Following their opening match defeat of West Sydney Berries, where Manly certainly did step up to the plate and express their season intentions, Phil Moss? side added a second win against a bigger scalp ? Bankstown City.
In a match full of action, and five goals to show, supporters at Lidcombe Oval were treated to an exciting ninety minutes of football.
Bankstown City Assistant Peter Papoythis had to exclude Brett Studman from the starting line-up only minutes before kick-off, the defender picking up a strain during the warm-up, forcing a re-think in the defensive line.
Manly United again had their ?super-trio? up-front, Robbie Cattanach, Dusan Mihaljovic and Craig Midgley, with the latter scoring arguably the goal of the pre-season thus far.
Manly United started the match all guns blazing with an early attack on the right flank, Michael Lloyd-Green beating his man before delivering a perfectly weighted cross that only just missed the head of Cattanach.
Bankstown City settled well in midfield with experienced campaigner George Nohra, and midfield partner Robert Mileski, calling the shots. The pair took turns at releasing Steve Liavas on the right-flank, meanwhile James Monie did his chances of scoring a permanent deal with the club every good, with a strong performance between midfield and attack.
Despite going close to breaking the dead-lock in the 9? minute, Liavas? cross from the right was well read by Manly shot-stopper Brad Swancott, Manly took the lead one-minute later.
A fine floated cross into the penalty area was expertly headed into the back of the net, with an exceptional looping header from Dusan Mihaljovic.
Manly United had the lead, though Bankstown City maintained the hold on possession.
Stefce Soleski had a snap-shot from the edge of the penalty-area sail over the cross bar, before the 2007 NSW Premier League Runners-up did find the equalising goal.
Liavas latched onto a loose ball inside the Manly United penalty-area and forced a point-blank reflex save from Swancott.
The resulting rebound fell to the waiting Robert Mileski who, from the edge of the penalty-area, guided the ball into the empty net.
Keith Shelvin attempted to re-animate Manly from the kick-off though the good build-up play down the left-flank amounted to nothing.
Manly United?s lead was re-instated in the 25? minute when Football NSW Gold Medal winner Robbie Cattanach hit a splendid free-kick from just outside the penalty-area.
Cattanach?s driven effort avoided the Bankstown City wall, leaving Zlatko Josevski with no chance of guiding the ball around the post.
Bankstown City did not have to wait long to get back on level terms, as Player/Coach Peter Tsekenis headed his side level.
A corner from the left evaded the grasping arms of Swancott and Peter Tsekenis, at the back post, headed back towards goal. Despite Manly?s efforts to clear the ball off the line, the referee?s Assistant raised his flag to validate the goal.
The protests of the Manly defenders followed, though confirmation of the ball crossing the line was given by Manly boss Phil Moss, who was quick to ?pay? Tsekenis his equalising goal following the match.
Bankstown raised the tempo after their equaliser, and the second-half was to bring much of the same from Peter Tsekenis & Co.
George Nohra continued to pull the strings in midfield, with Bankstown?s short-game close to perfect when going forward.
Despite their early possession dominance though, Manly frustrated Bankstown with some compact defending.
Manly United?s resolute defending paid dividends in the 70? minute, as a counter-attack saw Craig Midgley chase down a long clearance from the Manly defence.
With Zlatko Josevski rushing out of his goalmouth to clear the ball, Midgley unleashed a shot from forty-metres as he anticipated the Bankstown shot-stopper – the ball taking one bounce before finding the back of the net.
In arguably the goal of the pre-season to-date, Midgley got his just reward for another stellar showing.
Manly monitored Bankstown City?s attacks in the final 20? minutes, as skill and finesse from Nohra, Mileski and Monie could not find a way past the defence.
Manly United held on for the three-points, and confirmed their status for a strong showing in 2008.
Phil Moss commented his side?s fine performance:
?It was a good win for us. Two big scalps in the first two matches is very good for team morale.
?I am happy with the cohesion amongst the players, even at this early stage. We want to play more attacking football this season, and I am happy with the initial progress.?
Bankstown City Assistant coach Peter Papoythis drew positives from the match despite the result:
?All I can say at this stage is that we are a 60-minute team at the moment.
?Our fitness is not where it needs to be yet, it is still very early in the season.
?Considering we were also missing a couple of players, and Studman had to withdraw minutes before the start, I am still happy with a lot of what I saw.?
– Joseph Carlucci
- 3 ? Craig Midgley (MU)
- 2 ? Robbie Cattanach (MU)
- 1 ? Robert Mileski (BC)
Bankstown City v Manly United, Lidcombe Oval ? 6:45 pm kick-off.
Bankstown City 2 (Robert Mileski 17?, Peter Tsekenis 34? )
Manly United 3 (Dusan Mihaljovic 12?, Robbie Cattanach 25?, Craig Midgley 70?)
Wednesday, 30th January 2008
Referee: A. Stibinger
Assistant Referees: D. Fuda and N. Backo
Crowd: 300 approx.
Bankstown City: Zlatko Josevski, Ibrahim Haydar, Richard Luksic, Peter Tsekenis, Stefanos Liavas, George Nohra (C), Robert Mileski, James Monie, Stefce Soleski, Tyfun Devrimol, Omar Saadi
Substitutions: Daniel Slaveski, Richard Tuntevski, Jonathon Jackson, Ivo De Jesus
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Manly United: Brad Swancott; Andrew Mailer, Roberto Hamad, Pascal Julliard, Robbie Cattanach, Dusan Mihaljovic, Michael Lloyd-Green, Craig Midgley, Keith Shelvin, Beau Busch, Richard Williams (C)
Substitutes: Luke Femia; Ashley Ryan, Michael Williams, Shaun Bowden
Yellow Cards: A. El Jamal 78?.
Red Cards: Nil