Sydney FC has opened their National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s campaign in style with an upset win against Marconi Stallions at Marconi Stadium on Friday.
A second-half strike to substitute Jaiden Kucharski was the difference as the Young Sky Blues snatched all three points from a wasteful Marconi outfit.
The opening salvo of the game arrived in the 3rd minute when a long ball reached Anthony Frangie in the box who drilled hard and low but could not beat Sydney FC ‘keeper Thomas Heward-Belle.
Frangie was at it again in the 20th minute when he fired a rocket from just outside the box that skimmed the crossbar.
Shortly afterwards Marko Jesic stabbed a ball close to the target but, unfortunately for the Stallions, his effort sailed just wide. Marconi was full of energy and doing all the running but with nothing to show for it except frustration.
In the 33rd minute Giorgio Speranza, who only a few weeks ago became a dad, flicked on a loose ball with his head only to see it end just wide of the target.
Thomas Heyward-Belle denied the Stallions from taking the lead in the 42nd minute tipping a Liam Youlley effort around the post with a diving save.
There was really nothing more the home side could have done in the first half except hit the back of the net.
The second half started with Sydney FC’s best chance of the game and in reality their first real chance when a lovely ball from the right reached Luke Ivanovic in the 48th minute who fired only a fraction wide of the goal.
Marconi went to the trusted source of Frangie in the 56th minute but his strike from just outside the box sailed high without troubling the Sydney FC custodian.
Marconi should really have taken the lead midway through the second half when Frangie did all the hard work on the right and cut the ball back beautifully for his captain Jesic who, from close range, inexplicably just missed the goal.
Despite the home side’s dominance, it was the plucky visitors who snatched the lead in the 77th minute.
A long ball forward reached Jaiden Kucharski, who with a deft flick beat the out-coming Nenad Vekic to break the deadlock.
Marconi should indeed have equalised in the 82nd minute when a Connor Evans’ free-kick from the right reached Jesic in the middle who flicked the ball on but just wide of the mark.
It was close but in reality, it summed up Marconi’s luckless night.
Sydney FC coach Jim van Weeren praised the fighting spirit of his young and inexperienced squad.
“They probably had more chances and were very dominant with set plays but we had two very good chances and took one of the two,” he said.
“We had four 16 year-olds on at the end and for our team to show that kind of mentality and desire is really pleasing. There were some really good learning moments tonight for us against opposition of this quality but we’ll take that and move on.”
Marconi Stallions coach Peter Tsekenis spoke about his team in modestly glowing terms despite the result.
“I think we were in control of the game for large parts, but you just know if you want to win games that are in the balance, you need to take your chances,” he said.
“I am not sure if the goal was offside but that doesn’t matter because we got caught and they punished us.
“We had some great chances in the second half and, in terms of football, we also controlled the first half but in football, if you don’t take your chances you leave yourself open for a sucker-punch and that’s what we copped tonight.”
MARCONI STALLIONS: 0
SYDNEY FC: 1 (Kucharski 77’)
Friday, 26th February 2021
Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
Referee: Adrian Arndt
Assistant Referees: N. Wotton, M. Allum
Fourth Official: H. Al-Nakeeb
MARCONI STALLIONS: 1.Nenad Vekic, 2.Nathan Millgate, 3.Giorgio Speranza (12.Stefan Nikolic 81’), 5.Mason Ingram, 6.Mark Rodic, 8.Connor Evans, 9.Anthony Costa (17.Martin Fernandez 66’), 10.Marko Jesic, 11.Mitchell Mallia, 14.Anthony Frangie (7.Christopher Hatfield 74’), 16.Liam Youlley.
Substitutes not used: 4.Roberto Speranza, 20.Dion Shaw, 23.Brandon Vella,
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Card: Nil
SYDNEY FC: 30.Thomas Heward-Belle, 3.Aaron Gurd, 7.Aidan Simmons, 8.Patrick Yazbek (12.Jake Girdwood-Reich 87’), 11.Adrian Segecic, 14.Aiden Mostofi, 15.Scott Browning (16.Stevan Stanic-Floody 56’), 17.Jayden Trenkoski (2.Cameron Fong 56’), 18.Oscar Priestman, 23.Callum Talbot, 24.Luke Ivanovic (10.Jaiden Kucharski 61’).
Substitutes not used: 1.Levi Kaye, 6.Thomas Main.
Yellow Cards: Trenkoski 31’
Red Card: Nil
3 – Anthony Frangie (MS)
2 – Adrian Segecic (SFC)
1 – Thomas Heward-Belle (SFC)
-By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Joe Russo