Manly United has ended their 22 year PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Championship drought after an incredible penalty shootout win against APIA Leichhardt Tigers at Leichhardt Oval in front of over 3,500 spectators.
Manly United shot stopper Dylan Mitchell played the game of his life making save after save to maintain an incredible clean sheet with the match scoreless after extra-time.
Mitchell then made two clutch saves to give his side a 4-3 shootout win securing the boys from the Northern Beaches their first grand final win since 1995.
Despite the lack of goals, both sides had their fair share of chances in a game which was balanced on a knife’s edge from the opening whistle.
Mitchell and APIA goalkeeper Ivan Necevski were unbeatable in a game which also included five goal line clearances.
It was a heartbreaking way to lose for APIA who delivered a performance worthy of a winners medal.
However, it was Manly who held their nerve at the death to clinch the historic result.
With potential grand final glory on the horizon, both sides were a little cagey to open the match.
The first real match of the game came in the seventh minute courtesy of a Manly free kick.
Dejan Pandurevic fired a curling effort from the edge of the 18-yard box which sailed only inches over the crossbar.
It was APIA’s turn only moments later but Jordan Murray’s effort was easily saved by Dylan Mitchell.
Murray’s energetic display in the opening stages troubled the Manly defence and he nearly capitalised in the 17th minute.
The striker was unable to connect his header after Mitchell struggled to contain a looping high ball into the box.
The match was evenly balanced with neither side dominating proceedings.
In the 25th minute Manly’s Leigh Oughtred unleashed a powerful volley from the edge of the penalty area but it was saved by Necevski.
An incredible display of desperation defence from APIA stopped what appeared a sure Manly goal in the 38th minute.
A Leigh Egger header was cleared by Josh Symons back to the Manly defender whose powerful volley was cleared off the line by an Adrian Ucchino diving header.
It was a narrow escape for the Tigers who ensured both teams remained scoreless at the half time break.
Manly raced out of the blocks to start the second stanza with Cholakian firing narrowly wide of the post.
APIA had two great chances in the 50th minute, firstly a free kick from Ucchino troubled Mitchell in the Manly goal before an audacious bicycle kick from Murray sailed wide.
Tigers coach Danial Cummins introduced mercurial playmaker Franco Parisi into the fold in the 62nd minute to unlock a solid Manly defence.
The addition of Parisi may have bolstered APIA’s attack but it wasn’t able to help their defence.
It took an incredible acrobatic save from Necevski to deny a point-blank header from Dylan Macallister in the 72nd minute.
Manly was pushing forward desperate for a goal and Cholakian was unlucky not to score moments later when he made a mazy run down the western sideline before firing into an APIA defender.
United had another shot cleared off the line in the 78th minute. Nikola Taneski fired a rasping shot from 10 yards out which hit the inside of the upright before being cleared off the line by Josh Symons.
In the 87th minute Neceveski made another incredible save, this time denying Sasa Mcura who fired a dipping shot from 18 yards out.
APIA hit back on the counter attack in the dying seconds of regular time when Sekiya ran onto a through ball from Millgate but was denied by an onrushing Mitchell.
Unable to break the deadlock after 90 minutes, the game was destined for extra time.
After enduring an onslaught of Manly attacks at the end of the second half, APIA didn’t hold back at the start of extra time.
APIA thought they had taken the lead in the 91st minute when Sekiya found space inside the penalty area. However, Mitchell was up to the task first denying Sekiya and then scrambling to stop Bizco’s follow up shot.
Mitchell was called into action moments later when at full stretch his diving save blocked David D’Apuzzo’s low and powerful shot from outside the box.
Matthew West thought he gave APIA the lead in the 99th minute when his curling free kick had the goalkeeper beaten. However, Manly defender Kieran Paull managed to clear the ball off the line.
APIA couldn’t find a way past Mitchell and the Manly shot stopper pulled off yet another miraculous save in the 114th minute to first deny West and then a follow-up shot.
Mitchell was playing the game of his life, but it nearly came unstuck in the 117th minute.
A cross into the box was fumbled by the gloveman into the path of West, but Mitchell scrambled and made an unorthodox by desperation save to stop the ball crossing the line.
APIA and Manly traded blows in the final seconds of extra time, but this match was destined for penalties as Referee Kurt Ams blew his whistle to end extra time.
Mitchell was in career best form and stepped up once again during the shootout to help Manly clinch success they craved.
Manly United Coach Warren Grieve was ecstatic after the match praising his determined troops.
“We knew we were on top. When the game went to extra time we could tell APIA were struggling to keep up with the game. Our boys stood up when it mattered most.
“It is a testament to everyone involved in the club. All of our coaching staff has worked together to prepare the players for whatever challenges they face on the pitch. The players have given their all to prepare for this moment and it showed today.
“To win today is epic for this club. This win isn’t about just this season. We have been a sleeping giant for a long time and now we have shown what Manly Warringah football is capable of.”
A solemn Danial Cummins was contemplating on what could have been for the 2017 Premiers.
“I’m absolutely speechless. I really feel for the boys. They played very well tonight and didn’t deserve to lose,” he said.
“It is a difficult way to lose a grand final but all credit to Manly they brought it to us today.
“We will bounce back from this result. We are a young side and they boys have plenty of resilience.
“Next week we have our clash with Adelaide City in the PS4 NPL Finals Series in South Australia so I’m confident as a team we can learn from this result and get stronger.”
