Blacktown Spartans celebrate Nathan Millgate's stunning drive against the Marconi Stallions (Photo by Rhonell Dela Rosa)

Spartans stun Stallions in Blacktown


Blacktown Spartans scored an impressive 2-1 opening round win over 2012 grand-final winners Marconi Stallions in the IGA NSW National Premier League Mens 1 at home.

Despite conceding some late pressure, the Spartans deservedly held on for the three points.

After an early Nahuel Arrarte free-kick that was clipped to the back stick for Tom Whiteside to head goal ward it took towering defender Brenton Rhodes to see it around the post and away for a corner as Marconi stole the early march.

It did go all wrong for the Stallions seconds later though, as Nathan Millgate set off on a scampering run down the centre of the park. Whilst the Stallions defence held off expecting a pass to right or left, that never came, it left the Spartans defender to thunder a shot from 25-yards out that beat goalkeeper James Chronopoulos down at his right-hand post, giving Blacktown the opening goal with just 4’ minutes on the clock.

Worse was to follow for the visitors when Aman Hadid was forced from the field with injury on 8’ minutes. The attacking midfielder was replaced by Irish import Tadhg Purcell who made his debut for Marconi.

The home side was on the prowl again 2’ minutes later when Corey Biczo was fouled 25-Yards out by Daniel Collins. The resulting free-kick – a Luke Austin dink into the box - was easily dealt with by Chronopoulos.

Marconi replied immediately when Anthony Proia flashed a shot well wide from distance against the run of play.

Andre Carle headed wide for the Spartans after good work down the left, and another chance went begging before Marconi fashioned the move of the half when Purcell broke down the left, shrugging off a couple of tackles and centring for Milorad Simonovic who miss-timed his shot well wide of the target.

Blacktown created plenty of half-chances throughout the opening period without troubling the scoreboard so when Mitchell Thompson was forced to clear a header by Barton off the line, the home crowd were getting nervy believing another goal was not going to come.

It was then the turn of the Spartans to lose a player to injury when the plucky Jacob Ott was forced off with a groin strain, to be replaced by the impressive Bryan Soane in the 29’ minute.

The final incident of the half came in the 42’ minute when Barton sent a rasping shot narrowly wide after another weaving run was almost the undoing of the Stallions.

At the break it remained Blacktown in front by the solitary goal and without doubt the better side, although a solitary strike could always come back to haunt them later on.

It was like the 15’ minute interval had never taken place as Blacktown came out on the front foot once more and completely took the game to the defending champs, duly increasing the lead on 51’ minutes. Millgate, until this evening goal less, netted his and Spartans second to extend the score line in their favour.

It was only now that Marconi started to spring to life and not a little needle crept into the match with the odd stray elbow or foot being ‘left in’ although never could it be designated a dirty game, hard but fair being the assessment.

Blacktown went close again when Carle played in Barton that needed Chronopoulos to smartly snuff out before a midfield stalemate became the order of the day as Marconi fought their way back into contention.

Carle found himself in the book in the 65’ minute, quickly followed by Proia for the Stallions before a series of substitutions broke the rhythm of play, as referee James Lewis attempted to apply the advantage rule with some aplomb in order to maintain the entertainment factor.

However Marconi, who had struggled with the final ball for most of the evening, set up a grandstand finish when promising young substitute Steven Ilic was put in by Arrarte to reduce the deficit to one in the 90’ minute. It was to be too little too late however, as the Spartans held on for the win.

“We spoke about a few things at half-time,” a disconsolate Jean-Paul De Marigny said of his Stallion charges afterwards.

“And at the end of the day it has proven to be a good hit out for us.

“I feel that now the players have realised that anyone you are playing at any given moment has that sort of intensity and we need to not only match but outdo if we are to be a force in this league.

“I thought our final ball options were not always the best tonight but that will come as we had a few young players on the park and everyone lifts when they play the champions so we are under no illusions as to where we need to be and how quickly we need to be there.”

Ben de Haan was modest but pleased for Blacktown when adding:

“It was very tough at the end there but I think it is a measure of how we’ve grown from last season as I don’t think we would have seen them off in that scenario last season.

“It’s nice to get the first win of the season in our first game and of course at home and what better start could we have had but it is only three points and with such a long way to go we need to concentrate on our next game which is Bonnyrigg away. “Nathan Millgate is a lad who played his first game here last year and scored our goals tonight, his first in the league, so it shows how our younger players have grown from the last campaign which is very pleasing.

“We attacked as a team and defended as one tonight so from my point of view it has been a very pleasing performance against one of the leagues ‘big’ teams.”

A thoroughly deserved win by the Spartans and one they can take great positives from but spare a thought for the Stallions, they were not at their best but still made life hard at the end for the home boys.

Match Stats

Blacktown Spartans 2 (Nathan Millgate 4’, 51’)

Marconi Stallions 1 (Steven Ilic 90’)

Saturday, 16th March, 2013

Blacktown Football Park, Rooty Hill

Referee: James Lewis

Assistant Referees: Thomas Lee & Keith Yau

Fourth Official: Sebastian Brennan

Blacktown Spartans: 1:Carlos Saliadarre (C); 2.Luke Austin, 14.Trent Barton, 25.Corey Biczo (4.Simon Valastro 88’), 6.Andre Carle (9.Jordan Simpson 77’), 39.Luka Dukic, 3.Nathan Millgate, 7.Jacob Ott (10.Bryan Soane 29’), 22.Pasquale Polistina, 8.Brenton Rhodes, 11.Tyson Rhodes

Substitutes Not Used: 17.Wassim Hijazi, 20.Karl Bodenstien

Yellow Cards: Andre Carle 65’

Red Cards: Nil

Marconi Stallions: 2.James Chronopoulos; 2.Mitchell Thompson, 5.Tom Whiteside, 7.Sean O’Connell (18.Jake McGing 59’), 8.Jared Lum, 9.Aman Hadid (17.Tadhg Purcell 8’), 10.Milorad Simonovic, 11.Anthony Proia (20.Steven Ilic 83’), 15.Daniel Collins, 19.Damien Travis, 26.Nahuel Arrarte (C)

Substitutes Not Used: 4.Umut Tokdogan, 16.Steven Drewery

Yellow Cards: Anthony Proia 67’

Red Cards: Nil

Player Ratings:

3 – Nathan Millgate (BS)

2 – Corey Biczo (BS)

1 – Nahuel Arrarte (MS)

-By Micky Brock