AT LAST there is change at the top, as Blacktown City became the new pace setters as they beat Sutherland, therefore taking advantage of Spartans' slip at Manly.
It means that Blacktown City now hold a slender one point advantage at the table's summit and are the team to beat in the final few weeks.
MATCH OF THE ROUND
Blacktown City 1-0 Sutherland Sharks, at Lilys Football Centre
Blacktown City was missing both Shayne D'Cunha and Yianni Fragogiannis, so Mark Crittenden turned to Marco Travaglini, and he was richly rewarded.
It was a tight match against a Sutherland team missing many of their regulars and to that end they performed well for each other and their coach, Robbie Stanton.
Nevertheless, it was Blacktown City who took all three points.
Travaglini arrived at a corner to smash the ball past Denham and send his side to the top of the table.
Round 17 Review
Marconi Stallions 0-1 Rockdale City Suns, at Marconi Stadium
Marconi Stallions needed to win to keep themselves in the frame for a top-five place while Rockdale needed a win to stave off their challenge.
As it were, Rockdale was by far the better side on a cold night in Bossley Park.
Nikola Taneski was their best player and he dovetailed nicely with fellow attackers Tadhg Purcell and Marko Jesic, while Paul Reid was at his metronomic best in midfield.
Taneski scored the match winner, receiving a long pass from Askin Oygur in the second half, before showing strength and composure to finish into the bottom corner.
Sydney Olympic 6-1 APIA-Leichhardt Tigers, at Belmore Sports Ground
It was not a day to remember for APIA-Leichhardt, who failed to capitalise on any momentum gained by their 5-4 win against Sutherland the weekend before the Waratah Cup Final.
The Tigers have now conceded ten goals in their last 120' minutes of football, after going down 6-1 here.
Go Shirai was the chief destroyer, scoring a beautifully taken hat-trick.
Evan Kostopoulos continued to show his worth to Olympic, scoring twice, while Harris Gaitatzis was the other scorer.
Daniel Fogarty got on the scoresheet for the second consecutive match but there wasn't much else to write home about for the Tigers. Goalkeeper Andrew Bazi made a number of saves though, and probably kept the score below double figures.
South Coast Wolves 1-0 Sydney United 58 FC, at WIN Stadium
South Coast Wolves gained another win down in Wollongong, beating Sydney United 58 FC by a single goal to nil.
Nahuel Arrarte's side are a genuine chance of making the top five, as they sit six points in arrears of Olympic and Marconi who are in fifth and sixth respectively. It has been a remarkable turnaround.
It was Joey Lavalle's 70' minute goal that did it for them against a United side now sitting only two points ahead of bottom, a stark contrast to their premiership winning form of 2013.
Manly United 3-0 Blacktown Spartans, at Cromer Park
This was a game that had everything. Two penalties, two red cards and three goals, the latter all scored by Manly United.
It was a loss that knocked Spartans off top place, but for Manly it was a superb win after being on the wrong end of a 6-2 defeat in the Waratah Cup Final last weekend.
Manly went in front early when Scott Balderson converted from the spot. Josh Lawson and Mitchell Long on both saw red, while Chris Payne doubled the Manly lead.
Another penalty saw Brendan Cholakian add to his tally from the spot, blowing the score out to 3-0 and adding a convincing gloss to an already fantastic Manly win.
St George 1-1 Bonnyrigg White Eagles, at Seymour Shaw Park
St George and Bonnyrigg shared the points and the goals, as the White Eagles dropped their bundle in their premiership chase.
It was a poor result for Brian Brown's side, who have been in menacing form of late, but for Manny Spanoudakis it was another welcome point against one of the competition's best teams.
David Talevski gave St George the lead just before the half time break and for a long time in the second half, it looked like a lead that they would keep.
Bonnyrigg had other ideas though and Alexander Canak popped up with ten minutes to go to draw his side level and gain a share of the points.
Photo courtesy of Football New South Wales
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