Parisi perfection hands APIA-Leichhardt Cup triumph


A near flawless 90’ minutes of football by Billy McColl’s APIA-Leichhardt Tigers saw the Inner West side snatch an unlikely, yet much deserved, Waratah Cup triumph against Sutherland Sharks on Sunday afternoon.
Battling not only against the thought of potential relegation in the league, and an away match against the top of the table Sutherland Sharks, the Tigers’ tactics were near perfect, starving the Sharks ball players of possession in the key areas – The loss too, only Sutherland’s second loss this season – League and Cup.
For the Tigers, playmaker Franco Parisi was brilliant, offering the large number of spectators a spectacle of sorts with his fine ball skill, creativity and eye for goal. In the end, it was his involvement in the first two goals – the first carrying Jason Oswell’s name, and the second his own – before Sean Symons added a third to add further delight to the victory.
Parisi’s return to the starting line-up, after a rather long spell off the bench, almost paid immediate dividends as he linked up with Jason Oswell, showcasing some exquisite short passes, before winning his side a free-kick. The Tigers’ number 10 floated the ball into the penalty-area and only just saw his effort skip past Nathan Denham’s left-hand post.
Both sides looked to up the ante in the middle of the park with a good spell of possession for both sets of midfielders with Panni Nikas looking to get on as much of the ball as possible for the Sharks.
Parisi was at it again on 10’ minutes with a wicked, dipping, effort that was destined for the top corner; the shot thwarted by an exceptional fingertip save by Denham.
The Sharks quick ball movement appeared to have the Tigers a little edgy across the backline, as Andrew Bazi was quick off his line to head clear a threat initiated by Panni Nikas shortly after.
Despite the Sharks appearing to hold the better possession in the middle of the park, it was the Tigers who carved out another serious opening. Some fine ball movement out on the right saw Michael Hawrysiuk centre a tantalising ball onto the head of Oswell who forced Denham into a routine save on 15’ minutes.
Sutherland looked to respond quickly with Jamie McMaster winning possession and beating two markers before drilling his effort on goal from the edge of the penalty-area. The ball carried a massive deflection that made it easy pickings for Bazi in the Tigers goal.
The Sharks came to life in the 19’ minute from a Nikas’ free-kick on the right flank. The playmaker’s delivery was pin-point accurate as a glancing header by Perry Moustakas was only partially dealt with by the retrieving Tigers’ bodies. The scramble that ensued saw the ball fall to Nik Tsattalios who had his first-time effort deflected behind for a corner. 
Tsattalios continued to press out on the left for the Sharks and he was only denied by some expert defending from APIA-Leichhardt captain Michael West on 21’ minutes.
Perry Moustakas showcased all his ability with a weaving run in the 22’ minute. Collecting the ball from deep, the Sharks central defender showed composure and finesse as he opened up some space for Tsattalios, denied only by some expert defending from West and Paul Galimi.
Oswell opened the scoring, somewhat fortuitously, though none the less there could be no arguments about the side deserving to be in front. Again, playmaker Parisi was involved starting the Tigers counterattack with a fabulous back heel. The return ball from the left fell into the path of the number 10 who blasted a first-time drive against Oswell. The striker got his body in the way to divert into the back of the net.
For all Denham’s brilliance, the shot-stopper could not be faulted as the massive deflection took him way out contention to make the save.
Sutherland set forward to find an equaliser and Nathan Elasi very nearly delivered. The speedy flanker, switching mid-half to the left, got in behind the Tigers defenders only to see his diagonal effort saved by Bazi.
The Parisi show continued late-on in the half with the number 10 showcasing some superb touches for Oswell. On 37’ minutes, Parisi shimmied his way past two defenders before releasing the striker who saw his attempt on goal denied only by the brilliant Denham.
The Tigers closed the half on the front foot with Parisi again the orchestrator of all things in the front-third. The playmaker’s composure on the ball was world class as he played a cheeky ‘dink pass’ into the path of Oswell who was quickly closed down by the Sharks defenders.
Nikas tried his luck with a mazy run on the left byline, for the Sharks, though he too was cleanly dispossessed by the Tigers rearguard.
Immediately following the re-start, both playmakers – Panni Nikas for the Sharks and Franco Parisi for the Tigers – looked to further stamp their authority on the match with some scintillating artistry on the ball and exceptional passing.
The Tigers created the first chance of the second period when Parisi, again, played a neat layoff to Kayes who blasted his long-range drive against the crossbar on 48’ minutes.
Not to be outdone, the Sharks responded with Tsattalios covering enormous ground to cut the ball back into the path of a free Elasi at the back post. Elasi’s first-time effort was goal bound, though an exceptional level of defending saw the Tigers’ put bodies on the line to keep the lead intact.
