Played in warm conditions, neither side managed to take advantage of an often scrappy affair in-front of a small crowd that battled the Easter show and Rugby League crowds at the surrounding venues at Olympic Park.
West Sydney Berries have been the surprise package this season, with the ?new boys? raising huge concern amongst their more illustrious opponents.
The Berries were extremely unlucky not to take three-points against Sydney United in Round 4 ? losing out 1-0 in a match largely dominated by the Berries ? and the encounter with A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt provided Scott Baillie & Co. with a good chance of challenging for the top-four.
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt on the other hand finally turned their disastrous start to the season around against Blacktown City Demons prior to the Easter break, though the clash with the Berries would not prove fruitful; for either side in the end.
The 1-1 final result leaves both sides bitterly disappointed following a physical, yet scrappy, encounter.
A quiet first-period produced very little for the 500 supporters in the stands as goal-scoring opportunities were at a minimum.
Half chances to Johnny Fotiadis for the Berries and Robert Younis for the Tigers failed to spark the match into action early, with most of the battle occurring in the middle of the park.
The Berries gained the upper-hand in terms of possession midway through the half, with Scott Baillie distributing the ball out to the two wings from deep in midfield.
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt nearly caught the Berries out on 17? minutes as Peter Peralta picked up a loose ball in midfield.
The talented midfielder dribbled his way to the edge of the penalty area before unleashing a low-driven effort that failed to test Hamish McLean in the Berries goal.
The Berries response was immediate, with Kosta Lagoudakis providing his front-men with some positive link-up play out of midfield.
On 31? minutes, the Berries found the breakthrough.
A counter-attack on the right-flank provided Fotiadis with some space on the wing. His speed and tenacity enabled the Berries player to supply a precise pass across the face of goal and into the path of Gioseu Sama who elegantly diverted the ball past Matthew Nash in the Tigers goal.
The Tigers nearly drew level just before half-time.
A precise free-kick from just outside the penalty area ? taken by Christian Care ? met the head of Marton Vass who rose the highest to powerfully head goal-wards.
The midfielder?s effort was thwarted with an exceptional reflex save by McLean
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt found an equaliser early in the second-half via the penalty-spot.
Robert Younis latched onto an exquisite through ball from Vass, only to be blatantly fouled by the Berries? Scott Baillie.
Younis dusted himself off to step-up and convert the spot-kick, giving the Tigers every chance to challenge for the win.
Despite the momentum changing into the Tigers? favour, the Berries were still dangerous on the counter-attack.
In the 12? minute, Giosue Sama was through on the left-flank and only just failed to pick-out the far corner with his in-swinging effort.
On 23? minutes, the Berries chances of victory were dealt a major blow when Scott Thomas was shown a straight red card for a behind the scenes scuffle with Peter Peralta.
The Tigers midfielder produced a ball winning tackle on the Berries man, though the Berries Number 7 took exception to the challenge.
The referee consulted his linesman and produced Thomas a straight red card for his retaliation.
End-to-end action failed to produce a match-winner in the final stages of the match, though Berries? supporters would have had their hearts in their throats as Daniel Clifford volleyed just wide of the goal in the final minute of injury time.
A poor clearance by the Berries defence fell to Clifford on the edge of the area ? his volleyed effort skimmed the up-right.
In the end, a 1-1 result that did not please either coach.
West Sydney Berries Assistant Coach Ramsin Shamon commented his side?s display:
?Very disappointed with the final outcome today. I thought that we were looking good going into the match.
?With the week off, we managed to get a few niggling injuries out and I thought that the break had done us the world of good.
?We have battled with quiet a few regulars out at the moment, though we trained really well over the past week.
?The match was very scrappy, especially in the first-half, and I am definitely disappointed that we lost another player to a red-card ? that?s three now for the season, and it is very disappointing for me to have players being dismissed in important matches.?
Next weekend, West Sydney Berries face Manly United, a prospect that Ramsin is looking forward to:
?We played them in pre-season and I was really happy with the performance we put together then. They are a great side, though we will be up to challenging them next weekend.?
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers? boss John Romeo was far from impressed with his side?s showing:
?The result today is extremely disappointing. We came here to get three points and go home only with one.
?Our team was very flat, especially in the final-third, and we lost two-points today ? that?s how I see it rather than gaining a point.
?Credit to the Berries who played well, even with a man sent off for the final 20? minutes, though we should have been in control at that stage regardless.
?Overall, the improvements made over the past couple of weeks have been very promising, and it is a shame today that we sort of took a step back.?
West Sydney Berries 1 (Giosue Sama 31?)
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers 1 (Robert Younis 50?)
Venue: Sydney Athletic Centre
Referee: Atila Stibinger
Assistant Referees: Stephen Duckitt, Gareth Askham
Fourth Official: Cameron Bruce
Crowd: 500 approx.
West Sydney Berries: 1. Hamish McLean; 4. Scott Baillie, 6. Jack Sobczyk, 7. Scott Thomas, 8. Johnny Fotiadis, 11. Aheleas Kotsopoulos, 16. Kosta Lagoudakis, 17. Sash Tirovski, 18.Giosue Sama, 21. John Ferguson, 9. Nico Sama (12. Neill Phillipou 70?)
Substitutes not used: 13. Sargon Georges, 69. John Franceskov, 20. Angelo Petratos,
Yellow Cards: Kosta Lagoudakis 27?, Giosue Sama 30?, Scott Baillie 48?
Red Cards: Scott Thomas 68?
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers: 1. Matthew Nash; 3. John Kelso, 4. Daniel Clifford, 5. Michael Galluzzo, 7. Stephen Kayes, 9. Robert Younis (14. Joseph Bruni 81), 10. Franco Parisi (17. Christian Cevenini 62?), 12. Marton Vass, 13. David D?Apuzzo, 18. Peter Peralta, 23. Christian Care (8. Ian King 68?)
Substitutes not used: 11. Jimmy Nikas, 40, Milan Udvaracz
Yellow Cards: David D?Apuzzo 28?
3 ? Giosue Sama (WSB)
2 ? Kosta Lagoudakis (WSB)
1 ? Michael Galluzzo (ALT)
-By Joseph Carlucci