An inspired Marconi Stallions have stunned APIA Leichhardt Tigers 1-0 in a fiery derby contest at Lambert Park on Sunday.
A poachers finish from Stallions striker Marko Jesic was the difference in a thrilling contest which went right down to the final seconds.
APIA held out wave after wave of Marconi attacks in the first half before Jesic found pay dirt early in the second stanza after keeper Ivan Necevski palmed the ball to the feet of the Stallions number nine.
The Tigers threw everything forward hoping to nab an equaliser but it wasn’t to be as Marconi clung on for a huge morale boosting win against their historic rivals.
Marconi raced out of the gates and nearly had an opening goal after only sixty seconds when Ivan Necevski’s skewed a clearance at the feet of Marko Jesic
However, Necevski made up for his error with a reaction save to deny the Marconi striker.
The visitors had a point to prove and had APIA on the back foot early.
Three minutes in, Marconi winger Judah Cleur hit the cross bar before Jesic had another chance denied moments later.
It wasn’t until the 13th minute when APIA had their first half chance on goal when Sean Symons was denied by Nenad Vekic who dived on the ball after a scramble in the penalty area.
It was a rare opportunity for the Tigers but it didn’t take long for Marconi to be back on the offensive when Jesic forced another brilliant chance saved by Necevski at point blank range.
The action was end to end with both teams determined to attack at all costs.
Josh Symons proved to be a rock in the centre of APIA’s defence extinguishing numerous opposition attacks despite being put under immense pressure.
It was Symons who was required to hold off Jesic during a scramble in the box as Nathan Millgate raced in to provide a desperation clearance in the 24th minute.
Corey Bizco wasted a brilliant chance in the 25th minute when he blasted well wide of the goal after an incredible solo run from deep in his own half.
James Andrew had the last real chance of the first stanza but the Marconi winger was denied by some desperation defending by APIA.
The Tigers slowly fought their way back into the contest as the half progressed but they would’ve been happy for a breather after a gruelling first 45 minutes.
It was a case of deja’ vu at the resumption of play with a fast start from Marconi as they pushed forward with intent.
Andrew missed a gilt edged chance for the Stallions in the 56th minute when his first time volley sailed high over the crossbar when he had only Necevski to beat.
Marconi’s efforts finally paid dividends in the 58th minute.
A rasping shot from Andrew forced a diving save from Necevski but he could only parry it into the path of Jesic who forced it over the line to give his side a 1-0 lead.
The Stallions refused to ease off after scoring and Necevski was forced to make a diving save to deny an ominous ball into the box from Warren in the 63rd minute.
APIA coach Billy McColl introduced star attackers Jordan Murray and Tasuku Sekiya with 25 minutes left in an attempt to conjure something extra in front of goal.
The move nearly had instant impact as Murray forced a quality reaction save from Vekic with a header from 11 yards out.
With four minutes left on the clock Sekiya was denied by the woodwork after his dipping shot clanged off the crossbar.
Both sides were playing with incredible intensity throughout the dying stages.
Marconi should’ve made it 2-0 and killed off the game in in 90th minute when Jesic fired wide with a wide open goal in front of him after a three on one breakaway and perfect delivery from Cleur.
With only seconds left on the clock Murray missed the chance to be the hero for APIA when he fired over the cross bar from only eight yards out after a crazy scramble in the box which included three shots on target from the home side.
The final whistle was music to the ears of Marconi and their fans with coach Peter Tsekenis delighted with the drive shown by his players.
“That win will do wonders for the confidence of the boys. Things haven’t gone out way in recent weeks so to get that result is great.,” he said.
“I’m really proud of the performance today, we pushed APIA all the way and stay composed to secure the win.
“I thought we could’ve easily scored three or four today but overall I was really happy with the way we played.”
Albeit disappointed with the loss, APIA coach McColl remained assured the result wouldn’t mark the end of their Premiership defence.
“It’s a long way to go still and there is the FFA Cup to worry about as well so I’m not to concerned,” he said.
“Today we just couldn’t convert our chances and that was really the big difference.
“We have lost a bit of attacking fluidity in recent weeks but I’m confident we have what it takes to bounce back next round.”
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC: 0
Marconi Stallions: 1 (Jesic 56’)
Sunday, June 10 2018
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: M Weiner
Assistant Referee: R Osborne & J Park
Fourth official: J McFarlane
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 1. Ivan NECEVSKI, 2. Nathan MILLGATE 3.Paul GALIMI, 4.Josh SYMONS (13. David D’APUZZO 80′), 7. Howard FONDYKE, 8. Corey BIZCO, 10. Franco PARISI (20. Tasuku SEKIYA 73′), 15. Themba MUATA-MARLOW, 16. Sean SYMONS, 17. Sam GULISANO (11. Jordan MURRAY 66′), 18. Adrian UCCHINO
Substitutes not used: 22. Blake TUXFORD, 5. Stephan ADATTINI
Yellow Cards: Fondyke 51’, Galimi 76′
Marconi Stallions: 1. Nenad VEKIC, 2. Marc WARREN, 5.Michael BEAUCHAMP 6. Sean O’CONNELL, 10. Marko JESIC, 11. Judah CLEUR (19. Eros BERGAMIN 90’), 12. James ANDREW (16. Hassan JALLOH 70’) , 14. Peter PELEKANOS, 15. Mateo POLJAK, 22. Brandon VELLA 23. Christopher NUNES,
Substitutes not used: 38. Yianni NICOLAOU, 17. Theo KOFINAS, 21. Kristian SEKUTKOSKI
Yellow Cards: O’Connell 53, Warren 61