Mt Druitt Town Rangers continued on their winning ways after securing a round of 32 FFA Cup berth midweek with a come from behind 2-1 victory over Manly United at Popondetta Park on a chilly Saturday evening in Sydney’s West.
The Rangers were on cloud nine on Wednesday as they reached its first ever round of 32 entry into the FFA Cup after defying the odds knocking out current National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s pacesetters Wollongong Wolves 1-0.
Backing up from a midweek clash, Mt Druitt’s opponents Manly United had to wait till the 119th minute to secure its spot in the round of 32 of the FFA Cup as they scored a spot-kick goal that ended Rockdale City Suns run.
This game proved to be a tough test for both outfits.
Aidan Desmond’s men fought gallantly and never gave up even though Manly struck first via a Travis Oughtred header as a Toufic Alameddine penalty and John Roberts strike were enough to see the boys from Mt Druitt claim maximum points at home.
Alameddine netted from the spot in the final minute of the first-half to level the scores after Oughtred opened the scoring in the 34’ minute when meeting a corner to head home.
But it wasn’t enough as Roberts netted what turned out to be the winner in the 54’ minute with a sweetly struck shot that flew past Dylan Mitchell.
Within thirty seconds of the whistle Brendan Cholakian fired over the bar with a difficult effort to control coming over the shoulder followed by a Scott Balderson shot that went wide of the mark as the visitors showed intent.
New recruit Mirjan Pavlovic replied with a header that slipped past the post in what was a very open game from the start.
Indeed, Pavlovic was heavily involved in the early play and did find the net shortly after only to be disallowed for an offside flag.
Cholakian, always difficult to keep quiet, worked a half-opening and forced Carlos Saliadarre into a fine save however, from the corner Oughtred headed Manly into the lead.
Credit to Rangers, their heads didn’t drop and they continued to attack but found Manly a tough nut to crack.
Balderson pulled another tremendous save out of Saliadarre in the 35th minute when the keeper was able to tip the ball over the bar and keep his side in the match.
A mad goalmouth scramble, with a suspicion of handball thrown into the mix, in the 42’ minute had the home fans screaming when Pavlovic clipped onto the bar for Mitchell to gather at the end of some frantic footwork by both.
A last minute penalty for the home side was sweetly put away by Alameddine to level the scores with the final kick.
Roberts beat his marker and set up Fabricio Fernandez whose first time effort went agonisingly wide but seconds later it was the former Western Sydney Wanderer who hammered home from the right to give Rangers the lead when turning the match around.
Pavlovic refused to be kept out of the game and fired goal-ward in the 60th minute that Mitchell did well to turn around the post as Mt Druitt surged forward to exploit the space left at the back.
Substitute Charles Mendy burst quickly into the action and fashioned a half-chance but again the ever alert Saliadarre was quickly down to his left to avert the danger.
Manly were forced into throwing everything at the Rangers and a stoppage time save from Mitchell kept them in the reckoning but a combination of strong defence and wayward ball choice allowed the home side to hold out for the win and three precious points.
“We were well off the pace in the opening quarter hour,” stated Rangers coach Aidan Desmond after the match.
“We were out of sorts but then started to put our game together.
“Their goal was soft from us with the unchallenged header and we had to fight our way back into the match against a physically strong Manly side.
“Carlos (Saliadarre) made some good save as did (Dylan) Mitchell but we’ll take the three points from this game, and they are massive for us.”
“We were very poor today,” a dejected Paul Dee said.
“It was very disappointing although we created some good chances in the first-half.
“It wasn’t the game plan we devised and our execution today was poor.
“A tough midweek game and an away match on a Saturday night perhaps took its toll but Rangers are a good tough team and deserve their win.”
Mt Druitt Town Rangers 2 (Alameddine 45’pen, J.Roberts 54’
Manly United 1 (Oughtred 24’
Popondetta Park, Emerton
Saturday, 8th June, 2019
Referee: Hassan Jomaa
Asst. Refs: Andre Giev & Patrick Teleki
4th Official: Jake Rose
Mt Druitt Town Rangers: 1.Carlos Saliadarre, 4.Solomon Monohan-Vaika, 5.Jake Mammone, 6.Blake Thompson, 10.Fabricio Fernandez, 11.Toufic Alameddine (7.Luke Clifford 73’), 13.Lord Darkoh, 16.Joshua Gould, 18.Jacob Esposito, 19.John Roberts, 27.Mirjan Pavlovic (9.Alex Boyadjian 83’)
Subs not used: 8.Mathew Clowes, 17.Jordan Gomez, 25.Mathew Nikolovski
Manly United: 1.Dylan Mitchell, 2.Keiran Paull, 4.Travis Oughtred, 5.Sam Gallagher (7.Sam Wilson 66’), 6.Joe Fox (8.Dom Ferguson 82’), 10.Brendan Cholakian, 11.Adam Parkhouse , 13.Scott Balderson (12.Charles Mendy 66’), 14.Dejan Pandurevic, 17.Lewis Miccio, 23.Brad McDonald
Subs not used:, 22.Jamie Glover, 32.Byron Mackenzie
Yellow Cards: Miccio 62’
Player Ratings have now been hidden due to the second half of the season commencing.
By Football NSW Reporter Micky Brock