NWS Spirit FC had a happy return to the scene of their 2022 Waratah Cup Final triumph overcoming a wounded Blacktown City FC 2-1 at Landen Stadium in round three National Premier League NSW Men’s action on Sunday.

Goals to Matthew Cahill and Richard Darko restored memories of their 2022 triumph as David Perkovic’s men secured their second win of the season.

While for Blacktown City, they fought hard down on troops with Danny Choi suffering an ACL injury and Matthew Lewis an MCL injury, equalizing through Jak O’Brien with the final kick of the first half.

It was a cagey opening to the game as both sides seemed afraid to concede rather than look for attacking opportunities in a cat and mouse affair.

That all changed before the half hour though, with the Spirit opening the scoring. Keeper Tristan Prendergast and a retreating defender were caught in two minds before Matthew Cahill swooped in for his second goal of the season on 27 minutes.

If there’s one thing you know about Blacktown City, they will hang in games and captain Mario Shabow had a chance to equalize six minutes later, Shabow taking the ball in from the left wing before shooting under pressure wide right, Blake Ilitch doing well in defence.

Ollie Wiggin had a chance to double the visitors lead combining with his midfield well before Prendergast denied him with a diving save.

The teams would go in level though, Jak O’Brien finishing from close range after being found by Tyren Burnie with the cut back, deep into first half of injury time.

Blacktown City continued to ride their momentum after the break, with a couple of dangerous balls coming across the visitors defence.

Burnie was a man possessed and almost scored but his shot was blocked by a desperate defence.

Carlos De Oliviera was then next up, hitting the right post after Jak O’Brien laid it off to him on 51 minutes.

Spirit responded with a chance of their own from a corner on the left side, Corey Kavanagh sneaking in the near post.

The second goal for Spirit did come soon after that, Richie Darko making an instant impact with a sweet left footed volley from around the penalty spot on 66 minutes that sent the visitors into raptures.

Blacktown City thought they had an equalizer on 82 minutes but the offside flag denied them as they continued to push.

The full-time whistle and it was to be a magic moment for the visitors who took home three huge points in what is always a tough place to get them at Landen Stadium.

NWS Spirit coach David Perkovic was very proud of his team afterwards.

“The performance today was significantly better than the past couple of weeks.

“The boys showed a lot of character to hang in.

“We managed the game really well with the ball in the first half – You give a quality team like Blacktown City one chance at the end of the half and they score it.

“I was really pleased to see Richie score.

“He had really bad concussion in preseason, he deserved that goal today, he is the ultimate professional and I’m really pleased he got the winning goal.”

Blacktown City FC face Central Coast Mariners next weekend in Round 4 action while Spirit travel to Seymour Shaw to visit the Sutherland Sharks.

Match Stats

Blacktown City FC 1 (O’Brien 45’)

NWS Spirit FC 2 (Cahill 27’, Darko 66′ )

Saturday 19 February, 2023

Landen Stadium, Seven Hills

Referee: Danny Horstead

Assistant Referees: Matt Staples & Alexis Johnson

Fourth Official: Jackson Mackie

Blacktown City FC:  1. Tristan Prendergast, 3. Daniel Collins, 4. Lachlan Campbell, 7. Travis Major, 8. Jak O’Brien, 10. Mario Shabow, 12. Tyren Burnie, 16. Ben Berry (14. Caleb Jackson-Brown 70’), 18. Nicholas O’Brien (17. Tatsuya Kato 86’), 19. Adam Berry, 22. Carlos De Oliviera (21. Charles Mendy 70’)

Substitutes Not Used: 30. Jacob Fernandez (GK), 36. Darian Daghero, 43. Enrico Mazzotta.

Yellow Cards: Shabow, O’Brien, Campbell

Red Cards:

NWS Spirit FC: 1. Christopher Marques (GK), 2. Blake Ilitch, 3. Musashi Kokubo, 4. Kota Odakura, 6. Corey Kavanagh, 10. Louis Bozanic, 11. Ollie Wiggin (19. Dominic Johns 84’), 13. Simon Nicholas, 17. Matthew Cahill (9. Mitchell Davidson 74’), 21. Luiz Lobo (9. Richard Darko 64’), 23. Michael Konestabo (5. Jordan Gomez 64’)

Substitutes Not Used: 12. Jacob Madden (GK), 14. George Kriezis.

Yellow Cards: Nicholas, Odakura, Kavanagh

Red Cards: Nil 

Player Ratings:

3 – Louis Bozanic (NWS)

2 – Tyren Burnie (BCFC)

1 – Richie Darko (NWS)

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