Played under a stop-start rain, and under lights in the second-half thanks to the dark grey cloud covering, both sides struggled to entertain the faithful who had braved the conditions on Sydney?s first day of winter.
After the game A.P.I.A. coach John Romeo simply said:
?If you don?t take your chances, you don?t win games. We let it slip away in the last few minutes.?
His Wollongong FC counterpart, John Turner, could well have made the long drive back to his South Coast home wondering how his team had not wrapped up all three points.
A missed penalty in the first-half and missed chances in the second, despite having the majority of possession in the second stanza of play, would have left Turner disappointed about not collecting all three points.
In the 5? minute Jamie McMaster broke away from midfield and was brought down on the edge of the box by Michael West who was booked for his trouble. Robert Younis didn?t do too much with the free-kick sending it over the crossbar.
Wollongong FC came close to taking the lead in the 16? minute when a Steve Hayes cross found Chris Price who, from close range, forced Matthew Nash to brilliantly force the ball away for a corner.
Shortly afterwards Younis nicely set up strike partner Franco Parisi, but his shot was off target.
The most important moment of the first-half was in the 26?minute when referee Matthew Gillett judged that Nash had brought Chris Price purposely down in the penalty area and the man with the whistle had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
However, Ilija Prenzoski failed to convert thanks to a brilliant diving save by Nash to his right.
A.P.I.A. Leichhardt replied a few minutes later when new signing Paul Kohler fired over the crossbar. Osagie Ederaro did the same for the visitors in the 35? minute as both sides struggled to get shots on target.
A.P.I.A. had a golden chance in the 41? minute when Younis superbly found an unmarked McMaster, but the former Leeds United player headed the ball just wide of the post.
Right on the stroke of half-time a Tigers free-kick was neatly sent back into the box by Marton Vass for Parisi, but the volley from the normally reliable striker was off target.
The second-half got underway as the lights were turned on at Lambert Park.
The grey clouds above threatened to send an almighty downpour, but luckily for the players and fans alike nothing more than some light drizzle was felt.
The first real chance in the second-half arrived in the 63? minute when Balla Conde, arguably the best player on the field, magnificently found Matt Bailey who fired in a shot that went just over Nash?s goal.
A.P.I.A. opened the scoring in the 69? minute after Vass superbly bolted away on the right hand side of the field and, with a tremendous cross, pinpointed Parisi who showed real class in flicking the ball into the net past an outstretched Justin Pasfield.
The finish by the former NSL striker was a demonstration of the superb opportunism of which he is capable of taking advantage.
A John Kelso free-kick seemed to beat everyone except Pasfield a few minutes later as the Tigers went on the prowl for their second goal.
However, Wollongong FC deservedly equalised in the 83? minute. Lachlan Cahill, on the field for only a few minutes, magnificently switched play from left to right and accurately found Bailey unmarked and the latter, with a great strike, fired the ball into the back of the net much to the delight of his teammates.
A.P.I.A. Leichhardt 1 (Franco Parisi 69?)
WOLLONGONG FC 1 (Matthew Bailey 83?)
Venue: Lambert Park
Referee: Matthew Gillett
Referee Assistants: Greg McLoughlin and Lance Greenshields
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers: Matthew Nash; John Kelso, Mark Byrnes, Daniel Clifford, David D?Apuzzo, Paul Kohler, Stephen Kayes, Jamie McMaster, Robert Younis (Joe Bruni 86?), Franco Parisi, Marton Vass.
Substitutes Not Used: Zaim Zeneli, Simon Ryan, Christian Care and Daine Merrin
Wollongon FC: Justin Pasfield; Michael West, Steve Hayes, Ilija Prenzoski (Alfredo Estevez 90?), Balla Conde, Chris Price (Lachlan Cahill 76?), Tynan Diaz, Danial Cummins, Ben Blake, Osagie Ederaro (Mitchell Long 76?), Matt Bailey.
Substitutes Not Used: Daniel Nash
Yellow Cards: Younis 22?, Nash 26?, McMaster 44?, D?Apuzzo 77? (A.P.I.A.), West 5?, Ederaro 44?, Price 45?, Hayes , Cummins 75? (Wollongong)
3 – Balla Conde (WFC)
2 – Franco Parisi (ALT)
1 – Matt Bailey (WFC)
-By Joe Russo