All even as Penrith Nepean United and Blacktown City Demons share the spoils


A crowd of 250 people braved cold and windy conditions not suited for football for what was a Western derby that was understandably lacking in quality but certainly not in application.

Both clubs might have been expected to struggle this season given a perceived lack of depth in squads and financial power, yet both Ian Gillan?s Penrith-Nepean and Schembri?s Blacktown City have hardly disgraced themselves in the early part of this season.

Characterised as sides with a high work-rate and humility necessary to survive at the elite level of NSW football, they largely cancelled each other out in St Mary?s, with the visiting Demons slightly sharper than their opponents in midfield.

With NSL Champion and former Socceroo Ante Juric marshalling the Penrith defence however, Gillan?s men were proving difficult to break down.

They almost took the lead in fortuitous circumstances through the towering centre-back, whose free-kick was carried by a strong wind and over the head of goalkeeper Michael Herbert, who in the end did well to tip it over his own bar.

It was a reflection of the match that the first real chance would arrive through a softly conceded penalty, referee Matthew Gillett appeared to penalise defender Daniel Wilkinson for pulling a shirt in the penalty area.

Ben Gough stepped up and saw his initial effort saved at the bottom left-hand corner of the goal, before finishing from the follow-up ? though Herbert still managed to get a hand to the rebound.

For all of their neat interplay in midfield, the Demons were struggling to create openings and had to wait until the 34? minute for their first real opportunity.

Via a free-kick from outside the area, Daniel Wilkinson atoned for his earlier concession of a penalty by curling a free-kick around the wall and beating Daniel Schwarzer ? brother of Socceroo star Mark Schwarzer ? brilliantly at his near post.

They then had the best chance before the break, former West Sydney Berries player Nick Sama hitting the byline well before cutting the ball back for Gavin Forbes, whose curled first-time effort was tipped sharply over the bar.

That was before Blacktown survived a potent penalty appeal by Penrith striker Mitchell Long, who appeared to be dragged down in the penalty area before Herbert blocked his consequently weak effort.

Given the lack of goal-scoring opportunities during the opening 45? minutes, the playing of ?The Sultans of Swing? by Dire Straits at half-time appeared to galvanise the crowd, though the second-half was more anxious than classic.

The mood was epitomised by the sending off of goal-scorer Daniel Wilkinson just 13? minutes after the re-start, shown a second yellow card for a late challenge after Matthew Gillett had blown his whistle to stop play.

It drew a strong reaction from the surrounding players, though they rallied and produced a superb defensive display during the second-half.

Now, with the opportunity to press their numerical advantage, Ante Juric volleyed across the face of goal from a free-kick before substitute Greg Kondek hit the post.

The imperious Mitchell Long burst into the penalty-area before slipping in Kondek unselfishly, who hit the outside of the left post with only Herbert to beat.

The final meaningful chance of the game then fell to Long, whose hard-working performance deserved at least one goal.

Slipped in intelligently in the penalty area by Juric, he delayed his effort but hit the ball into the legs of Herbert, as the match appropriately ended in a draw.
Match Stats

Penrith-Nepean United 1 (Ben Gough 20? pen)

Blacktown City Demons 1
(Daniel Wilkinson 35?)

Sunday, 26th April, 2009
Cook Park, St Mary?s

Referee: Matthew Gillett
Assistant Referees: Terrence Kwan, Paul Faithful
Fourth Official: Andrew Brown
Crowd: 250

Penrith-Nepean United: 1.Daniel SCHWARZER; 2.Mark BARIAMIS, 4.Evangelos PETRATOS, 6.Steven BAVEAS, 8.Paul CRISP, 9.Mitchell LONG, 10.Ben GOUGH (11.Dimitrios PETRATOS 47?), 12.Nic MCINERNEY, 17.Ante JURIC, 26.Tayfun BUYUKKOPRU (14.Greg KONDEK 60?)

Substitutes Not Used: 3.David COMITO, 23.Devrim HUSEYIN, 21.Nic JELIC

Yellow Cards:
Tayfun Buyukkopru 24?

Blacktown City Demons: 1.Michael HERBET, 2.Tyler SIMPSON 3.Paul KARBON, 5.Daniel WILKINSON, 6.Luke CASSERLY, 9.Kain RASTALL, 11.Nick SAMA, 14.Gavin FORBES (Luke AUSTIN 65′), 15.Ray MILLER (18.Akwasi Agyei), 17.Joel CHIANESE, 16.Ante DEUR

Substitutes Not Used:
  8.Chris BEDZO, Harrison MARSH, 40.Brody CRANE

Yellow Cards:
Daniel Wilkinson 20′ 56′, Gavin Forbes 53?, Nick Sama 76?, Kain Rastall 85?

Red Cards: Daniel Wilkinson 56′

Player Ratings:

3 ? Ante Juric (PNU)

2 ? Mitchell Long (PNU)

1 ? Tyler Simpson (BCD)

-By Chris Paraskevas