Sydney United 58 trumped by Murray double
A first half brace from Jordan Murray has helped APIA Leichhardt Tigers come from behind to usurp Sydney United 58 2-1 in a tight contest at Sydney United Sports Centre.
The visitors conceded an early goal when former APIA Leichhardt Tigers star Nicholas Olsen opened the scoring against his old club inside five minutes but a quick-fire first half brace from Jordan Murray, who had earlier seen a penalty saved by Thomas Manos, set the visitors up for a crucial away victory in the opening round of the season.
Although they got off to a flying start, Sydney United 58 struggled for the majority of the contest. A well-disciplined and energetic APIA Leichhardt outfit did well to negate the threat of Panny Nikas and with club captain Nick Stavroulakis absent in midfield the Reds were not at their well-oiled best in possession.
Matt Sim was meanwhile employed as the central striker by Davor Bajsic in his first match back in the PS4 NPL NSW Men’s competition since 2014 and the former Manly United and Sutherland Sharks man was starved of any genuine service and eventually replaced by Adrian Vranic late on.
The new United 58 gaffer Bajsic could not have dreamt of a better start to his tenure as Reds’ first grade manager when Olsen met a Nikas’ corner with a thunderous volley at the back post inside five minutes.
Olsen’s opener set the tone for the hosts, who looked threatening early on, but their momentum was scuppered when APIA were awarded a penalty out of the blue midway through the first half. Defender Petar Markovic handled the ball inside his own area under pressure from Tasuku Sekiya.
Jordan Murray stepped up to the spot for the visitors but a tame and unconvincing strike was comfortably parried away to safety by Thomas Manos to preserve the lead.
However, the APIA marksman did not need to wait long to atone for his mistake.
A piece of typically mesmeric footwork on the edge of the box from Sekiya ended with the Japanese midfielder’s deflected effort being tipped onto the post by Manos. However, it wasn't the get out of jail card Sydney United 58 were hoping for as Murray was there to bundle the ball over the line and restore parity for Danial Cummins’ APIA side.
If there was element of good fortune about Murray’s equalizer there were no doubts over his second. The forward clinched a first-half brace courtesy of a masterfully flicked header from Sean Symons’ corner.
Although they were on the back foot for much of the game’s opening, APIA had fought back convincingly and thoroughly merited their lead. The visitors continued to dominate proceedings in the second stanza and should have increased their advantage moments into the half when Symons pounced on a United 58 error, but the winger lashed his left footed effort wide with only Manos to beat.
Surprisingly, the hosts were unable to muster much of a reply and failed to give new gloveman Luke Turnbull a proper test in the APIA goal. Olsen, a bright spark on debut for United 58, saw a well struck effort from the left pushed out for a corner, while Turnbull was also equal to Glen Trifrio’s low drive as the Reds searched fruitlessly for an equalizer.
As Sydney United 58 continued to push forward, APIA had several opportunities to nail a match sealing third but were unable to capitalize. However, Cummin’s side proved too canny for the reigning Premiers and coasted to a priceless three points with relative ease.
Cummins was pleased with what he heralded as the beginning of a new era for APIA Leichhardt.
“This is a different APIA team to what we’ve seen over the past few years,” he said.
“We had been training for this for the last 12 weeks, we’ve got a fantastic attitude and had a really good pre-season.
“I’m a little bit disappointed with our finishing but at the end of the day when you come to Edensor Park and get three points you can’t complain too much.
“But obviously today’s result means nothing if we don’t follow it up next week.”
While in the home dressing sheds, a visibly disappointed Yianni Fragogiannis stated that the team needed to forget the result and look towards achieving a positive reaction from the entire team in next Sunday’s blockbuster against Rockdale City Suns at Rockdale.
“Credit to APIA, they were well structured, worked hard and got the result they needed.
“We were a bit lethargic and felt that we were one step too late to things so we are eager in putting this first round match behind us and getting a positive reaction from the squad against the Suns and kick on from there.”
Sydney United 58 1 (Olsen 5’)
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 2 (Murray 30’, 41’)
Sunday 12th March 2017, Sydney United Sports Centre
Referee: Craig Fisher
Assistant Referees: Janush Adjassou & Matt Reidy
Fourth Official: Bradley Wright
Sydney United 58: 22. Yianni Fragogiannis, 21. Thomas Manos, 20. Petar Markovic (17. Matthew Bilic 75’), 23. Panagiotis Nikas, 32. Nicholas Olsen (11. Ante Tomic 84’), 7. Yutaro Shin, 8. Matthew Sim (9. Adrian Vranic 80’), 18. Glen Trifrio, 6. Tomislav Uskok, 5. Anthony Tomelic, 3. Riley Woodcock
Substitutes Not Used: 30. Luke Babic, 16. Stjepan Paric
Yellow Cards: 6. Tomislav Uskok 9’, 18. Glen Trifrio 67’, 3. Riley Woodcock 70’
Red Cards: N/A
APIA Leichhardt Tigers:, 13. David D’Apuzzo, 3. Paul Galimi, 22. Brandon Lundy, 2. Nathan Millgate, 11. Jordan Murray (10. Franco Parisi 85’), 20. Tasuku Sekiya, 16. Sean Symons, 92. Luke Turnbull (GK), 18. Adrian Ucchino (12. Dominic Cox 72’), 17. Adrian Vlastelica (8. Corey Biczo 81’)
Substitutes Not Used: 5. Bradley Bartels, 15. Themba Muata-Marlow, 1. Blake Tuxford (GK)
Yellow Cards: 18. Adrian Ucchino 59’, 3. Paul Galimi 71’
Red Cards: N/A
3 - Tasuku Sekiya (APIA)
2 - Jordan Murray (APIA)
1 – Thomas Manos (SU)
-By Football NSW reporter Jacob Windon