Marconi Stallions held off a fast finishing Manly United to snatch all three points with a 3-2 win at Cromer Park on Saturday night.
There were goals galore in an absorbing contest, which left both sides with a strong case for deserving the win.
The teams headed into the break level after goals from James Andrew and Nikola Taneski highlighted an intense first stanza.
The second half saw a calamitous own goal and precise Marko Jesic set piece prove the difference for the Stallions, ensuring Dylan Macallister’s late strike was pure consolation.
In the end it was a highly contested, but valuable, three points for the visitors as the race for finals positions intensifies.
Setting the tone for a night with no shortage of goals, Marconi opened the scoring with the first chance of the match on 12 minutes.
Marc Warren found space to shoot on the edge of the area, and his deflected effort fell into the path of James Andrew, who made no mistake in curling one in from close range.
However it did not take long for the hosts to strike back through Nikola Taneski.
Manly’s number 11 was the beneficiary of a powerful low cross from captain Jamie Lobb, which he prodded home inside Nenad Vekic’s front post.
Unfortunately for Paul Dee’s men, that would be the attacker’s last involvement of the night, after he picked up an injury in the ensuing celebrations.
The home side looked to have recovered from a sloppy start, and were inches away from taking the lead when Scott Balderson was slipped through and rattled the crossbar in the 37th minute.
However their second half got off to a nightmare start, with Marconi restoring their lead after just 24 seconds.
Jesic was initially denied well by Shaun Catlin, and Travis Oughtred looked to comfortably clear as the ball trickled towards the goal line. But the defender’s attempt to do so clattered into his own goalkeeper, and nestled in the back of the net.
Cromer Park was near silent, with many in shock of what they had just witnessed.
Marconi attempted to take the opportunity and extend their advantage.
James Andrew pounced on a loose pass, but drove his 58th minute effort wide.
Three minutes later Marc Warren almost found his name on the scoresheet, but his curling effort fell on the wrong side of the post.
Leigh Egger almost pulled one back on 65 minutes, but his powerful header sailed narrowly over the bar.
Marco Jesic had earlier failed to beat Catlin with a set piece after 59 minutes, but made amends after 72.
The Marconi frontman proved his dead-ball finesse, firing a long range free kick home.
Manly then seemed to spark back into action, and Dylan Macallister provided them with a fighting chance heading into the closing stages.The veteran showed characteristic composure to weave his way through the Stallions backline, before firing low and hard past Vekic.
However try as they like, the desperate Manly could not salvage any points from the contest.
Balderson struck woodwork for the second time in the 87th minute, and in stoppage time Macallister was denied a brace by the outstretched leg of Vekic.
Marconi boss Peter Tsekenis was full of praise for his side:
“I thought overall we thoroughly deserved that,” he said.
“The first half was quite even. For the most part of the second half we were far superior and created very good chances.
“It wasn’t until the end where they threw everything at us that (Manly) caused us a few problems.
“But we’ll take that result, obviously needing the three points. It was a good win away from home, the boys are doing a very good job.”
“It is good to win two in a row and get our season back on track”
Paul Dee, on the other hand, produced a scathing assessment of how the match eventuated: “We conceded three uncharacteristic and terrible goals,” he said.
“We failed to capitalise on the numerous chances that we had.
“I thought we outplayed them (Marconi) and it was just a result that didn’t go our way.
“It’s a very hard one to take.”
Manly are left to lick their wounds and must up their game immediately if they are to have a shot at retaining the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Championship.
They return to Cromer Park to take on Blacktown City FC next weekend, while Marconi travel to ladder leaders Sydney Olympic in search of a third straight victory.
Match StatsManly United 2 (Taneski 25’, Macallister 83’)
Marconi Stallions 3 (Andrew 12’, Catlin (OG) 46’, Jesic 72’)
Saturday June 16, 2018
Cromer Park, Dee Why
Referee: B. Abraham
Assistant Referees: K. Robinson, J. Adabjou
Fourth Official: M. Bailey
Manly United: 20. Shaun Catlin, 2. Kieren Paull, 3. Jamie Lobb, 4. Travis Oughtred,, 6. Dominic Ferguson, 8. Sasa Macura, 10. Brendan Cholakian, 11. Nikola Taneski (5. Sam Wilson 29’, (7.Braden Cheng 85’), 12. Leigh Egger, 13. Scott Balderson, 21. Joseph Fox (9. Dylan Macallister 45’)
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Dylan Mitchell, 23. Daniel Alessi
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Marconi Stallions: 1. Nenad Vekic, 2. Marc Warren (4. Troy Danaskos 79’), 5. Michael Beauchamp 6. Sean O’Connell, 10. Marko Jesic, 11. Judah Cleur, 12. James Andrew (16. Hassan Jalloh 70’), 14. Peter PELEKANOS, 15. Mateo POLJAK, 22. Brandon VELLA 23. Christopher NUNES
Substitutes not used: 17. Theo Kofinas, 21. Kristian Sekutkoski, 19. Eros Bergamin
Yellow Cards: Marc Warren 21’
Red Cards: Nil
-By National Premier Leagues NSW Reporter Chris Curulli