Round 1 of the National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 2018 season is in the books and what a great opening weekend of action it was.
There was something for everyone with exciting displays of attacking football, solid defensive performances and plenty of excitement to wow fans.
Marconi made a successful return to the NSW top flight after three years with a hard fought victory, Sydney FC proved they are a stronger team in their second year and Wollongong showed their WIN Stadium fortress remains one of the toughest places to win in the competition.
During the match of the Round action, APIA Leichhardt Tigers avenged their 2017 grand final defeat with a impressive 2-1 round one victory against Manly United.
Manly United 1 – APIA Leichhardt Tigers 2 at Cromer Park
APIA Leichhardt extracted sweet revenge for last year’s grand final defeat, opening their 2018 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s campaign with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over reigning Champions Manly United.
The Tigers had been forced to work by a resolute Manly defensive unit, which included a Howard Fondyke spot kick denied by a flying Dylan Mitchell mid-way through the first period.
However second half strikes in the 64th and 77th minute from Jordan Murray and Sean Symons proved decisive for the visitors, cancelling out Nikola Taneski’s opener inside five minutes.
In a classy affair both sides enjoyed extended spells of dominance, however it was Billy McColl’s men who held on for the three points with relative comfort.
Marconi Stallions 1 – Sydney United 58 0 at Marconi Stadium
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 Jason Culina.
The Reds had their chances to equalise through striker Chris Payne but couldn’t break down a disciplined Marconi defence.
Sydney FC 3 – Hakoah Sydney City East 1 at Lambert Park
Jeremy Cox led Sydney FC to an impressive 3-1 win over Hakoah Sydney City East on the opening day of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 2018 season.
Cox was in incredible form for the Sky blues nabbing a hattrick to secure three points for his side on Saturday afternoon at Lambert Park.
Cox put the hosts in the lead early in the first half before Mitchell Stamatellis brought Hakoah Sydney City East level just after the half hour.
However, it was always going to be Sydney FC’s night as they roared into life after the break as Cox scored a quick second to put his side ahead, and completed his hattrick with half an hour to spare.
Sydney Olympic FC 2 – Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1 at Belmore Sports Ground
Alejandro Lopez scored a debut goal to give Sydney Olympic a hard fought 2-1 victory over Bonnyrigg White Eagles in their National Premier Leagues NSW Mens opening round clash at Belmore Sportsground on Sunday afternoon.
The Spanish recruit struck ten minutes from full time to gift new head coach Abbas Saad the first triumph of his managerial tenure and ensure the Belmore club continue their strong recent form over the White Eagles.
Having gone ahead early on through a Jason Madonis penalty Olympic were on the receiving end of large periods of Bonnyrigg pressure and eventually cracked when Jewook Woo planted a header past Paul Henderson midway through the second half.
But while Olympic lived dangerously at times Bonnyrigg were unable to capitalise on their dominance and the Blues eventually nicked the winner through Lopez late on.
Wollongong Wolves 0 – Blacktown City 0 at WIN Stadium
Wollongong Wolves and Blacktown City FC were forced to share the spoils after an entertaining scoreless draw in their season opener at WIN Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
As far as goalless draws go this was an action packed match that in truth could have gone either way.
The Japanese duo of Yuzo Tashiro and Takuya Nozawa came closest to opening the scoring for the hosts while mercurial midfielder Mitch Mallia and co were repeatedly denied by Justin Pasfield’s heroics between the sticks.
Former Sydney FC youngster Daniel Araujo was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence in the second half, making way for an open final quarter hour that saw both goalkeepers produce quality saves to ensure the sides shared the spoils.
Rockdale City Suns – Sutherland Sharks at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale has kick started their National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 2018 season in style edging Sutherland Sharks 1-0 at Ilinden Sports Centre.
It took something special to settle the fiercely contested opening round match and it was Rockdale’s Alex Canak who delivered a moment of magic when he lobbed the keeper from 30 yards out.
Canak’s goal had been on the cards as the home side amassed a number of opportunities they spurned with alarming regularity.
Sutherland were always in the game but came away battered and bruised but defiant in the aftermath of the 90 minutes.
The Sharks created a few chances but can have no complaints of the result at the final whistle.