APIA Leichhardt Tigers 20s - 2011 Premier League Champions
A.P.I.A. Leichhardt Tigers have come from behind to claim the U20s title in the most dramatic of fashions with a penalty shootout victory over Blacktown City FC at Belmore Sports Ground on Monday afternoon.
With nothing separating the sides at full-time, Luke Clifford put Blacktown ahead in extra time before Louis Carneiro grabbed a late equaliser to force the match into penalties.
Matt Pressello’s saved penalty proved to be decisive and Jordan Crighton sunk the final spot kick to seal victory 5-4 in the shootout.
Both sides defended well from the outset with chances in front of goal limited throughout a tense opening half.
The best opportunities of the first half fell to A.P.I.A. as they threatened to break the deadlock from long range with Carnerio and Brendan Cholakian’s 30-yard efforts rocketing just over the crossbar.
The match opened up in the second-half as both sides became more adventurous in an effort to break the deadlock.
Blacktown’s best chance of the half fell to Bruno Pivato who arguably should have scored when he found himself unmarked in the APIA box; however he placed his shot straight at Stefan Giglio who blocked the effort.
Midway through the second period Adam Jenner ran onto Kieran Paull's quickly-taken throw in only to be denied by a last ditch challenge by the A.P.I.A.’s resolute defence.
A.P.I.A. were incredibly unlucky not to find the back of the net on 73’ minutes as Sam Salameh struck the crossbar with a lobbed effort before Andrew Vitucci also struck the crossbar with his follow up header.
Carnerio also hit the post with a header late in the half before he flashed a free kick just wide of goal in the final minute of normal time.
With neither side able to grab the lead the match was forced into extra time as both teams went out in search of a winner.
Cholakian went close shortly after the restart with a close range effort rocketing over the crossbar.
Blacktown punished A.P.I.A. for the miss minutes later when Luke Clifford rose the highest to head Clayton Musumeci’s free kick past Bartels to open the scoring.
Their lead was short lived as A.P.I.A. struck back on 101’ minutes as a scramble in Blacktown’s 18-yard box saw Carneiro fire home the equaliser and get his side back in the match.
Carneiro went close in the dying minutes with a wayward volley, however nothing could separate the sides at the end of extra time as the match went down to the dreaded penalty shootout.
Both sides went goal for goal until Giglio's save from Mat Pressello’s weak penalty handed A.P.I.A. the upper hand.
Substitute Jordan Crighton made no mistake from the crucial penalty, holding his nerve to confidently tuck the ball past David Bradsevic and into the back of the net to claim victory and prevent Blacktown from lifting back to back titles.
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers 1 (Louis Carneiro 111’)
Blacktown City FC 1 (Luke Clifford 94’)
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt win 5-4 on penalties
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