A.P.I.A. Leichhardt Tigers defeated Maccabi FC 5-3 to grab all three valuable points in what was an evenly matched and spirited contest with Pasquale Corso grabbing four goals for the visitors in the Open Men?s clash.
A.P.I.A. was marshalled well by the lively Chris Vella settled the better of the two teams in the opening exchanges and came very close to taking the lead when Daniel Farre somehow contrived to screw a close attempt on goal up and over the bar.
But there was no mistake when striker Pasquale Corso received the ball with his back to goal then turned sharply and buried the ball low into the net. Corso then controlled a pass with his thigh and his spectacular volley flew just wide.
Maccabi fought keenly and it was no surprise to see them draw level when Slava Platilov set up Daniel Nadel to slip the ball under the keeper to score.
A.P.I.A. came back and just before half time took the lead again when pressure from Daniel Farre on the Maccabi defence saw him dispossess the defence to slam the ball past the advancing keeper.
The second half began in a spirited fashion with both sides giving away needless heavy fouls in order to assert the upper hand. John Meyers made some outstanding saves for Maccabi throughout the night while Hussary and then Assaf played well for A.P.I.A.
A.P.I.A. made the all important breakthrough when a clever glancing header was pushed onto the post by the keeper but then fell to Corso to tap from close range.
The Tigers then scored one of the goals of the night when a swift counter attack out of defence saw Farre?s cross court pass volleyed home by Corso. A.P.I.A.?s tactic of pressurising the Maccabi defence when in possession again, paid dividends when a weak cross was picked up by Corso who made no mistake from close range to make it 5-1.
Maccabi who had contested the game keenly rallied and scored a marvellous goal when a ball was fed down the left sideline to Sam Ozana who stepped inside and slammed the ball into the far corner from the tightest of angles.
Maccabi then got a fortuitous break when the A.P.I.A. keeper broke up a Maccabi attack then tried release the ball for a quick counter only to brush the ball against his thigh, the ball spilled loose to Slava Platilov who swept the ball home to make it 5-3.
Maccabi upped the tempo to get back into the game but A.P.I.A. had the energy to stay with them as both teams went close to scoring in the final stages. A.P.I.A. held on to deservedly take all three points.
Meanwhile, a delighted Maccabi women?s team celebrated their first points of the season by coming from behind to defeat a gallant and outnumbered A.P.I.A. Leichhardt side.
Although both sides had not played well enough throughout the season to trouble the top four sides there was still a lot of pride on the line for the two teams seated at the foot of the table.
A.P.I.A. went into the game fielding only three outfield players and no reserves whilst Maccabi went into the game with all but one player being from their under 16?s team.
Coaches from both clubs agreed that the game should proceed despite A.P.I.A. not being able to field a full strength side.
Despite being undermanned it was A.P.I.A. who took control early when a shot from an acute angle from Jessica Theng eluded the Maccabi keeper to put A.P.I.A. one up.
A.P.I.A. played with two defenders Theng and Hook at the back with Souhier Vatim doing the work alone upfront then either defender would assist the striker when attacking. A.P.I.A. scored a second when Souhier Vatim scored her first of the night.
Maccabi opened their account when a counter attacking raid saw Ashley Rabie score after a nice one-two with Sophie Weisz.
A.P.I.A. soon reasserted their superiority when a nice turn and shot from Souhier Vatim put them 3-1 up. Vatim?s movement up front was causing Maccabi?s defence problems and it was her beautiful back-heel that led to the overlapping Jessica Theng scoring A.P.I.A.?s fourth.
Maccabi gave themselves a lifeline when Ashley Rabie scored just before half time. For the second period Maccabi coach Daniel Nadal made a tactical change by putting two defenders front and back on A.P.I.A.’s dangerous striker Souhier Vatim.
This starved the A.P.I.A. of possession which turned the game in their favour. With less options to pass to A.P.I.A. began to turn the ball over and Maccabi used their extra player to put the pressure back on their opponents.
It wasn?t long before Sophie Weisz grabbed their third after Jennifer Schnockill dispossessed a player mid-court.
A.P.I.A.?s three outfield players were tiring and Maccabi sensed a comeback. A shot from Ashley Rabie came close after A.P.I.A. keeper Marika Vazouras deflected her shot against the crossbar.
The A.P.I.A. keeper was performing heroics as she Marika Vazouras was increasingly called upon to keep her team in the game.
Maccabi drew level when Rabie?s shot was parried by Vazouras, the ball fell to Weisz to sweep the ball home 4-4. Shortly after Maccabi took the lead when Vazouras parried another shot into the path of Nicola Sevitt to slot home.
Maccabi extended their lead to 6-4 when a quickly taken free kick by Sophie Weisz caught the tired A.P.I.A. defence napping. Maccabi went to a virtual unassailable 7-4 lead when Jennifer Shknockill nicely setup Sophie Weisz to score her fourth.
A defiant A.P.I.A. surprised their opponents when Jessica Theng shot from around half way to put her side back into the contest. Then Souhier Vatim intercepted a defenders pass to slip the ball pass Claudia Sceats in goal.
With time running out A.P.I.A. nearly stole a point when the keeper?s long throw down court to Vatim saw her header tip agonisingly against the post and into the arms of the relieved Claudia Sceats.
A joyous Maccabi held on to claim victory 7-6 over a gallant A.P.I.A. team. The game showed that two lowly ranked, but evenly matched sides can also put on a great spectacle.