Sydney United 58 FC clinched the fifth NSW allocated spot in the Westfield FFA Cup with a dramatic 1-0 win over SUPA IGA NPL NSW Mens 2 side Parramatta FC via a stoppage time Mirjan Pavlovic penalty at the Sydney United Sports Centre on Wednesday night.
The home side soon had Parramatta penned back inside their own half until the sixth minute when Ivan Pavlak powered down the left and centred only to see the ball fired high over the bar from Pavlovic through a sea of legs in the area.
It was an early let-off for Parramatta who realised they needed to be livelier at the back or be run over by the United 58 freight train.
However, they fashioned an effort from outside the box which former United 58 player Daniel Rezo curled wide of the upright in the tenth minute from an unpromising move.
Josh Gersbach shrugged off the challenges of two United defenders and sent in a left-footed shot that lacked power and direction but it showed the visitors meant business.
Stjepan Paric replied with a delightful dipping shot from distance in the fifteenth minute that crashed back in to play off the crossbar with Justin Biega beaten for pace and curl.
A succession of corners taken by Rezo caused panic in the heart of the United defence but misdirected headers proved fruitless for the visitors when enjoying their best moments of the half.
Alec Urosevski warmed the hands of Biega with a snatched left-footer the ‘keeper did well to bat down’ and gather at the second attempt.
Parramatta, having weathered the early onslaught, fought tooth and nail in midfield to restrict United’s dominance midway through the opening stanza.
The breakthrough should have come in the twenty-ninth minute when Ante Tomic was put through and after rounding his marker it was Biega who managed to recover the quickest and smother the shot.
The home support hoped they wouldn’t rue the missed opportunity.
Pavlovic tried his luck with another long range shot that Biega comfortably dealt with as United pinned Parramatta back deeper but found it harder to pick out the space in behind.
Increasingly it looked like a dead ball or moment of brilliance would be needed to break the deadlock.
Pavlovic found himself in but sent his header agonisingly wide from a teasing cross from the right with Biega a bystander on the line in the fortieth minute.
If the thrills had been sparse there was no mistaking this was a real cup tie unfolding on the pitch.
With desperation growing the play became scrappy, niggly fouls slowing down the tempo and the battle for midfield hardening. No-one was here to make friends.
A goalmouth scramble from a Blake Brooker free-kick saw Diego Barcena juggle the ball before getting it under control in the sixty sixth minute when surrounded by three Parramatta players.
Matthew Bilic replaced Tomic for the final twenty minutes as United coach Mark Rudan introduced fresh legs in an attempt to wrest control and find the breakthrough.
With extra time beckoning, Urosevski was felled in the box with the penalty despatched by Pavlovic in stoppage time.
An upset Frank Cosentino, Parramatta FC coach commented to Football NSW his thoughts on the match.
“You play some games and get the decision and in others you don’t and we didn’t get it tonight.
“At the end of the day there's no point in getting upset with it as I thought our boys played terrifically tonight considering we had a few regulars out.
“They stood up and gave a good account of themselves.”
Parramatta FC played the counter-attacking game.
“We had to do it tonight, we had a few boys out and we couldn’t play our normal fluid style of football.
“We changed things up a bit and tried to frustrate them and we managed that for most of the game and we were a bit unlucky with a couple of set-pieces and corners but that’s football.
“What do you do?”
Mark Rudan praised the efforts of the visiting team when adding.
“We knew they were going to sit back and Frank (Consentino) has done a magnificent job with his Parramatta side.
“They are very solid, well-structured and we found it hard to break them down and probably the best chance of the game came in the opening minutes when we skied one over the bar.
“We had a couple of chances further and created a lot but when they gained in confidence they made it extremely hard for us.
“In the end I think we deserved a bit of a break and we got that at the end so now we can put the Westfield FFA Cup to one side for the time being and concentrate on our league form which hasn’t been the best in the opening half of the season.
“I’m more than confident that with players building their way back to full fitness we will start climbing the table again.”