The Marconi Stallions have stolen a point from Blacktown City in an intense 1-1 battle at Marconi Stadium on Saturday night.
A sensational 96th minute goal from Roberto Speranza cancelled out a 65th minute penalty from Grant Lynch to wrap up the hard-fought match in a draw.
The physical, and at times aggressive, match saw plenty of action as Blacktown looked to control most of the game, but they were unable to hold out the Stallions who applied pressure until the final moment of the match.
Blacktown City seemed to control the tempo of the match in the early stages and took their time to pick up the intensity.
Jackson Bandiera crossed the ball into the area in the 30th minute but Mario Shabow’s touch left something to be desired, sending the ball out of play.
Lachlan Campbell moved forward to create a chance for Blacktown in the 41st minute.
The defender maneuvered through some space in the middle of the park to take a shot from outside the 18-yard box.
Mitchell Mallia sent a brilliant ball over the top to Shabow, who ran onto it to create an opportunity in the 43rd minute.
Shabow cut across to Mendy in front of the goal but the striker couldn’t get a shot off and the ball came to Thomas James who did very well to keep out the Blacktown press and maintain possession of the ball in a dangerous area.
Roberto Speranza kept Blacktown out in the 45th minute as Shabow again cut to Mendy, but Speranza got in between for a great clearance.
Nathan Millgate came close to knocking home a header for Marconi just before the end of the first half but Campbell managed to intervene to keep the hosts off the scoreboard as they headed to the half-time break.
Marconi’s Connor Evans stole the ball for a chance in the 48th minute, playing the ball to Dominic Costanzo who had a shot on target that was deflected by Blacktown’s defence.
Marconi made a forward run in the 53rd minute as Costanzo delivered the ball to James outside the 18-yard box.
James sent a curling ball into the path of Costanzo but Campbell was able to get it out of the way.
They came back for more minutes later as Costanzo sent a corner kick into the area and Taylor McDonald was in position to connect but guided his header into the crossbar.
Blacktown had a dangerous sequence in the 63rd minute Dakota Askew received the ball in the area and played back to substitute Matthew Lewis whose shot went over the bar.
The visitors continued to maintain pressure in attack and it paid off as they earned a penalty in the 65th minute as Connor Evans brought down Shabow in the area.
Campbell was quick to fire up after the challenge and aggressively approached Evans, although the tension fizzled out before it became too physical.
Grant Lynch stepped up to take the penalty and sent it past Nenad Vekic to secure the first goal of the match.
A free kick in the 72nd minute gave the Stallions a chance and Costanzo took it well and sent it to McDonald who wasn’t able to direct his header towards the target.
Charles Lokolingoy had a chance to equalise in the 77th minute as he collected the ball inside the box but his effort slid wide of the goal.
Shabow made a run down the left flank in the 83rd minute, drawing out Millgate and Jesic to defend.
Shabow looked to grab the shirt of the Marconi captain and push him out of the way and Millgate then took down Shabow with a dangerous tackle.
Jackson Bandiera ran in and challenged Millgate to start the tensions as an all-in incident broke out on the pitch with Blacktown ‘keeper Alex Robinson even joining in on the action from the other end of the field.
The fiery tempers continued as Lynch broke away from the group to continue challenging the Marconi defender.
Evans and Robinson were the only two that came away from the scuffle with yellow cards from referee Nathan Shakespear, along with Millgate who received a card for the initial challenge and Marconi coach Peter Tsekenis who was vocal on the sideline.
Play recommenced and the action continued as Marconi desperately fought to get something from the match.
The Stallions hit the back of the net in the 93rd minute as Lokolingoy tapped in a header from Millgate, but the home side had the goal disallowed for offside, much to the dismay of the Marconi faithful as Campbell looked to keep Millgate onside.
An exceptional delivery of a corner from Jesic in the final minute of the match saw Marconi come so close to equalising as the ball came so close to going over the line but was kept out by Robinson.
Marconi managed a sensational comeback in the 96th minute through defender Roberto Speranza.
Brandon Vella played the ball to Speranza at the edge of the 18-yard box and he curled the ball to the bottom right corner of the goal, out of reach of Robinson.
In a bizarre aftermath of the goal Millgate was given a second yellow by Shakespear for unsportsmanlike behaviour.
With high tensions and intense action, the game wrapped up with a goal apiece, seeing the two sides share points.
Marconi coach Peter Tsekenis applauded his team on their ability to hang on to get a point from the match.
“I thought there were two teams that cancelled each other out pretty much the whole game,” he explained.
“They got a penalty, which I thought Connor Evans did everything he could to pull out of, and they got up.
“Credit to the boys, they just kept plugging away and we had one disallowed and we looked threatening and we eventually got one – it was good that we got it.
“We weren’t at our best, I thought we could be a little bit better but when you’re playing a good side and they nullify each other that’s what happens, it becomes an arm wrestle.”
Marconi Stallions FC 1 (Roberto Speranza 96’)
Blacktown City FC 1 (Grant Lynch 65’p)
Saturday, 4th June, 2022
Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
Referee: Nathan Shakespear
Assistant Referees: Maggie Price and Matthew Harris
Fourth Official: Alessandro Llana
Marconi Stallions FC: 1. Nenad Vekic, 2. Nathan Millgate, 3. Giorgio Speranza, 4. Roberto Speranza, 6. Domenic Costanzo (17. Martin Fernandez 75’), 8. Connor Evans (7. Chris Hatfield 83’), 9. Thomas James, 10. Marko Jesic, 11. Charles Lokolingoy, 22. Taylor McDonald, 23. Brandon Vella
Substitutes Not Used: 13. Samuel Gulisano, 16. Liam Youlley, 18. Adrian Valenti, 20. Dion Shaw
Yellow Cards: Jesic 80’, Millgate 84’, 97’, Evans 85’
Red Cards: Millgate 97’
Blacktown City FC: 3. Daniel Collins, 4. Lachlan Campbell, 5. Grant Lynch, 10. Mario Shabow, 11. Mitchell Mallia (6. Matthew Lewis 49’), 17. Dakota Askew, 19. Adam Berry, 21. Charles Mendy (8. Jak O’Brien 78’), 24. Jackson Bandiera, 30. Alexander Robinson, 32. Hiroaki Aoyama
Substitutes Not Used: 9. Jake Trew, 18. Nicholas O’Brien, 22. Carlos D’Oliveira, 40. Dylan Niski
Yellow Cards: Berry 37’, Robinson 85’, Shabow 96’
Red Cards: Nil