The game struggled especially early on to keep spectators entertained.
The best opportunities were with Anthony Hartshorn trying his luck with a shot that ended up wide before Rockdale City almost replied instantly when Kosta Lagoudakis broke free from midfield before firing his shot over the crossbar.
Set pieces proved to be each side?s best friend midway through the first stanza of play: A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt were first to try their luck when a lovely David D?Apuzzo corner made its way to Nicola Rizzo who forced the goalkeeper Dion Shaw into a convincing save just under the crossbar.
Rockdale?s reply was equally dangerous when an Adem Kir corner was beautifully floated into Joshua Lawson who fired his header just wide of the intended target.
Another set piece almost rewarded the Tigers when Robbie Younis? free-kick forced Shaw into another good save low down.
In the 36? minute A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt could really have taken the lead when a long ball, that should have been easy prey, was terribly dribbled in an attempted clearance by Shaw.
The resulting error gifted Hartshorn the ball but, by the time he rounded the goalkeeper, his weak shot which still seemed certain to go over the line was wonderfully intercepted by Giorgio Speranza off his own line to save Rockdale?s bacon and Shaw?s blushes.
A late free-kick from Younis was once again unable to penetrate Shaw?s resilience and poise between the posts and, as such, the first-half finished goalless.
It didn?t take too long in the second-half for Rockdale City to break the goal drought when Kir fired in a rocket from approximately 30-metres that was never going to miss the back of the net, leaving Jose Bello-Amigo stupefied between the posts.
It may not be goal of the season given that it is only Round 1, but it will surely go close.
The home side should really have extended the lead shortly afterwards when Steven Veleski was gifted a great ball that allowed him to charge freely, but unfortunately at the crucial moment with only Jose Bello-Amigo to beat, he pulled his shot across the face of the goal and just wide of the posts.
It was the lucky break A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt needed, and perhaps deserved, because only minutes later the ball bobbled its way into the box.
Franco Parisi, ever the opportunist, made no mistake in slotting the ball home.
Another Younis free-kick shaved the posts shortly afterwards before the home side missed two clear cut chances later on.
Firstly, Sash Trajcevski headed just wide before replacement Jeffrey Issa was thwarted by an out-coming Bello Amigo.
After the game Lee Sterrey, coach of the Rockdale City Suns, was reasonably pleased with his side?s efforts:
?I thought we went alright given that APIA were a top five team from last year,? he said.
?I thought we handled their attack well and we had to get men behind the ball, that?s why we played with five in the backline to break out in the counter [attack].
?Adem Kir scored a great goal and 5? minutes later we had a clear break away with Veleski and we didn?t score with a one-on-one. If we had have gone 2-0 up, the game was over.
?We set the game up great but our execution wasn?t there at times. However, for a team that?s only about fifty percent of last year?s squad, and I have only been here five weeks, there is more positives out it than negatives.?
When quizzed about what he expected for season 2011, Sterrey was definitely upbeat:
?Look, at the end of the day, we want to make the play-offs, like all teams, so once a team is in the five there is every opportunity to go on and win a Grand Final.
?There?s a good character in this club and the Board [of Directors] and the committee is very progressive, so it?s all good.?
The message from the opposition was remarkably similar with A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt?s Football Manager Tony Raciti impressed with his team?s first official outing:
?I thought that obviously we were the better team even though we didn?t play that well today, but we did create four to five clear-cut chances,? he stated.
?I think we started three weeks too late and the boys are still picking up their fitness, but today?s ground was heavy to play on.
?The positives are that the whole back four and goalkeeper were exceptional and didn?t put a foot wrong all game and also David D?Apuzzo had a great game.?
When quizzed about the prospects of APIA Leichhardt in 2011, Raciti was equally positive and full of expectation:
?I think every team should expect to finish first, otherwise they shouldn?t bother to go into the competition, so obviously we are aiming for that position.
?It?s either first or nothing for us,? he concluded.
Meanwhile, in the Grade 20s A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt started the season with a convincing 3-1 win over the home side, Rockdale City Suns.
