Blacktown City edge out heroic Parramatta FC


ON A day where Parramatta City reflected on its proud history, it was Travis Major and Blacktown City FC who stole the headlines.

An early goal from Major proved the difference between Blacktown City FC and the Eagles in the inaugural Heritage Round match at Melita Stadium.
Major, the former Central Coast Mariner, pounced in the eighth minute to turn home the decisive goal of the contest after Parramatta goalkeeper Luke Turnbull only parried a fierce Patrick Antelmi strike into Major’s path.
Before kick-off, Parramatta FC honoured some of its greatest names to mark the inaugural Heritage Round.
National Soccer League Cup winning coach Rale Rasic headlined a historic roll call before the match alongside club stalwarts George Ellul – who marks up half a century with the club this year – as well as "Mr. Melita" himself, Sam Vella. 
The Eagles put in a resilient performance as they tried to honour their former greats in the best way possible, but were left empty handed.
It was not for a lack of trying, though, and the losses of captain Patrick Gatt through injury and fellow defender Joshua Symons through suspension meant stand-in skipper Mathew Clowes was forced to take up a spot in the heart of defence. 
Blacktown City was not without its own selection woes with stars Joey Gibbs and Sasa Macura both ruled out. 
The Eagles’ new look backline coped well in the circumstances, but its early frailties proved costly as some fine ball movement from Blacktown City – which eventually released the ever-dangerous Danny Choi – pulled the defenders out of shape.
A first-time cross across the face of the 18-yard-box from Choi found Antelmi whose shot forced a tremendous save from Turnbull. Unfortunately the Eagles keeper could do little to prevent Major from tucking home the rebound. 
Antelmi failed to score the goal his first-half play deserved when he was found unmarked by Choi at the front post, missing with his header from close range.
Parramatta FC was not without chances of its own, forcing two turnovers high up the pitch but never able to break down the last line of Blacktown City’s defence.
Marco Sama was Parramatta’s main outlet going forward, but his efforts were limited to longer range shots. 
An injury to Choi forced the dangerous left winger off at half-time and his side looked hamstrung going forward as a result.
A Parramatta corner after 48 minutes almost produced an equaliser for the Eagles from the resulting scramble in the six-yard box, but Blacktown City was able to clear its lines.
Sama was dangerous again just after the hour mark as the Eagles forward embarked on a mazy run from just inside his own half before eventually getting off a shot which was deflected wide.
Minutes later Juan Chavez, Parramatta’s hero last week, spurned a golden opportunity when his close-range strike was well saved by Bankstown City’s number one Nenad Vekic.
Vekic was called upon again after 86 minutes to turn away a stinging free-kick from Parramatta substitute Daniel Rezo. 
Blacktown City coach Mark Crittenden said it was not a performance to remember for his side, but said it was the sort of win which could prove crucial in the race for the premiership.
“It’s a tough place to come, and they worked hard today, so we’re happy with the win, if not the overall performance,” Crittenden said.
“We didn’t move the ball quick enough and took poor options and we had enough chances in the first half to kill the game.
“In years gone by there are games you look back on and think, ‘yeah, we weren’t that great,’ but those games are often the difference.” 
Parramatta FC coach Franco Consentino – a former Eagles player himself – said the pre-game ceremony was a touching tribute and a great reminder of the impact his club has had on Australian football.
“I played here as well, and to see the old boys back was great,” Consentino said.
“The club has a lot history and has been one of the greatest forces in Australian soccer over the years, so it was a nice touch.
“I can’t complain with the performance. They’re a good side, they’re quick and when you make a mistake they’ll hurt you, which they did.
“We had to shuffle things around as well, and I was happy shape wise and how we worked but I wasn’t happy with how we turned over the ball.”
Match Stats
Parramatta FC 0
Blacktown City FC 1
(Major, 8’)
Sunday June 14, 2015
Melita Stadium, Sefton

Referee: Benjamin Abraham
Assistant Referees: Thomas Lee and Kearney Robinson
Fourth Official: Matthew Mcorist
Parramatta City FC: Turnbull, R. Speranza, Tsironis (Grima 84’), Vais (Rezo 50’), Ardle, Chavez (Gersbach 81’), Clowes, Gullo, Richards, Sama, Tayebi Derazkala
Substitutes not used: Diacono, Gersbach, Grima, Mallett
Yellow cards: Tayebi Derazkala 23’, Rezo 63’
Blacktown City: Vekic, G. Speranza, Antelmi, Cairncross, Choi (Araujo, 45’), Evans, Fragogiannis, Lewis, Major, Mallia (Grozdanovski 84’), Perkatis
Substitutes not used: Beumie, Perre, Prendergast
Yellow Cards: Fragogiannis 47’
Player ratings:
3 – Danny Choi (Blacktown City)
2 – Nenad Vekic (Blacktown City)
1 – Marco Sama (Parramatta FC)
– By Matthew Galea, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 Reporter, at Melita Stadium