The playing field was compact, the night was fresh, and the local supporters ventured out with their blankets hoping to be warmed by some entertaining football.
The pitch was conducive to quick passing and swift counter attacking football, and it was the visitors that adapted best and came out of the blocks firing, hoping to catch the home side napping.
Remarkably the Spartans could?ve scored three times within the opening three minutes, with gun striker McPherson unlucky to remain scoreless.
After a mere 30 seconds Georges passed square to an umarked McPherson, who shot over the bar from the edge of the box. Within a minute, McPherson dispossessed Mounties defender Teasdale, raced away, and then cut back inside the unfortunate defender as he entered the box, before clipping delightfully over the advancing Kljajic. The ball hit the outside of the post and bounced to safety.
McPherson had his third opportunity in as many minutes when he sped onto a through pass, rounded the keeper Kljajic, but his shot from an acute angle went harmlessly across the face of the goal.
Mounties FC then had a great chance on 7 minutes when Tomich played Baldock into a gap, and the winger got to the ball before the Spartans? keeper Rogers, only to see his toe poke dribble inches wide of the upright.
A couple of minutes later and the Mounties kept up the pressure, when Lloyd?s strong header flashed wide after a good cross from Ljuboja.
The Spartans kept at it, however, and a strong snap shot from 20 yards by Delaney was spilled by Kljajic, and McPherson was first to the rebound only for his header to be saved by the attentive keeper.
On 17 minutes it was McPherson?s turn to be the provider, and his cross fell sweetly into the path of the onrushing Delaney, whose initial shot was blocked. But he followed up the shot with a header which bounced inches wide of the post.
For all the enterprising play early, the Spartans had nothing to show for it, but they persisted and were not to be denied, with two goals in as many minutes.
The deadlock was finally broken when Delaney raced onto a delightful chipped pass from
Matthew Hubbard, to slip the ball past the advancing Kljajic in the Mounties goal.
Goal number two arrived shortly after, and what a goal it was to give the Spartans a deserved 2-0 advantage.
Delaney this time sped down the flank to deliver a low cross, and whilst Georges? initial shot was blocked and bounced back to him, his layback fell nicely into Matthew Hubbard?s path. The long haired midfielder steadied himself before drilling an absolute gem of a shot into the roof of the net from the edge of the box.
The Spartans were then reduced to ten men on 36 minutes, when midfielder Infanti picked up two yellow cards within minutes of each other, forcing referee Mr. I. Fouda into his back pocket to issue a red card.
The Mounties then took advantage of the extra man, and sprung to life with three attempts on goal before half time.
Lloyd was the first with a snapshot volley on the turn that cleared the bar on 39 minutes.
Then it was the turn of Tomich, who firstly headed Baldock?s firm corner over the bar on 42 minutes, and then just before half time had his rebound shot brilliantly saved by Spartans keeper Rogers, after he had initially spilled a grass cutter by Bourke.
Half time arrived, and the Spartans had definitely been the better team, probably ruing their missed opportunities which would?ve put the game out of reach of the home side.
Mounties commenced the second period with real vigour, after a half time pep talk no doubt, and duly picked up three yellow cards with as many minutes, keeping referee Mr Fouda?s pen busy.
But their increased intensity didn?t trouble the scoreboard attendant, so Mounties made a couple of substitutions to try and spice things up further. On 65 minutes they almost broke their drought when substitute Noro got his head to a firm cross, knocking it back across the goal only for Lloyd?s stab to be saved by Rogers right on the goal line.
On 68 minutes came the defining moment of the second half. Mounties skipper Bourke hit a high looping cross that hung in the air, finally dropping close to the post. Lloyd?s fair challenge on Rogers caused the Spartans? keeper to spill the ball, and the striker, standing almost on the goal-line, on the outside of the post, spun and hit a low shot which ran across the goal and hit the far upright.
