Sydney FC went down 3-1 at Lambert Park on Saturday night as former Sky Blue Chris Payne helped APIA to victory in the battle for Lambert Park.
Payne scored either side of halftime before setting up Franco Parisi for APIA’s third, while Benjamin Koop came on late to score a consolation goal for the hosts.
The Tigers were made to work for their win, with Ivan Necevski putting in a particularly impressive performance between the sticks.
Hamish Lamberton was a nuisance to the APIA defence early on and had a terrific chance to open the scoring when he was played clean through on goal, but the striker lost the ball between his feet and could only scuff a weak shot at Ivan Necevski.
Lamberton had another good opportunity shortly after, but Camil Abouchaaya was alive to the danger on the edge of the box and was quick to slide in and put the ball out for a corner.
Sydney FC might have threatened to break the deadlock but were left reeling when Chris Payne tapped the ball home for the Tigers just before the half hour mark.
Franco Parisi played a clever ball in for Joshua Symons on the left, who squared the ball to Payne for a simple finish and a 1-0 lead.
The hosts should have hit back a few minutes later; Lamberton latched onto a loose ball at the top of the box and tried to lob the onrushing Necevski, but the keeper stood up well and made a fantastic save to ensure his side went into the halftime break ahead.
Sydney FC began the second half with a free kick that Harry van der Saag sent dipping narrowly over the crossbar, but the hosts were dealt a sucker punch only a few minutes later.
Payne picked the ball up from Adrian Ucchino at the top of a crowded penalty area and drove across the goal, taking the keeper out before sliding a shot back inside the far post.
Jake Hollman looked as though he might hit back for Sydney midway through the second half when he arrived first to a low cross at the near post, but Necevski was perfectly positioned to block the shot and smother the ball before it rolled between his legs.
APIA turned up a gear as they tried to take their opponents out of the game with a third goal. Payne might have had a hat-trick, but Thomas Heward-Belle was able to scramble to palm away a spectacular looping volley from distance.
Payne went clean through on goal shortly after but unselfishingly squared the ball for Franco Parisi to tap into an empty net, giving the Tigers an unassailable lead.
Still, there was time for Benjamin Koop to score a consolation goal for the hosts; the substitute sliding in to poke home a clever ball from Marco Tilio.
Sydney FC’s Jimmy van Weeren was encouraged by his side’s performance despite the result, but said there’s work to be done before next week’s match against Sutherland Sharks.
“We had some good chances early on, in the first twenty minutes we had two good chances, and then we got done the other way,” he said.
“It’s disappointing, for the players it’s disappointing because at halftime they knew they’d played well and maybe didn’t deserve to be down, but that’s the reality of football, so a good learning moment again.
“Next week is another really good test for us, Sutherland have a really good squad but it’s another game we can win.”
“It was a really good performance from the boys,” said APIA’s John Calleja. “I could relax a little bit!
“They certainly followed instructions. Sydney are a great team. We knew they weren’t going to be easy. We went hard in the first half; we put pressure on them and really forced the issue.
“We’ve copped a bit of criticism in the last few weeks for our results and our performances, so we were pretty determined to go out and put in a good performance today.”
Sydney FC 1 (Koop 89’)
APIA Leichhardt FC 3 (Payne 28’, 52’, Parisi 85’)
Referee: T. Danaskos
Assistants: M. Price, J. Adabjou
Fourth official: I. Libri
4th May, 2019
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Sydney FC: 1. HEWARD-BELLE Thomas, 6. VAN DER SAAG Harry, 4. MCGING Liam, 14. FAY Thomas, 5. SCIBILIO Patrick, 12. TILIO Giuseppe, 10. TILIO Marco, 9. LAMBERTON Hamish (18. KOOP Benjamin), 7. SKODATIS Jerry (24. HOLLMAN Jake), 16. BONANNI Paolo, 23. MCCARTHY Harry (15. TEAGUE Ryan)
Substitutes not used: 30. PABLESIC Adam, 17. TALBOT Callum
Yellow cards: Skodatis 35’
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC: 5. AZZONE Nicholas, 7. DIAZ Tynan (17. GULISANO Samuel), 21. KOUTA Michael, 12. MCILHATTON Sam, 1. NECEVSKI Ivan, 10. PARISI Franco (14. HUGHES Lachlan), 6. PAYNE Christopher, 4. SYMONS Joshua, 16. SYMONS Sean (19. NASRABADI Dominion), 18. UCCHINO Adrian, 23. ABOUCHAAYA Camil
Substitutes not used: 22. TUXFORD Blake, 43. FIORESE Gian
Yellow cards: J. Symons 60’
3: Christopher Payne (ALT)
2: Ivan Necevski (ALT)
1: Adrian Ucchino (ALT)