Syd Utd v Power

Round 23 report by Alan Clark
Sydney United v Parramatta Power

Sydney United had a come from behind win over Parramatta Power at the Sydney United Sports Centre last Sunday afternoon.

Solomon Island international Commins Menapi was the United hero, netting both home goals in the second half after Damien Brown gave Power a lead held until the break.

Despite the short history of Parramatta as an NSL side, the feeling between these two clubs seems to have the edge of a much longer-lasting rivalry. The victory goes some way towards easing the grudge United has with Power. That it came after being behind, sweetened the effect.

Asked after the game about the significance of the win. United coach Velimir Kupresak said, "This is a special win, yeah."

Parramatta coach David Mitchell - once United's coach when they were last minor Premiers - played down the intensity, whilst aiming a few barbed comments of his own. "From their side I can understand it," he said. "They feel hard-done by that a lot of players left (following Mitchell to Power) because they weren't getting paid. That's the players' choice. But for us, it's a game we wanted to win for the sake of winning the game."

Thompson's opener came from a move - probably rehearsed to boredom levels on Power's training pitch. That something similar would also have been training ground practice for the United defence says something about the two teams' respective concentration at training.

David Barrett accepted possession wide on the right and sent in a cross from just inside the United half too high for Aytek Genc to intercept and right to the head of Brown. Brown's nod back to Thompson was effective, allowing Thomson to send a sizzling left-foot volley in at the far post beyond the despairing dive of Brett Hughes.

Brown spurned two opportunities to stretch the lead just before the break when Paul Bilokapic fluffed a chance to clear under pressure from Joel Griffiths and Luke Roodenburg and the ball fell for Brown. Brown got in a scurried shot from the edge of the six-yard box, but was wide.

His next was the easier of the pair, and really should have been converted. He had ghosted in at the near post and met a low cross from the right, but had slightly over-run the ball. His improvised attempt at mimicking Mark Viduka with a backheel from one metre out was not touched firmly enough to deviate the ball from its path across the face of goal.

This profligacy in front of goal was to cost Power dearly, as United equalised five minutes after the restart in a classic attack. A through-ball was played which caught the Power defence square, and onto which Tom Pondeljak raced, facing only Power keeper Les Pogliacomi. The giant keeper managed to block the diminutive winger's fierce strike, but the ball rebounded neatly for Commins Menapi who had followed up in the hopes of just such an eventuality. Menapi goaled from less than a yard, directly in front of the now unattended net was probably the easiest he'll ever convert. However, just to add to the degree of difficulty, he decided to push it over the line with his thigh.

Menapi's second was also a first-time touch into an open goal, this time after some perseverence from Pondeljak who had run from a deep position straight at the Power defence. Joe Vrkic looked to have won one battle for possession, but Pondeljak wriggled clear, crossing to the penalty-spot where Menapi lay in wait.

"We created quite a few chances in the first half," said Mitchell in the post-game media conference. "Unfortunately, we didn't bury them. It's a cruel game if you don't take your chances."

At least in this respect, Kupresak and Mitchell were of the same view. "We were very lucky (in the) first half," said the rookie United coach. "The team which doesn't score with these opportunities must lose the game."