MANLY United showed they are a genuine PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition title contender after beating league leaders Blacktown City FC 2-1 on Saturday night at Cromer Park.
A brace from Dejan Pandurevic landed the hosts three points and also sent out an ominous warning to their rivals.
The away side started the contest on top, with a drive from distance via the boot of James Andrew trickling wide on three minutes.
With five minutes played Blacktown City FC took the lead thanks to striker Joey Gibbs.
The Manly United junior, who was the Lucas Neill Scholarship winner in 2008, stepped up to take a free kick.
Dylan Mitchell in the Manly goal look to have the effort covered from 25 yards, only to look on helplessly as Gibbs’ effort found the back of the net aided by a deflection.
United recovered from the early setback and soon began to stamp their class on the encounter.
Seventeen minutes in Sam Wilson almost equalised for the hosts, but he volleyed just wide of the target.
Against the run of play on 38 minutes Zac Cairncross was a whisker away from doubling Blacktown City’s advantage.
The one time Sydney FC defender unleashed a cracking strike from 30 yards which flashed past the far post with Mitchell beaten.
Manly coach Warren Grieve encouraged his team not to panic at the break, stressing chances would fall their way.
They were prophetic words after Pandurevic squared proceedings on 48 minutes.
Captain Jamie Lobb sent in a pinpoint cross from the left and Pandurevic headed home from point blank range.
On 56 minutes United hit the crossbar following a goal mouth scramble and you got the impression it wouldn’t be long before they went in front.
Just after the hour mark Blacktown still showed they were up for the challenge thanks to Roberto Speranza.
The wingback fired in a great ball from the right, but his teammates were on their heels, and the chance went begging.
Connor Evans next went close for the away side, with his surging run resulting in a drive which Mitchell parried to safety after 71 minutes.
Seconds later Manly left wingback Wilson teed up substitute Josh Sama, but his poor first touch saw any chance of a goal quickly evaporate.
On 80′ minutes Pandurevic prodded home United’s winner.
A great ball from the byline via Kieren Paull found the one time Central Coast Mariners attacking midfielder unmarked on the six yard box.
He lashed home, leaving Tristan Prendergast no chance in the Blacktown goal.
Nikola Taneski almost hit Manly’s third goal after being fed by Sama on 86 minutes, but after twisting and turning past a number of defenders his effort skewed wide of the target.
Peter Cejka had a chance at the death to nab a point for Mark Crittenden’s men, but his header looped over the crossbar.
Manly skipper Lobb praised the performance from his team at fulltime.
“I thought we dominated the game, apart from the opening ten minutes,” he said.
“Blacktown are a quality team, they keep asking questions.
“Overall we answered them pretty comfortably and deserved the win.”
Joey Gibbs is confident Blacktown City can bounce back next weekend.
“We were a little off and had a few guys out, but no excuses, we knew what to expect from Manly,” he said.
“On another day we would have nicked a point or even won it.
“We will regroup and focus on our next game.”
Manly United: 2 (Dejan Pandurevic 48′, 80′)
Blacktown City FC: 1 (Joey Gibbs 5′)
Saturday July 22, 2017
Assistant referees: K.Robinson, R.Osborne
Fourth official: J.Casey
Manly United: 1.Dylan MITCHELL, 10.Brendan CHOLAKIAN, 12.Leigh EGGER, 6.Dom FERGUSON, 3.Jamie LOBB, 9.Dylan MACALLISTER, (15.Marco SAMA 55′) 8.Sasa MACURA, 4.Travis OUGHTRED, 14.Dejan PANDUREVIC, 2.Kieren PAULL, 17.Sam WILSON (11.Nikola TANESKI 72′)
Substitutes not used: 7.Scott BALDERSON, 20.Shaun CATLIN
Yellow cards: Ferguson 61′, Paull 62′
Red cards: Nil
Blacktown City FC: 1.Tristan PRENDERGAST, 12.James ANDREW, (23. Peter CEJKA 58′) 19.Zac CAIRNCROSS, 10.Connor EVANS, 9.Joey GIBBS, 22.Yuta KONAGAYA, (17.Lewis BEUMIE 84′) 6.Mat LEWIS, 5.Grant LYNCH, 16.Mark RODIC, 3.Giorgio SPERANZA, (21.Ken CHUN 82′) 4.Roberto SPERANZA
Substitutes not used: 20.Tomi ROMIC
Yellow cards: Rodic 74′, R Speranza 83′
Red cards: Nil