Sydney FC defeated Parramatta FC 3-2 during their PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s clash at Lambert Park on Saturday night.
The tight scoreline belying a strong performance from Rob Stanton's men as they picked up three valuable points.
Goals from Charles Lokolingoy and Juan Zapata put Sydney FC in a commanding position going into the halftime break, but a penalty early in the second half from Daniel Rezo gave the visitors a lifeline.
The home side restored their two-goal lead through Chris Zuvela just after the hour, with Howard Fondyke's late strike little more than a consolation goal as Sydney FC ran out deserved winners.
Sydney FC looked comfortable on the ball from the outset, leaving the visitors to chase shadows as they struggled to keep up with a lively forward pack in Lokolingoy, Zapata, Zuvela and Daniel Maskin.
Indeed, it would have been easy to believe that Ryan Norval was the first Parramatta player to touch the ball when he picked it out of his net in the 9th minute, such was Sydney FC's dominance in possession in the lead-up to the game's opening goal.
Maskin skipped past his marker on the right flank and cut a smart ball across the six-yard box to Lokolingoy, who swiped the ball past Norval from close range to give his side a deserved lead.
Sydney FC continued to roll forward after their goal, and Zapata was next to test Norval with a shot from the top of the box that the goalkeeper saved with relative ease. Lokolingoy had another chance to extend Sydney FC's lead shortly after when he was first to a loose ball on the penalty spot, but he scuffed his shot to leave Norval untroubled in his goal.
A second Sydney FC goal seemed an inevitability, and came in the 21st minute when Zapata picked up on a pass which ran clear of the Parramatta defence, taking a touch to control the ball before hitting a low shot inside the far post. A small but vocal section of the Lambert Park crowd chanted their approval; Sydney FC's two-goal lead a fair reward for their effort.
Maskin might have made it three a few minutes later when he unleashed a shot from just outside the box, but Norval got down well to save. For their part, Parramatta FC managed little in the way of serious attempts on Mitchell Evans' goal; their first half reaching a climax with corner shortly before the break.
Halftime came and went, and while Sydney FC appeared to pick up from where they left off, an early Parramatta FC penalty gave the contest new life. Daniel Rezo stepped up to take the spot kick for the visitors, and drove a determined shot high down the centre to cut the deficit to a single goal with just over half an hour left to play.
Sydney FC refused to let their grip on the game slip, and wrestled back their two-goal advantage a little over ten minutes after Rezo's penalty, as Zapata drove through the Parramatta backline and poked a shot inside Norval's right post to give his side a 3-1 lead.
Maskin smashed a shot against the crossbar after another break down the right flank. John Iredale found the woodwork himself shortly after. The newly-introduced striker smacked a looping volley against the outside of the post only for the ball to bounce away for a goal kick.
What should have been a comfortable end to the match for the home side turned into a battle of nerves after Howard Fondyke scored a late goal from Gosue Sama's knockdown. However, Sydney FC held firm to deny Parramatta FC a much-needed draw - in truth, it would have been more than they deserved.
Sydney FC's Robbie Stanton reflected on a thoroughly pleasing result from a side growing in confidence with each week of the competition.
'We dominated the first half. They were aggressive, but we handled it well when they made it difficult for us,” he said.
“I didn't think it was a penalty, but those things happen when you get the ball in dangerous areas. It was a bit tense at the end – we had five or six opportunities that we could have done better with, a few times where we hit the woodwork, but we were well worth it in the end. I was hoping for a clean sheet, but I couldn't be prouder either way.”
Parramatta FC goal scorer Howard Fondyke said a lack of drive was just one part of his side’s downfall during the match.
“Sydney set up well. We knew how they were going to play and they're a good footballing team, but we didn't match them for enthusiasm,” Fondyke said.
“We were a bit naive at times which hurt us, so it's back to the drawing board for a good week at training, and we'll look forward to the next game.”
Sydney FC 3 (Lokolingoy 9', Zapata 21', Zuvela 66')
Parramatta FC 2 (Rezo 53', Fondyke 88')
Saturday, 3 June 2017
Lambert Park, Leichhardt.
Referee: R. Mattei
Assistant referees: J. Park and A. Hosnani
Fourth official: C. Hughes
Sydney FC: 1. EVANS Mitchell, 2. CURTIS Brendan, 18. DEVLIN Cameron (11. ARDITTI Christopher 71'), 3. FLOTTMANN Patrick, 14. GONZALEZ Cristian, 6. KULESKI Nicola, 12. LOKOLINGOY Charles (22. IREDALE John 68'), 7. MASKIN Daniel (38. MALFARA Leo 89'), 39. MCGING Liam, 8. ZAPATA Juan, 17. ZUVELA Chris
Substitutes not used: 20. HEWARD-BELLE Thomas, 21. MCILLHATTON Sam
Yellow Cards: Zapata 68', Maskin 87'
Red Cards: N/A
Parramatta FC: 1. NORVAL Ryan, 3. CARBONI Christopher, 15. CRIGHTON Jordan, 4. FONDYKE Howard, 14. GALBRAITH Hamish, 17. GERSBACH Joshua (19. FILIPOVIC Marko 84'), 20 HAYDAAR Ibrahim, 11. JOHNSTONE Ryan, 8. REZO Daniel (12. DONATIELLO Marcus 75'), 16. SALINAS William, 9. SAMA Gosue
Substitutes not used: 18. GIBSON Keenan, 21. MOORE Christopher, 10. DE OLIVIERA Samuel
Yellow Cards: Galbraith 48', Carboni 49'
Red Cards: N/A