Sunday, August 05, 2007
The Top Two - update
In the end, they had to pull an extraordinary Houdini act in a game which, for the first hour, they largely controlled.
In typical Blacktown v. Bankstown fashion, the first half was almost unbearably tight, with time on the ball at an absolute premium, long balls the rule rather than the exception, and stoppages annoyingly frequent. Suffice to say that there were only occasional outbreaks of football in the opening forty-five minutes.
Set-pieces looked the most likely route to a goal, and sure enough, after half an hour, a deep, looping corner from Brendan Renaud met the head of Blacktown’s Michael Cindric on the far post; his bullet header whistled through the arms of Bankstown’s ’keeper Cem Akili, late off his line.
Although Bankstown were putting the occasional promising move together, they were simply not clicking as a whole. The wing-backs, Shane Webb and Steve Liavas, were finding it very hard to get into the game, and Robert Mileski and Tallan Martin were being extremely tightly marked.
Player-coach Peter Tsekenis replaced the ineffective Liavas at the break, and his replacement, Ibrahim Haydar, immediately set Blacktown problems. However, after a brief period of Bankstown pressure, Blacktown should have killed the game off when a bad defensive error allowed Tolgay Ozbey to cross neatly to an unmarked Luke Roodenburg, six yards from goal. The latter succumbed to nerves, and sliced wide.
Yet Blacktown soon regained their dominance in midfield, thanks to the resourceful “Chi Chi” Mendez. Then…the turnaround.
First, from a messy goalmouth scramble, Robert Mileski equalized for Bankstown. Then, a moment of sheer madness from Blacktown’s most influential player.
Mendez had already, very foolishly, encroached on a Daniel Severino free kick (which eventually required a fine save from Matt Nemes in the Blacktown goal), earning himself a soft yellow card. He should have received a second caution a few minutes later for some cynical time-wasting at a Blacktown free-kick; he didn't, but, as Leo Carle warmed up on the bench (surely due to replace Mendez), the Blacktown playmaker launched himself into a horrible studs-up tackle in the centre circle.
Blacktown down to ten, and it looked as if the match had swung completely Bankstown’s way.
Bankstown, indeed, now came forward in numbers and combined well in midfield, but the Blacktown defence was proving hard to breach. Still, it was hard to imagine them holding out in extra time...
But this game obeyed a logic of its own making. In a rare Blacktown breakaway, an absolutely ordinary cross from the left from Roodenburg, which should have been a ’keeper’s ball, was fumbled by Akili in a challenge with Paul Wither (the Bankstown players would bitterly complain that their goalie had been impeded, and they seemed to have a fair case). The ball ran loose, and Tolgay Ozbey collected yet another goal for Blacktown.
Ozbey then gained a just reward for his pursuit of lost causes throughout. With three Bankstown defenders coverging on him, he reached a ball on the right-hand by-line that he had no right to haul in; whipping it across the goalmouth, he perhaps surprised Akili, who faltered again. Chad Gibson was there to tap in.
And so, for the second year running, Bankstown have been knocked out of the finals after their opponents have had a man sent off. Hard luck on them, but Blacktown’s recovery from their double blow in the second half said a great deal about their resolve and fighting spirit. Hats off to the champions.
Amazing but true... ;-)
Blacktown have a few ex-A-Leaguers actually: Gibson, Adrian Webster (with Perth last season), and Ozbey of course.
They ain't pretty to watch, but they're very effective.
Thought Chi Chi was the man of the match up until his send off, controlling the midfield and nulifying George Nohra. He looked spent though just before his second yellow and thought the poor challenge was as much out of tiredness.
Thought that Bankstown were as little naive after the send off, pushing too many men forward and leaving themselves exposed at the back. I really thought though that Cem Akili had been followed by Paul Wither for the second goal. He had no chance of catching that, despite the shocking cross from Luke Roodenberg. Wasn't he the luckiest man on the pitch after that miss?
Blacktown just seemed to have this air of destiny about them this season, plenty of character.
For bankstown, I was impressed by the prodigious left peg of Daniel Severino. One ball he clipped into Robert Mileski was simply sublime. I liked Mileski's touch and strength as well, but his finishing might have been better, Tallen Martin did nothing.
Blacktown have been the best team in the league for 5 season!
They have a great coach and great players too
There skipper must of been so happy to see his team win after that miss!!! but to his defence he look to be quite an inspirational skipper!
I thought Gibson was M.O.M