Hakoah pin up boy, Jordan Mundell challenged by Panni Nikas, with goal scorer Robbie Ezekiel in background
Hakoah Sydney City East has inflicted more misery on reigning PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues Premiers Sydney United 58 defeating the 10-man Reds 3-2 in a feisty encounter at Hensley Athletic Field.
Robert Ezekiel’s free-kick proved to be the winner for Gavin Rae’s side, who had twice seen their lead pegged back by goals from Yutaro Shin and Panny Nikas.
Hakoah had earlier opened the scoring through Andre De Jong and cancelled out Shin’s equalizer late in the first half when Alexander Lekoski pounced expertly and finished with aplomb.
Sydney United 58 skipper Nick Stavroulakis, who was making his first appearance of the campaign after struggling with a calf injury, received his marching orders midway through the second half for his second bookable offence and the hosts took immediate advantage.
The defeat is United 58’s third consecutive and second in four days having been defeated 2-1 by Rockdale City Suns on Wednesday evening.
After netting his first of the season in that midweek loss, Adrian Vranic spearheaded the Reds’ attack and should’ve opened the scoring early on, instead nodding a superb cross from Matthew Bilic wide from point blank range.
It was a miss the visitors would regret when De Jong broke the deadlock minutes later, prodding home at the back post after a mazy solo run and cross from Jack Green.
Hakoah preserved their lead for a mere 270 seconds, with Japanese import Yutaro Shin nodding home his first of the campaign following a fantastic set-piece from Nikas.
The visitors looked revitalised after the equaliser, but an uncharacteristic error in possession from Stavroulakis allowed Lekoski to streak goalwards and clip the ball under Manos to restore Hakoah’s advantage on the stroke of half time.
Rae’s side had frustrated United 58 for the opening fifteen minutes of the second half but another inexplicable giveaway, this time from Hakoah’s Dean Bereveskos, handed Nikas a guilt-edged opportunity which the forward dispatched with ease with a fantastic finish that keeper Anthony Bouzanis, whose brother and Melbourne City custodian Dean was watching on the sidelines, was unable to handle.
However, a topsy-turvy encounter swung in favour of the home side when Stavroulakis picked up his second booking, this time for a sideline challenge on Gideon Sweet.
The resulting set-piece saw Ezekiel’s delivery evade everyone in the penalty box – including Reds gloveman Thomas Manos – and into the back of the net.
Although United 58 pressed for an equaliser with Glen Trifiro and Nikas going close, Hakoah remained resolute and clung on for a vital first win of the season.
Player-coach Gavin Rae praised his side’s efforts post-match and said the victory will form a decent platform for the rest of the campaign.
“It was a difficult game and was always going to be. We made it tough for ourselves a little bit but we’re delighted to get the win.
“We’re in a bit of a transitional period at the moment – we have a young squad and eleven new signings – but we have high aspirations for the season ahead.”
The loss heaped pressure on Sydney United 58 coach Davor Basjic who took over the squad from Mark Rudan this year and will be hoping his side can spark their season up when they take on another club yet to register a victory for 2017 in the Sutherland Sharks next Sunday at Edensor Park.
Hakoah Sydney City East 3 (De Jong 14’, Lekoski 44’, Ezekiel 70’)
Sydney United 58 2 (Shin 17’, Nikas 63’)
Saturday 25th March 2017,
Hensley Athletic Field, Eastgardens
Hakoah Sydney City East: 15. Dean Bereveskos, 1. Anthony Bouzanis, 10. Andre De Jong, 3. Robert Ezekiel, 14. Anthony Frangie (18. Harry Jones 77’), 12. Jack Green, 7. Alexander Lekoski, 19. Gavin Rae, 17. Gideon Sweet, 4. Bradley Walker
Substitutes Not Used: 45. Michael Figueira, 17. Jordan Mundell, 8. Paul Orgad, 2. Remy Wolanski
Yellow Cards: 7. Alexander Lekoski 19’
Red Cards: N/A
Sydney United 58: 17. Matthew Bilic, 22. Yianni Fragogiannis, 21. Thomas Manos, 23. Panagiotis Nikas, 32. Nicholas Olsen (16. Stjepan Paric 80’), 7. Yutaro Shin, 8. Matthew Sim (25. Jack Stewart 70’), 18. Glen Trifiro, 9. Adrian Vranic (11. Ante Tomic 70’), 6. Tomislav Uskok, 14. Nick Stavroulakis
Substitutes Not Used: 5. Anthony Tomelic, 40. Luke Pervan
Yellow Cards: Yutaro 28’, Stavroulakis 66’
Red Cards: Stavroulakis 66’