Sutherland followed that attempt up with Nick Littler heading over from a Nikas corner on 50’ minutes. The central defender rose highest inside the penalty-area though only just failed to direct his header on target.
Out of the Sharks dugout, coach Robbie Stanton replaced Reo Morinaga with Michael Stuart on the hour, as captain Nick Stavroulakis got more involved in the middle of the park, covering a massive amount of kilometres in the process.
In the 62’ minute, the Sharks, with the fine vision of Nicholas Olsen, carved out an opening for Tsattalios down the left. The Sutherland left winger used his pace to get to the ball first though sliced his first-time shot wide of goal.
Parisi’s brilliance continued in the 63’ minute when he sold, and re-sold, his marker with two tremendous turns on the ball. With complete ease, the APIA-Leichhardt number 10 played a delightful cross into the path of Oswell who hit his first-time acrobatic effort over the crossbar.
The contest was all but ended 2’ minutes later when man of the match Franco Parisi, once more, had the full house in awe of his tremendous skill.
Parisi dispossessed Nikas on the halfway line with a perfectly timed intervention before releasing Keith Shevlin. The Tigers midfielder was brilliant in waiting for the moment to play the ball back to Parisi before the number 10 showed some pure genius in beating his marker and drilling the ball, low and hard, into the bottom left-hand corner.
APIA-Leichhardt should really have put the game away in the 72’ minute when a goal mouth scramble occurred inside the Sharks penalty-area. Kayes first, then Symons, were denied by a sea of Sharks legs as Nick Littler made a final goal line clearance to keep the deficit at two.
1’ minute later, Shevlin perhaps missed the easiest chance created by APIA-Leichhardt. David D’Apuzzo’s centre from the left picked out Shevlin, totally unmarked, at the back post. With the simplest of tap-ins required Shevlin, in all fairness at full stretch, sky-rocketed his attempt over the crossbar.
The Sharks best efforts to get forward saw the side struggle on the transition as Stavroulakis somewhat uncharacteristically coughed up possession in the middle of the park to Adel El Jamal. The makeshift forward picked his time nicely to release Oswell though the Sharks got men back behind the ball to annul any further damage to the scoreboard.
Nikas and Olsen both looked to get possession in the front-third for substitute Brad Boardman though the Michael West led Tigers defence, with Aaron Clapham’s tireless efforts in midfield, constantly frustrated the Sharks who looked short on ideas in the final part of the field.
Sutherland’s final chance of the encounter arrived in the 3’ minute of injury-time and it arrived via a set-piece. On the edge of the penalty-area, free-kick specialist Nikas stamped his curling attempt against the crossbar.

With the 4’ minutes almost up, the Tigers did wander forward on one last occasion to add further glory to the win, netting its third goal of the afternoon. A fine counterattack involving Clapham and El Jamal finally saw a loose ball fall to Symons who drove his half-volley into the bottom right-hand corner with aplomb.
The win was well-deserved, no doubt, something coach Billy McColl was very sure about:
“I thought we were brilliant tonight, we totally dominated proceedings out there,” explained McColl.
“To be honest, we created a few more chances so had we scored five or six tonight, I feel that would have been fair.”
McColl went on to explain his personal success:
“This is a win for the club, a great club, and it is a prestigious trophy to win. For me personally, it is the highlight of my career and I am really proud of the boys for their work rate tonight.”
McColl continued: “The boys proved they can play good football, and that is what we had asked of them. Last weekend’s performance in the league was awful, and we needed to ensure that was not seen again today.”
On the Tigers’ precarious League position:
“If you asked me prior to the match whether I would sign for the Cup Final win or three successive wins in the league, I would have taken the nine-points in the league.
“We still have a lot of work to do to ensure we remain in the top-flight, though I believe with the attitude shown today, we can certainly finish the season strongly,” McColl ended.
Sutherland Sharks left-sided winger Nik Tsattalios was evidently disappointed at the conclusion of the 90’ minutes:
“Look, that is how football goes sometimes, maybe we were due a loss,” said Tsattalios.
“APIA was the better team, they played the match the way they needed to play and we just couldn’t break them down today, so they are deserving winners.”
Asked about the Sharks objectives now, Tsattalios continued:
“We have a good dressing room in there, the boys are disappointed though the belief amongst the group, and the morale, is very high, so we will be looking to bounce back quickly.
“Our attentions now are firmly on the league, we have some big matches coming up and we will look to get the results we need to ensure we win some silverware this season,” ended Tsattalios.
