A Joey Gibbs double helped Blacktown City maintain their lead at the top after the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition with a 3-1 win against Sydney FC at Lily’s Football Centre on Sunday afternoon.
Gibbs opened the scoring early on after steering home a simple tap in and claimed his brace and Blacktown’s third five minutes into the second half with a similarly easy finish at the back post.
Sydney FC had earlier restored parity midway through the first half thanks to a superb Charles Lokolingoy effort but a Mitch Mallia strike on the cusp of half time proved a crucial blow to the Sky Blues who were unable to prevent the hosts from a fifth consecutive win.
Robert Stanton’s side enjoyed decent spells throughout the match against a heavily rotated Blacktown City outfit but were undone by the ruthlessness of City’s forwards with Mallia and Gibbs in particularly lethal form.
The pair combined for the first goal of the match after Liam McGing was robbed inside his own penalty area by Mallia who slid the ball to an unmarked Gibbs to bury his eighth goal of the campaign.
It had otherwise been a promising start for Sydney FC and the Sky Blues equalized with the standout moment of the encounter when a Juan Zapata-led counter attack ended with a deadly curling strike from front man Lokolingoy.
The visitors could have snatched the lead moments later when Patrick Flottman met Cristian Gonzalez corner but the defender flicked his header over the bar.
It proved a costly miss for the Sky Blues with Mallia restoring Blacktown’s advantage on the cusp of half time after a well-placed effort from outside the box curled past Sydney gloveman Thomas Heward-Belle.
Mark Crittenden introduced James Andrew shortly after the interval and the City speedster immediately forced Heward-Belle into a smart stop at the near post before playing a crucial role in Blacktown’s third.
Andrew released Giorgio Speranza inside the box and the fullback’s cutback was slammed home at the back post by Gibbs.
Sydney held plenty of possession after Gibbs’ second but were unable to carve a way through the City rearguard, although Tristan Prendergast did make an excellent save to parry a sweetly-struck Gonzalez free kick.
Mallia also enjoyed two late chances to grab a double but saw both efforts fly past the post, while Peter Cejka was denied his first goal for Blacktown late on with Heward-Belle producing a good reaction stop from close range.
Blacktown City manager Mark Crittenden praised the competition leaders for a smart performance following the encounter but said the premiership race remains wide open.
“APIA is there, Sydney Olympic are still there – there are a lot of good sides in this league and it only takes a couple of slip ups and for someone else to go on a bit of a run and things can change really quickly,” he said.
“We made a lot of changes again today but the boys are working hard and we had a good work ethic. The boys deserve a lot of credit.”
Blacktown City host premiership rivals APIA Leichhardt in the Waratah Cup semi-final on Wednesday evening before continuing their title assault with a visit to struggling Parramatta on Sunday.
Blacktown City 3 (Gibbs 15’, 51’, Mallia 45+2’)
Sydney FC 1 (Lokolingoy 25’)
Sunday 25th June 2017
Lily’s Football Centre, Seven Hills
Blacktown City: 8. Daniel Araujo, 17. Lewis Beumie, 21. Bo Hyun Chun (12. James Andrew 48’), 10. Connor Evans, 9. Joey Gibbs (23. Peter Cejka 75’), 5. Grant Lynch, 14. Mitchell Mallia (22. Yuta Konagaya 81’), 1. Tristan Prendergast, 16. Mark Rodic, 3. Giorgio Speranza, 4. Roberto Speranza
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Tomislav Rodic
Yellow Cards: Andrew 79’, R. Speranza 84’, Araujo 90’
Red Cards: N/A
Sydney FC: 21. Andreas Agamemnonos, 2. Brendan Curtis, 3. Patrick Flottmann, 14. Cristian Gonzalez (38. Leo Malfara 85’), 20. Thomas Heward-Belle, 6. Nicola Kuleski, 12. Charles Lokolingoy (18. Finn Ballard-Mcbride 62’), 7. Daniel Maskin (22. John Iredale 75’), 39. Liam Mcging, 16. Sam Mcillhatton, 8. Juan Zapata
Substitutes Not Used: 11. Christopher Arditti, 1. Mitchell Evans
Yellow Cards: Gonzalez 34’
Red Cards: N/A
-By PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Jacob Windon