Tigers keep finals hopes alive after victory over Manly


Played at a frantic pace, under the watchful eyes of A-League coaches John Kosmina, Aurelio Vidmar and Steve O?Connor at Lambert Park neither side managed to gain the upper-hand with very few clear-cut chances of note.
In the end a very tactical battle was settled with an exquisite Robert Younis free-kick in the 72? minute from the edge of the area, following an uncharacteristic mistake by Manly United goalkeeper Bradley Swancott.
John Romeo fielded the home side with a revelation to their normal formation ? Robert Younis would play the role of the lone-striker with regular partner Franco Parisi starting the match wide on the left-side of midfield.
Manly United?s Phil Moss had Robert Cattanach and Craig Midgely carrying the weight of expectation up-front, meanwhile the in-form Joey Schrippa on the left played his part for Manly.
It was Manly United that created the first chance of note, Schrippa ? not surprisingly ? was involved. A fine interchange of passes from the visitors saw Phil Moss? side unleash a venomous drive towards goal ? Matthew Nash in the A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt goal produced a spectacular save diving to his right and diverting the ball out for a corner.
A.P.I.A.?s Paul Kohler had been given the reigns in midfield, and his early touches were neat and precise, providing Robert Younis with some space on the right-flank in the 10? minute. Younis cut inside onto his left foot and struck a swerving effort towards goal ? though Swancott was not called upon as the ball finished well wide of the mark.
Younis was again in the thick of the action moments later when he picked up the ball inside of his own half before three Manly United defenders were required to thwart his threat.
Despite the confidence displayed by Manly in the centre of the park, it was A.P.I.A. again who managed to push forward and create some concern for the visitor?s defence on 18? minutes. Again it was Younis involved and once more it arrived via a Tigers? counter-attack. The skillful striker managed to create a yard of space on the left-flank, and after beating his marker unleashed a powerful cross-turn-shot that Swancott claimed at the first attempt.
Stephen Kayes, who has been tipped to be a future A-League player, did his chances in-front of the A-League coaches present no harm at all with his skillful piece of work on the right-flank in the 26? minute. Kayes beat two defenders with the utmost of ease before laying a square-ball to Jamie McMaster ? the newest of Tigers? recruits failed to convert the chance with a poor effort thwarted by the defence.
Iain King played a pin-point free-kick from the right onto the head of Younis, the Tigers number 9 did well to maneuver himself to head goal-wards ? the effort, though, finished wide.
Franco Parisi, playing in his new role – became more involved as the half progressed. On 31? minutes Parisi displayed his confidence on the ball as he released McMaster through on goal – his final pass though was a touch too long.
Younis had arguably the best goal scoring opportunity only moments later as he was sent through one-on-one following McMaster?s header. From an acute angle, Younis hit goal-wards, though Swancott stood-up to the challenge and parried the ball for a corner.
Despite the Tigers? penetrating the Manly United penalty-area with more frequency, the visiting side was by no means out-played.
In fact, the visitors were slightly ahead on points in midfield with a strong showing from the likes of Michael Williams.
Despite this confidence in the middle of the park, Manly failed to penetrate the Tigers? defence, and the half closed with one final chance for the home-side.
Robert Younis hit a venomous free-kick from the right ? in-swinger ? that was too central and easily dealt with, by Swancott.
Tigers? captain Michael Galluzzo did not return to the field for the second-half ? the central defender was replaced by David D?Apuzzo due to a hamstring injury.
Phil Moss too made a change of his own with Roberto Hamad replaced after a ?nervy? first-half saw the defender involved in two scuffles ? one resulting in a yellow card.
On 53? minutes, and almost out of nothing, a cross from Andrew Mailer on the right picked out Caetano Lima on the edge of the area ? the Manly substitute unleashed a cleanly hit volley that finished just wide of Nash?s goal.
With the match looking more and more like it would end goal-less, the Tigers? got the break they required.
In somewhat bizarre circumstances, Bradley Swancott was adjudged to have left his penalty-area with the ball in his hands ? the referee alerted of the incident courtesy of his linesman on the far side.
The resulting free-kick from a central position on the edge of the penalty-area provided Robert Younis with a great chance to break the dead-lock ? the Tigers? striker took the chance with both hands, hitting an exquisite left-footed free-kick into the top left-hand corner.
Phil Moss? introduction of Chris Payne added extra spark to the visitor?s play, though the Tigers went close again in the 35? minute. A corner from the right was almost met by Mark Byrnes who made a late run into the penalty-area, only for a slight deflection by a Manly defender to change the trajectory of the ball.
Chris Payne?s trickery on the right allowed for the Manly substitute to create a yard of space. Payne?s effort from an acute angle finished on the wrong side of the post.
Joey Schrippa had Manly?s final chance of the afternoon to salvage a point. A cross from the right was flicked on by the Tigers? Matthew Nash who had come off his line ? the ball fell to Schrippa who volleyed powerfully over the cross-bar.
Following the encounter, A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers? coach John Romeo was happy to collect the three-points:
?I am very happy with the result today, as we have played good football and collected a very important result that keeps us in the running for the Top-Five.
?If you look at the two teams, there were 10-points difference between us and Manly going into this match. Though as everyone would have seen there was not too much difference between the two sides in the end ? it really was a tactical battle and for this reason there weren?t so many clear-cut chances.
?I am happy with how the weekend has gone for us and we?ll look to finish strongly.?
Manly United boss Phil Moss was less pleased with the outcome, the loss almost certainly ending their chances of chasing down League leader Sutherland Sharks:
?I am disappointed with the result, obviously. The results haven?t been great recently, though we have fought hard and the match today was very close.
?To lose the match with a free-kick awarded in the manner that it was is extremely frustrating.
?There obviously isn?t anything we can do, though we will have to re-group for a final push towards the Finals-series ? though any hopes of catching Sutherland before the finals-series are certainly over.?
Match Stats
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers 1 (Robert Younis 72?)
Manly United FC 0
Venue: Lambert Park
Referee: Jonathon Streater
Assistant Referees: Stephen Duckitt, Scott Edeling
Fourth Official: Kevin Peddie
Crowd: Approx. 400.
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers: 1. Matthew Nash; 2. Mark Byrnes, 3. John Kelso, 4. Daniel Clifford, 5. Michael Galluzzo (C) (13. David D?Apuzzo 46?), 6. Paul Kohler, 7. Stephen Kayes, 8. Iain King, 9. Robert Younis, 10. Franco Parisi (23. Christian Care 78?), 11. Jamie McMaster
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Matthew Kasbarian, 14. Joseph Bruni, 16. Simon Ryan
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Manly United FC: 1. Bradley Swancott (C); 3. Andrew Mailer, 4. Roberto Hamad (14. Caetano Lima 46?), 6. Bradley Groves, 8. Michael Williams, 9. Robbie Cattanach, 11. Craig Midgely (10. Dusan Mihajlovic 73?), 15. Cameron Jones, 16. Joey Schrippa, 17. Shaun Bowden (12. Chris Payne 78?), 18. Beau Busch
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Rhyss Keane, 7. Ashley Ryan
Yellow Cards: Craig Midgely 34?, Roberto Hamad 41?, Beau Busch 61?, Cameron Jones 75?, Chris Payne 90? + 2? 
Red Cards: Nil
Player Ratings:
3 ? Robert Younis (ALT)
2 ? Stephen Kayes (ALT)
1 ? Robert Cattanach (MU)
-By Joseph Carlucci