Syd Utd v Marconi

Round 5 report by Chris Dunkerley
Sydney United v Marconi-Fairfield

Sydney United's early run on top of the ladder had been dented by Carlton's 4-0 drubbing last weekend but not broken as Marconi came less than 2km down the road to take on the league leaders in the western Sydney local derby. United's Alan Hunter was deprived of the services of experienced marksman Zlatko Arambasic through hamstring injury against Carlton whilst Marconi's Eddie Krncevic was still looking through his large squad to see if there was a goal-scoring striker among them.

Local derbies often start slow with both teams probing for weakness and this game was no exception. It started a little too slow in fact for most fans with the first few minutes resembling a pin-ball machine as the midfields tested each other. Sydney United gave notice that it was at home and wanted the result with Aytek Genc, who played a captain's role throughout settling his side, shooting well but alas wide of Marconi's David Acevski. They continued to press and Marconi were struggling to grasp control, Chad Gibson playing very deep in order to link with Angelo Costanzo. Nahuel Arrarte hit a long cross in the 20th min for Genc to connect but hit over. Almost on the derby que the game opened up and out of defence Goran Talevski received a sweet ball and almost beat the keeper who made a great save. Marconi could not keep possession through its midfield and were reduced to long range efforts such as Longo's shot over after 30 mins. Marconi were however pushing United's midfield back and Francis Awaritefe was sitting alone up front seeking feed from Tom Pondeljak. Franny tried to shoot on sight but his aim was poor and generally all the Bravehearts attacks were blunted by the Stallions backline. Gibson was now roaming the midfield prompting and he set up John Maisano only to see Brett Hughes come out to smother well. Genc scythed down Christian Care at 35 mins and earned a yellow card. As the half drew to a close Marconi were edging back but I'd give the half on points to United.

Marconi signalled that they were concerned with the lack of penetration when they started the half with Darren McDonald up front on the left. He headed over after 2 mins and then they pushed up again with Renaud's cross almost headed for an own goal by Awaritefe who had dropped back under the onslaught. In a counter attacking move United midfielder Pondeljak received a fine through ball from Talevski and made no mistake to give United a 1-0 lead after 4 mins. Marconi, stung by this, attacked and Care received a cross which he totally miss-kicked and the ball ran out to Raphael Bove who slammed the ball into the top left hand corner leaving Hughes grasping, and it was back to 'even-stevens'. Marconi continued to press with Care and Tome although McDonald will want to forget his shot which hit the corner post. It was not until 67 mins when United gained a freekick which Savocca forced Acevski to pull of a fine save and Talesvki broke through on the right only to waste the hard work. Tome was finding space and made a run into the area to be brought down by Savocca. The penalty was surprisingly taken by Buddy Farah who made no mistake to score his very first NSL goal. Marconi brought on Royce Brownlie to add more punch and he and Tome squandered chances. At 80 mins Young Solomon Islander Cummins Menapi found himself with space for United, struck it well only to see Acevski parry it but Genc gathered to rebound and slotted it home. The last 15 mins saw both sides play nice football but United were relieved to hold Marconi to the draw.

After the game both coaches were happy with the outcome although Hunter's smile was bigger as Krncevic admitted he still hadn't found a striker. Marconi may rue the dropped points which would have lifted them on the table but United's should be well pleased with a point in the bag as he will be without key player Pondeljak for 2 weeks due to his upcoming wedding.