Blacktown City have welcomed back their all-time leading goal scorer, Travis Major, as he returned to Blacktown City Sports Centre with a hat-trick in a convincing 3-0 win over Northbridge Bulls.
Major marked his return to Blacktown in the opening minutes after converting on a penalty, before doing the same in the 43rd minute to secure the first half brace.
It took Major all of 90 seconds in the second half to complete his hat-trick, capping of the memorable day with a powerful header that crossed over the line to give City a three-goal advantage and ultimately the win.
Just moments after the kick-off Blacktown City were given a golden opportunity to open the scoring as Hiroaki Aoyama was brought down in the box.
With the referee awarding a penalty up stepped Blacktown’s all-time leading goal scorer, who sent the keeper the wrong way and marked his return with a goal.
Major continued to give the Bulls defence plenty of issues in the opening stages, narrowly missing a close range header after being picked out by Grant Lynch.
The hosts found the back of the net once again in the 17th minute as a cross from Dakota Askew deflected off Jack McLoughlin and went in, but the linesman raised his flag for offside and denied the hosts a second.
After finding themselves on the back foot for the opening ten minutes, Northbridge found a way back into the game and began to match the intense nature shown by their opponents.
Levi Kaye kept the visitors in the game after making a spectacular save to deny Major in a one-on-one situation midway through the first half.
The physicality was turned up a notch in the final stages of the half, with both sides committing numerous fouls and the referee issuing three yellow cards.
With half time approaching, Blacktown were awarded a penalty for the second time in the first half as Major approached the spot to secure a brace.
Major sent Kaye the wrong way once again but picked out the opposite corner as his teammates embraced the influential striker upon his return.
In a near carbon-copy of the first half, Major found the back of the net in the opening minutes to secure his hat-trick.
Aoyama made his way down the line before putting a looping ball into the path of Major where he headed it over the line.
Northbridge sparked their attack after the third goal and called the City defence into action throughout the opening stages of the second half.
James Cakovski came within inches of a stunning opener for the visitors, with his curling volley narrowly missing the target.
As the game approached the hour mark, Major was denied of an unprecedented fourth goal after a brilliant ball from Jackson Bandiera picked him out at the back post as he found the back of the net.
The linesman once again ruled out the goal as Major continued to make his presence felt in his return game.
Northbridge came agonisingly close to an opener as Stephan De Robillard played Diego Bonilla through and the striker beat the keeper, but overpowered his shot and missed the target from close range.
Blacktown came close to a fourth after Mario Shabow played Mitchell Malia through on goal, with his efforts beating the keeper but also the near post.
The Bulls held strong in the final period of the game after being put under an immense amount of pressure from the City attack.
Major’s hat-trick was enough to separate the sides as City walked away with a clean sheet and three crucial points.
Northbridge coach, Mile Sterjovski credited the tough opposition and admitted his side missed their chances.
“It was always gonna be a tough game coming here against Blacktown who are an experienced team with quality players, it was just disappointing conceding a penalty in the opening minutes,” he said.
“We had a few chances we could of put away but it wasn’t our day, with players out it gives opportunity to others to step up…yes we’re not playing for the title but the boys have a lot to play for.”
Mark Crittenden noted the importance of the result and praised his returning striker.
“It was important that we got the result and it’s nice to see Trav [Travis Major] back at the club he helps, but the boys put in a good shift and got the result we desired,” he said.
Travis Major credited his teammates for their help and feels confident in the side going forward.
“It’s nice, I got lucky my first touch was a goal, I hadn’t warmed up I was a bit shaky and it rolled into the corner,” he said.
“It’s pretty easy coming back to this team, they’re always a confident bunch and in the last few weeks they’ve been missing something up front, luckily for me I was there to finish the chances they create so it’s easy for me.”
Blacktown City FC 3 (Major 2’, 44’, 47’)
Northbridge Bulls FC 0
Sunday 26th June 2022
Blacktown City Sports Centre, Seven Hills
Referee: Nathan Shakespear
Assistant Referees: Brodie Merchant and Jamie Ewin
Fourth Official: Eric Saba
Blacktown City FC: 3. Daniel Collins, 5. Grant Lynch, 6. Matthew Lewis (16. Ben Berry 82’), 7. Travis Major (23. Charles Eriku 76’), 8. Jak O’Brien, 10. Mario Shabow (14. Caleb Jackson-Brown 82’), 17. Dakota Askew, 19. Adam Berry, 24. Jackson Bandiera, 30. Alex Robinson, 32. Hiroaki Aoyama (11. Mitchell Mallia 65’).
Substitutes Not Used: 33.Alvin-John Khoshaba 40. Dylan Niski
Yellow Cards: Major 30’, Shabow 30’
Red Cards: Nil
Northbridge Bulls FC: 20. Levi Kaye, 2. Jack McLoughlin, 3. Nathan Dimou, 4.Anthony Sparacino (19. Jacob Maniti 81’), 5. Anthony Krilic (6. Isaac Hovar 58’), 9. Diego Bonilla, 11.Stephan De Robillard (7. Mason Wells 81’), 12. Marcus Sparacino, 13. James Cakovski (18. Sebastian Hernandez 72’), 16. Oliver Jones, 21. Matthew O’Donoghue (17. Jesper Webber 58’).
Substitutes Not Used: 22. Griffin Barry.
Yellow Cards: Krilic 30’
Red Cards: Nil
Written by NPL NSW Men’s reporter, Dominic Criniti @DominicCriniti