Sunday, 27th March, 2011
Bicentennial Park, Rockdale
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referees: Thomas Lee and Alex Long
Fourth Official: Thomas Diakos
Rockdale City Suns 1 (Adem Kir 50?)
A.P.I.A. Leichhardt Tigers 1 (Franco Parisi 61?)
Rockdale City Suns FC: 22.Dion Shaw; 7.Peter Apolevski, 23.Askin Oygur, 10.Sash Trajcevski, 6.Joshua Lawson, 13.Giorgio Speranza, 4.Kosta Lagoudakis (11.Adem Kir 13?), 8.Dominic Hudap, 3.Shay Spitz (19.Marino Musumeci 88?), 9.Jason Naidovski (5.Jeffrey Issa 74?), 12.Steven Veleski.
Substitutes Not Used: 17.Sash Tirovski
Yellow Cards: Naidovski 60?
Red Cards: Nil
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers: 1.Jose Bello-Amigo; 2.Mark Byrnes, 3.John Kelso, 13.David D?Apuzzo, 4.Cole Tinkler, 5.Michael West, 7.Stephen Kayes, 8.Anthony Hartshorn, 11.Nicola Rizzo (19.Sam Messam 74?), 9.Robbie Younis, 10.Franco Parisi (16.Chris James 88?)
Substitutes Not Used: 40.Terry Dalbroi, 17.Matthew Fsadni, 15.David Dascal
Yellow Cards: Hartshorn 81?, Parisi 83?
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Adem Kir (RCS)
2 – John Kelso (ALT)
1 – David D?Apuzzo (ALT)
-By Joe Russo
Forced to play almost the entire second-half with a man down following Adem Kir?s second yellow card, the Suns went for broke, attacking Blacktown City meanwhile keeping a well-balanced, well-organised, defensive third intact.
The opening chance fell to the visitor?s via a set-piece swung in by Lachlan Cahill on the right-flank in the 3? minute. The midfielder?s effort was headed on by Mitchell Long though the ensuing scramble in the Suns penalty-area failed to reap reward for Blacktown City FC as the Suns cleared the ball to safety.
Tyler Simpson?s back pass to Luka Dukic had the visitors in a scramble as Marino Musumeci quickly closed in, though the Blacktown City defenders efficiently brought calm to the situation.
At the other end, Luke Roodenburg and Mitchell Long combined nicely for the latter to drive an effort on target. The striker?s first-time effort flashed inches wide of Ben McNamara?s right-hand post.
Domenic Hudap?s brilliance in the middle of the park set Stefan Donevski free on the counter-attack on 17? minutes for the Suns. Despite the room on the left-flank for the former Marconi Stallions? player, his ?square pass? into the penalty-area failed to pick out a teammate and the chance went begging.
Lachlan Cahill then stung the palms of Ben McNamara with his long-range drive; the Suns shot-stopper did exceptionally well to divert the ball around his left-hand post.
The home-side held their own in the middle of the park and continued to pressure Blacktown City with Peter Apolevski and Musumeci combining well on the half-hour to get in behind the visitors defence ? the final pass though was always missing.
Blacktown City?s best chances in the closing stages of the half arrived via set-pieces, though both efforts by Cahill and Mirko Jurilj failed to trouble the Suns defensive line.
Suns goalkeeper McNamara ensured the scores would remain level at the break when he bravely left his line to anticipate Luke Austin?s run-in on goal with a brave save at the midfielder?s feet.
The second-half started in the worst possible way for the home-side as Adem Kir was shown his second yellow card for the afternoon following a late challenge on Cahill. The referee had no choice but to send the Suns? defender from the field, leaving the Suns to fend with 10-men for the remaining 40? minutes.
Blacktown City quickly put the foot on the accelerator with a fine counter-attacking move moments later. Joel Chianese was picked out on the right-flank before delivering a tantalising cross into the penalty-area. Skipper Luke Roodenburg only just failed to get his head to the ball with the goal at his mercy.
Roodenburg did get his head to a Lachlan Cahill cross 2? minutes later, though his effort was easily dealt with by McNamara.
