In yet another twist in the tail of the ever increasing tightness of the NPL NSW Men’s ladder, Sydney FC shared points with Blacktown City FC in a 2-2 draw on a wild and windy Sunday afternoon at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre.
Aaron Gurd opened the scoring for Sydney FC in the 13th minute of the game before Blacktown’s returning hero Travis Major equalised in the 29th minute, leaving the teams on even footing at the half-time break.
Jaiden Kucharski converted a penalty in the 80th minute and the young sky blues thought they had a hold of the three points, but substitute Carlos De Oliveira managed an 85th minute goal to equalise for the visitors for the second time in the match and secure a point from the battle.
All eyes were also whether Blacktown City were set to unveil its latest star signing Danny Choi who put pen to paper this week but alas was left out of this clash.
The result keeps both teams within the race for finals and the Premiership as the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition continues to be a tight battle heading into the final stage of the season.
The game got off to a good start for the visitors as Major created an opportunity within the first minute of the match as he looked to replicate last week’s performance.
Jak O’Brien sent a shot goalward and Adam Pavlesic got down to keep it out, but Major was quick to pounce on the rejection and let off a shot, but it slid past the goalmouth.
Blacktown came back for more in the 9th minute as Grant Lynch got on the end of a corner and sent a header towards goal, but it was just off target.
Despite Blacktown creating some strong chances in the opening stages, it was the hosts who opened the scoring through defender Gurd in the 13th minute.
Sydney FC had a free kick on the right side of the field and Kucharski whipped it in and it came off Blacktown’s defence before Gurd sent it into the netting.
It wasn’t too long before the visitors equalised, with Major getting on the scoreboard in the 29th minute.
The striker quickly took a free kick from the halfway point to start off the play and worked his way into position in front of goal as his teammates moved the ball down the park.
A cross came in from the right and Major pounced, putting away a header to bring the game to a goal apiece.
Sydney FC looked to replicate Blacktown’s success from a free kick in the 31st minute.
The ball bounced over the goalkeeper and gave Adrian Segecic the perfect chance to capitalise but as the ball came off the crossbar both he and Blacktown defender Lachlan Campbell went down in what seemed like a nasty collision with the fence and goal respectively.
Both sides sought refuge from the wild wind conditions at the half-time break with a goal each and came back onto the park with every intention to nab a winner.
Kucharski came close in the 60th minute as his low free kick travelled towards the target, but Blacktown ‘keeper Alex Robinson got down well to defend.
Kucharski attempted to take the score to two again in the 65th minute as he speedily ran forward but his skillful footwork was shut down by the resolute Blacktown defence.
Jackson Bandiera drove from long range for the visitors in the 75th minute, but his attempt was slightly off target.
Referee Kurt Ams blew his whistle and pointed to the spot in the 79th minute after O’Brien brought down Kucharski in the area.
Kucharski stepped up to the spot and sent his shot into the back of the net, against the wind and past Robinson.
The goal-scorer came close to a second just a minute later as he drew Robinson out of position and sent a strike towards the goal, but Daniel Collins managed an impressive goal-line clearance to keep Sydney FC from running away with the game.
As the game came closer to the final whistle, substitutes Charles Mendy and De Oliveira combined to get the visitors back in the match in the 85th minute.
Mendy played in a superb cross from the right that met a waiting De Oliveira, who nodded the ball confidently into the net.
Despite both teams continuing to apply pressure in the final stages of the game, they shared points as the match wrapped up with a 2-2 draw.
Blacktown coach Mark Crittenden said:
“It was a difficult night to play football obviously against a good, energetic young side, and they did really well,” Crittenden said.
“We were guilty of turning over too much possession.
“It was probably a good result to go in 1-1 at half time considering I thought we were pretty average.
“A nice finish from Carlos to take a point, so we’ll take away a point and move on.”
Sydney FC 2 (Gurd 13’, Kucharski 80’)
Blacktown City 2 (Major 29’, De Oliveira 85’)
Sunday 3rd July, 2022
Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre
Sydney FC: 3. Aaron Gurd, 4. Nathan Grimaldi, 10. Jaiden Kucharski, 11. Adrian Segecic, 12. Jake Girdwood-Reich, 13. Clayton Taylor, 16. Matthew Scarcella (15. Luka Smyth 76’), 18. Oscar Priestman, 28. Louis Agosti, 30. Adam Pavlesic, 37. Hayden Matthews
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Gus Hoefsloot, 5. Dominique Sameenang, 14. Ayouk Mow, 25. Morrie Kamara, 26. Aleksandar Duricic
Yellow Cards: Grimaldi 41’
Red Cards: Nil
Blacktown City FC: 3. Daniel Collins, 4. Lachlan Campbell (22. Carlos De Oliveira 83’), 5. Grant Lynch, 7. Travis Major, 8. Jak O’Brien, 10. Mario Shabow, 11. Mitchell Mallia (21. Charles Mendy 78’), 17. Dakota Askew, 19. Adam Berry, 24. Jackson Bandiera (6. Matthew Lewis 81’), 30. Alexander Robinson
Substitutes Not Used:, 14. Caleb Jackson-Brown, 16. Ben Berry, 40. Dylan Niski
Yellow Cards: Campbell 65’, Shabow 86’
Red Cards: Nil