NPL 1 Wrap: Plenty of chances but no points in Leichhardt

The Western Sydney Wanderers NPL 1 first grade side have gone down 2-1 to APIA Leichhardt at Lambert Park on Friday night. 

Both sides were looking for their first win of the National Premier League 1 season and it was a hotly contested first half.

With the Wanderers making five changes to the first team following the completion of the Hyundai A-League season, Arthur Diles looked to some of those who trained and played with the A-League squad to make a difference for his side.

One of those players, Kosta Grozos, had the first major chance of the match in the 12th minute. Grozos received the ball on the edge of the box and tried a cheeky chip, but his shot drifted wide.

The Wanderers gained confidence from that chance and started to get the edge on APIA, but it was a goal against the run of play which saw last year’s champions take the lead through Chris Payne.

The Red & Black continued to push, and Ali Auglah had the next chance for Diles’ side. Ali cut inside from the right and danced around a few defenders before unleashing a shot with his preferred left foot, only to see it fly over the bar.

The second half started with the Wanderers having the better of the chances without finding a killer blow. This proved costly as scorer-turned-provider Chris Payne combined well with Sean Symons who doubled APIA’s lead in the 60th minute.

The youthful Red & Black gained more and more possession in better areas as APIA dropped deeper looking to hold onto their lead.

This proved costly for APIA as it invited the Wanderers further forward, and they were punished with a goal to Rory Jordan in the 78th minute.

A delicious through ball left Rory Jordan one-on-one with the keeper, who kept his composure and finished it off to bring the score to within one goal.

The pressure continued to pile on APIA Leichhardt’s goal but as per the theme of the night, the Wanderers couldn’t capitalise.

There was late drama in the 94th minute of the match as APIA substitute Nick Stavroulakis was sent off following a crunching challenge on Peter Grozos which saw Stavroulakis’ knees into the back of Grozos. Thankfully, Peter wasn’t injured.

The extra-man advantage was never felt as shortly after the send-off the referee blew his full-time whistle to end the game.

APIA Leichhardt 2 (Chris Payne 26’, Sean Symons 60’)
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Rory Jordan 78’)

Western Sydney Wanderers: 40. Oliver KALAC (GK), 2. Thomas AQUILINA, 4. Mohamed AL TAAY, 5. Noah PAGDEN, 6. Fabian MONGE [25. Yousef SAWALHA 68’ (12. Stefan NIKOLIC 84’)], 7. Jarrod CARLUCCIO (c), 10. Kosta GROZOS, 11. Lochlan CONSTABLE, 17. Dean PELEKANOS, 19. Rory JORDAN, 21. Ali AUGLAH (24. Peter GROZOS 68’)
Unused Substitutes: 50. Jack GIBSON (GK), 23. Jamie PERCEVSKI, 26. Alessandro LOPANE 28. Isaac HOVER, 30. Mason FERNANDEZ

Other NPL Results
U20: APIA Leichhardt 1-2 WSW
U18: WSW 7-1 Mount Druitt Town Rangers
U16: WSW 3-0 Mount Druitt Town Rangers
U15: WSW 6-0 Mount Druitt Town Rangers
U14: WSW 2-0 Mount Druitt Town Rangers
U13: WSW 1-1 Mount Druitt Town Rangers