Despite the possession all with the visitors, Hudap did capitalise on a loose ball from Mirko Jurilj to create some space in the attacking third. Hudap closed in on the penalty-area before unleashing a ferocious low-drive on target, denied by a fine save, down to his left, by Matt Ryan.
The Suns again hit Blacktown City on the counter-attack as Hudap released target-man Sam Awad free down the right-flank. Awad cleverly awaited the run of Apolevski before releasing his captain into the penalty-area, Apolevski?s lunging effort hit the target, though was a routine save for Ryan in the Blacktown City goal.
Despite the numerical advantage, the visitors were limited in the attacking third due to the well-organised Suns defence. Joel Chianese though, in the 65? minute, dribbled his way through to goal. The youngster cleverly dispossessed Askin Oygur on the edge of the penalty-area before rounding McNamara in the Suns goal. With the goal at his mercy, albeit from an acute angle, Chianese drove his effort into the side-netting.
New signing Almir Dizdaric almost got his name on the scoresheet with his first touch as a Suns player in the 80? minute. The lanky striker latched onto a loose ball, though with his first-time volley failed to hit the target.
Moments later, Jeffrey Issa, with his back to goal and only the goalkeeper to beat, failed to slot home from close-range with his shot on the turn. Much to the disbelief of the home supporters, the chance went begging as the Suns were forced to again retreat in defence to combat the constant threat of Blacktown City attacks.
Blacktown City?s quick ball movement in the Suns half failed to hurt Rockdale City as the defenders got behind the ball to frustrate Ozbey and Co. At the other end, another Suns counter-attack saw Apolevski released on the right side of the penalty-area. The captain?s powerful effort on goal looked destined for the top corner, though only just finished wide of the mark.
In the 88? minute, Kain Rastall was on the edge of the penalty-area to pick up a loose ball for the visitors, though his powerful drive thumped against the body of a Suns defender and the attacking raid evaporated.
The Suns players were applauded by their home supporters as they left the field, a sentiment echoed by team boss, Mile Todoroski:
?I am very proud of my players today because they did a very good job.
?Today, I would say we played better than Inter against Barcelona? We remained organised, and we still created some chances even with 10-men, and I am proud for the achievements of the players, even though maybe we could have got something more from the match,? ended Todoroski.
Blacktown City FC boss Aytek Genc was far from impressed with his side?s showing:
?Very disappointed, it is an awful result today.
?The conditions were tough, though we just failed to move the ball quickly enough in the final third. Rockdale is a defensive side and they closed up well, though we were too slow with the ball movement and the players need to take a good look at themselves with this showing.
?The last few results have been far from good, though a lot of these sides we have played against have limited us from playing football with their approach, though we need to be better than this,? Genc ended.
In the Grade 20 division, Blacktown City FC defeated the Rockdale City Suns 3-1 with all goals arriving in an action-packed second-half.
Rockdale City Suns 0
Blacktown City FC 0
Sunday, 30th May, 2010
Bicentennial Park South, Rockdale
Referee: Peter Vrtkovski
Assistant Referees: Nick Backo and Paul Faithfull
Fourth Official: Matt Colquhon
Rockdale City Suns: 1.Ben McNamara; 2.Paul Dee, 7.Peter Apolevski (C), 8.Dominic Hudap, 11.Adem Kir, 12.Stefan Donevski (5.Jeffrey Issa 71?), 16.Steven Bozinovski, 18.Robert Di Meglio, 19.Marino Musumeci (6.Joshua Lawson 55?), 21.Sam Awad (3.Almir Dizdaric 76?), 23.Askin Oygur
Substitutes Not Used: 15.Daniel Pejovski, 22.Chad Taylor
Yellow Cards: Adem Kir 34?, 49?, Robert Di Meglio 37?
Red Cards: Adem Kir 49?
