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Rockdale Illinden defeated Bulls Academy FC at Rockdale Illinden Sports Centre in a cohesive, impressive performance to move up to second spot on the ladder.

Rockdale began the match with intent and intensity, as a stinging strike from Brendan Cholakian was palmed away by Alexander Robinson.

In the 9th minute, Alec Urosevski was released in behind after a lovely, looped pass from Diego Celis.

The marksman converged in on goal and chopped inside cleverly to open up the angle for a finish, but Alex Robinson anticipated the movement well and was out quickly to block the effort.

Rockdale were playing with gripping intensity and quality, pressing high up the field and playing some lovely, positive football.

The Bulls were doing well to hold out, but couldn’t prevent the home side from getting shots away and finding space to pass or drive forwards.

Rockdale continued their attacking dominance, with Iain Ramsay firing a raring, left-footed, volleyed effort on the edge of the box which went just wide of the bottom corner.

In the 27th minute, Urosevski showed fantastic persistence to latch onto his initial blocked shot in an attacking transition and poke the ball towards goal, forcing another sharp save from Robinson.

Off the resulting corner, Lachlan Macdonald conjured up a piece of defensive magic, twice blocking Nikola Ujdur’s close range efforts to keep the scores level.

However, in the set piece that followed, Rockdale finally found their opening goal, with Daniel Collins etching his name onto the scoresheet.

A fantastic, curling ball in from Ramsay found the head of the towering defender, who converted clinically into the back of the net. It was his first in his new colours following his midseason transfer from Blacktown City.

Rockdale’s set pieces continued to threaten, with a clearance off the line preventing the home side from doubling their goal tally.

In the 37th minute, the Bulls had their first shot on target of the match, with Jed Drew forcing his way to goal and drawing a solid stop from David Bradasevic.

Two minutes later, a clever, disguised pass from Drew in behind to Joel Bertolisso saw the captain square a tantalising ball across goal, but Matthew Cordier sharply blocked Ali Auglah’s low effort.

The Bulls continued to threaten in a strong end to the half, with Auglah drawing in Cordier before finding Macdonald out wide, whose cross was crucially cleared by Brayden Sorge to prevent a tap in for Drew at the back post.

But the Bulls were brought down by a fantastic goal from Urosevski on the stroke of halftime, to double Rockdale’s lead.

Picking up the ball just outside the box, the captain stood strong to shrug off his opponent, before dinking the ball inch perfectly in between two defenders.

From there, the league’s top goalscorer made no mistake in fishing, with his left-footed shot across goal clinically finding the bottom corner.

Early into the second half, Rockdale went close to adding a third, with an inswinging, direct Cholakian corner finding the literal far post, with the follow up effort being cleared.

The Bulls were inches away from halving the deficit in the 54th minute, with the ball just somehow not nestling in the back of the net.

A dangerous cross from Macdonald found Drew at the back post, but outstanding defensive work from Sorge deflecting the ball over an empty net, via the crossbar.

The Bulls responded with a dramatic goal line clearance of their own.

A beautiful ball from Cordier released Bai Antoniou in behind.

The winger’s deflected cutback found the foot of Cholakian, who released a pinpoint low effort into the bottom-left corner, but the traversing Oliver Jones read the danger and cleverly cleared the goal bound shot.

The match continued to produce unbelievable moments around the box, with Ramsay only finding the crossbar metres from goal after a direct Urosevski run and cutback.

The sides were trading chances in an exhilarating match; a backpost cross from Ayman Gulasi in the 69th minute found the head of fellow substitute Ariath Piol, and the striker drew a spectacular save from Bradasevic, who somehow kept the goalbound, powerful header in front of the line.

In the last fifteen minutes, Macarthur dominated possession, with Rockdale managing the game well and absorbing pressure deep.

Rockdale Ilinden coach Paul Dee was happy with his side’s efforts throughout the ninety-minutes in a victort that’s set up a huge Round 26 clash against third placed Marconi Stallions.

“We started well and created a lot of the chances throughout the game.

“We managed the game well at the end and stayed resolute in defence and it was a good performance.”

Match Stats

Rockdale Illinden FC 2 (Collins 28’, Urosevski 45’)

Bulls FC Academy 0

Sunday 23 July, 2023

Rockdale Illinden Sports Centre

Referee: Craig Fisher

Assistant Referees: Maddy Allum and James Makris

Fourth Official: Charbel Geha

Rockdale Illinden FC: 1. David Bradasevic, 2. Daniel Collins, 4. Nikola Ujdur (3. Lachlan Griffiths 76’), 7. Alec Urosevski (C) (26. Jason Cakovski 90’), 8, Isaac Danzo, 9. Bai Antoniou (42. Benjamin Wass 87’), 10, Brendan Cholakian, 14. Brayden Sorge, 17. Iain Ramsay (23. Jaden Casella 76’), 21. Diego Celis (6. Nicola Kuleski 76’), 66. Mathieu Cordier

Substitutes Not Used:

Yellow Cards: Casella 79’

Red Cards:

Bulls FC Academy: 7. Ali Auglah (10. Ayman Gulasi 68’), 11. Stephen De Robillard (23. Flynn Madden 45’), 12. Marco Arambasic (20. Ariath Piol 63’), 13. Jordan Ivancic (2. Luca Pecora 80’), 16. Oliver Jones, 21. Lachlan Macdonald, 27. Jed Drew, 29. Michael Marcevski (6. Frans Deli 45’), 30. Alexander Robinson, 52. Rhys Youlley, 53. Joel Bertolissio (C)

Substitutes Not Used: 41. Patrick Williams

Yellow Cards:

Red Cards:

Player ratings:

3 – Brendan Cholakian (RO)

2 – Diego Celis (RO)

1 – Lachlan Macdonald (BU)