Blacktown City ended a three-match winless run with a 3-2 victory over Hakoah Sydney City East in a heated encounter at Lily’s Football Centre on Saturday evening.
Two goals in a three minute spell before half time proved critical for Blacktown who established a 2-0 buffer at the break thanks to Joey Gibbs’ back post header and Grant Lynch’s clever finish from close range.
A see-sawing second half saw Duncan Stewart bring Hakoah back into contention from the penalty spot before Blacktown restored their two goal advantage through a stunning Yianni Spyrakis goal midway through the period.
Substitute Anthony Frangie pulled a goal back for the visitors to ensure it would be a tense final ten minutes but Blacktown held on to secure their first league win since a victory over APIA Leichhardt Tigers in late May.
After back to back defeats against Sydney Olympic and Marconi Stallions, the visitors Hakoah arrived in Seven Hills with a plan to extend Blacktown’s recent frustration in front of goal and succeeded for much of the opening half until a pair of critical defensive lapses on the cusp of half time.
A minute after firing a good opportunity wide Gibbs nodded Blacktown ahead at the back post, beating Hakoah goalkeeper Anthony Bouzanis to the ball after Mitch Mallia’s original header had bounced back off the crossbar.
Having failed to find the net for over 200 minutes of action, Mark Crittenden’s men had two in three minutes soon after when Lynch showed great composure to poke home from in front after Gibbs had kept a Mallia corner alive.
Hakoah sparked into life early in the second half when a sumptuous free kick from Harry Jones hit the crossbar before the resulting scramble saw Michael Kouta fouled in the box by Zachary Cairncross.
Stewart confidently stroked the spot kick down the middle to bring Hakoah back into the contest but Blacktown restored their two-goal lead in superb fashion when Spyrakis found the top left corner with a stunning strike from outside the area fifteen minutes later.
The home side looked to be cruising but Hakoah substitute Frangie fired home to give the visitors hope with ten minutes remaining but despite a barrage of late pressure Blacktown managed to hold out for a crucial three points.
Blacktown coach Crittenden was relieved to get over the line following the match and said that the standing of a side like Hakoah shows the 2018 National Premier Leagues NSW season is the most competitive it’s been in years.
“You always know that you’re in for a battle when you play Hakoah,” he said.
“We haven’t had a great couple of weeks so it was great to get a win on the board.
“We said from day one that this is the toughest competition we’ve had in years, everybody’s improved and picked up players here and there that has meant better squads overall and we’re seeing that week in week out – anything can happen, so every win’s a bonus.
“If you make a mistake you’re going to get punished. It’s a different league, every week has been a battle but if we just need to keep doing our thing.”
City temporarily move into third position on the competition ladder with fourth-placed Sydney United set to take on Bonnyrigg White Eagles in Sunday’s clash at Bonnyrigg.
Saturday night victories for Marconi Stallions and Manly United see Hakoah slide into ninth position. Gavin Rae’s side take on Bonnyrigg at Hensley Athletic Field next Sunday.
Blacktown City 3 (Gibbs 40’, Lynch 43’, Spyrakis 65’)
Hakoah Sydney City East 2 (Stewart 48’, Frangie 81’)
Saturday 28 April, 2018
Lily’s Football Centre, Seven Hills
Blacktown City: 19. Zachary Cairncross, 11. Danny Choi (18. Mason Versi 65’), 7. Devante Clut (8. Daniel Araujo 65’), 10. Connor Evans, 9. Joey Gibbs, 6. Matthew Lewis, 5. Grant Lynch, 14. Mitchell Mallia (4. Roberto Speranza 85’), 20. Stevan Savicic, 22. Yianni Spyrakis, 3. Giorgio Speranza
Substitutes not used: 1. Dylan Niski, 21. Jack Stewart
Yellow cards: Cairncross 47’, Araujo 74’
Red cards: N/A
Hakoah Sydney City East: 1. Anthony Bouzanis, 20. James Combes, 19. Dominic Cox, 10. Andre De Jong, 13. Robert Ezekiel, 8. Oliver Green, 17. Harry Jones (14. Anthony Frangie 65’), 3. Michael Kouta, 60. Takayuki Noji (7. Jack Green 86’), 21. Duncan Stewart, 4. Bradley Walker (6. Cameron Draper 20’)
Substitutes not used: 40. Michael Figueira, 18. Jordan Koton
Yellow cards: Ezekiel 52’, Combes 72’, Frangie 83’
Red cards: N/A
3 – Grant Lynch (BCFC)
2 – Joey Gibbs (BCFC)
1 – Andre De Jong (HSCE)
-By National Premier Leagues NSW reporter Jacob Windon