A Charles Mendy strike in first-half stoppage time proved decisive as Manly United edged out Marconi Stallions 1-0 at Cromer Park on Sunday afternoon.
In a fiery affair, the visitors will be left scratching their heads as to how they emerged empty-handed following the raft of opportunities they forged throughout the ninety.
Despite James Andrew and last week’s hat-trick hero Mitch Mallia giving Manly some early defensive headaches, the solitary goal of the match arrived courtesy of a former Stallion Charles Mendy deep into first-half added time.
A tense second stanza ultimately saw the scoresheet remain as it were, allowing for a courageous Manly performance to earn them a valuable three points in the race for the top 5.
Manly created the first clear sight on goal 17 minutes in, as Brendon Cholakian’s curling free kick was denied spectacularly by Nenad Vekic.
Three minutes later, Marconi found themselves within inches of breaking the deadlock as Mallia released a venomous strike from outside the area that grazed the crossbar.
Alongside speedy winger James Andrew, Mallia was central to the visitors’ first-half attacking forays but his 37th and 41st minute efforts both narrowly cleared Dylan Mitchell’s crossbar.
Mitchell was called into action on 39 minutes, and he reacted well to palm Nathan Millgate’s threatening header to safety.
Then despite looking to finish the opening stanza in the ascendancy, Marconi were hit with a sucker-punch with virtually the last kick of the half.
A precise low cross from Adam Parkhouse played in Charles Mendy on the six-yard box, who made no mistake with a neat finish into the bottom right corner.
The second half saw Marconi throw everything at Manly’s stern defensive unit, to no avail.
On 64 minutes, Marco Jesic’s deflected set-piece sailed painfully wide of the post past a helpless wrong-footed Mitchell.
Manly’s best shot at extending their advantage arrived two minutes later as Adam Parkhouse sprung the Stallion’s offside trap to find himself through on goal, but the former A-League flyer blazed his effort over the bar.
Peter Tsekenis tried everything to break Manly down, including the introductions of Martin Fernandez and one-time Manly marksman Richie Cardozo.
The former so nearly had the desired impact with his first intervention, as he took off on a mazy run to find himself through on goal but directed his shot past the wrong side of the post.
Giorgio Speranza almost stole a point with two minutes remaining but his shot was straight at the goalkeeper, ensuring Marconi were resigned to a bitterly disappointing defeat.
Stallions boss Peter Tsekenis reflected this sentiment post-game:
“It was very frustrating,” he reflected.
“Conceding a goal just before half time the way we did.
“They took one of their chances and we couldn’t take any of ours.
“I can’t recall many other chances they had, so I am just frustrated.”
In contrast, Paul Dee was elated that his side held firm to secure all three points.
“It was a tight game,” the Manly coach said.
“I am very pleased that we created enough good chances to score.
“We were resolute in defence and held strong, so that was very pleasing.
“There are a lot of good teams in this competition that would have ambitions to play top five.
“We just need to make sure that we apply ourselves like today every single game.
“We need to take it one game at a time and make sure we do our best to get maximum points every single week in such a tight competition.”
Manly United FC 1 (Mendy 45+1’)
Marconi Stallions FC 0
Sunday 16th June, 2019
Cromer Park, Dee Why
Referee: J. Lewis
Assistant Referees: S. Brennan, J. Park
Fourth Official: L. Cole
Manly United: 1. Dylan Mitchell, 2. Kieran Paull, 4. Travis Oughtred. 5. Sam Gallagher, 8. Dominic Ferguson 10. Brendan Cholakian, 11. Adam Parkhouse (6. Joseph Fox 90’), 12. Charles Mendy (14. Dejan Pandurevic 69’), 13. Scott Balderson (22. Jamie Glover 77’), 17. Lewis Miccio, 23. Bradley McDonald
Substitutes not used: 7. Sam Wilson, 40. Ryan Baker
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Marconi Stallions: 1. Nenad Vekic, 2. Nathan Millgate, 3. Giorgio Speranza, 4. Roberto Speranza, 7. Sean O’Connell (16. Liam Youlley 73’), 10. Marko Jesic, 11. Mitchell Mallia, 12. James Andrew, 13. Yianni Nicolaou (28. Martin Fernandez 68’), 19. Zac Cairncross (20. Richard Cardozo 78’), 23. Brandon Vella
Substitutes not used: 14. Peter Pelekanos, 17. Kristian Sekutkoski
Yellow Cards: Yianni Nicolaou 33’
Red Cards: Nil
Player Ratings have now been hidden due to the second half of the season commencing.
PHOTO BY NICK GUOTH
By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Reporter Chris Curulli (Twitter handle @ChrisCurulli)