The Berries produced arguably their best home performance of the season, creating a number of excellent goal-scoring opportunities that were squandered due to poor finishing.
With five minutes of normal time remaining however, a hopeful ball lifted into the Berries penalty area fell to Chris Boyle, whose deflected strike flew past West Sydney goalkeeper Hamish McLean to give Sydney United the victory in a cruel twist for the Berries.
The win moves United into third place, one-point behind Manly in second, whilst West Sydney languish in 8th spot, only two points ahead of Macarthur Rams who are second last.
Recently appointed Berries coach Ramsin Shamon made key changes to his first team squad ahead of the match, calling up young defender Omar Saadi for his Premier League debut.
Shamon?s decisions were almost vindicated within the first minute of the match, as Berries left-back Archie Kotsopoulos burst into the United box. The West Sydney captain managed to get to the by-line before crossing low for striker Phillipou, whose poor first touch allowed the ball to trickle agonisingly through to United goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic.
Two minutes later and ex A-League striker Luka Glavas controlled the ball on the edge of the West Sydney penalty area. Turning his man brilliantly, Glavas made space for himself before placing a low shot to the left of McLean, who did well to turn the ball around the post.
Following more West Sydney incisions into the penalty area, Ben Vidaic ? another of the Premier League?s ex A-League prospects ? produced a wonderful individual effort.
Collecting the ball without much space on the right-hand touch-line, Vidaic managed to cut inside before skipping past a host of static Berries defenders in the box, unleashing a right-foot shot that clipped the legs of McLean before rolling agonisingly past the far post.
After 15? minutes, the energetic Aheleas Kotsopoulos embarked on another crusade on the left-hand side. Using his pace to beat United right-back Josip Moric to the by-line, Kotsopoulos squared the ball across the face of goal. Striker Neill Phillipou managed to beat his marker to the near post but could only manage to guide the ball into the side netting.
Despite the slippery surface, both sides proceeded to play an open, attacking style of football that saw the play flow from end to end.
The Berries started the second-half brightly, pressing high up the park, dominating possession in midfield and creating a number of opportunities, in what would become a recurring theme during the second-half.
Only 5? minutes into the second-half and Neill Phillipou squared the ball across the penalty box for Josh Sama, who from a few metres out could not manage to curl the ball toward the United goal, seeing his effort fly well wide of Janjetovic?s right-hand post.
Sama was again at the centre of play two minutes later, as he took control of the ball near half-way before producing a wonderful turn to beat his man. After breaching the communication barrier with midfield team-mate Lagoudakis ? who for a moment looked as though he was going to take possession of the ball ? Sama raced into the box and turned two United defenders before seeing his strike deflect just wide of the right-hand post with Janjetovic stranded.
In a moment that epitomised the Berries? failed efforts to score, man-of-the-match Kotsopoulos used his raw pace with the ball to reach the by-line again. The left-back delivered an accurate low cross which Josh Sama attempted to hit first-time inside the box. Unmarked and under no pressure, the Berries striker missed the ball completely with the goal beckoning.
Kotsopoulos again in the 79? minute of the match helped create another goal-scoring chance for his side. Making a late run on the left-hand side to support the isolated John Tsironis, Kotsopoulos squared the ball to the on-rushing Kosta Lagoudakis outside the box, his first time-effort flashed past the left-hand post with the goalkeeper fully stretched.
In a moment which is perhaps typical of the unpredictable and often cruel nature of football, Chris Boyle punished the West Sydney for their poor finishing in the 85? minute, when he scored from close-range to condemn the home side to defeat.
For Ramsin Shamon and his Berries side, the battle to avoid relegation has just become that little bit more difficult. For Ivan Petkovic and Sydney United, perhaps such an undeserved victory is an indicator of the strength of a side who can win without playing at their best.
After a promising performance by his new side, Ramsin Shamon applauded the efforts of his players and bemoaned a lack of finishing:
?It is the cruelty of the game isn?t it? We dominate probably 90% of that game and they?ve gone up once and scored a scrappy goal like that but at the end of the day it doesn?t matter how you score, as long as it goes in. It doesn?t matter how it goes in or with which part of the body it goes in.
?Sydney United were lucky to get what they got today, I think they weren?t the best team and sometimes results go your way but unfortunately it is not going our way right now.
?The positives are that we again dominated a team in the top 3. The team is there for us to win a lot of these games but unfortunately our final touch, our final pass, is not doing us justice, but at the end of the day Sydney United should walk away today relieved and should probably buy themselves a lottery ticket because that is about as much luck as you can give someone. But good teams win these games.?
Ivan Petkovic reminded us of the old clich? that great teams win matches in which they haven?t played to their best but conceded that his side were lucky to escape with 3-points:
?It was very bad conditions today to play soccer in. At the end of the day 3-points is the most important thing for us, so I think the fair result was maybe a draw, but we?ll take it.
?The positive thing was that I think it is a sign of a good sign team you are winning when you aren?t good enough. All of the boys tried to play hard and that?s what the game is about.
?We believe in ourselves and from the beginning we said we were going to be a very competitive team. And I think slowly we are getting there and we are now in third spot only one point behind Manly, which presents a very good opportunity to at least try to go for second spot but first spot is a little bit harder. Sutherland is a very good team and they are unbeaten all season and they have a big gap over the others.?
West Sydney Berries 0
Sydney United 1 (Christopher Boyle 85?)
Venue: Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre
Referee: Peter Vrtkovski
Assistant Referees: Gareth Askham, Alex Long
Fourth Official: Miles Allen Scott
West Sydney Berries: 1. Hamish MCLEAN; 20. Angelo PETRATOS, 6. Jack SOBCZYK, 5. Omar SAADI, 7. Scott THOMAS, 8. Johnny FOTIADIS, 11. Aheleas KOTSOPOULOS (C), 15. Ryan JONES, 18. Josh SAMA (10. John TSIRONIS 59?), 19. Neill PHILLIPOU (17. Sash TIROVSKI 65?), 16. Kosta LAGOUDAKIS
Substitutes Not Used: 69. Johnny FRANGESKOU, 21. David ABEL, 13. Sargon GEORGES
Yellow Cards: Josh SAMA 30?, Angelo PETRATOS 51?
Red Cards: Nil
Sydney United: 30. Vedran JANJETOVIC; 5. Damon COLLINA, 3. Josip MORIC (4. Milan BOSNAR 71?), Joseph VRKIC (C), 21. Sash TRAJCEVSKI, 23. Ivo BOSNAR, 10. Mark ROBERTSON, 14. Petar MARKOVIC (7. Todd BRODIE 55?), 15. Christopher BOYLE, 11. Luka GLAVAS, 13. Ben VIDAIC (16. Elsid Barkhousir 59?)
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Steve Minovski, 18. Andrija Petkovic
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
3 ? Aheleas KOTSOPOULOS (WSB)
2 ? Ryan JONES (WSB)
1 ? Vedran JANJETOVIC (SU)
-By Chris Paraskevas