The Western Sydney Wanderers have lost the outright lead on the PS4 NPL2 table after dropping points against a determined North Shore Mariners outfit at Blacktown Football Park.
A 1-1 draw against the bottom-placed Mariners mean that the Red & Black are now equal first in the NPL with Sydney FC sitting above them on goal difference.
While the match ended in a frustrating draw, it actually looked very positive for the Wanderers early on with 16-year-old Ramy Najjarine scoring a brilliant goal in only the 14th minute.
Najjarine was on hand to collect a deflected free kick and smashed the ball into the top corner from a very wide position to open the scoring.
Unfortunately for the winger, Najjarine appeared to injure himself in the act of scoring and was substituted before half time.
Apart from the goal, the first 45 minutes was very quiet with the Wanderers struggling to get through a well-drilled Mariners outfit who were sitting with five players in the backline.
The second half opened in dramatic fashion with North Shore awarded a penalty for a hand ball in the box, which they duly converted through Michael Cole.
It opened the gates for a slightly more free-flowing match with goalkeeper Matt Symes forced into saving a decent Mariners’ shot soon after before the Wanderers’ Tariq Maia and Brenton Fox both had attempts to take the lead thwarted.
Despite some chances in the second half, the match failed to become a spectacle with both teams realistically needing more than the draw.
Next week sees Wanderers travel to Bossley Park to take on Marconi Stallions in what is now a very crucial match.
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Ramy Najjarine 14’)
North Shore Mariners 1 (Michael Cole 47’)
Western Sydney Wanderers: Matthew Symes (GK), Tate Russell, Henry Davies, Abdelrahmen Kuku, Daniel Blachura, Charles Abou (Tacettin Kumsuz), Keanu Baccus, Tariq Maia, Ramy Najjarine (Michael Trajkovski (Lawrence Hanna)), Kyle Cimenti, Brenton Fox
Unused subs: Daniel Axford (GK), Lachlan Campbell
20s: WSW 1-1 North Shore
18s: WSW 3-0 North Shore
16s: WSW 4-0 Fraser Park
15s: WSW 9-2 Fraser Park
14s: WSW 2-3 Fraser Park
13s: WSW 0-1 Fraser Park