Keeping the winning feeling going.
Match report below.
ROCKDALE SECURE THRILLING VICTORY OVER NORTHBRIDGE
Rockdale Ilinden extended their unbeaten streak with a 4-2 victory over Northbridge Bulls at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday evening.
Northbridge Bulls brought youthful exuberance to the Round 9 National Premier Leagues NSW Mens’s encounter with Rockdale Ilinden in a terrific advert for football.
Northbridge hit the front early through Diego Bonilla, but were behind after another sensational Jaden Casella effort and a Jamie Percevski header to give the home side the lead only to be pegged back by Bonilla’s second before the break.
Second-half strikes for Bai Antoniou and Alec Urosevski settled the tie for Rockdale in a thoroughly absorbing game for the fans.
A typically quick start from the young Bulls side saw Bonilla open the scoring in the 7th minute after a blistering shot left David Bradasevic stranded.
Jed Drew almost doubled the score within 60 seconds when flashing a shot wide of the framework.
Rockdale had a number of first-team regulars missing for the fixture but were showing an unusual fragility in their defending during the opening quarter hour that Northbridge were eagerly looking to exploit.
The visitors were unlucky not to extend the lead when Rory Jordan unlocked the Rockdale defence in the 19th minute and squared for Bonilla, whose shot cannoned back into play off the post with Drew unable to slot home the loose ball, the chance giving the hosts a wake up call they heeded.
Will Mutch broke down the right and centred for Antoniou who dummied his marker and powered a left-footed shot goalward only for the effort to be blocked, but it was a much needed improvement from the home team.
That was the extent of the opportunities in the first half until the 35th minute when Casella hit a looping left-footed shot from distance beyond the despairing dive of Levi Kaye with yet another Goal of the Season contender – a simply stunning strike.
It finally woke Rockdale from their inertia with Urosevski lashing a shot against the post almost immediately.
A Chris McStay corner was headed home at the back stick by Percevski in the 42nd minute to complete the first-half turnaround.
Drew broke through the middle producing a fantastic save from Bradasevic, but it was Bonilla quickest to the rebound to tie up the match once more before the break.
Casella stole the ball and centred for Antoniou who contrived to crash a shot against the bar with McStay unable to control the rebound in stoppage time in a frantic end to the half.
It was remarkable the game was locked up at two apiece in a true advert for counter-attacking football at its best.
There was no let up after the break when Casella added an assist with a deep cross to the back stick for Antoniou to head Rockdale back into the lead.
Bonilla brought another fine save out of Bradasevic, such was the to and fro nature of the game.
Daniel Araujo scampered to the byline and centred for Antoniou who this time skewed his shot wide.
With tensions beginning to mount there followed a few tackles not for the faint of heart, however referee Michael Weiner kept a tight lid on proceedings to thwart any potential flashpoints.
Urosevski, unusually quiet last week at Seymour Shaw, dipped a shoulder to round the defence and thump home Rockdale’s fourth to open up a two-goal lead for the first time in the match.
Araujo then sent the striker away but he was always racing to catch up and couldn’t lift it over Northbridge goalkeeper Levi Kaye, who did well to get something behind the ball, to put the result beyond doubt.
Daniel Petkovski was unlucky to see his downward header from a corner loop up over the bar off the pitch as the game increasingly became one-way traffic.
Lachlan Sepping came close from a free kick that was always sliding narrowly wide of the upright in what was becoming an all too infrequent foray forward for the Bulls until a penalty was awarded.
Bonilla stepped up for the chance to haul the visitors back into the tie but he saw the strike saved brilliantly by Bradasevic with minutes left to play.
There was still time for substitute Tomoki Wada to impudently lob over Kaye only to see the ball bounce back into play off the bar.
It was too big an ask for Northbridge who played their part in a thrilling game of football but were to run out the losers once again leaving Assistant Coach, Kory Babbington, to comment.
“We need to be better with our concentration.
”We were very good with the ball today and created plenty of chances, particularly in the first-half,” he said.
“We had a lot of field position but defensively we need to tighten up and be more aware.
“Rockdale got a good game here tonight but on average they are 7-8 years older with A-League experience, NYL experience, so a lot of knowledge and they are quick in the front third and it was enough to get past us today.
“They caught us a couple of times in the transition moments and that’s something we need to be better at adjusting to.”
A pleased Rockdale coach, Steve Zoric, was pumped after the game.
“It was a tough game and we knew their transition would be rapid and cause us a few problems,” he said.
“We gave the ball away in a few central areas during the first-half allowing them to counter us on the break, and we spoke about stopping that at the break.
“We looked to spread the ball wide in the second period and drop a little deeper to prevent them from playing between the line and allowed us to reverse the transition and their game.
“Glad to have our fourth win on the trot to keep our momentum and we look forward to next week now.”
Rockdale Ilinden 4 (Jaden Casella 35’, Jamie Percevski 42’, Bai Antoniou 48’, Alec Urosevski 62’)
Northbridge Bulls 2 (Diego Bonilla 7’,44’)
Ilinden Sports Centre, Rockdale
Sunday 1st April 2022
Referee: Michael Weiner
Assistants: Scott Edeling and Allesandro Llana
Fourth Official: Amber Morris
Rockdale Ilinden: 1. David Bradasevic, 2. Daniel Petkovski, 5. Will Mutch, 6. Daniel Araujo, 7. Alec Urosevski, 8. Nikola Kuleski (16. Mo Ahmed 77’), 9. Bai Antoniou (10. Tomoki Wada 59), 14. Brayden Sorge, 15. Jamie Percevski, 23. Jaden Casella (25. Alex Maschiovecchio 85’), 88. Chris McStay (11. Peter Kekeris 59’)
Subs not used: Vincent Fedele, 30. Matthew Marrum
Yellow Cards: Bai Antoniou 55’, Peter Kekeris 68’, Daniel Petkovski 74’
Red Cards: Nil
Northbridge Bulls: 20. Levi Kaye, 3. Nathan Dimou, 4. Anthony Sparacino, 7. Mason Wells (13. James Cakovski 70’), 8. Brodie Clarkson, 9. Diego Bonilla, 10. Rory Jordan, 14. Charlie Ragg (2. Jack McLoughlin 58’), 15. Eddie Caspers (19. Lachlan Sepping 65’), 16. Oliver Jones, 17. Jed Drew (11. Stephan Robbilard 65’), 21. Amonhomm Khamis, 40. Griffin Barry
Subs not used: 21. Amonhomm Khamis, 40. Griffin Barry
Yellow Cards: Stephan Robillard 90+2’
Red Cards: Nil