APIA Leichhardt Tigers have been warned they will be in for a a torrid reception at Sydney United Sports Centre this Saturday with Sydney United 58 winger Matt Sim calling on the vocal home support to be their twelfth man for this season defining match.
The season goes on the line for both United 58 and APIA with a rematch of their unforgettable preliminary semi-final from week one of the playoffs deciding who will take on Sydney Olympic in this season’s decider next Sunday at Leichhardt Oval.
United 58’s feverish support was ever-present at Lambert Park for that match as their side pulled off a shock win after a penalty shootout.
While the Red’s come into this game reeling after a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Premiership winners and potential grand final opponents Sydney Olympic, Sim is confident the atmosphere and passionate support of the United 58 faithful will make their home ground a fortress for the do-or-die clash.
“There is no secret we have the best and most vocal fans in the competition,” Sim said.
“They are always singing and chanting for the entire 90 minutes no matter the result and they really give us a major boost out on the park.
“We managed to frustrate APIA in their own backyard during the last match and it is going to be a far tougher task for them at Edensor Park.
“All the boys know the type of support we are going to get at our home ground so it would be great if we had our biggest crowd of the season to cheer us towards a place in the grand final.”
The former Central Coast Mariners player has been a big part of United 58’s attack this season with his darting runs off the right wing creating headaches for opposition defences.
With the loss of Panny Nikas to a knee injury against Sydney Olympic ahead of the finals series, Sim acknowledges he will have to work even harder to help shoulder the load of United 58’s mercurial midfielder.
“Panny (Nikas) has done enough in this competition to garner respect every time he steps out onto the pitch,” he said.
“Defences do tend to focus on Panny and that creates more space for other players like myself to do their thing.
“Obviously without him there will be more pressure but I feel the way this team is built that we are the sum of our parts and not reliant on just one or two guys.
“We have a number of boys who can turn a match at any moment and that was proven in our last clash against APIA.”
While United 58 had to take a more conservative approach after going down to ten-men after 40 minutes in their finals week one win, Sim believes his side will be more aggressive for the return fixture at their Edensor Park home ground.
“The result last match is sure to be in the back of their (APIA’s) mind.
“It would’ve been the most frustrating game for them and their fans. They took 30 shots against a ten-man opposition and couldn’t score until the 92nd minute.
“We don’t take a backwards step and with a full contingent of players on the park at our home ground we will be able to go at them from the opening whistle.
“APIA are a tough side but everyone in this team is confident we have what it takes to beat them and move another step closer to our goal of winning the grand final.”