Two late goals have helped Marconi Stallions snatch a 2-0 win against Blacktown City at Marconi Stadium on Saturday.
The win has all but secured the Stallions their spot in the finals with a round still to play.
With the clock running down substitute Anthony Frangie found the back of the net in the 90th minute with a glancing header before Brandon Vella buried one home to send the home fans into raptures in the 94th minute.
Despite the loss Blacktown hold onto third spot.
There wasn’t much to write home about in a lacklustre first-half but the action got underway with Leroy Jennings who in the 10th minute hit the outside of the post with a left foot shot from close range.
In the 26th minute Dakota Askew flashed a dangerous cross from the right into the box, but there was nobody there for Blacktown and the Marconi defence managed to scramble a clearance.
Almost immediately afterwards a corner from Mason Versi reached Askew on the edge of the box who this time tried a fancy chip kick that went just wide of the target.
After the Blacktown half chances finally came one for Marconi and what a chance it was. A tremendous free-kick from captain Marko Jesic in the 32nd minute beat all and sundry and hit the upright of the goal to ‘keeper Tristan Prendergast’s right.
It was to be Marconi’s first and only real chance of the first half but, to be fair, both sides were guilty of playing ultra-conservative football given that there was so much at stake with finals football just around the corner.
In the second half the first salvo belonged to Marconi and it arrived in the 52nd minute when Damian Tsekenis intercepted the ball and fired at goal from outside the box but Prendergast was not to be caught off guard.
Both teams pressed to some extent during the second half of play without much success but in the 71st minute there was finally a real talking point. Grant Lynch received his second yellow card and was sent off, leaving Blacktown City to fight out the remainder of the encounter from a numerical deficit.
However, that didn’t seem to matter because in the 79th minute Askew tried a shot from outside the box that was deflected into the path of Mason Versi who then fired his shot only a matter of millimetres over the crossbar. It was a close call indeed.
Late in the game though the contest swung and Marconi took advantage of the extra player. A fortuitous ricochet found Brandon Vella who put the ball in the back of the net but the offside flag went up and Marconi’s premature celebrations were cut short.
However, in the 90th minute Marconi broke the deadlock.
A Connor Evans free-kick found Anthony Frangie in the box who, with a smart run through a myriad of players, managed to glance the ball and tuck it away for a valuable three points.
And then, right at the death, Vella struck for Marconi’s sexcond. Magical work by Damian Tsekenis and ball in the back of the net courtesy of Vella. Just too good.
In the elated dressing room Peter Tsekenis, coach of Marconi, was delighted and very proud.
“It has been a tough week and we had a plan,” he said. “We thought that if we were solid at the back and didn’t give them much we could pinch it at some point.
“They hit the post, we hit the post and there were a couple chances each in the whole game and then the two goals.
“We cleared our bench early in the second half but they were all forced changes to avoid further injury, but we got our reward because we squeezed them and frustrated them.”
However, Blacktown City dressing room was a much more sombre affair.
“It wasn’t a pretty game but Marconi stuck to their game plan and got the result,” said a disappointed Yianni Spyrakis speaking on behalf of the team.
“We have an experienced bunch of boys and no matter what game, we go out to give 100%. Next week we have Hakoah and we hope to have a positive result going into the finals.”
MARCONI STALLIONS: 2 (Frangie 90’, Vella 84’)
BLACKTOWN CITY FC: 0
Saturday, 3rd August 2019
Marconi Sadium, Bossley Park
Referee: Nick Waldron
Assistant Referees: Lance Greenshields, Nathan Wotton
Fourth Official: Jarrod Katz
MARCONI STALLIONS: 1.Nenad Vekic, 2.Nathan Millgate, 3.Giorgio Speranza, 4.Roberto Speranza, 8.Connor Evans, 10.Marko Jesic, 11.Mitchell Mallia (9.Anthony Frangie 56’), 12.James Andrew (40.Damian Tsekenis 46’), 19.Zach Cairncross, 23.Brandon Vella, 28.Martin Fernandez (7.Sean O’Connell 39’).
Substitutes not used: 14.Peter Pelekanos, 17.Kristian Sekutkoski.
Red Card: Nil
BLACKTOWN CITY FC: 1.Tristan Prendergast, 4.Yianni Spyrakis, 5.Grant Lynch, 6.Matthew Lewis, 8.Daniel Araujo (11.Mani Gonzalez 66’), 9.Joey Gibbs, 12.Lachlan Campbell (13.Rhett Desilva 59’), 15.Mason Versi (7.Devante Clut 87’), 17.Dakota Askew, 19.Adam Berry, 22.Leroy Jennings.
Substitutes not used: 20.Dylan Niski
Yellow Cards: Lynch 43’, Gibbs 48’, Jennings 84’
Red Card: Lynch 71’
By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Joe Russo