Blacktown defender Todd picked up the loose ball to start a quick counter attack. A few passes later and Georges had flicked on a header in the middle of the Mounties half to the onrushing Macerola. The big midfielder steadied himself as he entered the box, cut inside substitute Salvaggio, before slamming a low left foot crack into the home side?s net, effectively ending the contest.
Blacktown Spartans coach, Jeff Suzor, was understandably thrilled with his team?s performance? ?We put in a super effort, especially being down to ten men for almost an hour,? he said.
?We came with a game plan to put pressure on the Mounties from the start, and the boys executed the plan well. We had many good players tonight, it was real team effort? said a beaming Suzor.
The home side?s fans were left bitterly disappointed with their team?s result, but should be happy with the efforts of ; big striker Tomich, who held the ball up well without support ; Baldock, who was industrious all night, busily raiding the flanks ; and nippy midfielder Sratongmon, working tirelessly in the guts of the park.
For the visitors, Blacktown Spartans, there were many solid performances, none other than ; Delaney was effective with every touch of the ball, either setting up goal opportunities of having a go himself ; long haired midfielder McCaffery, who was as tenacious as a bulldog in the middle of the park ; central defenders Todd and skipper Peter Hubbard, who were sound and solid all day ; and midfielder Matthew Hubbard, who scored a great goal, set up another, and was involved in most of his team?s attacking moves before his substitution.
MOUNTIES FC 0
BLACKTOWN SPARTANS 3 (Delaney 18?,Hubbard M 20?,Macerola 68?)
Mounties FC; 1. Kljajic, 3. Teasdale, 19. Ljuboja (2. Salvaggio 57?), 16. Provan (17. Sanchez 76?), 4. Baldock, 9. Viera, 14. Sratongmon (11. Noro 63?), 6. Sacco,
8. Bourke ? , 10. Tomich, 12. Lloyd.
Subs not used; 20. Wawi, 21.Biernat(RGK).
Blacktown Spartans ; 1. Rogers (20. Abrahams 70?), 2. Johnston, 4. Todd, 5. Hubbard M.(3. Dixon 76?), 6. Infanti, 7. McCaffery, 11. McPherson (9. Haddad 59?) 15. Delaney, 16. Georges, 17. Hubbard P. ?, 18. Macerola.
Subs not used; 13. Scibberas.
Other Division 1 Matches
Hills Brumbies knocked previous leaders Spirit FC off their perch with a solid 1-1 home draw at Second Ponds Oval. Spirit FC got off to a great start, with Peatey putting them in front after merely three minutes. But Bajic grabbed the all important equalizer on 31 minutes, and the scoreline stayed that way until the end.
At Hajduk Stadium on Saturday evening, home side Sydney Wanderers took unpredictable Dulwich Hill to the cleaners with a 6-1 demolition.
Six different goalscorers reflected a true team performance from the home side, made even more remarkable given the visitors scored first through Bove after just 2 minutes.
Soane equalized after 19 minutes, and Hurtado Pacheco put the Wanderers in front 11 minutes before the break. The goals flowed in the second period, with a penalty from Pannowitz in the 48th minute starting the avalanche. Elrich (70?), Scott (74?) and Ramirez (88?) finished off the scoring, giving the home side their second win of the season.
On Sunday, the Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre played host to the Hurstville derby, with Hurstville Minotaurs and Hurstville ZSC sharing the spoils after a 1-1 draw. The result did neither team any favours, leaving them near the base of the Division One ladder.
Schofield Scorpions moved up to fourth spot on the ladder with a 2-1 away victory at UNSW. Cevenini grabbed both goals for the visitors, scoring in the 31st and 87th minutes, sandwiching the UNSW reply from Byrne after 39 minutes.
In the big match at Concord Oval on Sunday between two undefeated teams, Inter Lions prevailed over Stanmore Hawks with a close 1-0 victory. Bugallo got the decisive goal for the home side after 65 minutes, putting the Lions top of the ladder on their own on 16 points.
-By Frank Speranza