GCU weather Sydney storm

Gold Coast United have weathered a late storm from Sydney FC, holding on for an impressive 3-1 victory over Sydney FC in their National Youth League clash at Owen Park on Saturday.

Gold Coast United have weathered a late storm from Sydney FC, holding on for an impressive 3-1 victory over Sydney FC in their National Youth League clash at Owen Park on Saturday.

United were deserved winners but were given a serious run for their money by the Sky Blues, who were never out of the contest despite spending most of it behind on the scoreboard.

Only some sterling work in the goalmouth late on by Gold Coast gloveman Brendan White kept the visitors from snatching a point as their search for a second equalizer went by fruitless.

There were three goals in an action-packed nine-minute spell in the first half, which saw United open the scoring only to concede just three minutes after Golgol Mebrahtu’s 17th minute opener.

Joel Chianese, who was one of Sydney’s best and their most potent avenue of attack, pounced on a ball lofted over the United back four in the 20th minute.

As the hosts looked for an offside flag, Chianese made no mistake with his simple finish past White and parity was restored.

But some sloppy work at the back from the Sky Blues five minutes later undid all that good work. Kwame Yeboah put Gold Coast ahead again with his 25th minute goal, after he was found unmarked in the area by Jake Barker-Daish.

United fielded a strong line-up, with six of their starting XI having tasted Hyundai A-League action so far this season.

The biggest name was Ante Rozic, who was given an opportunity to put some more miles in his legs ahead of a likely return to the first-team next week.

With his knee troubles now behind him, Rozic’s influence was felt early, with his experience and assuredness at the back saving his side’s blushes as early as the eighth minute.

Around the halfway line, Sydney centre-half Tomislav Mijic found Joel Chianese in acres of space at the top of the box, but Rozic’s last-ditch intervention saved what would have been a certain goal.

The hosts straightened up from then on, though, and began to take control of the match. On 10 minutes, Mebrahtu looked to have scored the opener with a looping header that clipped the underside of the crossbar and went in, but he was just marginally offside.

Three minutes later Mebrahtu was again airborne, leaping high to meet an enticing cross from fullback Daniel Bowles – but just as his goalbound header drifted above helpless Sydney keeper Marko Bozic, the linesman raised his flag.

But he wasn’t to be denied a third time. In the 17th minute Mebrahtu finally broke through, producing a classy sliding finish to give his side a well-earned lead – which was lost and then regained through Yeboah, who would have had his brace in the 38th minute were it not for a brilliant point-blank save from Bozic.

Sydney made the brighter start to the second stanza, but once the game settled the hosts were back to dictating terms and they had a number of opportunities to extend their lead.

But the Sky Blues’ hunt for a leveler continued, and it ramped up considerably as the 90 minutes ticked by.

Joe Gibbs chipped a perfect ball over the Gold Coast defensive line to put substitute Caleb Rufer clear on goal – but a courageous intervention from White stamped out the threat.

White was ever-present in the closing stages of the match, denying Jared Lum in the 87th minute before Chris Lucas put the icing on the cake for the home side with a clever cut and finish deep in injury time.

Gold Coast United 3 (Mebrahtu 17, Yeboah 25, Lucas 90+3)
Sydney FC 1 (Chianese 20)