MARCONI Stallions flew the flag proudly for the NSW Premier League clubs in the McDonald's Cup final against NSW Super League outfit Spirit FC in an entertaining finale at Lily Homes Stadium in Seven Hills.
With the scores level after 120 minutes of football, the final was decided via the dreaded penalty-shootout, and it was the Premier League outfit that held their nerve to seal the win as goalkeeper Jose Bello Amigo saved two penalties before Christopher Nunes scored the winner.
The Stallions showed their class and experience in the opening 45' minutes, and it appeared only a matter of time before Matthew Gordon, Erick Anabalon and Aleksander Canak would find the opening in the Spirit FC defence. Much to the surprise of all present at the venue, it was Spirit FC that took the match to the Stallions in the second-half. Adam Peatey and Brendan Griffin both created exceptional goalscoring chances, before the Tim Simpson struck the post in the closing stages of extra-time.
In the penalty-shootout Josh De Kelly and Tom Lovell were the two unfortunate Spirit FC players to miss their spot-kicks, as Christopher Nunes drove home the winning penalty for a 7-6 victory.
The win is Marconi's first piece of silverware since the 1995/96 NSL season, a fantastic day for the club, who remains in the hunt for the League and Cup double, with the side in a strong position to reach finals series football.
Spirit FC's performance was exceptional, and to bow out on penalties is a cruel end to the side's remarkable run through the McDonald's Cup competition. The Super League side scored seventeen goals en-route to the final, conceding only two in the process, as the side now aims to throw all their attentions onto the League battle.
In NSW Premier League Round 20 action, the Sydney United-Bankstown City fixture was brought one-week forward, and it was the Lions to take maximum points from Sydney United Sports Centre in Edensor Park.
Robbie Mileski put the Lions ahead on 15' minutes as he capitalised on a rare mistake by Jacob Timpano in the Reds defensive line. The Lions doubled the lead shortly after the interval as Shannon Burgin intercepted a Sean Mitchell back pass to Damon Collina before slotting the ball into the back of the net.
The 2-0 win keeps Bankstown City's miniscule chances of reaching the finals series alive, though concerns do surround Sydney United's current run following a series of negative results in recent weeks.
In the rescheduled Round 17 fixture between Manly United FC and West Sydney Berries, Joey Schirripa's 45' minute free-kick was enough to secure the Cromer Park side three-points and ease their relegation concerns. Schirripa's 25-yard effort was sensational, leaving Berries goalkeeper Nestor Tsioutsas helpless in the Berries goal.
The defeat almost certainly leaves the Berries relegation bound, though mathematically, the side can still secure survival over the final three weekends of the regular season.
- Joe Carlucci
NSW Premier League Table
NSW Premier League Results
Round 17 Catch-up
Manly United FC 1 (Joseph Schirripa 45m) West Sydney Berries 0.
Sydney United 0 Bankstown City 2 (Robert Mileski 15m Shannon Burgin 47m).