Manly United sealed a Qualifying Final date with the Rockdale City Suns next weekend after defeating 2016 Champions Blacktown City 2-0 in an excellent Minor Semi-Final showing at Lily’s Football Centre on Saturday evening.
The Cromer Park outfit opened the scoring midway through the opening half through veteran striker Dylan Macallister and added a match-clinching second late on via Marco Sama to put the final nail in Blacktown City’s faltering 2017 PlayStation4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s campaign.
It was a thoroughly merited triumph for Warren Grieve’s side who weathered an early barrage of pressure before seizing control of the match and ultimately cruised to their ninth win in their last 10 matches.
Manly United were eliminated by City at the same venue exactly a year previous but will enter next weekend’s battle with Rockdale City Suns with considerable momentum particularly with the Suns suffering a 5-0 drubbing from APIA Leichhardt in Saturday’s other fixture.
Blacktown City meanwhile will entertain the APIA Leichhardt Tigers in this Tuesday’s Westfield FFA Cup Round of 16 clash at Lily’s with their 2016 championship defence all but over as a result of another off-colour performance.
Mark Crittenden’s men entered the encounter without a win in their last five but started well and saw Joey Gibbs fire several warning shots wide before missing a great chance to open the scoring through a free header at the back post.
City were soon chasing the game when a defensive lapse allowed Macallister to ghost into the box with the striker unleashing a supreme curling effort to hand the visitors the lead.
Only a superb last ditch intervention from Mark Rodic prevented the Manly United forward from claiming a second early in the second half but United saw more chances fall their way as Blacktown pressed more urgently for an equalizing goal.
But Sama, a second half substitution for Scott Balderson, sealed the result and underlined a convincing performance with five minutes remaining after neatly controlling a high ball in the area before tucking the ball underneath City goalkeeper Tristan Prendergast.
Manly United coach Warren Grieve hailed the victory as one of the best he’d witnessed under his tenure as United boss.
“Tonight was probably our best performance – Blacktown City are a great side and have some incredible players with some very good rotations but we set up well to combat these rotations and to get the clean sheet was the most pleasing thing for me.
“We knew from the outset of the season that we were going to be a competitive team and the boys have completely bought into the vision and the philosophy of the club.
“We’ve demonstrated at the end of the season that we’re not just a contender, we have every chance of winning it.”
Blacktown coach Mark Crittenden bemoaned his side’s poor finish to the season but targeted Tuesday’s Westfield FFA Cup fixture against APIA as a source of redemption.
“The most disappointing thing is that over the last month we’ve played some really good football but we’ve given some cheap goals away and we couldn’t afford to let Manly score first tonight.
“It’s a massive disappointment – it’s been a tough year in losing Shayne D’Cunha and Danny Choi early on, we don’t have a big squad at Blacktown City but full credit to the boys, we’ve never stopped trying and that’s the one real positive that we can take away from this.
“I’m proud of everything they’ve done and hopefully we can get one over APIA on Tuesday.”
Blacktown City 0
Manly United 2 (Macallister 36’, Sama 85’)
Saturday 26th of August 2017
Lily’s Football Centre, Seven Hills
Blacktown City: 12. James Andrew (21. Bo Hyun Chun 80’), 8. Daniel Araujo, 10. Connor Evans, 9. Joey Gibbs, 22. Yuta Konagaya (14. Mitch Mallia 52’), 6. Matthew Lewis, 5. Grant Lynch, 1. Tristan Prendergast, 16. Mark Rodic, 3. Giorgio Speranza, 4. Roberto Speranza (23. Pete Cejka 76’)
Substitutes Not Used: 17. Lewis Beumie, 20. Tomislav Romic
Yellow Cards: Araujo 29’, Lynch 85’, Rodic 90’
Red Cards: N/A
Manly United: 13. Scott Balderson (11. Nikola Taneski 57’), 10. Brendan Cholakian, 12. Leigh Egger, 3. Jamie Lobb, 9. Dylan Macallister (15. Marco Sama 70’), 8. Sasa Macura, 1. Dylan Mitchell, 4. Travis Oughtred, 14. Dejan Pandurevic, 2. Kieren Paull, 6. Dominic Ferguson (28. Mitchell Rooke 89’)
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Shaun Catlin, 7. Travis Cooper
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
-By Jacob Windon