Demons and Tigers share the spoils


It was an exciting match that did not reach technical heights but the closeness of the score-line had both sets of supporters on the edge of their seats.
However throughout the general play it was the home team that dominated, and whilst A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt were relieved to at least pick up a point, the Demons went away disappointed with just one.
The match started strongly for the underdogs Blacktown as Matt Lewis created a good chance but rather than shooting he crossed and the opportunity came to nothing. In the 9? minute A.P.I.A. were denied a penalty as it looked as though Luka Dukic had handled the ball in the penalty-area as Stephen Kayes tried to play a team-mate in on goal. However the officials were unsighted and the penalty claims were denied.
A minute later Luke Austin – starting for the first time for Blacktown at just sixteen years of age – played a great ball through to Tyler Simpson but the Tigers managed to hustle Simpson off the ball. Two minutes later, the ball was at the other end of the field as Stephen Kayes put in a cross from the right but the ball floated over the head of Robbie Younis and a great chance was missed.
From that point though, the half was all about Blacktown in terms of possession, with Akwasi Agyei leading the way up the middle of the park. Agyei laid the ball across to Luke Austin who put in a great cross to Simpson once more in the 18? minute, but Simpson?s header came off the top of his head and went over the cross-bar.
An effort on target finally came for Blacktown City who were finding it hard to put a chance on the end of their possession, in the 24? minute but Chris Bedzo?s shot gently fell into the hands of Matthew Nash in the A.P.I.A. goal. 
The avenue that the visitors had their chances from was David D?Apuzzo. In the 24? minute he ran through the centre of defence only to be denied by Ivan Necevski at his near post.
A minute later, the ball was at the other end of the field and Chris Bedzo set up Matt Lewis who was unmarked on his left. Lewis had enough time to fire a fierce shot at the goal. Despite going straight to an advancing Nash the ball squeezed under his body and ended up in the goal.
Moments later D?Apuzzo tried to create an immediate equaliser as he advanced down the left but his pass was intercepted at the near post and put out of danger by the Blacktown defence.
Despite Blacktown City?s dominance of possession, and the great work from Agyei in the middle of the park, the Demons still could not turn their domination into efforts on target. In fact in the closing five minutes of the half it was A.P.I.A. with the better chances, but neither Younis nor Jamie McMaster could put a strong shot on target either.
The second-half saw A.P.I.A. start with the upper hand, again through D?Apuzzo, but the defence of Austin, Karbon, Forbes and Dukic were working well to hustle their opponents off the ball.
Blacktown again took the upper hand at the 50? minute mark, and moments later, Bedzo put a speculator through ball that Austin ran down and crossed towards Tyler Simpson ? though Nash got to it just in-front of him.
In the 58? minute Tyler Simpson broke through on the right and set up a situation where there were three on two but his pass across to a free running Chris Bedzo went too far and missed the intended target.
Five minutes later, Jordan Simpson replicated his brother?s effort as he passed to one of the two A.P.I.A. defenders around him instead of the three team-mates advancing with him.
In the 67? minute Robbie Younis put a free-kick on target but Necevski easily handled it. Four minutes later Bedzo stole the ball from between John Kelso and Mark Byrnes but as he shot he had to twist his body and the ball went just over the cross-bar.
Paul Karbon then almost presented A.P.I.A. with an equaliser as he laid a ball back into what would have been the path of Younis had the Tigers striker not been caught on the back foot – the ball instead fortuitously fell to Necevski.
In the 78? minute Stephen Kayes put in a cross from the right and Paul Kohler had a free header five metres from goal but the ball was brilliantly palmed away by Necevski at point-blank range.
It was a warning to Blacktown City but one they did not heed.
In the 81? minute a D?Appuzzo corner was headed home by Mark Byrnes through traffic and into the far corner of the net to give A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers the equaliser.
A.P.I.A. stepped up the attack but was unable to score and the best chance of the final few minutes fell to the locals. Bedzo, who had drifted in and out of the match, was now very much involved once more, won the ball once more and laid it into the path of Jordan Simpson who fired the ball towards goal but also straight at Nash who blocked it magnificently.
Right at the end of the match Luke Austin and Matt Lewis combined to set Jessie Pinto up but, like so much of the match before it, he could not put a shot on target.
Blacktown had played with a team that would have been eligible to play in the Under 20 competition, with just four over age players, a side with an average age of 19.
They were enthusiastic and well led in the middle of the park by Agyei who had good support from the likes of Austin and Lewis. For A.P.I.A., they disappointed their fans with a poor display, not aided by a surface where they struggled to hold their feet following the wet weather, and were out enthused by their opposition.
John Romeo gave full credit to Blacktown:
?It was a disappointing result for us but all credit to Blacktown, they came to play today and we were happy to get a point in the end.?
Ken Schembri was also disappointed:
?We need to win games, we deserved to win today but we come away with just a point. We were well in the contest but let ourselves down in the end. However there are encouraging signs for the side and we will learn from this.?
Match Stats
Blacktown Demons 1 (Matt Lewis 25?)
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers 1 (Mark Byrnes 81?)
Venue: Gabbie Stadium
Referee: Brett Hookham
Crowd: 300

Blacktown City Demons: 1. Ivan Necevski; 3. Paul Karbon, 7. Tyler Simpson (6. Ken Chun 75?), 8. Chris Bedzo, 17. Graeme Forbes, 18. Jessie Pinto, 19. Akwasi Agyei, 21. Luka Dukic, 25. Jordan Simpson, 29. Matt Lewis, 33. Luke Austin
Substitutes Not Used: 12. Brendan Maroney, 11. Nicholas Ruoco, 20. Matt Nemes, 16. Tim Rassmussen
Yellow Cards: Tyler Simpson 9?, Graeme Forbes 80?
Red Cards: Nil
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers: 1. Matthew Nash, 2. Mark Byrnes, 3. John Kelso, 4. Daniel Clifford, 6. Paul Kohler, 7. Stephen Kayes, 9. Robert Younis, 10. Franco Parisi, (14. Joe Bruni 90?), 11. Jamie McMaster (23. Christian Care 65?), 13. David D?Appuzo, 18. Peter Peralta (26. Daine Merrin 65?)
Substitutes Not Used:  20. Zain Zannelli, 16. Simon Ryan
Yellow Cards: Stephen Kayes 69?
Red Cards: Nil
Player Ratings:
3 – Akwasi Agyei
2 – Luke Austin
1 – David D?Appuzo
 -By Stuart Jones