Marconi Stallions FC have made a perfect return to the National Premier Leagues NSW with a 1-0 win against local rivals Sydney United 58 FC.
A fourth minute strike from Sean Rooney was the difference as the Stallions held on for the opening round win.
It was a tough result for United 58 who played their first regular season game under incoming coach and former Socceroo Jason Culina.
It didn’t take long for the decisive goal which arrived in the 4th minute when a well-placed corner from Troy Danaskos caused havoc in the box.
Sean Rooney was on hand to fire in from close range as the newly promoted Stallions celebrated their first goal back in the big time after an absence of three years.
Marconi should have made it two in the 13th minute when a Rooney cross from the by-line reached Judah Cleur unmarked at the far post, but unfortunately for the Stallions he failed to control the chest-height ball and the chance vanished.
Sydney United 58’s best chance arrived three minutes later when Chris Payne played the ball over to Naim Rahimi who delightfully found Panny Nikas, but his rocket from just outside the box was superbly saved by goalkeeper Nenad Vekic.
In the 28th minute United 58s goalkeeper John Hall received a yellow card for a foul well outside the box on Rooney and subsequently the Marconi goal-scorer had to be replaced from the injury.
It was Hall that managed to pluck the ball from just under the crossbar from a Marko Jesic free-kick.
The Reds replied a minute later with a powerful header from Payne that struck the base of the upright but this was to be the last real chance of the first stanza of play.
The half finished with a flurry of yellow cards for some sloppy play and experienced whistle-blower Stephen Lucas had his hands full controlling things.
Payne for the visitors fired a diagonal shot from outside the box that only just sailed wide in the 54th minute but had it struck it would have been a delightful goal indeed.
The game was starting to become somewhat of a war of attrition as both sides were playing a tightly controlled game that was more effective than it was pretty.
Marconi tried to break the impasse and came close in the 66th minute when Danaskos, with a powerful left foot shot, fired over the intended target.
In the 73rd minute Marconi really came very close to securing their second goal when Jesic unleashed what can only be described as a fireball from outside the box that skimmed the far post.
After the game Marconi Stallions coach Peter Tsekenis was happy to have to secured three points from their opening game of the season.
“The first game of the season is all about the battle and the boys were up for it,” he said.
“I was very proud of the way they took to the game and, scrappy or not, we got the points and that’s the main thing.
“With Marconi back everyone is looking to see how we are going to go and I told the boys that we needed to get off to a good start.
“The boys were superb despite us having some injuries going into the game, but I definitely thought that we were the better team tonight.”
Meanwhile over in the Sydney United 58 dressing room new coach Jason Culina was still very proud of his team.
“Towards the end of the game it was scrappy and you could clearly see that they tried to slow things down and that we were the only team that really wanted to play football,” the former star Socceroo said.
“It’s a loss at the end of the day and we just have to get on with it.
“I am delighted to be part of a club such as Sydney United and I am proud and privileged to be coaching here. I wouldn’t choose to go to any other club and I am delighted to be back and involved in football.”
Marconi Stallions FC: 1 (Rooney 4’)
Sydney United 58 FC: 0
Saturday 10th March, 2018
Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
Referee: Stephen Lucas
Assistant Referees: Joon Park, Lance Greenshields
Fourth Official: Anthony Mansour
MARCONI STALLIONS FC: 1.Nenad Vekic, 4. Troy Danaskos, 5. Michael Beauchamp, 6. Sean O’Connell (9. Shane Webb 32’), 8. Sean Rooney, 10. Marko Jesic, 11. Judah Cleur, 14. Peter Pelekanos, 18. Peter Triantis, 22. Brandon Vella (15. Mateo Poljak 52’), 23. Chris Nunes.
Substitutes not used: 38. Yianni Nicolau, 21. Kristian Sekutovski, 2. Braden Cheng.
Yellow Cards: Webb 44’, Danaskos 64’, O’Connell 93’
Red Cards: Nil
SYDNEY UNITED 58 FC: 1. John Hall, 4. Adrian Vlastelica, 5. Anthony Tomelic, 6. Chris Payne, 7. Mohammad Rahimi (9. Patrick Antelmi 52’), 8. Matthew Sim, 11. Yianni Pertakis, 12. Shannon Cole (17. Matthew Bilic 78’), 15. Tomoki Menda, 18. Glen Trifiro, 23. Pani Nikas.
Substitutes not used: 2. Christian Gonzalez, 20. Peter Markovic, 21. Thomas Manos.
Yellow Cards: Tomelic 6’, Hall 28’, Payne 43’, Cole 45’, Vlastelica 71’, Pertakis 75’
Red Card: Nil
3 – Marko Jesic (MS)
2 – Troy Danaskos (MS)
1 – Chris Payne (SU)
-By Joe Russo