Match Stats
Sutherland Sharks 0

APIA-Leichhardt Tigers 3 (Jason Oswell 27’, Franco Parisi 65’, Sean Symons 90’+3’)

Sunday 7th of July, 2013

Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Referee: Chris Young
Assistant Referees: Craig Fisher and Andre Giev
Fourth Official: Khodr Yaghi
Sutherland Sharks: 1.Nathan Denham; 2.Nicholas Littler (4.James McKenzie 74’), 6.Matthew Gordon, 7.Nathan Elasi, 8.Nicholas Olsen, 10.Jamie McMaster (9.Brad Boardman 70’), 13.Reo Morinaga (3.Michael Stuart 56’), 14.Nick Stavroulakis (C), 15.Perry Moustakas, 23.Panni Nikas, 33.Nik Tsattalios (17.Klim Gjorseski 70’)
Substitutes Not Used: 22.Andrew Depta;
Coach: Robbie Stanton
Yellow Cards: Nik Tsattalios 30’, Jamie McMaster 49’
Red Cards: Nil
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 21.Andrew Bazi, 5.Michael West (C), 6.Michael Hawrysiuk (16.Sean Symons 30’), 7.Stephen Kayes, 8.Keith Shevlin (12.Miroslav Radulovic 90’), 9.Jason Oswell, 10.Franco Parisi (3.Adel El Jamal 74’), 11.Paul Galimi, 13.David D’Apuzzo, 14.Aaron Clapham, 15.Brad Bartels
Substitutes Not Used: 1.Simon Jaeger, 4.Brendan Reilly
Coach: Billy McColl
Yellow Cards: Paul Galimi 74’
Red Cards: Nil
-By Joseph Carlucci
Player Ratings:
Sutherland Sharks:
1.Nathan Denham – 8 – Denham set the tone for his performance early on when he produced a quality diving save to tip away Parisi’s effort in the opening minutes. He was well positioned to deny Oswell a headed goal soon after yet there was little he could do to deny Oswell a second time when the striker’s wicked deflection left him stranded. Comfortable in the air, Denham put in a fine shift in goal.
2.Nick Littler – 6 –The tall stopper put in a controlled defensive performance yet was occasionally overly casual with his passing which saw him turn possession over in a couple  of concerning situations for Sutherland. His passing game aside he handled his opponents with ease on a number of occasions before subbing off for McKenzie with a quarter hour remaining.
6.Matthew Gordon – 7 – Gordon played well on the left side of defence today. His superior pace ensured he was never beaten by his opponent and he put his body on the line to produce a brave block to deny Kayes a certain goal in the second half.
7.Nathan Elasi – 5 – It was a quiet afternoon for the right winger who never really got going today. His explosive pace was nowhere to be seen as he failed to beat D’Apuzzo in a promising position in the first half. Did well to get a shot off under intense pressure soon after yet it was a luckless afternoon in general for Elasi.
8.Nick Olsen – 7 – Great movement off the ball created a lot of space and potential opportunities going forward and Olsen was unfortunate not to receive more of the ball for his hard work. A very impressive first half performance faded away in the second once the cause was lost yet Olsen was one of the better players on the park for his side today.
10.Jamie McMaster – 6 – McMaster’s footwork and distribution was sound yet he failed to produce the killer balls he is well known for as his attempted through balls were regularly intercepted. The effort was there from the attacking midfielder yet the final product eluded him at the end of the day.
13.Reo Morinaga – 6 – The right back put in a disciplined performance this afternoon. Neither Shevlin nor Symons got the better of him throughout his time on the field and his willingness to get forward created a lot of space on the right flank before he was withdrawn for Stuart on 57’ minutes.
14.Nick Stavroulakis – 7 – Stavroulakis was the engine of Sutherland’s midfield, both cleaning up the scraps efficiently  and distributing with accuracy. No one would be more disappointed with today’s result than the Sutherland captain who played with a lot of heart only to watch his side’s Waratah Cup dream slip away as the clock ticked over.
15.Perry Moustakas – 6 – Moustakas appeared calm and collected in the opening minutes with a couple of strong challenges to ensure his physical presence would not go unnoticed. Unfortunately for Moustakas things soon headed south from there when a few casual passes crept into his game. Parisi all too easily turned the young defender in the second half before striking the second goal of the game, driving the nail into Sutherland’s coffin.
23.Panni Nikas – 6 – The playmaker looked lively in the first half only to let his influence slip in the second half, most likely due to increasing frustration. As always Nikas pulled the strings in Sutherland’s midfield and slid a number of smart through balls in behind Tigers’ backline only for his efforts to bear no positive results. Nikas struck the crossbar with a free kick in injury time, accurately summing up the afternoon of arguably the most talented player on the pitch.
33.Nik Tsattalios – 5 – Tsattalios has little luck on the left side of midfield before coming off for Gjorseski on 70’ minutes. His pace was his most valuable asset today yet his he was unable to deliver quality crosses into the box and picked up a yellow card for a rash challenge in the first half.
3.Michael Stuart – 6 – Stuart came on for Morinaga on 57’ minutes and put in a decent performance during his half hour on the pitch. He delivered a couple of dangerous crosses into the box and looked comfortable at the back; unfortunately he was nowhere to be seen when Symons lost him to fire home the third goal of the afternoon in injury time.
