Sydney United salvage hard fought point at Manly
Manly United and Sydney United 58 fought out a tight 1-1 draw at a soggy Cromer Park on Saturday night.
The contest sprung to life in the second half after a dour showing from both sides in the opening stanza.
United 58’s second half substitute Glen Trifiro’s 70th minute effort cancelled out Dominic Ferguson’s strike after 56 minutes, while a penalty save from Tom Manos ensured the spoils were shared.
It will be the hosts who view the stalemate as two points dropped, as they maintained possession for extended periods early on, and engineered more clear-cut sights on goal late.
Regardless, Manly’s unbeaten run now stretches to seven matches, while Sydney United 58 continue to whisk aside their off-field concerns of finding a head coach to sit respectively in fourth place on the ladder.
As the rain heaped down over the Northern Beaches, the hosts began positively.
Brendan Cholakian was energetic off the wing, rattling the palms of Manos in the 17th minute.
Similarly, Nikola Taneski saw his 25th minute effort palmed away by the Sydney United 58 custodian.
While they were beginning to prove their stubbornness at the back, it took the visitors 33 minutes to forge their first shot on target.
Former Manly forward Matthew Sim delivered a pinpoint cross into the path of Patrick Antelmi, however United’s number nine could not muster enough power on his volley to find the net.
As the conditions began to improve in the second half, so did the quantity of chances created.
Yet again Manly burst out of the blocks through Brendan Cholakian, whose powerful strike was tipped to safety by Manos in the 53rd minute.
The Cromer Park faithful were left scratching their heads a minute later after a piece of brilliance from the former Manly shot stopper.
Manos pulled off an unbelievable double-save to keep out Dominic Ferguson’s powerful drive and Cholakian’s close range attempt.
However this was a foreshadowing of what was to come, as the deadlock was finally broken in the 56th minute.
The ball again fell to Ferguson in a pocket of space outside of the area, and this time his left-footed strike evaded the outstretched palms of Manos to nestle in the bottom right corner.
The home crowd then believed they had doubled their lead in the 64th minute through the head of Joseph Fox, however his nodded effort was denied by the offside flag.
The Sydney United 58 sucker-punch then arrived in the 70th minute.
Cristian Gonzalez’s powerful shot was deflected into the path of Trifiro, who made no mistake in rolling the ball under Shaun Catlin from close range.
The former Central Coast Mariner then almost grabbed a double ten minutes later, but his flicked header landed on the roof of the net.
In a far cry from the match’s timid opening, both sides gave it their all to secure victory in the final ten minutes.
Manly United believed they had done just that when Peter Markovic was punished for a handball in the area off Dylan Macallister’s close control.
With Brendan Cholakian poised over the spot to send the strong Cromer audience into jubilation, the party was ruined by a strong save from Manos: the icing on the cake of an undeniable man-of-the-match performance.
The visitors then almost pinched it on the brink of stoppage time through Gonzalez’s long range free kick, but in the end the two outfits would have to settle for a point.
Manly skipper Jamie Lobb rued his side’s spurned opportunities.
“I think we deserved it,” he said.
“We battled a lot in the first half and in the second half we generated a lot more chances they did.
“We probably just have to be a little tighter in defence and take our chances when we are on top in games and I think we’ll probably come away with a lot more wins.
“I’d probably say it was two points dropped, not a point gained.”
In contrast, Sydney United 58’s Matt Sim was content with the eventual outcome.
“I think it was a tough night,” he said.
“The conditions obviously didn’t help the way we wanted to play coming here, but we still came here and got something from it.
“We’ll still a few short at the moment and we have a heavy load against us, so to come here and get a point in the end is very, very good.”
-By National Premier Leagues NSW Reporter Chris Curulli