Rockdale Ilinden FC returned to its winning ways with a 2-0 victory over the APIA Leichhardt Tigers on Sunday, March 4, at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre.
It was a hard-fought battle between the two teams. Still, first-half goals to Tomoki Wada and Kyle Cimenti were unanswered by a hapless APIA side, who struggled to find momentum after recording their first win of the season over Sutherland in a midweek clash on Wednesday, March 31.
Both teams kicked off the match with key personnel missing. The hosts had skipper Daniel Petkovski out, while the visitors had Josh Symons absent due to sickness.
It was an action-packed opening to the match, with Rockdale coming in hot from the opening whistle.
Bai Antoniou set up a great goal-scoring opportunity for Alec Urosevski after just two minutes, but his strike was rejected by APIA custodian Ivan Necevski, who pulled off a great save to deny the home side.
Antoniou was back at it just moments later, setting up Wada for the opening goal.
After receiving a pass from Antoniou, Wada drew Necevski out before chipping the ball over him and into the netting.
Michael Neill sent a shot to Antoniou in a prime position in front of goal in the 31st minute. However, Antoniou couldn't manage to get a foot to the end of the cross.
Urosevski's dangerous forward run in the 35th minute paid dividends for the home side after a well-timed pass to Cimenti resulted in a strike that brushed the hands of Necevski and double the lead for Rockdale.
It was the young gun's fifth of the season.
APIA found themselves with an opportunity to get on the scoreboard in the 77th minute from a free-kick, but Gian Fiorese's effort was palmed off by Rockdale keeper David Bradasevic and cleared by Wada.
Samuel Gulisano looked poised to take the home side to a three-goal victory in the 85th minute, but his powerful strike flew over the crossbar.
Rockdale Ilinden coach Steve Zoric was pleased his team were back to winning ways after their Round five loss to Blacktown.
"The last few weeks, I thought we were rushing it and resorting to long balls at times which is not us," he said.
"Hopefully, we keep on going and keep our principles.
"The chemistry has been building for the last 18-19 months...it's a family, so that's how we are."
APIA Leichhardt coach Paul Dee was proud of the effort his side put in after a high-intensity workload.
"I felt for the guys because it was the end of a very long week and I think it was evident that we had some tired bodies out there, but they still kept trying to their credit," he said.
"Overall, it was not the result that we wanted, but we have to look to next week and try and improve on it.
"I think you saw on Wednesday the guys worked extremely hard and were really committed until the end of the game and kept going for the victory, so that's the sort of spirit that we want to see.
"If they keep delivering that every week and we can keep adding to our playing style, hopefully, you'll see us improve match by match."
Rockdale remains in the hunt to repeat as league champions in 2021 and will face the Northbridge Bulls this Saturday, April 10.