Blacktown City FC: 20.Matt Ryan; 2.Tyler Simpson (3.Daniel Wilkinson 68?), 4.Mirko Jurilj, 5.Luka Dukic, 7.Luke Roodenburg (C) (16.Ante Deur 83?), 9.Kain Rastall, 11.Mitchell Long, 13.Lachlan Cahill (19.Tolgay Ozbey 63?), 17.Joel Chianese, 18.Travis Major, 23.Luke Austin
Substitutes Not Used: 1.Matt Nemes, 12.Bernie Ibini
Yellow Cards: Luke Roodenburg 32?, Mitchell Long 34?, Travis Major 77?
Red Cards: Nil
-By Joseph Carlucci
This top of the table clash started with the home-side dominant as Tolgay Ozbey and Mitchell Long were the spark for some good early half chances. With Bonnyrigg yet to get settled Ozbey setup Luke Roodenberg whose effort at the ball was poor and easily dealt with by the White Eagles defence.
For Roodenberg it was his 150th match with Blacktown, a feat team-mate Kain Rastall achieved just four games previously.
Where Bonnyrigg were dangerous was on their left-hand flank through David Gullo who was constantly turning Matt Pressello around in the first-half. In the 9? minute his run ended when he played a cross in but Brad Boardman could only flick the ball on with his ankle and the chance amounted to nothing.
However, at this point, the game was still virtually all Blacktown, and in the 10? minute Long broke through to get a shot in on goal, though Phil Zabaks saved well at his near post.
It was the last chance for Blacktown for a while as Bonnyrigg came to grips with the game. In the 15? minute Bonnyrigg nearly scored thanks to the surface as a shot from Daniel Severino along the ground took a funny bounce and Michael Herbet, the Blacktown City keeper, had to cover the ball as it shaved the far post.
Moments later, Herbet was beaten as Zac Cairncross tried to clear a dangerous ball but it deflected off him and went over Herbert and bounced off the far post.
On 23? minutes, some world class play by Bonnyrigg as Jamie McMaster engineered a brilliant one-two in the area, though the Blacktown defence responded and shepherded him past the far post.
The 26? minute saw Long pounce on a poor pass by the Bonnyrigg defence. He played it to Roodenberg who tried his luck from distance though was denied by a strong deflection. From resulting corner Roodenberg got a low header to the ball at the near post only for it to be cleared off the line by the defence. The ball came back into the penalty-area and Ozbey back-heeled it goalwards only for Zabaks to respond brilliantly and thwart the opportunity.
Despite possession going Bonnyrigg?s way their chances on goal during this period were few. In-fact, despite holding less of the ball, Blacktown extremely dangerous on the counter-attack.
Tolgey Ozbey had a penalty claim dismissed by the referee on the half hour. It was a tough period of the game for the referee as he had to maintain control as just a minute later Jamie McMaster and Kain Rastall almost came to blows as McMaster pulled Rastall to the ground but was not carded.
On 33? minutes Severino played Daniel Gullo seemingly through on goal but the ball came off the youngster?s knee and Herbert got to the ball first.
Two minutes later, it looked like Brad Boardman would put the visitors in front as he pulled the ball down only metres from goal but as he pulled the trigger Tyler Simpson, playing another strong game in defence with Luka Dukic, got a tackle in on the burly striker to put him off balance and fire his effort over the crossbar.
The ball then went up the other end of the field and Tolgay Ozbey tried beating his markers, Wade Oostendorp and Vuko Tomasevic, only to be crunched between them. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and Ozbey got up and smashed the ball in with a fierce shot to send Blacktown City ahead.
Again in the 40? minute, the surface nearly came to Bonnyrigg?s aid as Daniel Severino departed from his usual free-kicks to put one along the ground that bounced off the surface and Herbert had to pull off a fingertip save.
Then Ozbey almost scored again, denied by a brilliant save once more from Zabaks, with Ante Deur unable to get to the rebound before the ball went out for a corner.
Moments prior to the break, Boardman was tripped just outside the area but Bonnyrigg?s Severino was unable to produce one of his famous free-kicks, and the dead ball play came to nothing.
Just before half-time a Milorad Simonovic run saw the ball end up eventually with McMaster who put a great shot just the wrong side of the near post.
