Suns and Tigers lose out in entertaining stalemate


But ninety minutes later, after plenty of end to end action, four goals, and many a zealous tackle, a 2-2 draw effectively meant both teams fell further behind in their chase for a semi final spot.
A.P.I.A.?s Robert Younis had the first crack at goal on 6? minutes, hitting along the ground straight at Rockdale keeper, Ben McNamara, from the edge of the box, following a stray clearance from a defender.
David D?Apuzzo blazed over for the Tigers a couple of minutes later, as did Marton Vass in the 12? minute, following a great layoff from Younis. A.P.I.A. was showing they meant business with their relentless forays into Rockdale?s half early on.
Rockdale were focused in their application to task, but had little to show for it as A.P.I.A.?s defence stood firm well outside their defensive third.
Quite a few fans braved the chilly temperatures to watch the action unfold, and early on the intensity resulted in quite a few fouls being awarded by the ever alert man in the middle,Gerard Parsons.
A.P.I.A.?s Nick Rizzo was his usual industrious self in the first 45? minutes, getting into good positions out wide on the left, and always looking to whip in dangerous balls into the box.
The game desperately needed a goal to open it up, and it finally came in the 34? minute for the visitors.
A free-kick was awarded to A.P.I.A. in the middle of Rockdale?s half, closer to the sideline, and Rizzo spun a high ball into the box that swirled and bounced and beat everyone all ends up, the ball ricocheting off the upright.
Marton Vass was the only player to respond, snapping a low volley into the net from a few yards to give A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt a 1-0 lead.
Rockdale responded almost immediately, restoring parity within 90 seconds with a goal that warmed up the home fans.
Young Pece Cvetanovski, making his debut for the club following his return from Germany, picked up a stray ball outside the APIA penalty area, and unleashed a thunderbolt of a drive that hit the top corner of Matthew Nash?s goal.
The goal sparked the Suns into action, and they should?ve taken the lead just 2? minutes later.
Dominic Hudap won possession in the middle of the park, finding his skipper, Peter Apolevski, who fed the overlapping Steven Bozinovski. Bozinovski hit an accurate cross towards the far post, where Stefan Donevski couldn?t get over the ball and disappointingly headed over.
On 40? minutes Josh Lawson almost put Rockdale in front when his firm goal bound header from a corner was deflected over the bar by a hapless defender.
A.P.I.A. had the final chance of the half, when against the run of play, Younis chased down, and eventually dispossessed, Rockdale defender, Askin Oygur, near the corner of the sideline and the halfway line.
Younis immediately raced away towards the retreating backline, slipping a delightful ball to Franco Parisi, whose first time shot from right in front was brilliantly deflected for a corner by Ben McNamara in the Rockdale goal.
Parsons blew his half-time whistle to give the players a deserved break following a frenzied end to the first period.
The two coaches would?ve fired up their troops at half time, hoping to spark them into action with a hope of taking a stranglehold on the game. And, the instruction from the Tigers? dressing room provided the desired effect, because the visitors took the lead within a minute of the restart with a brilliant team goal.
Franco Parisi won possession and wriggled past two would be challenges, before playing the ball into his strike partner, Robert Younis deep in the Rockdale half.
Younis turned a defender, played a delightful one-two with David D?Apuzzo, and squared a teasing ball across the face of the Rockdale goal.
Anthony Hartshorn had the simplest of tasks to tap into an unguarded net and give the Tigers a great start to the second half.
Todorovski made a double substitution within 10? minutes of the goal, bringing on Awad and Dizdaric to throw some weight into attack.
Both players put themselves about as the Suns didn?t waste any time in trying to restore parity, and the equalizer finally came in the 61st minute, when A.P.I.A.?s John Kelso was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area.
Fan favourite, skipper Apolevski, sent Matthew Nash the wrong way by slotting his penalty to the keeper?s right, sending the home fans into raptures.
Robert Younis had a couple of free-kicks to give the Tigers the lead, both from a difficult angle, with his effort in the 72? minute tipped over the cross bar by Ben McNamara.
On 78? minutes Younis was at it again, somehow managing to shrug off a couple of challenges inside the box, before his stab at goal from an acute angle took a slight deflection, hitting the post on the way out of play.
In the remaining minutes, both teams huffed and puffed and basically ran out of steam, settling for a point each in an entertaining 2-2 draw.
Rockdale club representative, Ken Slaveski, himself an ex-Rockdale star of the past, thought the match was an enjoyable one for the spectators:
?It was an entertaining game, with four goals, and a few other chances for both sides, but neither were able to finish it off,? said Slaveski.
?A.P.I.A. is a very experienced side, but we closed them down well, and worked hard off the ball. We are a reasonably fit side, and try to play one and two touch football, and the good thing is we seem to be able to score whenever we need to.?
Slaveski, an assistant coach for the club?s Under 20s, replied with the following when I asked whether the club would be happy with their season thus far:
?Yes, the supporters and committee alike are definitely happy with what we have achieved, given we were granted Premier League status very late on, and had little time to build a competitive team. Our aim was to consolidate this season, and build on it for the future, and I think our football, and our position on the ladder, have reflected this. Happy? Yes, but never satisfied,? stated Slaveski.
A.P.I.A.?s well travelled midfielder, Nick Rizzo, was disappointed not to pick up the three points.
?Both sides were obviously looking to stay in touch with the top five, and I thought we dominated the match, and scored a fantastic second goal, but then were unlucky to concede a penalty,? said Rizzo.
He added, ?Rockdale are a solid and tough side, and came back at us, but I felt we were better today, and deserved more than the draw.?
?Our intention has always been to make the top five, and considering the start to the season we had, we have recovered really well. Despite the draw today, we will remain positive, and still believe we can make the semis,? Rizzo concluded. 
Match Stats
Rockdale City Suns 2 (Cvetanovski 36?, Apolevski pen 61?)
A.P.I.A. Leichhardt Tigers 2 (Vass 34?, Hartshorn 46?)   
Sunday, June 13th, 2010
Bicentennial Park South, Rockdale
Referee:  Gerard Parsons 
Assistant Referees: Sarah Ho and Daniel Dewhurst
Fourth Official: Nick Tragoustis
Rockdale City Suns: 1.Ben McNamara; 2.Paul Dee, 6.Josh Lawson, 7.Peter Apolevski (capt), 8.Dominic Hudap, 12.Stefan Donevski (3.Almir Dizdaric 59?), 16.Steven Bozinovski, 17.Pece Cvetanovski, 18.Robert Di Meglio (5.Jeffrey Issa 76?), 19.Marino Musumeci (21.Sam Awad 55?), 23.Askin Oygur
Substitutes Not Used: 13.Baturay Akin, 22.Chad Taylor.
Yellow Cards: Musumeci 22?, Apolevski 73?, Oygur 79?, Dizdaric 90?. 
Red Cards: Nil
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers: 1.Matthew Nash; 2.Mark Byrnes, 3.John Kelso, 5.Michael West, 6.Marton Vass, 8.Anthony Hartshorn (16.Hirofumi Moriyasu 63?), 9.Robert Younis, 10.Franco Parisi (capt) (18.Bishara Stephan 86?), 11.Nick Rizzo, 13.David D?Apuzzo (7.Stephen Kayes 70?), 19.Danial Cummins.
Substitutes Not Used: 40.Terry Dal Broi, 20.Liam McConaghy
Yellow Cards: Nil 
Red Cards: Nil