Aaron Gurd scored on his full debut as Sydney FC edged past Bentleigh Greens in a tight Australia Cup Round of 16 encounter.
Adrian Segecic scored his first goal for the club just before half-time with Gurd heading in the second from a corner.
But the Sky Blues were forced to see off a late surge from the Victorian NPL side when Ajak Riak nodded in an 86th minute header.
Bentleigh Greens started the match brightly, pressing Sydney FC high up the field and holding the ball well in possession.
The Sky Blues found it difficult to create chances in the first half as the home side’s well organised defence denied the visitors space.
And it took a moment of Segecic brilliance to break the deadlock in the 39th minute, with the winger perfectly timing his run and chesting down a long-range Wilkinson ball over the top – shrugging off the defender to produce a composed finish at the keeper’s near post.
Taking a 1-0 lead into the second half, Sydney FC began to take control of the game although Andrew Redmayne was called into action in the 64th minute – reacting well to produce a superb reflex save down low to his left at his near post.
Sydney earned some breathing space when Gurd doubled the visitors’ lead in the 68th minute – pulling away from his marker and directing a Max Burgess corner back across goal to score.
Riak’s glancing header kept the pressure on Sydney FC as the game went into seven minutes of stoppage time, but Steve Corica’s men held firm to book a place in next Wednesday’s quarter-final draw.
Goalscorer Segecic said: “We knew they would come out firing and they pressured us well.
“But my goal helped us take a bit of control and then second goal gave us enough to see the game out.”
By Jeremy Walker