NPL Review: Late rally not enough against Sydney United

A late rally from our NPL NSW side was not enough to avoid a 3-2 defeat against Sydney United on Sunday afternoon.

Adam Bugarija made an instant impact off the bench with two goals as the Wanderers put the 10-man United defence under a barrage of pressure at the end of the game, but the woodwork and good goalkeeping by Oliver Kalac denied them a memorable comeback.

It was a tight and tense tussle to begin the game, with niggle on both sides of the field; Jesse Cameron and a returning Aydan Hammond almost created a good opportunity after 10 minutes, but the final pass was lacking.

Taiga Harper was then forced into a good stop moments later, but could do nothing to deny an inch perfect free-kick from Patrick Antelmi in the 27th minute.

The hosts had the momentum and took full advantage, as Antelmi scored his second just seven minutes later, scoring past Harper in a 1v1 situation.

After the break, the Wanderers had many opportunities to halve the deficit, with Alex Badolato going close twice, Zac Sapsford’s glancing header just missing the post, and Hammond’s shot from inside the box somehow being deflected onto the post by Kalac.

United made the Wanderers pay for the misses, with Stephen de Robillard scoring a third just after the hour mark.

Andrew Christiansen introduced Bugarija from the bench, and he scored within moments of arriving, ghosting into the box and tapping home from Hammond’s cross.

The game swung in the Wanderers’ favour when Sydney United captain Adrian Vlastelica was given a straight red card for denying a goal scoring opportunity.

The Wanderers piled men forward, with Badolato and Bugarija going close in the minutes before added time, but Kalac denied them both, though he couldn’t keep out a fantastic Bugarija volley in the 93rd minute to create a grandstand finish.

The Wanderers had a late chance from a free-kick, but after taking it quickly, Hammond’s shot could only find the side netting, and the home side held on to win their fourth game in a row.

The Wanderers are still first on the NPL NSW table, and they travel to face Sydney Olympic on Saturday.