corner.
Manly United though didn’t have to wait much longer and took the lead in the 20th minute through a penalty.
Kieran Paull charged dangerously into the area before being brought down and referee Adrian Arndt jogging on the spot had no hesitation in awarding the visitors the spot kick.
Bruno Mendes stepped up to the mark and dispatched it calmly sending the home side ‘keeper Bradasevic the wrong way.
In the 36th minute a powerful diagonal drive by Alec Urosevski sailed narrowly wide of the intended target as the visitors breathed a sigh of relief before the break and they held onto their narrow lead.
In the second stanza of play the first real chance arrived in the 52nd minute when a corner reached Nikola Kuleski who fired through from just outside the box, but the ball took a deflection and ended up wide for another corner.
Shortly afterwards Rockdale were at it again when a free kick by Stamatellis beat all and sundry except for the Manly United goalie Jack Greenwood.
The visitors replied in the 56th minute when Kambayashi seemed through on goal but he failed to properly control the ball and Bradasevic made an easy save.
A long, through ball in the 61st minute saw Kambayashi charge towards goal but in the end he was thwarted by some great defending from Jamie Percevski and a corner was forced.
Kambayashi turned provider in the 74th minute with a precise cross from the right that reached Dom Ferguson who fired a thunderbolt just wide of the post.
In the 82nd minute Rockdale almost scored when an acute but deflected cross from near the by-line by Urosevski was cleared off the line by an alert Paull.
In the 87th minute replacement Ben Koop seemed to have all the time in the world at his disposal for the visitors but somehow, unmarked in front of goal, he fired just over the crossbar in what was the last real chance of the encounter.
After the game Manly United coach Adam Griffith was delighted with his team and their overall win.
“We were solid defensively and we worked hard on our defensive structure,” he said.
“We also had a lot of good chances to score and they had a couple too, but I thought that we also had a couple of good moments to finish the game even though we didn’t convert those.
“Our mentality now is to win every single game and we were coming to win this game against a very good team, but we are also a very good team that’s going to keep pushing.”
His counterpart at Rockdale Ilinden Steve Zoric was philosophical about the defeat that had come against a well prepared Manly United side.
“It’s a frustrating result after nine games undefeated,’ he said.
“Well done to Manly because they came out and played a good game.
“They compacted their lines and made it hard for us to get anything out of that game.
“We had our chances and were pushing for it, but they defended very well.
“The ball didn’t fall for us at times but I have to congratulate Manly for playing a good game.
“We’ll just move on and look towards our next game against Blacktown, adjust a few things during the week and keep charging towards the top of the table.”
Rockdale Ilinden 0
Manly United 1 (Mendes 20’p)
Sunday 15th May 2022
Ilinden Sports Centre, Rockdale
Referee: Adrian Arndt
Assistant Referees: Joon Park and Alessandro Llana
Fourth Official: Hadi Al-Nakeeb
Rockdale Ilinden: 1. David Bradasevic, 4. Mitchell Stamatellis (16. Mo Ahmed 67’), 5. Will Mutch, 7. Alec Urosevski, 8. Nikola Kuleski, 10. Tomoki Wada, 11. Peter Kekeris (25. Alex Masciovecchio 66’), 14. Brayden Sorge, 15. Jamie Percevski, 23. Jade Casella, 88. Chris McStay (9. Bai Antoniou 75’)
Substitutes Not Used: 31. Matt Morran, 33. Vincent Fedele
Yellow Cards: 58’ Urosevksi, 88’ Percevski, 90’ Ahmed
Red Card: Nil
Manly United: 20. Jack Greenwood, 2. Kieran Paull, 3. Jesse Piriz, 4. Jimmy Oates, 5. Tom Fay, 7. Seiya Kambayashi, 10. Luca Kmet (9. Ben Koop 83’), 12, Finn Ashton (8. Dom Ferguson 46’), 18. Lucas Rainbird, 19. Alen Aganovic, 22. Bruno Mendes
Substitutes Not Used: 17. Zenden Hart, 15. Kristian Santich, 21. Lucas Rainbird, 29. Marcos Lal
Yellow Cards: 29’ Ashton, 88’ Greenwood
Red Card: Nil
3 – Jimmy Oates (MU)
2 – Kieran Paull (MU)
1 – Jaden Casella (RI)
By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Joe Russo