It looked as though it was to be the home team to take maximum points from the encounter until a last minute own goal meant the spoils were shared.
The match started with the local side dominating their opponents and they were unlucky not to score in the opening ten minutes. In the 4? minute the ball looked to have crossed the line for Sydney United but a free-kick was awarded for a foul on the goalkeeper.
A minute later Ante Juric blocked an attempt on target from Luka Glavas after Glavas had volleyed a cross from the right.
In the 15? minute Glavas curled a ball high and wide after good lead up play from his team-mates in the centre of the park.
Penrith Nepean tried to strike the ball home first in the 17? minute when Javier Mancino and Erick Anabalon combined to help Nathan Ralph outflank his opponents. Ralph?s shot was well saved low by Vedran Janjetovic in goal for the home side.
Sydney United finally capitalised on their opportunities in the 24? minute when a ball from Chris Boyle down the left was pounced upon by an unmarked Ivo Bosnar, and he put the ball into the back of the net at the far post.
Penrith-Nepean upped the tempo after this set back and three minutes late Panagiotis Nikas, making the first senior start of his career, played Javier Mancino through on goal only for Mancino to be pulled down in the area. Erick Anabalon stepped up and converted from the spot to tie the game at one goal apiece.
This seemed to wake Sydney United up from their comfort zone and they were back in the lead in the 32? minute.
Ben Vidaic headed a brilliant Boyle cross from the left home through the crowded penalty area. Ante Juric, playing some inspirational football against his old club, then nearly equalised once more with his curling shot being pulled out of mid-air by a diving Janjetovic when it looked as though it was goal-bound.
A minute later a Chris Boyle half volley went just over the bar for the home side. At the other end Anabalon played Mancino through at the near post and his shot/pass just needed to be tapped home by someone at the far post but noone was there.
Then three minutes from the break Anabalon was fouled just outside the area but the free-kick by Nikas deflected off the wall and went away for a corner which amounted to nothing either.
The second-half started with a strong run down the right by Petar Markovic, a warning sign for the visitors of things to come. In the 51? minute the League?s equal leading goal scorer, Erick Anabalon, went one-on-one with the Sydney United goalkeeper but came away second best as Janjetovic prevailed.
The game then tilted towards a more aggressive approach as Damon Collina first had a clash with Nikas and then was very firm with the referee. However Kris Griffith-Jones kept good control of the match.
In the 62nd minute a cross from Markovic saw Ben Vidaic turn on the ball, but his half-volley was put over the bar.
Two minutes later Penrith-Nepean responded with a run through the middle of the park by Nathan Ralph.
He laid it off to the right and the ball came back across the face of goal where Nikas seemed ready to tap the ball home. However, a magnificent sliding tackle by a Sydney United defender saw the visitors denied the opportunity.
In the 72? minute a Chris Boyle corner was met at the far post by a header from Ivo Bosnar but it ended up going over the top of the bar.
Then with ten minutes to go Boyle combined with Vidaic but Daniel Schwarzer in the visitor?s goal saved the shot with his feet. In between those efforts the visitors had Michael Cromar dismissed for his second bookable offence inside ten minutes and Penrith started looking shaky as their structure had to adjust to being a player down.
Furthermore in the 80? minute, Petar Markovic threatened the visitors once more but substitute Elsid Barkhousir saw his header well saved by Schwarzer. Then Boyle smashed a ball to the far post, beating Schwarzer and his team-mates, only for the ball to go the wrong side of the post.
In the 85? minute Vidaic put another shot on target but was once again denied by the Penrith-Nepean custodian.
In the 89? minute Ante Juric, Penrith were now coming forward in numbers, picked up the scraps outside the area and fired a ball just wide of the post.
It seemed as though Sydney United would not pay too high a price for their missed opportunities when the ball fell into their penalty area one last time. Nikas had a shot that looked to be going in but it was cleared to the side of the post.
Many players stopped as they felt the ball was out but Javier Mancino managed to scoop it back into the middle of the goalmouth. With Shannon Burgin and team-mates ready to pounce on the ball Joe Vrkic tried to hit the ball out of danger but only managed to fire the ball home for the unluckiest of own goals.
The visitors now back on level terms had to hold on for a result. Despite there only being a couple of minutes of stoppage time left Sydney United nearly scored the winner with Daniel Schwarzer pulling off a world class double save, the first with his hands and the second, as he was getting up from the first, with his feet.
At full time Ivan Petkovic was disappointed with the result:
?We played some really good stuff in the first-half. We created enough chances to put Penrith away. If you don?t score you get punished and we were punished with a late goal today which is disappointing.?
Penrith Nepean United assistant coach Danny Aboud (standing in for a sick Abbas Saad) was realistic about the result:
?We got overawed in the first ten minutes tonight. We could have won if we had concentrated earlier and stuck to our game plan. I believe we matched them although the send off did not help things. We were good enough to stick to our guns though, overall we are getting better. The boys lifted and realised they could get some reward for their hard effort today and that turned out to be the case.?
Sydney United 2 (Ivo Bosnar 24?, Ben Vidaic 32?)
Penrith Nepean United 2 (Eric Anabalon pen 28?, Joe Vrkic own goal 90?)
Ground: Sydney United Sports Centre
Referee: Kris GRIFFITHS JONES
Sydney United: 30. Vedran JANJETOVIC; 3. Joe MORIC, 6. Joe VRKIC, 5. Damon COLLINA, 21. Saso TRAJCEVSKI, 23. Ivo BOSNAR, 15.Chris BOYLE, 4.
Substitutes Not Used: 2. Ricky PERINICH, 18. Andrija PETKOVIC, 50. Aaron RIGATO
Yellow Cards: Luka GLAVAS 66?, Damon COLLINA 69?
Red Cards: Nil
Penrith-Nepean United: 42. Daniel SCHWARZER; 23. Devrim HUSEYIN (81? 30. Shannon BURGIN), 11. Erick ANABALON, 7. Javier MANCINO, 5. Luke BOYD, 16. Michael CROMAR, 13. Nathan RALPH, 4. Ryan O?SHEA, 2. William STUART, 28. Ante JURIC, 29. Panagiotis NIKAS
Substitutes Not Used:1. Chad TAYLOR, 8. Stewart VAN BENTUM, 18. Brenden SEMENIKOW, 19. Frank ROMEO
Yellow Cards: Michael Cromar 65?, 73?
Red Cards: Michael Cromar: 73?
3 – Chris Boyle (SU)
2 – Peter Markovic (SU)
1 – Ante Juric (PNU)
-By Stuart Jones