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Rockdale Illinden FC defeated Sydney FC 4-2 at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre to move up to second on the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s ladder.

Within a minute, Rockdale looked to attack brightly as Adam Pavlesic was forced into a double save, although there was adjudged to be an offside in the build-up.

Pavlesic was forced into action once again in the fifth minute, as a shot from Lochlan Constable after a layoff from Brendan Cholakian was saved sharply after being destined for the bottom left corner.

The home side, who had looked dominant to begin, opened the scoring in the 11th minute with Nikola Ujdur finding the back of the net.

The centre-back showed his striking instinct in smashing home a powerful effort into the roof of the net, following a deflected Alec Urosevski strike after a dangerous freekick from Brendan Cholakian.

Rockdale remained dangerous off set pieces, as a back-post corner from Loic Puyo saw a good connection, forcing Pavlesic into action once again, although not troubling the young goalkeeper.

In the 31st minute, Rockdale doubled their lead with a beautiful strike.

After some good build-up and great skill and control from Constable in midfield, Rockdale won a freekick aligned with the left post just outside the box.

From range, Puyo, who was playing his last match in Rockdale colours, lined up the ball and struck home a sumptuous curling effort into the top left corner, much to the delight of the Rockdale faithful.

Sydney FC was struggling to find their attacking rhythm which saw them destroy league leaders APIA Leichhardt 4-0 last weekend, with their attacks lacking precision in passing and their overall final third decision making poor.

With the introduction of Matthew Scarcella and Alen Harbas, the baby ‘Sky Blues’ began to look more promising, as the two substitutes combined on the edge of the box to see a shot from Scarcella go over the bar.

However, in the 53rd minute it was Rockdale who found the next goal.

A good underlapping run from Isaac Danzo on the right side was found, and he squared the ball strategically to Urosevski.

The star marksman made no mistake, taking a touch to steady himself before converting clinically into the back of the net – it was the Ilinden captain’s 14th goal of the the 2023 NPL NSW Men’s campaign.

Rockdale should’ve made it four in the 58th minute, as a sharp attack saw a clever pass from Cholakian find the feet of Puyo, but the Frenchman struck the ball over from a great position inside the box.

Sydney FC forced a strong save from Ricardo Rizzo three minutes later, as Harbas’ strong effort was parried away at the near post.

The visitors had another chance off a corner, but Rockdale’s defence held strong and they kept their clean sheet intact.

However, in the 71st minute, Clayton Taylor clawed one back for Sydney FC.

He showed excellent industry to beat two defenders in duels, before latching on to a bouncing ball, driving inside and hitting a left-footed shot across the face of goal and into the far corner.

The away side had a good chance through Nathan Paull off a header at the back post in the 83rd minute, but the centre-back couldn’t find the target.

Despite Sydney FC’s attempted late surge, Rockdale made sure of the three points with a goal late on.

Urosevski got in behind and unleashed a powerful shot which was parried by Pavlesic.

But the ball found another Rockdale player in Jaden Casella, who was waiting to calmly convert into an open net.

Taylor once again showed excellent industry to win a penalty late on, sneaking in front of a defender who was attempting a clearance and being upended.

The winger, who didn’t deserve to be on the losing side, converted emphatically into the top left corner.

Rockdale Ilinden coach Paul Dee was proud of his side’s performance, especially considering the quality of the Sydney FC side.

“Sydney FC is a very good team and they’ve shown it this season with a high calibre line-up of young players – it’s a challenge every time we play them.

“I’m extremely pleased with three points.”

He also had some words for Loic Puyo, who scored a sumptuous set-piece in his last match for Rockdale.

“We just want to thank him for his services.

“I think he is class and professionalism personified.

“We are really lucky to have had him at our club and we wish him all the best.”

Meanwhile Sydney FC coach Jimmy Van Weeren stated that Ilinden were just too clinical.

“Rockdale are a ruthless team, they’ve got a lot of quality.

“A lot of the goals came from our own errors though, and it’s just not good enough from us – their first two goals came from our turnovers to give away set pieces.

“There were some positive individual performances but there were some that we know that can be better, and we know it’s our job to help achieve their potential and make sure everyone puts in a good performance next week.”

Match Stats

Rockdale Ilinden FC 4 (Ujdur 11’, Puyo 31’, Urosevski 53’, Casella 88’) 

Sydney FC 2 (Taylor 71’, 95’)

Sunday 7 May, 2023

Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre

Referee: Craig Fisher

Assistant Referees: Matthew Mcorist and Emma Kocbek

Fourth Official: Hadi Al-Nakeeb

Rockdale Ilinden FC: 3. Lachlan Griffiths (15. Jamie Percevski 54’), 4. Nikola Ujdur, 7. Alec Urosevski (C), 8 Isaac Danzo, 10. Brendan Cholakian, 11. Lochlan Constable (6. Nicola Kuleski 45’), 14. Brayden Sorge, 17. Loic Puyo (77. Peter Kekeris 70’), 20. Ricardo Rizzo, 23. Jaden Casella, 66. Mathieu Cordier (5. William Mutch 45’)

Substitutes Not Used: 41. Maddox Barthou

Yellow Cards: Cholakian 21’, Casella 39’

Red Cards:

Sydney FC: 4. Nathan Paull, 7. Ben Gibson, 8. Kealey Adamson, 11. Clayton Taylor, 18. Oscar Priestman (C), 19. Alexander Parsons (10. Alen Harbas 45’), 25. Jaiden Kucharski (14. Ayouk Mow 60’), 26. Zane Schreiber (6. Matthew Scarcella 45’), 29. Aaron Gurd (13. Hayden Matthews 70’), 30. Adam Pavlesic, 34. Max Buratto (2. Cameron Fong 70’)

Substitutes Not Used: 1. Gus Hoefsloot

Yellow Cards:

Red Cards:

Player ratings

3 – Alec Urosevski (RI)

2 – Clayton Taylor (SFC)

1 – Loic Puyo (RI)