A goal in the last seconds of injury time has seen Blacktown City snatch a 2-2 draw with Manly United at Lily Homes Stadium on Sunday.
Desperate second half defence by Manly turned Blacktown away several times. But in the fifth minute of injury time Blacktown’s Jackson Bandiera whipped a wicked cross into the goal mouth that ricocheted into the net off United’s defensive wall.
“It was tough to take,” United captain Sam Gallagher said. “We were right under pump for the last ten minutes. We didn’t hold on to the ball as well as we could’ve. We gave them a lot of chances to put balls into our area.
“We did have a couple of counter-attacks and chances to make it 3-1. Ben Gibson went very close to scoring. Instead they got the ball and came at us again. Eventually weight of possession told.”
Gallagher was full of praise for 17-year-old Gibson in his run-on debut. “He scored a goal for us and did a great job. Blacktown City is a strong outfit and he more than held his own. We looked dangerous in the final third with his movement in behind.
“Dejan [Pandurevic] was also strong for us on the left, along with Seiya Kambayashi and Luca Kmet who provided the through-ball for Ben’s goal.
“Our best at the back was Jesse Pirez who won a lot of battles in the air and on the ground at left centre-back,” Gallagher said.
Manly opened the scoring midway through the first half after Kmet took an intercept and fed Gibson who thumped a strike past flailing Blacktown ‘keeper and defender.
Blacktown equalised in the 66th minute before Pandurevic scored from the penalty spot six minutes later.
Kieran Paull was prominent in defence for Manly, twice clearing from his own line, while goalkeeper Sam Benton made crucial saves.
Manly coach Adam Griffiths lamented that his side hadn’t “put the game to bed”.
“[Blacktown] is a team that knows their game plan and they’re very dangerous when they put a lot of pressure on. I felt that at times we played some good football and we had some good attacking moments. We just need to be more clinical.
“Even though they still had some chances … we take our chances when we’re on top and we finish that game,” Griffiths said.
Blacktown City coach Mark Crittenden commended the visitors. “At the end of the day they’re a good side, [Griffiths] has got them doing well. We’ll take the point and move on,” Crittenden said.
The draw sees Manly consolidate fifth spot on the NSW National Premier League ladder.
Blacktown City FC 2 (Jackson Bandiera 66’, 90+5’)
Manly United FC 2 (Ben Gibson 23’, Dejan Pandurevic 72’ (pen))
Sunday 30th May 2021
Lily Holmes Stadium, Seven Hills
Referee: H. Jomaa
Assistant Referees: C. Wright and M. Staples
Fourth Official: H. Al-Nakeeb
Blacktown City FC: 1. Tristan Prendergast, 4. Lachlan Campbell, 5. Grant Lynch, 6. Matthew Lewis (10. Mario Shabow 74’), 8. Jak O’Brien (22. Carlos De Oliveira 74’), 11. Rhett Desilva (9. Sean Rooney 56’), 16. Ben Berry (29. Nicholas O’Brien 56’), 18. Suleyman Bangura (34. Sebastian Hernandez), 19. Adam Berry, 21. Charles Mendy, 24. Jackson Bandiera
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Dylan Niski
Yellow Cards: Grant Lynch 33’, Matthew Lewis 73’
Red Cards: Nil
Manly United FC: 2. Kieren Paull, 3. James Georgaklis (40. Mitchell Mattison 81’), 4. James Oates, 10. Richard Cardozo, 12. Luca Kmet (13. Scott Balderson), 14. Dejan Pandurevic, 15. Jesse Piriz, 16. Seiya Kambayashi, 19. Samuel Benton, 24. Ashton Finn (5. Sam Gallagher), 31. Ben Gibson
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Jacob Madden, 18. Lucas Rainbird, 23. Jordan Devries,
Yellow Cards: James Oates 46’, Luca Kmet 85’
Red Cards: Nil