4.James McKenzie – 6 – McKenzie came off the bench to replace Littler in the centre of defence on 74’ minutes and his fresh legs came in handy with APIA Leichhardt’s attacking partnership of Oswell and El Jamal causing headaches.
9.Brad Boardman – 6 – Boardman replaced McMaster on 70’ minutes as Robbie Stanton looked for a way to get his side back into the match. Unfortunately Boardman proved to be no more effective against APIA Leichhardt’s stubborn backline who kept him at bay during his time on the pitch.
17.Klim Gjorseski – 5 – Gjorseski came on as a like-for-like swap with Tsattalios on 70’ minutes and while he did appear more energetic than the man he replaced he proved to be just as ineffective as his sharp turns and neat footwork lacked the following cross or ball required to create opportunities for Sutherland.
22.Andrew Depta – N/A – Did not feature.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers
21.Andrew Bazi – 7 – Bazi played well between the sticks for APIA Leichhardt and while he was rarely tested he was quite busy in the air, gathering a number of crosses and free kicks that were delivered into his path. Sutherland never really looked like beating Bazi today and the custodian will be happy to win the cup with a clean sheet.
5.Michael West – 8 – After a nervous moment in which West glanced a header inches wide of his own goal midway through the first half the captain soon settled and did exceptionally well to keep Sutherland quiet in front of goal. Nothing got by West and his defensive partner Galimi throughout the match as the pair played an integral role in today’s win.
6.Michael Hawrysiuk – 5 – Hawrysiuk seemed a little off pace today, perhaps due to an injury that eventually forced him off the pitch on the half hour mark. He found space on the right flank on a few occasions prior to his withdrawal for Sean Symons.
7.Stephen Kayes – 7 – After a quiet first half Kayes didn’t take long to make his mark after the restart when he struck the crossbar with a powerful 20-yard drive. While Kayes didn’t look as sharp as usual he worked hard for his side and did pose a threat going forward on a number of occasions.
8.Keith Shevlin – 6 – Shevlin produced a couple of quality crosses from left side of midfield in the first half and charged up and down both flanks to create all he could for his side. His poor form in front of goal this season continued as he was left blushing midway through the second half when he somehow skied the ball over with an open goal at his mercy after a fine cross found his unmarked at the far post.
9.James Oswell – 8 – The English import has been APIA Leichhardt’s most prolific striker in the cup this year his goal scoring antics continued today when he deflected Parisi’s shot past Denham to open the scoring. Oswell looked a threat all day and kept his markers busy throughout in a fine individual performance.
10.Franco Parisi – 10 – Parisi was nothing short of brilliant this afternoon and deservedly picked up the man of the match award for his performance. His strike deflected in off Oswell to break the deadlock before he scored his sides’ second with a fine individual goal in the second half. Sutherland simply couldn’t get the ball off him today as he turned and glided past defenders with ease while threading miraculous passes through gaps in his opponent’s defensive line. Parisi received a standing ovation for his performance when he was substituted for El Jamal with a quarter hour remaining.
11.Pail Galimi – 8 – Galimi was faultless at the back and helped West to keep Sutherland’s attackers quiet all afternoon. The pair worked well together to shut Sutherland down both on the deck and in the air, playing their part in Bazi’s clean sheet.
13.David D’Apuzzo – 7 – D’Apuzzo held his own on the left side of defence against Elasi and also distributed well today. Usually a threat from the edge of the box, he must have left his shooting boots in the car with a wayward shot and an air swing.
14.Aaron Clapham – 8 – Clapham put in a decent shift in midfield; his defensive game was particularly impressive with a couple of crucial tackles to break down Sutherland attacks and a crucial last ditch slide to deny Elasi a goal early in the second half.
15.Brad Bartels – 7 – Bartels did well on the right side of defence, keeping Tsattalios and Gjorseski quiet attack and ensuring they weren’t able to deliver quality balls into the box.
1.Simon Jaeger – N/A – Did not feature.
3.Adel El Jamal – 6 – El Jamal came off the bench for Parisi with a quarter hour remaining and played as a makeshift striker rather than in his usual position in the centre of defence. His physical presence saw him hold the ball up well yet the big man did appear out of position during his time on the pitch.
4.Brendan Reilly – N/A – Did not feature.
12.Miroslav Radulovic – 5 – Radulovic came off the bench for Shevlin late on and his little time to make his mark on the match.
16.Sean Symons – 8 – Symons came off the bench early for Hawrysiuk on the half hour mark and did well during his hour on the pitch. His movement and passing created space in attack for his side before he wrapped up the scoring with a well-taken first-time finish is injury time.
-Player Ratings by Michael Shoolman