Sydney FC have consolidated top spot in the Foxtel National Youth League Conference B with a thrilling late victory over the Central Coast Mariners, 5-3, at Lambert Park, Leichhardt on Sunday.
Head Coach Robert Stanton’s men were forced to work for the win as the Mariners, fielding four Hyundai A-League players, started the first half brightly, pressing high up the field and forcing cheap turnovers.
The Mariners duly took the lead 27 minutes in as Fitzgerald blasted home Anthony Kalik’s well weighted cross following a counter attack, with the goal seemingly awakening the Sky Blues as they pushed numbers forward in search of an equaliser soon after.
Robert Stambolziev restored parity with half time looming as he burst on to the end of a well-timed cut back from Ali Abbas to sidefoot home from inside the area as the Sky Blues found more space going forward.
Well into stoppage time, Sydney FC found the lead as Robert Stambolziev turned from scorer to provider as he released Abbas into the box with the Iraqi curling an effort in from an acute angle to send Sydney FC in 2-1 up at the interval.
The Sky Blues started the second half the brighter and were 3-1 up soon after the restart with Bai Antoniou capitalising on some lax Mariners defending to break one on one and slot home at the second attempt after hitting the woodwork initially.
From there the Sky Blues grasped control of the game as they dictated play in midfield, however the Mariners found a lifeline as Anthony Bouzanis could only palm out Lachlan Wales cutback into the path of Kalik who cut the deficit as he fired into the back of the net.
The match soon turned on its head as the Mariners found themselves level from the penalty spot after Timotheou fouled in the area. Glen Trifiro took the spot kick and managed to just elude Bouzanis’ outstretched arm as he fired into the bottom left corner.
Chances fell for both teams as they each searched for a winner and it was the Sky Blues who took the lead with 10 minutes remaining to send the home crowd into raptures.
Robert Stambolziev neatly flicked on into the path of Aaron Calver who burst forward before finding Cristian Gonzalez in the box who took one touch before volleying low into the net for a 4-3 score.
Sydney FC capitalised on a shocked Mariners and sealed the win one minute later as Chris Zuvela smashed an effort high into the top corner after Emmanuel Gonzalez broke forward and squared.
With little time remaining Jacob Tratt ensured the Sky Blues finished with a two goal advantage as he cleared an Anthony Kalik effort off the line moments before the full time whistle sounded.
Sydney FC’s Foxtel National Youth League squad are next in action against the Newcastle Jets on Sunday 10 January at Magic Park (kick off 4pm).
Sydney FC 5 (Stambolziev 41’, Abbas 45+1’, Antoniou 48’, C.Gonzalez 80’, Zuvela 81’) def. Central Coast Mariners 3 (Fitzgerald 27’, Kalik 64’, Trifiro 70’ (p)).
Sydney FC: 1. Anthony BOUZANIS (gk), 2. George TIMOTHEOU, 3. Aaron CALVER, 5. Yianni SPYRAKIS (c), 6. Robert STAMBOLZIEV, 7. Daniel ARAUJO, 9. Bai ANTONIOU (76’ Cristian GONZALEZ), 12. Charles LOKOLI-NGOY (72’ Emmanuel GONZALEZ), 15. Jacob TRATT, 17. Christopher ZUVELA, 19. Ali ABBAS (62’ Brendan CURTIS).