It had everything: great goals, a spectacular comeback from West Sydney Berries, a missed penalty, a sending off and spectators with their hearts in their mouths.
After the game A.P.I.A. coach John Romeo said: ?I need a triple by-pass after that.
?Going 2-0 up and it looks like it is going to be an easy game, then all of a sudden you get a player sent off and the game turns completely.
?Full credit to West Sydney because they fought to the very end and, for us, we knew it was going to be hard with ten men.?
After only two minutes Robert Younis rose above everybody else to meet a corner, but his header was just over.
In the 15? minute A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt had a golden chance when Franco Parisi superbly found Ian King in the centre with an outstanding ball from the left, but the acting Tigers captain didn?t get enough power on his shot and Hamish McLean, well off his line, saved beautifully for the visitors even though it was almost outside his own penalty box which could have been a very dangerous situation for the Berries.
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt opened the scoring in the 18? minute when a free-kick from Stephen Kayes found King who placed the ball neatly forward for Mark Byrnes, and the classy defender showed all of his experience to turn the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the net past an outstretched McLean.
In the 32? minute A.P.I.A. scored again with a truly world class goal: Kayes, from well inside his own half, found Parisi with a long ball forward and the quick striker outsprinted his rivals and with a magnificent finish to beat McLean.
Four minutes later a David D?Apuzzo free-kick found Younis in the box and once again his header was just over the cross-bar.
The Tigers continued to dominate until the break and the Berries seemed to have little riposte in the driving rain.
In fact they were probably relieved when referee Kurt Ams decided that Parisi wasn?t deliberately brought down in the box despite the Tigers bench jumping in unison for a penalty just a few minutes short of the interval.
The lights were turned on for the second-half and, metaphorically at least, they were also turned on for the Berries at half-time by recently appointed coach Ramsin Shamon who after the game offered the following:
?We made some key changes early in the second-half and I thought we could have beaten them.
?We have a very fit squad, but we just haven?t been on song in the last few weeks as we walk away with nothing again, but there?s a lot of pride in this team.
?It?s a cruel game, but that?s what it is in the TeleChoice Premier League,? he philosophically said.
A Kayes cross from the right in the 49? minute found McMaster in the box, but his header didn?t trouble McLean.
In the 56? minute the Berries had their first real shot of the game when Archie Kotsopoulos thought that he would try his luck from outside the box.
However, shortly afterwards the Berries did score: Sash Tirovski, virtually out of nothing, powerfully sent the ball crashing into the back of the net.
In the 60? minute controversy erupted: Marton Vass was booked for a challenge and acting Tigers captain Ian King protested against a free-kick. Both Vass and King were booked.
However, what followed was not clear: King seemed to be clarifying the spot where the kick should be taken from and he was booked again meaning he saw the referee?s red card.
Down a man, it was always going to be hard work for the Tigers.
In the 74? minute John Kelso, in an attempt to intercept a Kosta Lagoudakis cross from the right, sliced the ball into his own net for an unfortunate own goal. There was nothing Matthew Nash could do to prevent it from going in.
In the 80? minute the Tigers regained the lead: Franco Parisi scored from close-range after superb work from Jamie McMaster on the right.
Nevertheless, there was still time for more: Ryan Jones was adjudged to have been brought down in the box by Byrnes and a penalty was awarded.
If revenge is a dish best served cold then the outcome of the spot-kick ensured a fair win for the Tigers: Sash Tirovski?s shot was too central and Nash saved and in the end the Tigers managed to hold on to the lead.
A.P.I.A. Leichhardt 3 (Mark Byrnes 18?, Franco Parisi 32?, 80?)
West Sydney Berries 2 (Sash Tirovski 59?, John Kelso (own goal) 74?)
Venue: Lambert Park
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referees: Daniel Dewhurst and Lance Greenshield
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers: Matthew Nash; John Kelso, Mark Byrnes, David D?Apuzzo, Paul Kohler, Ian King, Stephen Kayes, Jamie McMaster, Robert Younis, Franco Parisi, Marton Vass.
Substitutes Not Used: Christian Care, Michael Galluzzo, Joe Bruni, Matt Kasbarian
West Sydney Berries: Hamish McLean; Omar Saadi, David Abel, Jack Sobczyk, Scott Thomas (64? Sargon Georges), Johnny Fotiadis (88? Dimitri Zakilas), John Tsironis, Archie Kotsopoulos, Ryan Jones, Kosta Lagoudakis, Neil Philippou (53? Sash Tirovski).
Substitutes Not Used: Josh Sama, J. Webb
Yellow Cards: 21? Younis, 60? Vass, 61? King, 83? Byrnes, 86? Kohler, 89? D?Apuzzo (A.P.I.A.), 17? Thomas, 36? Kotsopoulos, 45? Lagoudakis (West Sydney)
Red Cards: 62? Ian King (two yellows)
3 – Franco Parisi (AL)
2 – Ryan Jones (WSB)
1 – Mark Byrnes (AL)
-By Joe Russo