Following the break, as the patrons were taking their seat after the break, Long and Ozbey combined only for Zabaks to shut the play down at the near post with a point-blank save.
In the moments that ensued Blacktown City lost their composure but again Bonnyrigg could not convert good play into shots on target. It was to be costly on 53? minutes as Mitchell Long doubled his side?s lead. Ozbey played the ball through to Long who flicked it on with his toes, over Zabaks, and into the back of the net.
Kain Rastall nearly put the result beyond doubt for the home-side as he ran through the midfield and ended up in the penalty-area. As he came to the last defender he shot and the ball curled magnificently but only onto the crossbar.
Still Bonnyrigg did not give up and on the hour McMaster fired the ball over the target after good lead-up play.
Four minutes later Shane Webb played the ball to Simonovic who also fired the ball over the crossbar with a powerful effort. Then it was Blacktown?s turn to sacrifice chances. First Ozbey could not beat Zabaks one-on-one, and then Mitchell Long made a terrific run right through the centre of the park only to be tackled by Gullo who ran twenty-five metres to make the challenge in the area when everyone else had seemingly given up.
In the 69? minute Cairncross was red carded and this gave Bonnyrigg added life, but still they could not score as Blacktown kept their shape behind the ball.
Blacktown had a great substitute of their own as Joel Chianese sparked the side once he entered the fray. In the end though there were no more goals on this day. The closest final chance went to Tomasevic who fired the ball from midfield and Herbert had to reach for the ball at full stretch.
Following the final whistle, Bonnyrigg White Eagles boss Brian Brown was upset his side had not taken their opportunites:
?We had enough chances and did not take them. Blacktown took their few chances. They counter-attacked us well today. We just did not move the ball quick enough. We can?t give away goals like the second one and expect to get points from the game.?
Aytec Genc was extremely pleased with the result:
?We started well today and put pressure on them early. They had a couple of good chances and then so did we, only to be denied by world class saves from Zabaks.
?In the second-half we also came out positively and scored our second goal and then the chances came our way. On the balance of chances we deserved to win today but we played a top class team and are very excited to come away with a positive result against such a great team. The match was a credit to both sides.?
In the earlier Grade-20?s match Bonnyrigg came from 2-0 down to draw level, only to immediately leak another goal and lose 3-2 to Blacktown City.
Blacktown City 2 (Ozbey 36? pen Long 53?)
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 0
Sunday, 11th April, 2010
Lily Homes Stadium, Seven Hills
Referee: Peter VRTKOVSKI
Assistant Referees: Scott EDELING and Gareth ASKHAM
Fourth Official: Chris WELLS
Blacktown City FC: 1.Michael HERBET; 2.Tyler SIMPSON, 5.Luka DUKIC, 6.Matt PRESSELLO (18.Travis MAJOR 75?), 7.Luke ROODENBERG, 11.Mitchell LONG, 22.Zac CAIRNCROSS, 19.Tolgay OZBEY, 13.Lachlan CAHILL, 9.Kain RASTALL (10.Jordan SIMPSON 65?), 16.Ante DEUR (17.Joel CHIANESE 81?)
Substitutes Not Used: 40Matt RYAN, 35.Bernie IBINI
Yellow Cards: Pressello 14?, Rastall 30?, Roodenberg 41?
Red Cards: Cairncross 69?
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 99.Phillip ZABAKS; 7.Nikola ZONJIC, 20.Wade OOSTENDORP, 6.Vuko TOMASEVIC, 4.Michael BROWN, 19.Jamie MCMASTER, 8.Milorad SIMONOVIC (2.Paul COTTE 74?), 11.Shane WEBB, 10.Daniel SEVERINO (13.Juan CHAVEZ 58?), 9.Bradley BOARDMAN (15.Nathan ELASI 58?), 17.David GULLO
Substitutes Not Used: 1.Ali AKBAL, 5.Milan ZORIC
Yellow Cards: Elasi 84?
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Mitchell Long (BC)
2 – David Gullo (BWE)
1 – Jamie McMaster (BWE)
-By Stuart Jones