Sydney FC have retained top spot in the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition, emphatically beating Northbridge Bulls 6-2 on Saturday afternoon at Sydney United Sports Centre.
The young Sky Blues have enjoyed some great success in their two games at Edensor Park this season, scoring 12 goals across the two matches.
Prior to kick off you’d have thought that the Bulls were in with a golden chance to rattle FC with the likes of Macarthur Bulls’ senior youngsters Moudi Najjar, Alhassan Toure, Lachlan Sepping, Lachlan Rose and Jake Hollman all gaining starts.
The visitors got off to an incredible start, with three goals in the first 12 minutes almost sealing the result early on.
It was a day to remember for Zac Sapsford, with six goal contributions including five assists and one goal all coming in the first half.
Jaiden Kucahrski extended his lead on top of the golden boot leader board with his goal in the 4th minute, shortly before Adrian Segecic doubled the lead minutes later.
Segecic had the Sky Blues ahead by three in just the 12th minute, finishing off a sensational set-piece play.
Rose gave the Bulls a lifeline in the 33rd minute, but it was quickly ruled out by Kucahrski who secured a brace.
Clayton Taylor and Sapsford combined for the final two goals, as Sydney went into the break up 6-1.
Rose gave the Bulls a deserved second goal in the 67th minute, however it would only be a consolation for the hosts.
The visitors started aggressively and were hungry for goals from the opening kick, coming close on a few occasions.
Sapsford found himself with a golden chance from the six-yard box after a cross from Kucharski picked him out, however his mistimed shot sailed over the bar.
It took Sydney just four minutes to open the scoring, with Sapsford returning the favour to Kucharski, whipping a ball into the path of the league’s top scorer for the opener.
Kucharski came within inches of a second goal in as many minutes as he shot smacked back against the bar from the edge of the box.
After winning the ball deep in Bulls territory, Sapsford stretched out to get a toe on a ball through to an open Segecic, who smashed it home and doubled the visitors advantage.
The Bulls began to build some momentum through Rose, with the pacey winger being denied of an incredible scissor kick effort by the post.
Sydney wasted no time getting back on the board, after a crafty set-piece straight from the training ground gave them their third in the 12th minute.
Sapsford was once again the supplier, this time placing a perfect chip ball into the path of Segecic, poking it home for a quickfire double.
Moments after conceding a third, Rose found himself one-on-one with Adam Pavlesic, with the Sydney keeper getting a hand to Rose’s effort from close range, sending it behind for a corner.
Kucharski thought he had found a first-half brace, after a perfect ball from Clayton Taylor set the striker up with a near open net, however the linesmen was quick to raise his flag and rule out the goal.
The Bulls found themselves back into the game in the 33rd minute, after Jed Drew skilfully plucked off his man and gave Rose an open shot from the six-yard box where he made no mistakes and got the hosts on the scoreboard.
It took the young Sky Blues 90 seconds to restore a three-goal cushion, with Sapsford capitalising on a defensive error and playing a ball to Kucharski, who neatly placed it at the near post.
Sydney continued in its pursuit of goals and were quickly rewarded in 40th minute, with Sapsford playing Taylor through one-one-one as he powerfully placed it past the oncoming Nick Suman.
Rose continued to give the Bulls signs of life, going straight at the Sydney defence and becoming a genuine danger man for the hosts in attack
Taylor should have had Sydney FC’s sixth late in the first-half, agonisingly missing two golden chances from close range.
After unsuccessfully trying to find a double, Taylor made up for his mistakes by setting up Sapsford for a well-deserved goal, with a perfectly placed ball from the wing landing in the centre of the box for Sapsford.
Sydney went into the break with a five-goal lead, on the heels of world-class showing from Sapsford who had a hand in every goal.
Northbridge came out with a point to prove in the second half in an attempt to reduce the five-goal deficit.
Moudi Najjar came closest to opening the second half scoring, with his half volley forcing an outstanding save from Pavlesic.
The Bulls continued to ask questions of Sydney FC’s defence and were finally rewarded in the 67th minute.
Under immense pressure from the Bulls, Aaron Gurd misplaced a pass to his keeper which forced Pavlesic to get a glove onto it to stop Rose from having an open shot at goal, with the referee ruling an indirect free kick and Rose powered the ball into the roof of the net.
Pavlesic ended the game strongly, getting a hand to a Drew cross, which looked to certain to fall to Rose at close range.
Both sides will consider themselves unlucky to have not added to their tallies in the second half, as Sydney walked away with the convincing win.
Sydney FC coach, Jim Van Weeren was impressed with his side’s first half performance but disappointed in conceding two goals.
“First half was incredibly dominant, potentially could have had some more goals and to be honest it was a little bit disappointing in the second half,” he said.
“Players are all human, it’s hard to have that arousal level once you’ve come in at halftime up 6-1, it’s disappointing but we take it and move on.
“He [Zac Sapsford] has been great all season, as have all the boys, but I’m really happy for him today to have so many assists and goal contributions, it’s great for him.”
Northbridge coach Mile Sterjovski admitted it wasn’t a great showing in the first-half but was proud of the improvement shown after the break.
“Sydney killed us in the first half, they’re ruthless in transition and they’ve proved it this season and it was no different today,” he said.
“Credit to our boys in the second half, we changed up a few things and we won the second half even though it doesn’t count for points, I’m proud of the way they came back with their attitude and we played our football.
“Even in the first half we weren’t playing great but we still created, with a bit of luck we could have had another three or four maybe, but that’s the way it is, credit to Jimmy and his team, they’re a great attacking team and they showed it today.”
Northbridge Bulls FC 2 (Rose 33’ 67’)
Sydney FC 6 (Kucharski 4’ 35’, Segecic 7’ 12’, Taylor 40’, Sapsford 45’)
Saturday 21st May 2022
Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park
Referee: Hassan Jomaa
Assistant Referees: Cameron Wright and Bradley Wright
Fourth Official: Hayden Langholz
Northbridge Bulls FC: 1.Nick Suman, 2. Jack Mcoughlin , 4. Anthony Sparacino, 6.Moudi Najjar, 9. Diego Bonilla (11.Steven De Robillard 66’), 14.Alhassan Toure (12. Marcus Sparacino 78’), 15. Eddie Caspers (18. Abbas Karnib 78’), 16. Oliver Jones (8.Brodie Clarkson 45’), 17. Jed Drew, 19. Lachlan Sepping (3.Nathan Dimou 45), 31.Lachlan Rose, 21. Jake Holman
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Levi Kaye.
Yellow Cards: McLoughlin 33’
Red Card: nil
Sydney FC: 4. Nathan Grimaldi (19. Joseph Calusic 78’), (19. Joseph Calusic ), 6. Aaron Gurd, 9.Ben Gibson (17. Luke Smyth 78’), 10. Jaiden Kucharski, 11. Adrian Segecic, 12. Jake Girwood-Reich (28. Louis Agostin 66’), 13. Clayton Taylor (16. Matthew Scarcella 66’), 14. Zac Sapsford, 18. Oscar Preistman, 26. Aleksandar Duricic (2. Morrie Kamara 87’), 30. Adam Pavlesic.
Substitutes not used: 20. Max Vartuli,
Yellow Cards: nil
Red Card: nil
*Player Ratings have now been hidden
Written by NPL NSW Men’s reporter, Dominic Criniti @DominicCriniti