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC: 0
Manly United FC: 0
Manly United won 4-3 on penalties after extra time finished 0-0
Sunday, September 10 2017
Leichhardt Oval, Lilyfield
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referees: Matthew McOrist & Janush Adabjou
Fourth Offical: Kris Griffiths-Jones
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 1. Ivan Necevski, 2. Nathan Milgate, 4. Josh Symons, 8. Corey Bizco (7. Dominic Cox 105’), 11. Jordan Murray (10. Franco Parisi 62’), 13. David D’Apuzzo, 15. Themba Muata-Marlow, 16. Sean Symons 18. Adrian Ucchino (9. Matthew West 81’), 19 Brandon Lundy, 20. Tasuku Sekiya
Substitutes not used:17. Adrian Vlastelica, 22. Luke Turnbull.
Yellow Cards: Muata-Marlow 45’, D’Apuzzo 60’, Parisi 65’, S Symons 115’, Necevski 120’
Manly United: 1. Dylan Mitchell, 2. Kieran Paull, 3. Jamie Lobb, 4. Travis Oughtred, 6. Dominic Ferguson, 8. Sasa Macura, 9. Dylan Macallister (15. Marco Sama 82’), 10 Brendan Cholakian, 12. Leigh Egger, 13. Scott Balderson (11. Nikola Taneski 67’), 14. Dejan Pandurevic (17. Sam Wilson 105’)
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Shaun Catlin, 21. Joseph Fox
Yellow Cards: Balderson, Macallister, Sama
APIA Leichhardt Tigers
1. Ivan Necevski: Pulled off a miraculous save to deny a diving header from Dylan Macallister which was destined for the goal in the second half. However, the veteran goalkeeper showed that he still has what it takes to play at this level. 8
2. Nathan Millgate: A mixed performance with the good and the bad thrown in. He was a willing worker all game for APIA. 6.5
4. Joshua Symons: Courageous in defence and best known for a stupendous save off the line in the second half. Never caught unaware. A performance that he could be proud of but did miss a penalty in the shoot-out to blot his copy. 8
8. Corey Biczo: As tough as nails and a workman-like performance. The quiet achiever of the APIA team and was a reliable presence until substituted late in extra time. 6.5
11. Jordan Murray: Dangerous in attack, tried even the spectacular and ran hard all day before being substituted by Franco Parisi. 7
13. David D’Apuzzo: A thorn in Manly’s side all day. Strong and visionary and even managed to test Dylan Mitchell in the Manly goal. 7
15. Themba Muata- Marlow: Tough in defence but sometimes just a bit too eager. Played the ball out nicely but not given too many opportunities to shine except for an excellent penalty in the shoot-out. 6.5
16. Sean Symons: Created problems and had many efforts directed towards goal. Mostly effective but he would have definitely liked to have converted some more than he did. 7
18. Adrian Ucchino: Made a desperate save in defence off the line in the first half and had a deflected free kick go just wide in the second. The general of the APIA team that left no stone untouched until he was substituted. 7
19. Brandon Lundy: A danger on the left flank for Manly defenders in attack and made the left side of the defence his own when required. Didn’t put a foot wrong all game but did miss a penalty in the shoot-out under pressure. 7
20. Tasuku Sekiya: A quiet game by his high standards but was still a focal point for many of APIA attacking raids. 6
10. Franco Parisi: Still plenty of vision left in this old workhorse. Fine touches and a class act. N/A.
9. Matthew West: His best chance was in extra time with a shot off the post. A substitute didn’t get a lot of time to show his wares but did score a good penalty in the shoot-out. N/A
1. Dylan Mitchell: Late in regular time denied Tasuku Sekiya a certain goal when one-on-one and then pulled off a great save early in extra time when the ball somehow stayed out. The ‘somehow’ in reality was all his brilliance. A great performance which earned him the ‘Robbie Slater’ Player of the Match award. 9
2. Kieren Paull: reliable and durable for Manly United. Knew when to drop back and generally did it with some ease but did miss a penalty in the shoot-out. 7
3. Jamie Lobb: Showed his experience when required and put his hand up for plenty of work. Never let Manly United down with anything that he did including a confident penalty in the shoot-out. 7.5
4. Travis Oughtred: Confident and reliable. There was nothing that he was afraid of and certainly put his body on the line for his team. 7.5
6. Dominic Ferguson: Showed some nice touches and didn’t make any mistakes. Played his role correctly with good composure on the ball, including a confident penalty in the shoot-out. 6.5
8. Sasa Macura: Seemed to be everywhere for Manly United. Got back when required and pushed forward as necessary. Rarely beaten one-on-one. A really determined performance and exactly what the coach expected. 8
9. Dylan Macallister: a reliable presence up front and forced Ivan Necevski into a miraculous save. An experience presence that radiated confidence for most of the game. 7
10. Brendan Cholokian: A very busy player for Manly. Skilful and determined and definitely one of the main reasons that Manly United even made the Grand Final. A confident performance all over the park and a confident penalty in the shoot-out. 8.5
12. Leigh Egger: Solid and reliable and had a few chances that could certainly have gone in. Knew his role in the central defensive slot and led a tight ship. 7
13. Scott Balderson: Created havoc for APIA defenders all day before being substituted mid second half. One of the true warriors for Manly United. 7
14. Dejan Pandurevic: Beautiful free-kick in first half that scraped the crossbar. Another in the second half that was well saved. Unmissable with the headgear and played well with some aplomb. 7
11. Nikola Taneski: Came on the second stanza of play, rushed a shot into the side netting and then failed to nail a diagonal one that Joshua Symons saved off the line but did score the winning penalty in the shoot-out. N/A
-By Joe Russo