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A depleted Rockdale Ilinden side scored two goals in the last ten minutes to produce a Mother’s Day special against Blacktown City in a game for the ages as Paul Dee’s men triumphed 2-1 at Landen Stadium on Sunday.

Rockdale nearly got off to a dream start through their skipper and Golden Boot leader Alec Urosevski in the 6th minute.

Timing his run perfectly, the striker got behind Blacktown’s defence but mistimed the volley with only the keeper in front of him.

Blacktown City would control most of the possession for the remainder of the first half. This allowed them multiple opportunities to break the deadlock.

The best chances came from Adam Berry, who returned to the side from injury.

Within nine minutes, Berry sprayed the ball just wide of the left-hand post before striking the ball inches above the crossbar.

Blacktown’s persistence would finally pay off in the 36th minute but in the most unusual of circumstances.

Giving away a free kick at the other end of the field, Urosevski had the opportunity to make it 15 for the season and 1-0 for Rockdale.

However, after a deflection off the wall, a brilliant lobbed through ball by Mario Shabow found a wondering Jak O’Brien in transition, who managed to stay onside.

O’Brien finished the counter-attack with his speed nailing the ball into the goal, making it 11 goals for the season and 1-0 for the home side.

Straight after the halftime whistle, Jak O’Brien again provided Rockdale with difficulties, providing great passes in their attacking half

Desperately aiming to add another goal, Shabow came extremely close in the 63rd and 68th minutes.

Doing everything right, the first was expertly saved by Ricardo Rizzo, while the latter hit the left-hand goal post.

In the 80th minute, Blacktown would again hit the woodwork- this time, it was Tyreen Burnie.

While Blacktown failed to take their chances, it was a different story for Rockdale.

Continually looking dangerous, Urosevski tried to rally his troops to tie up the game.

This allowed them to hold more possession of the ball, but they failed to look dangerous in attack until the game’s closing stages.

Out of nowhere, Urosevski delivered an amazing cross into the box, finding former Blacktown City player Will Mutch for the equaliser in the 87th minute.

As both teams eagerly tried to turn one point into three, it was all-out attacking warfare on both ends of the field.

Going down to the wire, Rockdale earnt a penalty in the 97th minute after a handball in the box from Matt Lewis – from the resulting call by referee Nathan Shakespear sent Nicholas O’Brien for dissent.

Stepping up to the penalty spot, captain Alec Urosevski slotted the ball into the right-hand corner, producing one of the best wins of the season – it was Urosevski’s 15th goal of the 2023 NPL NSW Men’s season as his successful spot-kick sparked joyous scenes on the Ilinden bench.

The visitors lost mainstayers Mathieu Cordier and Lachlan Griffiths to injury while Loic Puyo left for France and Jaden Casella was suspended. This saw Dee utilise a number of Under 20’s players with Jason Cakovski impressing when he came on in the second half.

An out of breath, Brendan Cholakian spoke to Football NSW about what the win meant and being one goal behind for 87 minutes.

“It’s absolutely huge for the morale and the mentality side of things, but to be fair, we know it’s in our group.

“We know we’ve got character, but to come back and win that today, I think that’s a massive moment in our career,” he said.

“It was crucial (to not give up). We said it at halftime that we weren’t at our best and we said that we got lucky not to be more down.”

Rockdale Ilinden will face St George City next week hoping to retake that first spot, while Blacktown City will travel away against Manly United.

Match Stats

Blacktown City FC (J. O’Brien 36’)

Rockdale Ilinden FC 2 (Mutch 87’ Urosevski 90+7’)

Sunday 14 May 2023

Landen Stadium, Seven Hills

Referee: Nathan Shakespear

Assistant Referees: Cameron Wright and Arinath Gobinath

Fourth Official: Hayden Michlmayr

Blacktown City FC: 1. Tristan Prendergast (GK) 4. Lachlan Campbell 5. Grant Lynch 6. Matthew Lewis (C) 8. Jak O’Brien 10. Mario Shabow 12. Tyren Burnie 16. Ben Berry 18. Nicholas O’Brien 19. Adam Berry (14. Caleb Jackson-Brown 87’) 21. Charles Mendy (3. Daniel Collins 88’)

Substitutions Not Used: 17. Tatsuya Kato 22. Carlos De Oliveira 30. Jacob Fernandez 43. Enrico Mazzotta

Yellow Cards: N. O’Brien 10’ B. Berry 35’ Burnie 78’ Mendy 86’ Shabow 90+5’

Red Cards: N. O’Brien 90+6

Rockdale Ilinden FC: 4. Nikola Ujdur 6. Nicola Kuleski 7. Alec Urosevski (c) 8. Isaac Danzo 9. Bai Antoniou (34. Jason Cakovski 53’) 10. Brendan Cholakian 11. Lochlan Constable (41. Maddox Barthou 78’) 14. Brayden Sorge 15. Jamie Percevski 30. Ricardo Rizzo (GK) 77. Peter Kekeris (5. William Mutch 53’)

Substitutions Not Used: 22. Steven Kriezis 27. George Grillakis 38. Fenn Hodgson-Yu (41. Maddox Barthou 78’)

Yellow Cards: Percevski 31’ Sorge 32’

Red Cards: Nil

Player Ratings:

3- Alec Urosevski (Rockdale Ilinden FC)

2- Jak O’Brien (Blacktown City FC)

1- Mario Shabow (Blacktown City FC)