A star performance from Panny Nikas has guided Sydney United 58 to a 2-1 PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s win against Sydney FC who made them work for all three points at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday.
United 58 took the ascendancy early and never looked back as they kept the young Sky Blues’ keeper busy with efforts throughout.
Nikas was in trademark devastating form and gave the home side the lead on the cusp of halftime before Chris Payne wrapped up the result for United 58 midway through the second stanza.
Sydney FC had three players backing up from a friendly against Arsenal midweek and it showed with the visitors making a slow start to the contest. However, a goal to John Iredale was no more than a consolation with United holding firm.
The game started according to plan for the United, when striker Chris Payne got in behind and forced a sharp save from Howard-Belle.
Payne was proving to be a handful to the young Sydney defence with another couple of chances falling the way of the striker.
He failed to control a cross which split open the Sydney defence and ended up scuffing an acrobatic effort before he was put through only to miss-hit another.
Just when it was looking like the visitors had survived, Nikas stepped up launching a stunning effort from inside the centre-circle which left Howard-Belle hopeless.
The hosts continued their dominance after the break. A Matt Sim free kick made sure the keeper was on his toes deflecting nearly into the bottom corner.
However, the shot stopper couldn’t keep the opposition out much longer when an attempted bicycle kick from Nikas fell at the feet of Chris Payne in a crowded penalty area. The striker wasn’t going to miss and obliged to put the ball into the back of the net.
Stanton’s side wasn’t going to lie down without a fight and out of nowhere they dragged themselves back into the contest when Chris Zuvela mazed his way through the United defence.
He then unselfishly squared it to Iredale who calmly put the ball into the back of the net.
They nearly brought themselves level right before full time when a set piece bounced around the box only to be cleared off the line. It wasn’t to be and the hosts survived to claim a valuable win.
Nikas was happy with the win.
“They played well, we adjusted and displayed a good attitude to claim the 3 points,” he said.
“Another one to collection, just happy it contributed to the win.”
Sydney FC coach Rob Stanton was proud of his team.
“It was an arm-wrestle early on, we were unlucky to cop that goal after controlling much of the play,” he said.
“It’s been a loaded week and they did themselves proud, a very good performance.”
Sydney United 58 FC: 2 (Nikas 43’, Payne 60’)
Sydney FC 1 (Iredale 72’)
Sunday 16th July 2017
Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park
Referee: S. Lucas
Assistant Referees: L. Greenshields & A. Hosnani
Fourth Official: J. Casey
Sydney United 58: 21. Thomas Manos, 3. Michael Neil, 5. Anthony Tomelic, 8. Matthew Sim, 11. Yianni Perkatis (18. Glen Trifiro 87’), 14. Nick Stavroulakis, 17. Matthew Bilic, 20. Peter Markovic, 23. Panagotis Nikas, 32. Nicholas Olsen, 66. Christopher Payne (9. Adrian Vranic 82’)
Substitutes Not Used: 28. Anthony Vrlic, 30. Lucas Pervan, Nathan Bertolissio
Sydney FC: 20. Thomas Howard-Belle, 2. Brendan Curtis, 3. Patrick Flottman, 5. Matthew Green, 6. Nicola Kuleski, 8. Juan Zapata, 14. Leonardo Malfara, 16. Sam Mcillhatton 17. Chris Zuvela , 19. John Iredale (18. Jerry Skotadis 86’), 21. Andreas Agamemnonos
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Duro Dragicevic, 22. Cooper Coskerie, 38. Perry Thomas, 39. Jack Stewart.
-By Justin Smith, PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Reporter