Dylan Macallister has signed off his illustrious career with a hat-trick as Manly United cruised to a 5-1 demolition of Bonnyrigg White Eagles in front of a jubilant Cromer Park crowd on Sunday afternoon.
It was the visitors who took the lead early on courtesy of a JeWook Woo header, however Macallister equalised five minutes later and it was all one way traffic from there.
The veteran was gifted an opportunity from the spot by an Aaron Avery handball in first half stoppage time, which saw the visitors reduced to ten men for the remainder of the contest.
A 50th minute Nikola Taneski strike granted the hosts some additional comfort, before Sam Wilson nodded home confidently to ensure the three points inside the final five minutes.
However there was still time for a fairytale conclusion, as one last goal from Macallister raised the Cromer Park faithful onto their feet, as he snuck home his third to acquire the match ball one last time.
It was a deserved high to cap off a disappointing season for Manly, who were unable to defend their Championship title, while the result added insult to injury for their opponents Bonnyrigg, whose relegation was confirmed.
Bonnyrigg continued their fast-starting habits from last week’s clash with APIA Leichhardt, opening the scoring after ten minutes.
JeWook Woo rose highest off a set-piece, releasing a powerful header that nestled inside the back of the net.
However, it did not take Manly long to strike back, and it was their evergreen talisman who etched his name on the scoresheet.
Scott Balderson maintained possession well, before slipping the ball through to Macallister, who narrowly evaded a charging James Chronopoulos to poke Manly level after a quarter of an hour.
Despite requiring a few minutes of treatment for what looked to be a hand injury, the marksman soldiered on.
From there, the contest settled as both sides grappled in pursuit of the advantage. And in the final breaths of the first period, it was offered on a plate for the hosts.
A Jamie Lobb corner was deflected goalwards, forcing Aaron Avery to palm the ball away.
Referee Bradley Wright was left with no choice but to point to the spot and show the White Eagles defender a straight red card.
Macallister stepped up and thumped home into the bottom left corner to complete his side’s first half turnaround.
It did not take Manly long in the second half to exploit the additional pockets of space presented by their ten man opposition.
Nikola Taneski slammed home a third after 50 minutes, with Balderson the provider yet again.
The hosts then pushed for the jugular, as chances to Scott Balderson, Joseph Fox, Leigh Egger and a rocket of a free kick from that man Macallister sailed agonisingly wide.
Brendan Cholakian denied by the woodwork on 73 minutes, before Macallister came within inches in the same fashion, as a trademark header struck the crossbar.
Substitute Sam Wilson then attempted a similar effort on 85 minutes, and his header was able to evade Chronopoulos, placing the result beyond doubt.
But there was still time for one last magical moment.
Nikola Taneski broke down the right wing, and the whole of Cromer Park seemed to inhale a collective breath as his cross was brought down via Macallister’s chest.
Despite pressure from two Bonnyrigg defenders and the goalkeeper, the number nine was able to guide the ball into the back of the net, capping off an outstanding career in the perfect way.
The applause continued as Macallister was then substituted from the field, emotionally bringing the curtain down on his playing days.
The result sealed seventh spot for Manly United, just three points adrift of the all-important top five.
Bonnyrigg, on the other hand, suffered a fourth straight defeat to round out a disappointing campaign, however have a glamour clash with Western Sydney Wanderers in the FFA Cup round of sixteen to look forward to in two weeks time.
Their skipper Tynan Diaz reflected on a gutting end to the campaign, while offering his plaudits to Macallister.
“It was bitterly disappointing,” he said, “and was the story of our season I guess.”
“Cheap goals, poor defending and not enough desire cost us today. It was a sad way to see the season go out.
“I would like to say congratulations to Dylan Macallister on his hat-trick today, which we shouldn’t let happen obviously!
“It was a good way to see a good footballer go out.”
The man of the moment then summed up what was a day to remember.
“I have been available for every match of the season this year, the staff have done really well to keep me fit and injury free,” he said.
“All I was hoping for today was that my body would hold together, and I may have broken my hand but we got the win.
“I scored a couple of goals, with my family and friends here, so I couldn’t have asked for a better finish.
Macallister said he foresees continued involvement with Manly United in the future.
“I am passionate about the sport, the area, and the young players involved,” he explained.
“I am going to be involved in the club, and the first grade squad in some capacity.
“I’m a local Northern Beaches boy, football has been my life and it will continue to be.”
Manly United FC 5 (Macallister 15’, 45+1’ Pen, 90’, Taneski 50’, Wilson 85’)
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1 (Woo 10’ )
Sunday August 12, 2018
Cromer Park, Dee Why
Referee: B. Wright
Assistant Referees: J. Bell, P. Teleki
Fourth Official: H. Sappey
Manly United FC: 1. Dylan Mitchell, 2. Kieren Paull, 3. Jamie Lobb, 4. Travis Oughtred, 6. Dominic Ferguson (8. Sasa Macura 77’), 9. Dylan Macallister (14. Mitchell Rooke 90+1’), 10. Brendan Cholakian, 11. Nicola Taneski, 12. Leigh Egger, 13. Scott Balderson (5. Sam Wilson 71’), 21. Joseph Fox
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Shaun Catlin, 23. Daniel Alessi
Yellow Cards: Kieren Paulo 37’
Red Cards: Nil
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 1. James Chronopoulos, 2. Aaron Avery, 4. Nikola Krljar, 7. Tynan Diaz, 9. Aaron Peterson, 10. Shervin Adeli (26. Jordan Cracknell 86’), 11. Asmir Kradic (38. Milan Parenta 60’), 13. James Mckenzie, 18. Mun-Soo Gil, 20. Benjamin Tosi (28. Peter Kim 70’), 22. Jewook Woo
Substitutes Not Used: 21. David Bradasevic, 24. Michael Borg
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Aaron Avery 45’
By National Premier Leagues NSW Reporter Chris Curulli