It was the traveling Blacktown City FC who crashed Manly United’s ‘Back to Manly’ day after a thrashing 6-1 victory at Cromer Park on Saturday afternoon.
After just their fourth loss of the season the week prior, Manly United played host to Blacktown City FC in a ‘Match of the Round’ that would have vital repercussions for the losing side in the race for the Premiership.
Sitting just a point behind the second placed home side, Blacktown were continuing to find strong form, buoyed by Travis Major’s return to the club, notching four goals in two matches.
After starting fast, it was the away side who found the back of the net via an aerial raid in the 5th minute.
Defender Lachlan Campbell the one etching his name on the scoresheet after rising highest from a corner and heading home a powerful finish that flew past Manly keeper Jack Greenwood.
After finally finding their feet and settling into the contest, Manly restored parity in the 17th minute via the head of former City player Alen Aganovic.
A near carbon copy of Campbell’s opener, Aganovic climbed highest off a Matthew Sim set piece, directing the ball low and hard into the net, leaving custodian Alexander Robinson rooted to the spot.
After a quiet period in the middle of the half, Blacktown scrounged a second goal in the 34th minute.
It was midfielder, Jackson Bandiera, who created the opportunity from an inswinging cross aimed towards Travis Major.
Before Major could get a foot on the ball, Manly defender James Oates failed to clear the danger, flicking the ball up off his head and looping it over Greenwood and into the back of the net.
With three minutes left in the half, Blacktown found a third, again, via a corner.
A low cross missed a multitude of legs and found its way to defender Grant Lynch, who tapped the ball home from point blank range, further silencing the home crowd at Cromer Park.
Now with a mountain to climb, Manly had to start the second forty-five fast however it was a lack of composure on the ball early that saw them struggle to develop any sort of foot hold.
However, the long awaited return of Manly favourite, Dejan Pandurevic from injury, lifted the spirits around Cromer Park and it was the attacker who came close to assisting Sim in the 60th minute.
His creative back heel amidst an attacking raid found Sim on the edge of the area whose low strike was saved well by Robinson.
Three minutes later, Manly’s hopes of comeback were dealt a major blow when Mario Shabow burrowed his way into the area.
The tricky midfielder’s lofted touch back across goal found a flying Jak O’Brien who headed home into the empty and wheeled away in celebration.
Five minutes later, things began to turn ugly for the homeside who conceded a fifth and sixth in the space of sixty seconds.
The fifth finish came via the way of Major who was played through by O’Brien and expertly lobbing an onrushing Greenwood from outside the area.
No more than 45 seconds later, Shabow found himself driving towards goal.
With confidence oozing through his veins, the attacker released a curling effort from range that found its way past Greenwood and into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
Now in damage control, Manly simply had to see the game out and avoid any further damage and do this they did.
The much quieter closing stages produced no real chance for either side as Blacktown left Cromer Park with three vital points, leaving plenty of psychological damage for Adam Griffiths side who has now suffered back-to-back defeats for the second time this season.
It was a massive victory for Mark Crittenden and his troops who sent out a stark warning to fellow rival NPL NSW Men’s sides, Blacktown City meant business in the business half of the 2022 NPL NSW Men’s season.
Manly United FC 1 (Aganovic 17’)
Blacktown City FC 6 (Campbell 5’, Oates (OG) 34’, Lynch 42’, O’Brien‘ 63’, Major 68’, Shabow 69’)
Saturday, 9th July, 2022
Cromer Park, Cromer
Referee: Hassan Jomaa
Assistant Referees: Emma Kocbek & Jackson Mackie
Fourth Official: Mikayla Ryan
Manly United FC: 3. Jesse Piriz, 4. James Oates, 6. James Georgaklis (27. Hunter Elliott 46’), 7. Seiya Kambayashi, 8. Dominic Ferguson (14. Dejan Pandurevic 58’), 11. Matthew Sim (5. Thomas Fay 76’), 12. Lucas Rainbird, 15. Kristian Santich, 19. Alen Aganovic, 20. Jack Greenwood, 22. Bruno Mendes (17. Daniel Fabrizio 76’).
Substitutes Not Used: 24. Mitchell Mattison, 29, Marcus Lal, 42. Hugo Mckay.
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Card: Nil
Blacktown City FC: 3. Daniel Collins, 4. Lachlan Campbell (21. Charles Mendy 76’) 5. Grant Lynch, 7. Travis Major, 8. Jak O’Brien (32. Hiroaki Aoyama 69’) 10. Mario Shabow, 11. Mitchell Mallia (9. Jordan Smylie 76’), 17. Dakota Askew, 19. Adam Berry, 24. Jackson Bandiera (6. Matthew Lewis 63’), 30. Alex Robinson.
Substitutes Not Used: 16. Ben Berry,, 22. Carlos De Oliviera, 40. Dylan Niski.
Yellow Cards: 4. Lachlan Campbell 21’, 8. Jak O’Brien 65’
Red Cards: Nil