Blacktown City has extended its unbeaten streak to ten games after taking down a youthful Bulls FC Academy side 2-0 on Saturday afternoon at Sydney United Sports Centre.

Coming into the game as the form side of the competition, Blacktown City set the tone and intensity from the very early stages.

The opening goal of the game came in the 11th minute as a dominant start for the visitors was rewarded when Reuben Awaritefe finished a perfect chance from Matt Lewis.

Blacktown continued to dictate the flow of the game, with the Bulls happy to pick their chances on the counterattack throughout the first half.

It was much of the same as the second half got underway, with Blacktown pressing from the kick-off eagerly looking for a second goal.

The high-intensity style of play paid off for the second time in the game when Lachlan Campbell finished his chance from close range just after the hour to all but seal the result for the visitors.

It was a very lively start to the game for both sides, but it was Blacktown City who seized the early momentum and took control of the contest.

Jak O’Brien had the first real chance for the visitors to open the scoring with his curling header that was eventually defused by Alex Robinson.

With the Bulls starting to pick up some momentum in attack, their hard work was undone in the 11th when Matt Lewis picked out Awaritefe for an easy finish to get the visitors on the board.

Blacktown continued to dominate the attacking chances after the first goal but was caught a few times on the counterattack from a pacey Bulls forward line.

The Bulls’ closest chances of the first half came in quick succession as Mabior Garang’s powerful effort was sent out for a corner before Mason Wells’ backheel flick ricocheted against the front post.

Adam Berry came within inches of adding a second for Blacktown City as he charged onto a misjudged clearance but overpowered his goal-bound effort.

Blacktown thought they had doubled their advantage when Nicholas O’Brien found an outstretched foot of Awaritefe in the six-yard box, his effort found the back of the net but was ruled out for offside just as quickly.

The visitor’s defence remained hungry to hold the Bulls scoreless heading into the break, a successful effort that saw them take a 1-0 lead at the end of the first half.

As play resumed for the second half it was Blacktown who came out of the blocks firing and eager to put the result beyond doubt.

Both J. O’Brien and Travis Major attempted to set up an aerial chance for Awaritefe with both chances narrowly missing the target.

Lynch began to make his presence felt on the visitor’s attack, putting a cross perfectly into the path of Carlos De Oliveira before he unfortunately got tangled up with a couple of Bulls defenders, denying him a clean strike at the ball.

The Blacktown left back was once again involved as his side struck for the second time as his deflected chance fell perfectly to Campbell who neatly placed his effort into a near-open net.

After a quadruple substation from Zeljko Kalac, the Bulls’ attack began to flow and cause serious issues for a Blacktown defence that was desperate to keep a clean sheet.

Ariath Piol took charge of the Bulls’ attack, forcing Cayden Henderson into three stellar saves within a matter of minutes.

The first effort from Piol was pushed away by an outstretched Henderson but it was the second effort that saw the save fall into the path of Mason Wells, who agonisingly overpowered his effort and missed the open target from close range.

Despite a few late chances for the host, it was not their day in front of goals, and it was Blacktown who walked away with a well-earned 2-0 victory.

Reflecting on the performance post-game, Bulls coach Zeljko Kalac saw the positives in what his young side was able to do throughout the match.

“They competed today, we created some really good chances, but we just don’t score at critical moments, I thought they did good,” he said.

“Blacktown is physically a good side, duels are a big problem for these young players… so I thought they executed the gameplan pretty good but if you can’t score, you can’t win.

After reaching ten games without a loss, Blacktown City captain Mario Shabow didn’t hide his pride in his side’s recent run of form.

“We’ve been on a good run, it shows the quality we have, I know we didn’t get off to a good start this year, but I feel like we picked ourselves up and now we’re in the right areas,” he said.

“It could’ve been five or six (goals), we were a bit unlucky but that’s football, we came away with the win and that’s the most important thing.”

Match Stats

Bulls FC Academy 0

Blacktown City FC 2 (Awaritefe 11’, Campbell 68’)

Saturday 12th August 2023

Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park

Referee: Nathan Shakespear

Assistant Referees: Thomas Gellatly and Joshua Eiser

Fourth Official: Jackson Tippett

Bulls FC Academy: 30. Alexander Robinson, 6. Frans Deli (23. Flynn Madden 63’), 8. Mason Wells, 13. Jordan Ivancic (2. Luca Pecora 63’) 14. Peter Grozos (22. Edward Caspers 63’), 15. Mabior Garang (12. Marco Arambasic 63’), 18. Federico Gagliano, 20. Ariath Piol (19. Zane Helweh 79’), 21. Lachlan Macdonald, 25. Samuel Bosnjak, 29. Michael Marcevski

Unused subs: 41. Patrick Williams

Yellow cards: Ivancic 31’, Bosnjak 45 +1’, Arambasic 84’

Red cards: nil

Blacktown City FC: 20. Cayden Henderson, 4. Lachlan Campbell, 5. Grant Lynch, 6. Matthew Lewis (16. Ben Berry 55’), 7. Travis Major (21. Charles Mendy 73’), 8. Jak O’Brien, 9. Reuben Awaritefe (22. Carlos De Oliveira 55’), 12. Tyren Burnie (14. Caleb Jackson-Brown 66’), 18. Nicholas O’Brien, 19. Adam Berry

Substitutes Not Used: 1. Bodie Denton

Yellow Cards: Campbell 59’, J. O’Brien 82’

Red Cards: nil

Player Ratings

3: Lachlan Campbell (BC)

2: Mario Shabow (BC)

1: Grant Lynch (BC)

By NPL NSW Men’s Reporter Dominic Criniti @DominicCriniti

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